Without a divinely ordained authority beyond the Inward Light,
Friends have always valued the meaningful experiences of fellow travelers. This
chapter contains a small selection of Friends’ words—from vocal ministry, journals,
articles, letters, and comments heard and overheard— to show some of the depth and
breadth of Friends' experiences and insights.
1. 01 As I had forsaken
all the priests, so I left the separate preachers also, and those called the
most-experienced people. For I saw there was none among them all that could
speak to my condition. And when all my hopes in them and in all men were gone,
so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could tell what to do, then, oh
then, I heard a voice which said “There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can
speak to thy condition,” and, when I heard it, my heart did leap for joy. Then
the Lord did let me see why there was
none upon the earth that could speak to my condition, namely, that I might give
him all the glory. For all are concluded under sin and shut up in unbelief, as
I had been, that Jesus Christ might have the preeminence, who enlightens, and
gives grace and faith and power. Thus, when God doth work, who shall let it?
And this I knew experimentally…
last after all my distresses, wanderings and sore travels, I met with some
writings of this people called Quakers, which I cast a slight eye upon and
disdained, as falling very short of that wisdom, light, life and power, which I
had been longing for and searching after. … After a long time, I was invited to
hear one of them. … When I came, I felt the presence and power of the Most High
among them, and words of truth from the Spirit of truth reaching to my heart
and conscience, opening my state as in the presence of the Lord. Yes, I did not
only feel words and demonstrations from without, but I felt the dead quickened,
the seed raised; insomuch as my heart, in the certainty of light and clearness
of true sense, said: “This is he; this is he; there is no other; this is he
whom I have waited for and sought after from my childhood, who was always near
me, and had often begotten life in my heart, but I knew him not distinctly nor
how to receive him, or dwell with him.
But some may desire to know what I have at last met with. I
answer, “I have met with the Seed.” Understand that word, and thou wilt be
satisfied and inquire no further. I have met with my God, I have met with my
Saviour, and he hath not been present with me without his Salvation, but I have
felt the healings drop upon my soul from under his wings.
1.03 Not by strength of
arguments or by a particular disquisition of each doctrine and convincement of
my understanding thereby, came I to receive and bear witness of the Truth, but
by being secretly reached by the Life. For when I came into the silent
assemblies of God’s people, I felt a secret power among them which touched my
heart; and as I gave way unto it I found the evil weakening in me and the good
raised up and so I became thus knit and united unto them, hungering more and
more after the increase of this power and life, whereby I might feel myself
Robert Barclay, 1676
1.04 Whenever we are
driven into the depths of our own being, or seek them of our own will, we are
faced by a tremendous contrast. On the one side we recognize the pathetic
littleness of ephemeral existence, with no point or meaning in itself. On the
other side, in the depth, there is something eternal and infinite in which our
existence, and indeed all existence, is grounded. This experience of the depths
of existence fills us with a sense both of reverence and of responsibility,
which gives even to our finite lives a meaning and a power which they do not
possess in themselves. This, I am assured, is our human experience of God.
1.05 There is indeed One
that speaks to my condition, but that One may not announce a name, or even
speak a word; it may reveal itself as Light, or inner peace, or compassion for
humanity. But whatever its manifestation, there is only One. If that One is
perceived as a King, then that is a true perception; if it is perceived as a
Mother, then that is also a true perception. If I call God “Holy Mother” and
you call God “Divine King,” does that mean there are two Gods? No, there is
That of God within every person is sometimes recognized as
the Spirit of Christ, or the Holy Spirit, or the Inner Light. As Friends we
accept and respect that Spirit, however perceived, in all people, and
particularly in each other. We can give testimony to our own experience, as
honestly and faithfully as possible, but we cannot alter another’s spiritual
condition. Let us receive Light as it is given to us, and share it as we are
able, and trust in the One that can speak to the condition of all people, to
care for and guide us all.
1.06 When we turn inside
or beyond ourselves to grasp some understanding of the divine, we discover
through encounter that what we need to find we will find: a something creative
and renewing, overwhelmingly strong and passive, completely wise and innocent,
living and dying, feminine and masculine.
Our father, our mother, our light, which is in heaven and
earth, holy is your name. Come.
Patrice Haan, 1983
1.07 I am
just now beginning to feel comfortable with the realization of a Feminine
Spirit as a personal presence. I will continue to work toward centering in
Worship, to be open to the Light, its peace and comfort, and maybe then, its
message through her voice. I do not search for her. I just know her as the
source of my Light.
the age of seven I decided that what I wanted to be when I grew up was a saint.
