Quakers & Quakerism


Quakers (Friends) are members of the Religious Society of Friends, a faith based on the immediate, direct experience of God. Its message and ministry are practiced today, in a variety of forms, around the world. Quakerism emerged in England around 1650, when a youthful George Fox underwent a profound religious experience. Immediate, direct experience of God became the heart of his message and ministry, which inspired the Quaker movement.
What do Quakers believe?
Quakers believe there is no single creed or statement of beliefs that defines one’s faith or spirituality. Each person must find his/her own spiritual path. Several elements of faith, however, are common to all Quakers. Arthur Larabee, lifelong Quaker, describes 9 Core Quaker Beliefs as:

  1. There is a living, dynamic, spiritual presence at work in the world which is both in us and outside of us.
  2. There is that of God in everyone.
  3. Each person is capable of the direct and unmediated experience of God.
  4. Our understanding and experience of God is nurtured and enlarged in community.
  5. The Bible is an important spiritual resource and the life and teachings of Jesus are relevant for us today.
  6. The revelation of God’s truth is continuing and ongoing.
  7. We welcome truth from wherever source it may come.
  8. Our inward experience of God transforms us and leads us into outward expressions of faithful living, witness, and action.
  9. Modeling God’s presence in our lives is more important than espousing beliefs.

What are Quaker Testimonies?
The outward expressions or testimonies of Quaker beliefs are Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality and Stewardship/Service, commonly known as the SPICES.

Are Quakers Christians?
Quakerism was born in and grew out of the Christian tradition in England in the mid-1600s. Many Quakers today consider themselves to be Christian; some do not. Newtown Friends Meeting includes many seekers as they pursue their spiritual journeys in our faith community. Quakers generally believe there are multiple paths to the Divine and that spirituality is not confined to any one religion.

Does Newtown Friends Meeting have a minister?
Each member of our faith community is a minister in the sense that anyone may feel inspired to provide vocal ministry in the meeting for worship, and each helps minister to the needs of others. Newtown Meeting has no paid clergy or staff. Its activities and business are conducted entirely by volunteers from among its Meeting community.

What form of worship is practiced at Newtown Friends Meeting?Traditional “unprogrammed” Friends Meetings, including Newtown and those in the Philadelphia area, gather in silence and expectant waiting, without prearranged singing, Bible reading, prayers, or sermon. Their worship proceeds, rising above individual meditation to a sense of seeking as a gathered group, with spoken ministry only as Friends may feel led to share their insights and messages.

In other parts of the country and the world, some Quakers follow a more programmed form of worship practiced by Protestant and Evangelical churches including prayer and responsive reading, hymn singing and choral/organ music, Scripture and sermon.

How is Newtown Friends Meeting related to the wider Quaker community?  
Newtown Meeting conducts our own affairs, decides whom to welcome as members, and what activities to have and support. Along with thirteen other Quaker Meetings, we belong to Bucks Quarterly Meeting, which is a part of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, which is composed of 12,000 Quakers in PA, NJ, DE and MD. There are about 400,000 Quakers worldwide.

Further Exploring:

Quakerinfo.org Quaker Information Center: A Gateway to Quakerism – a service of Earhlam School of Religion. Answers to FAQ’s, in-depth exploration, resources more!

quakerspeak.com QuakerSpeak – a series of short videos, approximately 5 minutes each, on a wide variety of aspects of Quakerism. This is a great place to start exploring Quakersim and the content is equally rich for seasoned Quakers. A new segment comes out each Thursday.

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