Who are Quakers and where can I find more information about Quakers?
Quakers are members of the Religious Society of Friends, a faith that emerged as a new Christian denomination in England during a period of religious turmoil in the mid 1600's. It is practiced today, in a variety of forms, around the world. George Fox was founder of this movement. To members of this religion, the words "Quaker" and "Friend" mean the same thing. Quakers are an active, involved, faith-based community living in the modern world.
Why do Quakers call themselves “Friends”?
The term is a reflection of our belief in equality among fellow human beings seeing “that of God” in every one. The label of “Friends” was taken from words in the Gospel of John 15 following the parable of the Vine and the Branches: “I have told you this so my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”
Are Quakers Christians? Do they believe in the Bible?
The teachings of Jesus Christ are at the core of Quakerism. The reliance upon the exact words in the Bible varies among us. It is the spirit of the words that informs us. See Quaker Beliefs.
What do Quakers Believe?
We believe that there is “that of God,“ that is, some divine essence, in every person. Because there is “that of God” in everyone, we are all equal, and because of that we refrain from all violence. We try to lead simple lives and avoid ostentatious speech and lifestyles. We believe in continuing revelation…we sense ourselves to be led. We believe that oiur understanding can be distorted by personal desires and issues. To balance this potential, we practice corporate reflection and discernment when important decisions are called for.
Why do Quakers object to serving in the armed forces?
Ever since George Fox and other Friends declared in 1661 to King Charles II of England that "the spirit of Christ...will never move us to fight any war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world," Friends have on a corporate basis opposed all wars and have promoted nonviolent, non-coercive strategies for resolving conflicts between nations. Opposition has included supporting individuals who conscientiously object to war by refusing to register for conscription, refusing to serve when conscripted, or refusing to pay taxes for war. Nevertheless, because Friends emphasize the individual nature of spiritual revelation rather than attempting to enforce a creed on all members, it is true that some Friends have chosen to serve in the armed forces, usually as non-combatants. See Consciousness Objector page for more info.
Are there different branches of Quakers?
Yes, there are three different umbrella organizations representing the three main branches: unprogrammed (as Gwynedd is) in Friends General Conference, Friends United Meeting, similar to other Protestant churches, and the Evangelical Friends Meeting. Different parts of the USA have different preponderances of branches, as do the various other countries. (See the history link)
Are there Quakers in other countries?
Yes, Quakers originated in England and there are Meetings in 75 countries and in every state in the United States.
These questions and brief answers introduce Gwynedd Friends Meeting and Quakerism.
For in-depth information about Quaker faith and practice please click here.