Quaker | Wikipedia audio article


Quakers (or Friends) are members of a historically
Christian group of religious movements formally known as the Religious Society of Friends,
Society of Friends or Friends Church. Members of the various Quaker movements are all generally
united in a belief in the ability of each human being to experientially access “the
light within”, or “that of God in every one”.Some may profess the priesthood of all believers,
a doctrine derived from the First Epistle of Peter. They include those with evangelical,
holiness, liberal, and traditional Quaker understandings of Christianity. There are
also Nontheist Quakers whose spiritual practice is not reliant on the existence of gods. To
differing extents, the different movements that make up the Religious Society of Friends/Friends
Church avoid creeds and hierarchical structures. In 2007, there were about 359,000 adult Quakers
worldwide. In 2012, there were 377,055 adult Quakers, with 52% in Africa.Around 89% of
Quakers worldwide belong to the “evangelical” and “programmed” branches of Quakerism—these
Quakers worship in services with singing and a prepared message from the Bible, coordinated
by a pastor. Around 11% of Friends practice waiting worship, or unprogrammed worship (more
commonly known today as Meeting for Worship), where the order of service is not planned
in advance, is predominantly silent, and may include unprepared vocal ministry from those
present. Some meetings of both types have Recorded Ministers in their meetings—Friends
recognised for their gift of vocal ministry.The first Quakers lived in mid-17th-century England.
The movement arose from the Legatine-Arians and other dissenting Protestant groups, breaking
away from the established Church of England. The Quakers, especially the ones known as
the Valiant Sixty, attempted to convert others to their understanding of Christianity, travelling
both throughout Great Britain and overseas, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some
of these early Quaker ministers were women. They based their message on the religious
belief that “Christ has come to teach his people himself”, stressing the importance
of a direct relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and a direct religious belief
in the universal priesthood of all believers. They emphasized a personal and direct religious
experience of Christ, acquired through both direct religious experience and the reading
and studying of the Bible. Quakers focused their private life on developing behaviour
and speech reflecting emotional purity and the light of God.In the past, Quakers were
known for their use of thee as an ordinary pronoun, refusal to participate in war, plain
dress, refusal to swear oaths, opposition to slavery, and teetotalism. Some Quakers
founded banks and financial institutions, including Barclays, Lloyds, and Friends Provident;
manufacturing companies, including shoe retailer C. & J. Clark and the big three British confectionery
makers Cadbury, Rowntree and Fry; and philanthropic efforts, including abolition of slavery, prison
reform, and social justice projects.In 1947, the Quakers, represented by the British Friends
Service Council and the American Friends Service Committee, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.==History=====Beginnings in England===During and after the English Civil War (1642–1651)
many dissenting Christian groups emerged, including the Seekers and others. A young
man, George Fox, was dissatisfied with the teachings of the Church of England and non-conformists.
He had a revelation that “there is one, even, Christ Jesus, who can speak to thy condition”,
and became convinced that it was possible to have a direct experience of Christ without
the aid of an ordained clergy. He had a vision on Pendle Hill in Lancashire, England, in
which he believed that “the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be
gathered”. Following this he travelled around England, the Netherlands, and Barbados preaching
and teaching with the aim of converting new adherents to his faith. The central theme
of his Gospel message was that Christ has come to teach his people himself. His followers
considered themselves to be the restoration of the true Christian church, after centuries
of apostasy in the churches in England. In 1650, Fox was brought before the magistrates
Gervase Bennet and Nathaniel Barton, on a charge of religious blasphemy. According to
George Fox’s autobiography, Bennet “was the first that called us Quakers, because I bade
them tremble at the word of the Lord”. It is thought that George Fox was referring to
Isaiah 66:2 or Ezra 9:4. Thus, the name Quaker began as a way of ridiculing George Fox’s
admonition, but became widely accepted and is used by some Quakers. Quakers also described
themselves using terms such as true Christianity, Saints, Children of the Light, and Friends
of the Truth, reflecting terms used in the New Testament by members of the early Christian
church. Quakerism gained a considerable following
in England and Wales, and the numbers increased to a peak of 60,000 in England and Wales by
1680 (1.15% of the population of England and Wales). However, the dominant discourse of
Protestantism viewed the Quakers as a blasphemous challenge to social and political order, leading
to official persecution in England and Wales under the Quaker Act 1662 and the Conventicle
Act 1664. This was relaxed after the Declaration of Indulgence (1687–1688) and stopped under
the Act of Toleration 1689. One modern view of Quakerism at this time
was that the relationship with Christ was encouraged through spiritualisation of human
relations, and “the redefinition of the Quakers as a holy tribe, ‘the family and household
of God'”. Together with Margaret Fell, the wife of Thomas Fell, who was the vice-chancellor
of the Duchy of Lancaster and a pre-eminent judge, Fox developed new conceptions of family
and community that emphasised “holy conversation”: speech and behaviour that reflected piety,
faith, and love. With the restructuring of the family and household came new roles for
women; Fox and Fell viewed the Quaker mother as essential to developing “holy conversation”
in her children and husband. Quaker women were also responsible for the spirituality
of the larger community, coming together in “meetings” that regulated marriage and domestic
behaviour.===Immigration into North America===The persecution of Quakers in North America
began in 1656 when English Quaker missionaries Mary Fisher and Ann Austin began preaching
in Boston. They were considered heretics because of their insistence on individual obedience
to the Inner light. They were imprisoned and banished by the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Their books were burned, and most of their property was confiscated. They were imprisoned
in terrible conditions, then deported.In 1660, English Quaker Mary Dyer was hanged on Boston
Common for repeatedly defying a Puritan law banning Quakers from the colony. She was one
of the four executed Quakers known as the Boston martyrs. In 1661, King Charles II forbade
Massachusetts from executing anyone for professing Quakerism. In 1684, England revoked the Massachusetts
charter, sent over a royal governor to enforce English laws in 1686 and, in 1689, passed
a broad Toleration Act.Some Friends immigrated to what is now the Northeastern region of
the United States in the early 1680s in search of economic opportunities and a more tolerant
environment in which to build communities of “holy conversation”. They were able to
establish thriving communities in the Delaware Valley, although they continued to experience
persecution in some areas, such as New England. The three colonies that tolerated Quakers
at this time were West Jersey, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania, where Quakers established
themselves politically. In Rhode Island, 36 governors in the first 100 years were Quakers.
West Jersey and Pennsylvania were established by affluent Quaker William Penn in 1676 and
1682 respectively, with Pennsylvania as an American commonwealth run under Quaker principles.