That didn’t work out. I gave it my best shot at the time, but I lacked staying
Some years later, when I was eleven, there were
several months when I thought I’d like to be a nun, in the belief that what the
job required was good works, a predisposition to meditativeness, and a
willingness to be isolated from the real world. I was wrong, of course, and it
was just as well that that didn’t work out either. I may have had what my loved
father called “the necessary sap,” but I wasn’t a Roman Catholic, to begin
with, and more important, I lacked vocation.
I did, however, sense a spirit in things, in
literal, tangible things, as well as in places, in houses, in people, trees,
flowers, animals. When I felt its presence in the sky, in the stars, I called
this spirit God. Even in the worst of times I never lost this feeling of
Something Other. Moreover, those early personality traits, obscurely religious,
persisted, and to this day I describe myself, roughly speaking, as a religious
Consciousness of the spiritual, of God—whatever
that means—is at the heart of who I am. Yet I appear to myself and quite
probably to those who know me as an ordinary, daily sort of person, as mundane,
as worldly, as anyone else, living a life made up of bills, telephone calls,
computers, car-washes, work, food, laundry and so on because in every
particular my life is aware of a spirit in things. But hardly ever do I so much
as mention it.
To me it seems very likely that the same is true
for a very great number of people, likely that many whose characters are similarly constructed go
through their days and nights whispering “Thank You,” or “I need help,” or
“Please”—prayers, in short, to whatever is out there listening, holding the
world together, binding the stars. As a consequence of this obscure sense of
spirit, my life seems rich to me.
I seldom speak of it. I certainly do not mention
God’s name, whatever that may be, except in the context of mild swearing. But the
sense of a spirit in things is what keeps me alive. I suspect such a recognition
is common. I suspect many do not speak of what they deeply recognize as faith.
I believe that many lives as ordinary as my own are
founded in a sense of the spirit. I believe that faith, consciousness of the
unseen Other, works constantly in ordinary lives like mine in a wonderful and
mysterious way. Even though no one but the one who knows such faith may feel
its power, I believe that in those who are silent faith may be profound and
strong, may be the very force which brings about miracles of light.
Phyllis Hoge, 2005
1.10 There is a spirit
which I feel that delights to do no evil nor to revenge any wrong, but delights
to endure all things, in hope to enjoy its own in the end. Its hope is to
outlive all wrath and contention, and to weary out all exaltation and cruelty,
or whatever is of a nature contrary to itself. It sees to the end of all
temptations. As it bears no evil in itself, so it conceives none in thoughts to
any other. If it is betrayed, it bears it, for its ground and spring is the mercies
and forgiveness of God. Its crown is meekness, its life is everlasting love
unfeigned; and takes its kingdom with entreaty and not with contention, and
keeps it by lowliness of mind. In God alone it can rejoice, though none else
regard it, or can own its life. It’s conceived in sorrow, and brought forth
without any to pity it, nor doth it murmur at grief and oppression. It never
rejoiceth but through sufferings; for with the world’s joy it is murdered. I
found it alone, being forsaken. I have fellowship therein with them who lived
in dens and desolate places in the earth, who through death obtained this
resurrection and eternal life.
1.11 Conscience follows
the judgment, doth not inform it; but this light as it is received, removes the
blindness of the judgment, opens the understanding, and rectifies both the
judgment and the conscience. The conscience is an excellent thing where it is
rightly informed and enlightened; wherefore some of us have fitly compared it
to the lantern, and the light of Christ to the candle; a lantern is useful,
when a clear candle burns and shines in it, but otherwise of no use. To the
light of Christ then in the conscience, and not to man’s natural conscience, it
is that we continually commend men.
Robert Barclay, 1676
1.12 That which the
people called Quakers lay down as a main fundamental in religion is this, that
God through Christ hath placed a principle in every man to inform him of his
duty, and to enable him to do it; and that those that live up to this principle
are the people of God, and those that live in disobedience to it are not God’s
people, whatever name they may bear or profession they may make of religion.
This is their ancient, first, and standing testimony. With this they began, and
this they bore and do bear to the world.
1.13 The unity of
Christians never did nor ever will or can stand in uniformity of thought and
opinion, but in Christian love only.
