The Friendly Guide to Quakerism
“The Friendly Guide to Quakerism” was produced by the Young Friends of Ireland Yearly Meeting in 2003. In its illustrated and very readable 32 pages it gives a good picture of Quakers past and present in Ireland and in other parts of the world. For availability see Books.
Among other things it shows the theological diversity of Christian belief that exists in The Religious Society of Friends. In some areas of Ireland the Meetings for Worship are strongly evangelical, while in others they are not, yet all points of view are accommodated.
“Ireland Yearly Meeting is…possibly the only Yearly Meeting in today’s Quakerism that has maintained strong and distinct Evangelical and Liberal wings under its care” Simon C Lamb 2002
Over the last 350 years many of the spiritual insights of ordinary Friends have been recorded and published. Irish Friends’ Christian Experience is currently being revised and British Friends’ Quaker Faith & Practice was last brought up-to-date in 1998. These are not formal liturgies or books of set prayers. Each has many hundreds of quotations and much simple devotional and practical advice which Friends find an invaluable help in worship, prayer and daily living.
A selection of quotations is given below:
The Light Within, which is the central Quaker idea, is no abstract phrase. It is an experience. It is a type of religion that insists upon a real and vital experience of God revealed to persons, to their own souls, in their own personal lives. Rufus Jones 1863-1948
Force may subdue, but love gains. William Penn 1644-1718
The very trimming of the vain world would clothe all the naked one. William Penn 1644-1718
Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand. Isaac Penington 1616-1679
We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever. Declaration to Charles II, 1661
Quakers believe that as they wait quietly God makes his presence known, and that they can reach him directly and quite simply if they listen and wait. This is possible at all times, whether at their meetings or when they are alone. Children’s Britannica.
Every country my country, and every man my brother. Daniel Wheeler 1771-1840
The least member in the church hath an office and is serviceable, and every member hath need one of another. George Fox 1632-1691
The humble, meek, merciful, just, pious and devout souls are everywhere of one religion; and when death has taken off the mask, they will know one another though the divers liveries they wear here makes them strangers. William Penn
These things we do not lay upon you as a rule or form to walk by; but that all with a measure of the light, which is pure and holy, may be guided; and so in the light walking and abiding, these things may be fulfilled in the Spirit, not in the letter; for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. The elders at Balby, 1656
I saw that there was an ocean of darkness and death, but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness. And in that also I saw the infinite love of God… George Fox 1632-1691
Friends, meet together and know one another in that which is eternal, which was before the world was. George Fox 1632-1691
True peace involves freedom from tyranny and a generous tolerance; conditions that are denied over a large part of Europe and are not fulfilled in other parts of the world. But true peace cannot be dictated, it can only be built in co-operation between all peoples. None of us, no nation, no citizen, is free from some responsibility for this situation with its conflicting difficulties. London Yearly Meeting 1943
Is there anything Quakers today can say as one? We can proclaim this – there is a living God at centre of all, who is available to each of us as a Present Teacher at the very heart of our lives. World Gathering of Young Friends 1985
To me, being a Christian is a particular way of life…being the kind of person that Jesus wanted his followers to be and doing the things he told them to do … Nor, it seems to me, can you live a Christian life unless, like Jesus, you believe in the power of goodness, of mercy and of love… Kathleen Lonsdale 1967
A true Friends’ Meeting for Worship drawing [together] individuals with varieties of temperament, talent and background always managed to engender a climate of belonging, of community which is infectious and creative. Ranjit M Chetsingh 1967
Quaker … “concerns” are usually personal, tested by meetings at different levels, and often lead to specific action. “Testimonies” are more widely shared and accepted, and the sort of action they lead to should affect our whole lives. The essential quality of both is an inner compulsion, not something you decide on after reading or hearing about it. They have that quality of Luther’s famous statement “here I stand, I cannot do otherwise”. Tim Brown 2002
The unity of Christians never did nor ever will or can stand in uniformity of thought and opinion, but in Christian love only. Thomas Story 1737
NB The words ‘Friend’ and ‘Quaker’ are interchangeable.