William Penn signed a peace treaty with Tammany, leader of the Delaware tribe, and other treaties
followed between Quakers and Native Americans. This peace endured almost a century, until
the Penn’s Creek Massacre of 1755. Early colonial Quakers also established communities and meeting
houses in North Carolina and Maryland, after fleeing persecution by the Anglician Church
in Virginia.In a 2007 interview, author David Yount (How the Quakers Invented America) stated
that Quakers first introduced many ideas which later became mainstream, such as democracy
in the Pennsylvania legislature, the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution from Rhode
Island Quakers, trial by jury, equal rights for men and women, and public education. Even
the Liberty Bell itself was cast by Quakers.===Quietism===Early Quakerism tolerated boisterous behaviour
that challenged conventional etiquette, but by 1700, they continued to encourage spontaneity
of expression but they no longer supported disruptive and unruly behaviour. During the
18th century, Quakers entered the Quietist period in the history of their church, and
they became more inward looking spiritually and less active in converting others. Marrying
outside the Society was outlawed. Numbers dwindled, dropping to 19,800 in England and
Wales by 1800 (0.21% of population), and 13,859 by 1860 (0.07% of population). The formal
name “Religious Society of Friends” dates from this period and was probably derived
from the appellations “Friends of the Light” and “Friends of the Truth”.===Splits===
In the 19th century, there was a diversification of theological beliefs in the Religious Society
of Friends, and this led to several large splits within the Quaker movement.====Hicksite–Orthodox split====
The Hicksite–Orthodox split arose out of both ideological and socio-economic tensions.
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Hicksites tended to be agrarian and poorer than the more urban,
wealthier, Orthodox Quakers. With increasing financial success, Orthodox Quakers wanted
to “make the Society a more respectable body—to transform their sect into a church—by adopting
mainstream Protestant orthodoxy”. Hicksites, though they held a variety of views, generally
saw the market economy as corrupting, and believed Orthodox Quakers had sacrificed their
orthodox Christian spirituality for material success. Hicksites viewed the Bible as secondary
to the individual cultivation of God’s light within.With Gurneyite Quakers shift towards
Protestant principles and away from the spiritualisation of human relations, women’s role as promoters
of “holy conversation” started to decrease. Conversely, within the Hicksite movement the
rejection of the market economy and the continuing focus on community and family bonds tended
to encourage women to retain their role as powerful arbiters.
Elias Hicks’ religious views were claimed to be universalist and to contradict Quakers’
historical orthodox Christian beliefs and practices. Elias Hicks’ Gospel preaching and
teaching precipitated the Great Separation of 1827, which resulted in a parallel system
of Yearly Meetings in America, joined by Friends from Philadelphia, New York, Ohio, Indiana,
and Baltimore. They were referred to by their opponents as Hicksites and by others, and
sometimes themselves, as orthodox. Quakers in Great Britain only recognised the Orthodox
Quakers and refused to correspond with the Hicksites.====Beaconite controversy====
Isaac Crewdson was a Recorded Minister in Manchester, UK. He published a book titled
A Beacon to the Society of Friends in 1835, which strongly argued that the inward light
could not exist alongside a religious belief in salvation by the atonement of Christ. This
Christian controversy led to Isaac Crewdson’s resignation from the Religious Society of
Friends, along with 48 fellow members of Manchester Meeting and about 250 other British Quakers
in 1836–1837. Some of these Quakers joined the Plymouth Brethren Church.====Rise of Gurneyite Quakerism, and the
Gurneyite–Conservative split====Orthodox Friends became more evangelical during
the 19th century and were influenced by the Second Great Awakening. This movement was
led by British Quaker Joseph John Gurney. Christian Friends held Revival meetings in
America and became involved in the Holiness movement of churches. Quakers such as Hannah
Whitall Smith and Robert Pearsall Smith became speakers in the religious movement and introduced
Quaker phrases and practices to it. British Friends became involved with the Higher Life
movement, with Robert Wilson from Cockermouth meeting founding the Keswick Convention. From
the 1870s it became commonplace in Great Britain to have home mission meetings on a Sunday
evening with Christian hymns and a Bible-based sermon alongside the silent meetings for worship
on Sunday morning.The Quaker Yearly Meetings supporting the religious beliefs of Joseph
John Gurney were known as Gurneyite yearly meetings. Many eventually collectively became
the Five Years Meeting and then Friends United Meeting, although London Yearly Meeting, which
had been strongly Gurneyite in the nineteenth century, did not join either of these groups.
These Quaker yearly meetings make up the largest proportion of Quakers in the world today.
Some orthodox Quakers in America disliked the move towards evangelical Christianity
and saw it as a dilution of Friends’ traditional orthodox Christian belief in being inwardly
led by the Holy Spirit. These Friends were led by John Wilbur who was expelled from his
yearly meeting in 1842. He and his supporters formed their own Conservative Friends Yearly
Meeting. In the UK in 1868 some Friends broke away from London Yearly Meeting for the same
reason. They formed a separate body of Friends called Fritchley General Meeting, which remained
distinct and separate from London Yearly Meeting until 1968. Similar Christian splits took
place in Canada. The Yearly Meetings that supported John Wilbur’s religious beliefs
were known as Conservative Friends.===Richmond Declaration===
In 1887, a Gurneyite Quaker of British descent, Joseph Bevan Braithwaite, proposed to Friends
a statement of faith known as the Richmond Declaration. This statement of faith was agreed
to by 95 of the representatives at a meeting of Five Years Meeting Friends; but unexpectedly
the Richmond Declaration was not adopted by London Yearly Meeting because a vocal minority,
including Edward Grubb, opposed it.===Missions to Asia and Africa===Following the Christian revivals in the mid-19th
century, Friends in Great Britain wanted to start missionary activity overseas. The first
missionaries were sent to Benares (Varanasi), in India, in 1866. The Friends Foreign Mission
Association was formed in 1868, and sent missionaries to Madhya Pradesh, India, forming what is
now Mid-India Yearly Meeting; and later to Madagascar from 1867, China from 1896, Sri
Lanka from 1896, and Pemba Island from 1897. The Friends Syrian Mission was established
in 1874, which among other institutions ran the Ramallah Friends Schools, which still
exist today. Swiss missionary Theophilus Waldmeier founded Brummana High School in Lebanon in
1873. Evangelical Friends Churches from Ohio Yearly Meeting sent missionaries to India
in 1896, forming what is now Bundelkhand Yearly Meeting. Cleveland Friends went to Mombasa,
Kenya, and started what was the most successful Friends’ mission. Christian Quakerism spread
within Kenya and to Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda.===Theory of evolution===The theory of evolution described by Charles
Darwin in On the Origin of Species (1859) was opposed by many Quakers in the nineteenth
century, particularly by older evangelical Quakers who dominated the Religious Society
of Friends in Great Britain. These religious leaders were suspicious of Darwin’s theory,
and believed that natural selection needed to be supplemented by another process. For
example, influential British Quaker scientist Edward Newman stated that this theory was
“not compatible with our notions of creation as delivered from the hands of a Creator”.
However, some young Friends such as John Wilhelm Rowntree and Edward Grubb supported Darwin’s
theories adopting a doctrine of progressive revelation with evolutionary ideas. In the
United States, Joseph Moore taught the theory of evolution at the Quaker Earlham College
as early as 1861 and was probably one of the first teachers in the Midwest to do so. Acceptance
of the theory of evolution became more widespread in those Yearly Meetings, which moved towards
liberal Christianity in the twentieth century, while a belief in creationism persists within
evangelical Friends Churches, particularly in East Africa and parts of the U.S.===Quaker Renaissance===
In the late 19th century and early 20th century a religious movement known as the Quaker Renaissance
movement began within London Yearly Meeting. Young Friends in London Yearly Meeting at
this time moved away from evangelicalism and towards liberal Christianity. This Quaker
Renaissance movement was particularly influenced by John Wilhelm Rowntree, Edward Grubb, and
Rufus Jones. These Liberal Friends promoted the theory of evolution, modern biblical criticism,
and the social meaning of Jesus Christ’s teaching—encouraging Friends to follow the New Testament example
of Christ by performing good works. These Quaker men downplayed the evangelical Quaker
belief in the atonement of Christ on the Cross at Calvary. After the Manchester Conference
in England in 1895, one thousand British Friends met to consider the future of British Quakerism
and, as a result, liberal Quaker thought gradually increased within London Yearly Meeting.===Conscientious objection===During World War I and World War II, Friends’
opposition to war was put to the test. Many Friends became conscientious objectors and
some formed the Friends Ambulance Unit with the aim of co-operating with others to build
up a new world rather than fighting to destroy the old, and the American Friends Service
Committee. Birmingham, UK had a strong Quaker community during the war. Many British Quakers
were conscripted into the Non-Combatant Corps during both world wars.===Formation of Friends World Committee for
Consultation===After the two great wars had brought the different
kinds of Quakers closer together, Friends from different yearly meetings—many of whom
had served together in the Friends Ambulance Unit, and on the American Friends Service
Committee and in other relief work—later held several Quaker World Conferences; this
subsequently resulted in the creation of a standing body of Friends named Friends World
Committee for Consultation.===Evangelical Friends===
After World War I, a growing desire for a more fundamentalist approach among some Friends
began a split among Five Years Meetings. In 1926, Oregon Yearly Meeting seceded from Five
Years Meeting, bringing together several other yearly meetings and scattered monthly meetings.
In 1947, the Association of Evangelical Friends was formed, with triennial meetings until
1970. In 1965, this was replaced by the Evangelical Friends Alliance, which in 1989, became Evangelical
Friends Church International.===Role of women===In the 1650s, individual Quaker women prophesied
and preached publicly, developing charismatic personas and spreading the sect. This practice
was bolstered by the movement’s firm concept of spiritual equality for men and women. Moreover,
Quakerism initially was propelled by the non-conformist behaviours of its followers, especially women
who broke from social norms. By the 1660s, the progress of the movement resulted in more
structured organisation, which led to separate women’s meetings. Through the women’s meeting,
women oversaw domestic and community life, including marriage. From the beginning, Quaker
women, most notably Margaret Fell, played an important role in defining Quakerism. Others
active in proselytising included Mary Penington, Mary Mollineux and Barbara Blaugdone. Quaker
women even published at least 220 texts during the seventeenth century. However, within the
Quaker movement, some resented the power of women within the community. In the early years
of Quakerism, George Fox faced resistance in developing and establishing women’s meetings.
As controversy increased, Fox did not fully adhere to this agenda; For example, he established
the London Six Weeks Meeting in 1671, as a regulatory body, led by thirty-five women
and forty-nine men. Regardless, conflict culminated in the Wilkinson–Story split, in which a
portion of the Quaker community left to worship independently in protest of women’s meetings.
After several years, the schism became largely resolved, testifying to the resistance of
some within the Quaker community, and to the spiritual role of women that George Fox and
Margaret Fell had encouraged. Also particularly within the relatively prosperous Quaker communities
of the eastern United States, the focus on the child and “holy conversation” gave women
unusual community power, although they were largely excluded from the market economy.
With the Hicksite–Orthodox split of 1827–1828, Orthodox women found their spiritual role
decreased, while Hicksite women retained greater influence.===Friends in business===Described as “natural capitalists” by the
BBC, dynasties of Quakers were successful in business matters. This included ironmaking
by Abraham Darby I (which played an important role in the Industrial Revolution that commenced
in Britain), and his family; banking, including Lloyds Banking Group (founded by Sampson Lloyd),
Barclays PLC, Backhouse’s Bank and Gurney’s Bank; life assurance (Friends Provident);
pharmaceuticals (Allen & Hanburys); chocolate (Cadbury, Terry’s, Fry’s); confectionery (Rowntree);
biscuit manufacturing (Huntley & Palmers); match manufacture (Bryant & May, Francis May
and William Bryant) and shoe manufacturing (Clarks).===Friends in international development===
International volunteering organisations such as Service Civil International and International
Voluntary Service were founded by leading Quakers.
Eric Baker, a prominent Quaker, was one of the founders of Amnesty International and
also the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The Quaker Edith Pye established the national
Famine Relief Committee in May 1942, encouraging the setting up of a network of local famine
relief committees, among the most energetic of which was the Oxford Committee for Famine
Relief. This would evolved to become the charity Oxfam.===Friends in education===
Initially, Quakers had no ordained clergy, and thus needed no seminaries for theological
training. In England, Quaker schools sprang up, with Friends School Saffron Walden being
the most prominent. Later in America they founded William Penn Charter School (1689),
Wilmington Friends School (1748), Moorestown Friends School (1785), Westtown School (1799),
Germantown Friends School (1845), Scattergood Friends School (1890), Haverford College (1833),
Guilford College (1837), Olney Friends School (1837), Pickering College (1842), Earlham
College & Earlham School of Religion (1847), Swarthmore College (1864), Wilmington College
(Ohio) (1870), Penn College (Iowa) (1873), Bryn Mawr College (1885), Friends Pacific
Academy (now George Fox University) (1885), Cleveland Bible College (now Malone University)
(1892), George School (1893), Friends University (1898), Training School for Christian Workers
(now Azusa Pacific University) (1899), Whittier College (1901), and Friends Bible College
(now Barclay College) (1917). In Australia, the Friends’ School, Hobart was founded in
1887 and has grown to become the largest Quaker school in the world. In Great Britain, they
organised Woodbrooke College in 1903. In Kenya, Quakers founded Friends Bible Institute (now
Friends Theological College) in Kaimosi, Kenya, in 1942.===Friends and slavery===
Some Quakers in North America and Great Britain became well known for their involvement in
the abolition of slavery. However, prior to the American Revolution, it was fairly common
for Friends in British America to own slaves. During the early to mid-1700s a disquiet about
this practice arose among Friends, best exemplified by the testimonies of Anthony Benezet and
John Woolman, and this resulted in an abolition movement among Friends. By the time of the
American Revolution few Friends owned slaves. At the end of the war in 1783, Yarnall family
members along with fellow Meeting House Friends petitioned the Continental Congress to abolish
slavery. This petition preceded the 13th Amendment in 1865 by nearly eighty years. In 1790, the
Society of Friends petitioned the United States Congress as the first organisation to take
a collective stand against slavery and the slave trade.
One example of a reversal in sentiment about slavery took place in the life of Moses Brown,
one of four Rhode Island brothers who, in 1764, organised and funded the tragic and
fateful voyage of the slave ship named Sally. Moses Brown broke away from his three brothers,
became an abolitionist, and converted to Christian Quakerism. During the 19th Century, Quakers
such as Levi Coffin played a major role in helping enslaved people escape through the
Underground Railroad. Quaker Paul Cuffee, a free black sea captain and businessman,
was active in the abolitionist and resettlement movement in the early part of that century.==Theology==
The theological beliefs of Quaker yearly meetings vary considerably. Tolerance of dissent widely
varies among yearly meetings. Most Friends believe in continuing revelation, which is
the religious belief that truth is continuously revealed directly to individuals from God.
George Fox, an “early Friend”, described it as “Christ has come to teach His people Himself.”
Friends often focus on trying to hear God. As Isaac Penington wrote in 1670, “It is not
enough to hear of Christ, or read of Christ, but this is the thing—to feel him to be
my root, my life, and my foundation…” Quakers reject the idea of priests, believing in the
priesthood of all believers. Some Friends express their concept of God using various
phrases including the inner light, or inward light of Christ, the Holy Spirit or other
phrases. Diverse theological beliefs, understandings
of the “leading of the Holy Spirit”, and statements of “faith and practice” have always existed
among Friends. Due in part to the emphasis on the immediate guidance of the Holy Spirit,
Quaker doctrines have only sometimes been codified as statements of faith, confessions
or theological texts; those that do exist include the Letter to the Governor of Barbados
(Fox, 1671), An Apology for the True Christian Divinity (Barclay, 1678), A Catechism and
Confession of Faith (Barclay, 1690), The Testimony of the Society of Friends on the Continent
of America (adopted jointly by all orthodox yearly meetings in U.S., 1830), the Richmond
Declaration of Faith (adopted by Five Years Meeting, 1887), and Essential Truths (Jones
and Wood, adopted by Five Years Meeting, 1922). As a public statement of faith, most yearly
meetings publish their own Book of Discipline, that expresses Christian discipleship within
the experience of Friends in that yearly meeting.===Conservative===Conservative Friends (also known as “Wilburites”
after their founder, John Wilbur), share some of the beliefs of George Fox and the Early
Friends. Many Wilburites see themselves as the Quakers whose beliefs are most true to
original Quaker doctrine, arguing that the majority of Friends “broke away” from the
Wilburite Quakers in the 19th and 20th centuries (rather than the Wilburites being the “breakaway”
sect). Conservative Friends place their trust in the immediate guidance of God. Conservative
Friends completely reject all forms of religious symbolism and outward sacraments, such as
the Eucharist and water baptism. Conservative Friends do not believe in relying upon the
practice of outward rites and sacraments, to have a living relationship with God through
Christ; believing that holiness can exist in all of the activities of one’s daily life—and
that all of life is sacred in God. Many Conservative Friends believe that a meal held with others
can become a form of communion with God, and with one another.
In the U.S., Conservative Friends are part of three small Quaker Yearly Meetings in Ohio,
North Carolina and Iowa; Ohio Yearly Meeting (Conservative) is generally considered to
be the most Bible-centred of the three Conservative Friends Yearly Meetings, retaining Christian
Quakers who use the plain language, who continue to wear plain dress, and who live in small
villages or rural areas; more than the Conservative Friends from the other two Conservative Friends
Yearly Meetings.In 2007, total membership of these Yearly Meetings was around 1642,
making them around 0.4% of the world family of Quakers.===Evangelical===Evangelical Friends regard Jesus Christ as
their personal Lord and Saviour, and have similar religious beliefs to other evangelical
Christians. They believe in, and hold a high regard for, the penal substitution of the
atonement of Christ on the Cross at Calvary, biblical infallibility, and the need for every
person to personally experience a relationship with God. They believe that the purpose of
the Evangelical Friends Church is to evangelise the unsaved people of the world, to spiritually
transform them through God’s love, and through social service to others. Evangelical Friends
regard the Bible as the infallible and self-authenticating Word of God. The statement of faith of Evangelical
Friends International, is comparable to the statement of faith of other Evangelical churches.
Evangelical Friends who are members of Evangelical Friends International, are mainly located
in the U.S., Central America, and Asia. Beginning in the 1880s, some Friends began using outward
sacraments in their Sunday services, first in Evangelical Friends Church–Eastern Region
(then known as Ohio Yearly Meeting [Damascus]). Friends Church–Southwest Region, has also
approved the practice of using the outward sacraments in their Sunday services. In places
where Evangelical Friends are engaged in missionary work, such as in Africa, Latin America, and
Asia, adult baptism by immersion in water, is carried out. This practice differs from
most other Quaker branches of the Religious Society of Friends. As of 2014, EFCI claims
to represent more than 140,000 Friends, equalling roughly 39% of the total number of Friends
worldwide.===Gurneyite===Gurneyite Friends (aka Friends United Meeting
Friends), are the modern-day followers of the Evangelical Quaker theology which was
first proclaimed by Joseph John Gurney, a 19th-century British Friend. They make up
49% of the total number of Quakers worldwide. They regard Jesus Christ as their Teacher
and Lord, and favour working closely with other Protestant Christian churches. Gurneyite
Friends place more emphasis on the authority of the Bible as the direct Word of God than
on personal and direct experience of God in their lives. Both children and adults participate
in ongoing religious education which emphasises orthodox Christian teaching from the Bible,
and in relationship to both orthodox Christian Quaker history and Quaker testimonies. Gurneyite
Friends subscribe to a set of orthodox Christian doctrines, such as those found in the Richmond
Declaration of faith. In subsequent years, conflict arose among Gurneyite Friends in
relation to the Richmond Declaration of faith. Thus, after a while, the Richmond Declaration
of faith was adopted by nearly all of the Gurneyite yearly meetings. The Five Years
Meeting of Friends reaffirmed their loyalty to the Richmond Declaration of faith in 1912,
but specifically stated that it was not to constitute a Christian creed. Although Gurneyism
was the main form of Quakerism in Great Britain in the 19th century, Gurneyite Friends are
today located in America, Ireland, Africa and India. Many Gurneyite Friends combine
“waiting worship” (unprogrammed worship), with religious practices commonly found in
other Protestant Christian churches, such as the reading of the Bible and the singing
of Hymns. A small minority of Gurneyite Friends practice entirely unprogrammed worship.===Holiness===Holiness Friends are heavily influenced by
the Holiness movement, in particular John Wesley’s doctrine of Christian perfection,
also called “entire sanctification”. This doctrine states that loving God and humanity
totally, as exemplified by Christ, enables believers to rid themselves of voluntary sin.
This was a predominant view within Quakerism in the United Kingdom and United States in
the 19th century, and it influenced other branches of Quakerism. Holiness Friends argue
(leaning on writings which include George Fox’s message of perfection) that early Friends
had the same understanding of holiness.Today, while there are some Friends who hold holiness
beliefs within most yearly meetings, it is the predominant theological view of Central
Yearly Meeting of Friends, (founded in 1926 specifically to promote holiness theology),
and the Holiness Mission of the Bolivian Evangelical Friends Church (founded by missionaries from
that meeting in 1919, the largest group of Friends in Bolivia).===Liberal===Liberal Quakerism generally refers to Friends
who have taken ideas from liberal Christianity, often sharing a similar mix of ideas, such
as more critical Biblical hermeneutics, often with a focus on the social gospel. The ideas
of That of God in everyone and the inner light were popularised by American Friend Rufus
Jones, in the early 20th century. He and John Wilhelm Rowntree originated the movement.
Liberal Friends were predominant in Great Britain in the 20th century, and among US
meetings affiliated to Friends General Conference; and some meetings in Canada, Europe, Australia,
New Zealand, South Africa. These ideas remain an important part of liberal
Friends’ understanding of God. Liberal Friends highlight the importance of good works, particularly
living a life that upholds the virtues preached by Jesus. They often emphasise pacifism, treating
others equally, living simply and telling the truth.Like Conservative Friends, Liberal
Friends reject religious symbolism and sacraments, such as water baptism and the Eucharist. While
Liberal Friends recognise the potential of these outward forms for awakening experiences
of the Inward Light of Christ, they are not part of their worship, and are believed unnecessary
to authentic Christian spirituality. The Bible remains central to most Liberal
Friends’ worship, and almost all meetings make it available in the meeting house, (often
on a table in the centre of the room), which attendees may read privately or publicly during
worship. However, Liberal Friends, decided that the Scriptures should give way to God’s
leading, if God leads them in a way that is contrary to the Bible. Many Friends are also
influenced by liberal Christian theologians, and modern Biblical criticism. They often
adopt non-propositional Biblical hermeneutics, such as believing that the Bible is an anthology
of human authors’ beliefs and feelings about God, rather than Holy Writ, and that multiple
interpretations of the Scriptures are acceptable. Liberal Friends believe that a corporate confession
of faith would be an obstacle—both to authentic listening and to new insight. As a non-creedal
form of Christianity, Liberal Quakerism is receptive to a wide range of religious faith
understandings. Most Liberal Quaker Yearly Meetings publish a Faith and Practice, a book
with a range of religious experiences of what it means to be a Friend in that Yearly Meeting.===Universalist===Universalist Friends affirm religious pluralism,
that there are many different paths to God and that understandings of the divine reached
through non-Christian religious experiences are as valid as Christian understandings.
This group was founded in the late 1970s by John Linton. Linton had worshipped God with
the Delhi Worship Group in India (an independent meeting not affiliated to any yearly meeting
or wider Quaker group) with Christians, Muslims and Hindus worshipping together.
Following a move to Great Britain, he founded the Quaker Universalist Fellowship in 1978.
Later his views spread to the US where the Quaker Universalist Fellowship was founded
in 1983. Most of the Friends who joined these two fellowships were Liberal Friends from
Britain Yearly Meeting in the United Kingdom, and Liberal Friends from Friends General Conference
in the United States. Interest in Quaker Universalism is low among Friends from other Yearly meetings.
The views of the Universalists provoked controversy between themselves and Christian Quakers within
Britain Yearly Meeting, and within Friends General Conference, during the 1980s. Despite
the label, Quaker “Universalists” are not necessarily Christian Universalists, embracing
the doctrine of universal reconciliation.===Non-theist===These Friends have views similar to other
post-Christian non-theists in other churches such as the Sea of Faith within the Anglican
church. They are predominantly atheists, agnostics, and humanists who nevertheless value membership
in a religious organization. The first organisation for non-theist Friends was the Humanistic
Society of Friends, founded in Los Angeles in 1939. This organisation remained small
and was absorbed into the American Humanist Association. More recently, interest in non-theism
resurfaced, particularly led by British Friend David Boulton, who founded the 40 member Nontheist
Friends Network in 2011. Non-theism is controversial, leading some Christian Quakers from within
Britain Yearly Meeting to call for non-theists to be refused membership.
In one study of Friends in Britain Yearly Meeting, around 30% of Quakers had views that
were described as non-theistic, agnostic, or atheist. Another study of British Quakers,
found that of the 727 members of the Religious Society of Friends who completed the survey,
75.1% said that they consider themselves to be Christian; 17.6% did not consider themselves
Christian; and 7.3% of the members either did not answer or circled both answers. A
further 22% of Quakers did not consider themselves to be a Christian, but fulfilled a definition
of being a Christian in that they said that they devoutly followed the teachings and example
of Jesus Christ. In the same survey 86.9% said that they believed in God.==Practical theology==Quakers bear witness or testify to their religious
beliefs in their spiritual lives, drawing on the James advice that faith by itself,
if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. This religious witness is rooted in their
immediate experience of God and verified by the Bible, especially in Jesus Christ’s life
and teachings. They may bear witness in many ways, according to how they believe God is
leading them. Although Quakers share how they relate to God and the world, mirroring Christian
ethical codes, for example the Sermon on the Mount or the Sermon on the Plain, Friends
argue that they feel personally moved by God rather than following an ethical code.
Some theologians classify Friends’ religious witness into categories—known by some Friends
as testimonies. These Friends believe these principles and practices testify to, witness
to, or provide evidence for God’s truth. No categorisation is universally accepted.In
East Africa, Friends teach peace and non-violence, simplicity, honesty, equality, humility, marriage
and sexual ethics (defining marriage as lifelong between one man and one woman), sanctity of
life (opposition to abortion), cultural conflicts and Christian life.In the United States, the
acronym SPICES is often used by many Yearly Meetings (Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community,
Equality and Stewardship). Stewardship is not recognised as a Testimony by all Yearly
Meetings. Rocky Mountain Yearly Meeting Friends put their faith in action through living their
lives by the following principles: prayer, personal integrity, stewardship (which includes
giving away minimum of 10% income and refraining from lotteries), marriage and family (lifelong
commitment), regard for mind and body (refraining from certain amusements, propriety and modesty
of dress, abstinence from alcohol, tobacco and drugs), peace and non-violence (including
refusing to participate in war), abortion (opposition to abortion, practical ministry
to women with unwanted pregnancy and promotion of adoption), human sexuality, the Christian
and state (look to God for authority, not the government), capital punishment (find
alternatives), human equality, women in ministry (recognising women and men have an equal part
to play in ministry). The Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and
Association lists as testimonies: Integrity, Peace, Simplicity, Equality and Community;
Areas of witness lists Children, Education, Government, Sexuality and Harmony with Nature.In
the UK, the acronym STEP or PEST is used (peace, equality, simplicity and truth). In his book
Quaker Speak, British Friend Alastair Heron, lists the following ways in which British
Friends testify to God: Opposition to betting and gambling, capital punishment, conscription,
hat honour (the largely historical practice of dipping one’s hat toward social superiors),
oaths, slavery, times and seasons, tithing and promotion of integrity (or truth), peace,
penal reform, plain language, relief of suffering, simplicity, social order, Sunday observance,
sustainability, temperance and moderation.===Calendar and church holidays===
Quakers traditionally use numbers to denominate the names of the months and days of the week,
something they call the plain calendar. This does not use names of calendar units derived
from the names of pagan deities. The days begin with First Day (Sunday) and ends on
Seventh Day (Saturday), and months run from First Month (January) to Twelfth Month (December).
This is based on the terms used in the Bible: e.g., Jesus Christ’s followers went to the
tomb early on the First Day of the week. The plain calendar emerged in the 17th century
in England in the Puritan movement, but became closely identified with Friends by the end
of the 1650s, and was commonly employed into the 20th century. It is less commonly encountered
today. The term First Day School is commonly used, for what is called by most churches
Sunday School. In common with other Christian denominations
derived from the 16th century Puritanism, many Friends do not observe religious festivals
(e.g. Christmas, Lent, or Easter), but instead believe that Christ’s birth, crucifixion,
and resurrection, should be commemorated every day of the year. For example, many Quakers
feel that fasting at Lent, but then eating in excess at other times of the year is hypocrisy
and therefore many Quakers, rather than observing Lent, live a simple lifestyle all the year
round (see Testimony of Simplicity). These practices are often referred to as the testimony
against times and seasons. Some Friends are non-Sabbatarians, holding
that “every day is the Lord’s day”, and that what should be done on a First Day should
be done every day of the week, although Meeting for Worship is usually held on a First Day,
which has been advised since the first advice issued by elders in 1656.==Worship==Most groups of Quakers meet for regular worship.
There are two main types of worship worldwide: programmed worship and waiting worship.===Programmed worship===In programmed worship there is often a prepared
Biblical message, which may be delivered by an individual with theological training from
a Bible College. There may be hymns, a sermon, Bible readings, joint prayers and a period
of silent worship. The worship resembles the church services of other Protestant denominations,
although in most cases does not include the Eucharist. A paid pastor may be responsible
for pastoral care. Worship of this kind is celebrated by about 89% of Friends worldwide.
It is found in many Yearly Meetings in Africa, Asia and parts of the US (central and southern),
and is common in programmed meetings affiliated to Friends United Meeting, (who make up around
49% of worldwide membership), and evangelical meetings, including those affiliated to Evangelical
Friends International, (who make up at least 40% of Friends worldwide). The religious event
is sometimes called a Quaker meeting for worship or sometimes called a Friends church service.
This religious tradition arose among Friends in the United States, in the 19th century,
and in response to the many converts to Christian Quakerism during the national spiritual revival
of the time. Friends meetings in Africa and Latin America were generally started by Orthodox
Friends from programmed elements of the Society, therefore most African and Latin American
Friends worship in a programmed style. Some Friends also hold “Semi-Programmed” Worship,
which brings programmed elements such as hymns and readings into an otherwise unprogrammed
worship service.===Unprogrammed worship===Unprogrammed worship (also known as waiting
worship, “silent worship”, or holy communion in the manner of Friends) is based on the
practices of George Fox and the Early Friends, who based their religious beliefs and practices
on their interpretation of how the early Christians worshipped God their Heavenly Father. Friends
gather together in “expectant waiting upon God” to experience his still small voice leading
them from within. There is no plan on how the meeting will proceed, and actual practice
varies widely between Meetings and individual worship services. Friends believe that God
plans what will happen, with his spirit leading people to speak. When a participant feels
led to speak, he or she will stand and share a spoken message of (“vocal ministry”) in
front of others. When this happens, Quakers believe that the spirit of God is speaking
through the speaker. After someone has spoken, it is customary to allow a few minutes pass
in silence for reflection on what has been said, before further vocal ministry is given.
Sometimes a meeting is entirely silent, sometimes many speak. These meetings lasted for several
hours in George Fox’s day. Modern meetings are often limited to an hour, ending when
two people (usually the elders) exchange the sign of peace by handshake. This handshake
is often shared by the others. This style of worship is the norm in Great Britain, Ireland,
the continent of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Southern Africa, Canada, and parts of the
United States (particularly yearly meetings associated with Friends General Conference
and Beanite Quakerism)—constituting about 11% of Quakers. Those who worship in this
style hold each person to be equal before God and capable of knowing the light of God
directly. Anyone present may speak if they feel led to do so. Traditionally, Recorded
Ministers were recognised for their particular gift in vocal ministry. This religious practice
continues among Conservative Friends and Liberal Friends (e.g. New York Yearly Meeting). Many
meetings where Liberal Friends predominate abolished this religious practice. London
Yearly Meeting of Friends abolished the acknowledging and recording of Recorded Ministers in 1924.==Governance and organisation=====Church government and polity===Governance and decision making is conducted
at a special meeting for worship—often called a meeting for worship with a concern for business
or meeting for worship for church affairs at which all members can attend, as in a Congregational
church. Quakers consider this to be a form of worship, conducted in the manner of meeting
for worship. They believe this is the gathering of believers who wait upon the Lord to discover
God’s will, believing that they are not making their own decisions. They seek to understand
God’s will for the religious community, via the actions of the Holy Spirit within the
meeting.As in a meeting for worship, each member is expected to listen to God, and,
if led by Him, stand up and contribute. In some business meetings, Friends wait for the
clerk to acknowledge them before speaking. Direct replies to someone’s contribution are
not permitted, with an aim of seeking truth rather than of debating. A decision is reached
when the meeting, as a whole, feels that the “way forward” has been discerned (also called
“coming to unity”). There is no voting. On some occasions Friends may delay a decision
because they feel the meeting is not following God’s will. Others (especially non-Friends)
may describe this as consensus decision-making; however in general Friends continue to seek
God’s will. It is assumed that, if everyone is attuned to God’s spirit, the way forward
will become clear.===International organisation===Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC)
is the international Quaker organisation that loosely unifies the different religious traditions
of Quakers; FWCC brings together the largest variety of Friends in the world. Friends World
Committee for Consultation is divided into four sections to represent different regions
of the world: Africa, Asia West Pacific, Europe and Middle East, and the Americas.Various
organisations associated with Friends include a U.S. lobbying organisation based in Washington,
D.C. called the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL); service organisations
such as the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the Quaker United Nations Offices,
Quaker Peace and Social Witness, Friends Committee on Scouting, the Quaker Peace Centre in Cape
Town, South Africa, and the Alternatives to Violence Project.===Yearly meetings===Quakers today are organised into independent
and regional, national bodies called Yearly Meetings, which have often split from one
another because of Christian doctrinal differences. Several associations unite Quakers who share
similar religious beliefs—for example Evangelical Friends Church International unites evangelical
Christian Friends; Friends United Meeting unites Friends into “fellowships where Jesus
Christ is known, loved, and obeyed as Teacher and Lord;” and Friends General Conference
links together Quakers that have non-creedal, liberal religious beliefs. Many Quaker Yearly
Meetings, are also members of Friends World Committee for Consultation, an international
fellowship of Yearly Meetings from different Quaker religious traditions.===Membership===
A Friend is a member of a Yearly Meeting, usually beginning with membership in a local
monthly meeting. Methods for acquiring membership vary; for example, in most Kenyan yearly meetings,
attenders who wish to become members are required to take part in around two years of adult
education, memorising key Bible passages, and learning about the history of orthodox
Christianity, and of Christian Quakerism. Within Britain Yearly Meeting, membership
is acquired through a process of peer review, where a potential member is visited by several
members who present a report to the other members of the monthly meeting before a decision
is reached. Within some Friends Churches in the Evangelical
Friends Church, in particular in Rwanda, Burundi, and parts of the U.S., an adult believer’s
baptism by immersion in water, is optional. Within Liberal Friends, Conservative Friends,
and Pastoral Friends Churches, Friends do not practise water baptism, Christening, or
other initiation ceremonies to admit a new member or a newborn baby. Children are often
welcomed into the meeting at their first attendance. Formerly, children born to Quaker parents
automatically became members (sometimes called Birthright membership), but this is no longer
the case in many areas. Some parents apply for membership on behalf of their children,
while others allow the child to decide whether to become a member when they are ready, and
older in age. Some meetings adopt a policy that children, some time after becoming young
adults, must apply independently for membership.==Meetings for worship for specific tasks
=====
Memorial services===Traditional Quaker memorial services are held
as a form of worship and are known as memorial meetings. Friends gather for worship and offer
remembrances about the deceased. In some Quaker religious traditions, the coffin or ashes
are not present. Memorial meetings may be held many weeks after the death, which can
enable wider attendance, and can also replace grief with spiritual reflection, and celebration
of life to dominate. Memorial meetings can last over an hour, particularly if many people
attend. Memorial services give everyone a chance to remember the lost individual in
their own way, comforting those present, and re-affirming the love of the people in the
wider community.===Marriage===A meeting for worship for the solemnisation
of marriage in an unprogrammed Friends meeting is similar to any other unprogrammed Meeting
for Worship. The pair exchange vows before God and gathered witnesses, and the meeting
returns to open worship. At the rise of meeting, the witnesses, including the youngest children,
are asked to sign the wedding certificate as a record. In Great Britain, Quakers keep
a separate record of the union and notify the General Register Office.
In the early days of the United States, there was doubt whether a marriage solemnised in
that manner was entitled to legal recognition. Over the years, each state has set rules for
the procedure. Most US states expect the marriage document to be signed by a single officiant
(a priest, rabbi, minister, Justice of the Peace, etc.). Quakers routinely modify the
document to allow three or four Friends to sign as the officiant. Often, these are the
members of a committee of ministry and oversight, who have helped the couple plan their marriage.
Usually, a separate document containing their vows and the signatures of all present is
kept by the couple, and often displayed prominently in their home.
In many Friends meetings, the couple meet with a clearness committee prior to the wedding.
This committee’s purpose is to discuss with the couple the many aspects of marriage and
life as a couple. If the couple seems ready, the marriage is recommended to the meeting.
As in the wider society, there is a wide diversity of views on the issue of same-sex marriage,
and Friends have varying views on the topic. Various Friends meetings around the world
have voiced support for, and have recognised, same-sex marriages. In 1986, Hartford Friends
Meeting in Connecticut, U.S., reached the decision that “the Meeting recognised a committed
union in a celebration of marriage, under the care of the Meeting. The same loving care
and consideration should be given to both homosexual and heterosexual applicants as
outlined in Faith and Practice.” Since then, some other meetings of liberal and progressive
Friends from Australia, Britain, New Zealand, parts of North America, and other countries
have recognised marriage between partners of the same sex. In jurisdictions, where same-sex
marriage is not recognised by the civil authorities, some meetings follow the practice of early
Quakers in overseeing the union without reference to the state. There are also Friends who do
not support same-sex marriage, and some Evangelical and Pastoral yearly meetings in the United
States have issued public statements stating that homosexuality is a sin.==National and international divisions and
organisation==Like many religious movements, the Religious
Society of Friends has evolved, changed, and split into subgroups.
Quakerism started in England and Wales, and quickly spread to Ireland, the Netherlands,
Barbados and North America. Today Kenya is, by far, the country with the most Quakers.
Other countries with over 5,000 Quakers are Burundi, Bolivia, Canada, Guatemala, Nepal,
Taiwan, Uganda, United Kingdom, and the United States. Although the total number of Quakers
is around 377,000 worldwide, Quaker influence is concentrated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
Kaimosi, Kenya; Newberg, Oregon; Greenleaf, Idaho; Whittier, California; Richmond, Indiana;
Friendswood, Texas; Birmingham, England; Ramallah, Palestine, and Greensboro, North Carolina.===Africa===The highest concentration of Quakers is in
Africa. The Friends of East Africa were at one time part of a single East Africa Yearly
Meeting, then the world’s largest yearly meeting. Today, this region is served by several distinct
yearly meetings. Most of these are affiliated with the Friends United Meeting, practise
programmed worship and employ pastors. Friends meet in Rwanda and Burundi, as well as new
work beginning in North Africa. Small unprogrammed meetings exist also in Botswana, Ghana, Lesotho,
Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe. In 2012, there were 196,800 adult Quakers
in Africa.===Australia and New Zealand===
Friends in Australia and New Zealand follow the unprogrammed tradition, similar to Britain
Yearly Meeting. Considerable distances between the colonies
and small numbers of Quakers meant that Australia Friends were dependent on London until the
20th century. The Society remained unprogrammed and is named Australia Yearly Meeting, with
local organizations around seven Regional Meetings: Canberra (which extends into southern
New South Wales), New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia (which extends into Northern
Territory), Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia. The Friends’ School is found in
Hobart. An annual meeting each January, is hosted by a different Regional Meeting over
a seven-year cycle, with a Standing Committee each July or August. The Australia Yearly
Meeting published This We Can Say: Australian Quaker Life, Faith and Thought, in 2003.
Meetings for worship in New Zealand started in Nelson in 1842, and in Auckland in 1885.
In 1889 it was estimated that there were about 30 Quakers in Auckland. The New Zealand Yearly
Meeting, today consists of nine monthly meetings. The Yearly Meeting published Quaker Faith
and Practice in Aotearoa New Zealand, in 2003.===Asia===
Quaker meetings occur in India, Hong Kong, Korea, Philippines, Japan and Nepal.
India has four yearly meetings—the unprogrammed Mid-India Yearly Meeting, programmed Bhopal
Yearly Meeting, and the Mahoba Yearly Meeting. Bundelkhand Yearly Meeting is an evangelical
Friends Church affiliated to Evangelical Friends International. Other programmed and unprogrammed
worship groups are not affiliated with any yearly meeting.
Evangelical Friends Churches exist in the Philippines and Nepal, and are affiliated
with Evangelical Friends International.===Europe===In the United Kingdom, the predominantly liberal
and unprogrammed Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain, has
478 local meetings, and a total of 14,260 adult members, and an additional 8,560 non-member
adults who attend worship and 2,251 children. The number has declined steadily since the
mid-20th century. Programmed meetings occur, including in Wem and London. Small groups
of Conservative Friends meet in Ripley and Greenwich in England, and Arbroath in Scotland,
who follow Ohio Yearly Meeting’s Book of Discipline.Evangelical Friends Central Europe Yearly Meeting has
4,306 members across six nations, including Albania, Hungary and Romania.Ireland Yearly
Meeting is unprogrammed and is more conservative than Britain Yearly Meeting. They have 1,591
members in 28 meetings across the Republic of Ireland, and in Northern Ireland.
German Yearly Meeting is unprogrammed and liberal, and has 340 members, worshipping
in 31 meetings, in Germany and in Austria. Small groups of Friends in Czech Republic,
Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, and Ukraine attend meetings
for worship there.===Middle East===
Middle East Yearly Meeting has meetings in Lebanon and Palestine.
There has been an active and vibrant Palestinian Quaker community in Ramallah since the late
1800s. In 1910 this community built the Ramallah Friends Meetinghouse and later added another
building that was used for community outreach. The Ramallah Friends Meeting has always played
a vital role in the community. In 1948 the buildings and grounds became the home to many
Palestinian refugees. Throughout the years, the members of the Ramallah Friends Meeting
organised numerous community programmes such as the Children’s Play Centre, the First Day
School, and women’s activities. By the early 1990s the Meetinghouse and Annex,
which housed meeting rooms and bathroom facilities, fell into disrepair as a result of damage
inflicted by time and impact of conflict. So serious was the deterioration of the meetinghouse
that by the middle 1990s it was impossible to use the building at all.
A further blow to the Friends and the wider Palestinian community was the high level of
emigration brought on by the economic situation and the hardships arising from the continuing
Israeli military occupation. The Meetinghouse, which had served as a place of worship for
the Friends in Ramallah could no longer be used as such and the Annex could no longer
be used for community outreach. In 2002 a committee consisting of members
of the Religious Society of Friends in the US and the Clerk of the Ramallah Meeting began
to raise funds for the renovations of the buildings and grounds of the Meetinghouse.
By November 2004 the renovations were complete, and on 6 March 2005, exactly 95 years to the
day after the dedication, the Meetinghouse and Annex were rededicated as a Quaker and
community resource. Friends meet every Sunday morning at 10:30
a.m. for unprogrammed Meeting for Worship. Everyone is welcome to attend.===North and South America===Quakers can be found throughout Canada. Some
of the largest concentrations are in Southern Ontario.Friends in the United States have
diverse worship styles and differences of theology, vocabulary, and practice.
A local congregation in the unprogrammed tradition is called a meeting, or a monthly meeting
(e.g., Smalltown Meeting or Smalltown Monthly Meeting). The reference to “monthly” is because
the meeting meets monthly to conduct the group’s business. Most “monthly meetings” meet for
worship at least once a week; some meetings have several worship meetings during the week.
In programmed traditions, local congregations are often referred to as “Friends Churches”.
Monthly meetings are often part of a regional group called a quarterly meeting, which is
usually part of an even larger group called a yearly meeting; with the adjectives “quarterly”
and “yearly” referring specifically to the frequency of meetings for worship with a concern
for business. Some yearly meetings belong to larger organisations
to help maintain order and communication within the Society. The three chief ones are Friends
General Conference (FGC), Friends United Meeting (FUM), and Evangelical Friends Church International
(EFCI). In all three groups, most member organisations, though not necessarily members are from the
United States. FGC is theologically the most liberal of the three groups, while EFCI is
the most evangelical. FUM is the largest. Friends United Meeting was originally known
as “Five Years Meeting”. Some monthly meetings belong to more than one larger organisation,
while others are fully independent.==Relations with other churches and faiths
=====
Ecumenical relations===Many Quakers prior to the 20th century, considered
the Religious Society of Friends to be a Christian movement, but did not feel that their religious
faith fit within the categories of Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant. Many Conservative
Friends, while fully seeing themselves as orthodox Christians, choose to remain separate
from other Christian groups. Many Friends in Liberal Friends’ meetings
are actively involved in the ecumenical movement, often working closely with other Mainline
Protestant and liberal Christian churches, with whom they share common religious ground.
A concern for peace and social justice often brings Friends together with other Christian
churches and other Christian groups. Some Liberal Quaker yearly meetings are members
of ecumenical pan-Christian organisations, which include Protestant, Orthodox, and Anglican
churches—for example Philadelphia Yearly Meeting is a member of the National Council
of Churches. Britain Yearly Meeting is a member of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland,
and Friends General Conference is a member of the World Council of Churches.Guerneyite
Friends would typically see themselves as part of an orthodox Christian movement and
work closely with other Christian groups. Friends United Meeting (the international
organisation of Gurneyite yearly meetings) is a member of the National Council of Churches
and the World Council of Churches, which are pan-Christian organisations, which include
Protestant, Orthodox, and Anglican churches. Evangelical Friends work closely with other
evangelical churches from other Christian traditions. The North American branch of Evangelical
Friends Church International is a member church of the National Association of Evangelicals.
Evangelical Friends tend to be less involved with non-evangelical churches and are not
members of the World Council of Churches or National Council of Churches.
The majority of other Christian groups recognise Friends among their fellow-Christians. Some
people who attend Quaker Meetings assume that Quakers are not Christians, when they do not
hear overtly Christian language during the meeting for worship.===Relations with other faiths===
Relationships between Quakers and non-Christians vary considerably, according to sect, geography,
and history. Early Quakers distanced themselves from practices
that they saw as pagan, such as by refusing to use the usual names of days of the week,
since they derive from names of pagan deities. They refused to celebrate Christmas because
they believed it was based on pagan festivities.Early Friends attempted to convert adherents of
other world religions to Christianity. For example, George Fox wrote a number of open
letters to Jews and Muslims, in which he encouraged them to turn to Jesus Christ as the only path
to salvation (e.g. A Visitation to the Jews, To the Great Turk and King of Algiers in Algeria,
and all that are under his authority, to read this over, which concerns their salvation
and To the Great Turk and King of Algiers in Algeria). Mary Fisher attempted to convert
the Muslim Mehmed IV (the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire) in 1658.
In 1870, Richard Price Hallowell argued that the logical extension of Christian Quakerism
is a universal Church, which demands a religion which embraces Jew, Pagan and Christian, and
which cannot be limited by the dogmas of one or the other.Since the late 20th century,
some attenders at Liberal Quaker Meetings have actively identified with world faiths
other than Christianity, such as Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Paganism.==Film==
Quakers have appeared in the following films, The Spirit of ’76 (1917)
Betsy Ross (1917) Down to the Sea in Ships (1922)
Beauty’s Worth (1922) The Lady from Cheyenne (1941)
Penn of Pennsylvania (1942) Angel and the Badman (1947)
High Noon (1952) Friendly Persuasion (1956)
The Deep Six (1958) Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1965)
High Noon (2000) Iron Jawed Angels (2004)
Einstein and Eddington (2008)==See also==
Quakers portal List of Christian denominations==References====Further reading=====Primary sources======Children’s books=====External links==Britain Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society
of Friends Canadian Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society
of Friends Quakers at Curlie
Digital Quaker Collection: – a list of Christian Quaker literature
Post Reformation Digital Library: – a library of early modern quaker texts
Quaker Heritage Press publishes etexts of rare and out-of-print Quaker documents.
Works by Society of Friends at Project Gutenberg Works by or about Quakers at Internet Archive
Works by or about Society of Friends at Internet Archive

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