1.14 In the love of money
and in the wisdom of this world, business is proposed, then the urgency of
affairs push forward, nor can the mind in this state discern the good and
perfect will of God concerning us. The love of God as manifested is graciously
calling us to come out of that which stands in confusion; but if we bow not in
the name of Jesus, if we give not up those prospects of gain which in the
wisdom of this world are open before us, but say in our hearts, “I must needs
go on, and in going on I hope to keep as near to the purity of Truth as the
business before me will admit of,” here the mind remains entangled and the
shining of the light of life into the soul is obstructed.
1.15 There is a principle
which is pure, placed in the human mind, which in different places and ages
hath had different names. It is, however, pure and proceeds from God. It is
deep and inward, confined to no forms of religion, nor excluded from any, where
the heart stands in perfect sincerity. In whomsoever this takes root and grows,
of what nation soever, they become brethren in the best sense of the
1.16 They fail to read
clearly the signs of the times who do not see that the hour is coming when,
under the searching eye of philosophy and the terrible analysis of science, the
letter and the outward evidence will not altogether avail us; when the surest
dependence must be on the light of Christ within, disclosing the law and the
prophets in our own souls, and confirming the truth of outward Scripture by
Greenleaf Whittier, 1870
1.17 While seeking to
interpret our Christian faith in the language of today, we must remember that
there is one worse thing than failure to practice what we profess, and that is
to water down our profession to match our practice.
World Conference, 1952
1.18 The best type of
religion is one in which the mystical, the evangelical, the rational, and the
social are so related that each exercises a restraint on the others. Too
exclusive an emphasis on mysticism results in a religion which is
individualistic, subjective, and vague; too dominant an evangelicalism results
in a religion which is authoritarian, creedal, and external; too great an
emphasis on rationalism results in a cold intellectual religion which appeals
only to the few; too engrossing a devotion to the social gospel results in a
religion which, in improving the outer environment, ignores defects in the
inner life which cause the outer disorder. In Quakerism the optimum is not
equality in rank of the four elements. The mystical is basic. The Light Within
occasions the acceptance or rejection of a particular authority, reason, or
Howard Brinton, 1952
1.19 Experience is the Quaker’s
starting-point. This light must be my light, this truth must be my truth, this faith must
be my very own faith. The key that unlocks the door to the spiritual life
belongs not to Peter, or some other person, as an official. It belongs to the
individual soul that finds the light, discovers the truth that sees the
revelation of God and goes on living in the demonstration and power of it.
M. Jones, 1927
1.20 For God can be found. … There
is a Divine Center into which your life can slip, a
new and absolute orientation in God, a Center where you live with him and out
of which you see all life, through new and radiant vision, tinged with new
sorrows and pangs, new joys unspeakable and full of glory.
R. Kelly, 1938
1.21 The Inward Light is
a universal light given to all men, religious consciousness itself being
basically the same wherever it is found. Our difficulties come when we try to
express it. We cannot express; we can only experience God. Therefore we must
always remember tolerance, humility, and tenderness with others whose ways and
views may differ from ours.
Yearly Meeting, 1953
1.22 We must be alert
that the warm coziness which we find enveloping us at Yearly Meeting and in our
Monthly Meetings does not snare us into imagining that this is all of
Quakerism. A vital religion is one which goes from an encounter with the love
of God to an encounter in service to that love, no matter how hopeless the
situation may be.
Pacific Yearly Meeting, 1967
1.23 This central
affirmation, that the Light of the Christlike God shines in every person,
implies that our knowledge of God is both subjective and objective. It is easy
to misconstrue “Inner Light” as an invitation to individualism and anarchy if
one concentrates on the subjective experience known to each one. But it is an
equally important part of our faith and practice to recognize that we are not
affirming the existence and priority of your light and my light, but of the
Light of God, and of the God who is made known to us supremely in Jesus.
The inward experience must be checked by accordance with the mind of Christ,
the fruits of the Spirit, the character of that willed caring
which in the New Testament is called Love.
It is further checked by the fact that if God is known in
measure by every person, our knowledge of him will be largely gained through
the experience of others who reverently and humbly seek him. In the last resort
we must be guided by our own conscientiously held conviction–—but it is in the
last resort. First, we must seek carefully and prayerfully through the insights
of others, both in the past and among our contemporaries, and only in the light
of this search do we come to our affirmation.
Hugh Doncaster, 1972
1.24 For the mystery of
faith is held in a pure conscience, that you may be led, guided, taught, and
governed by this which cannot err, but is pure and eternal, and endureth for evermore.
1.25 And the first words
that he spoke were as followeth: “He is not a Jew
that is one outwards, neither is that circumcision which is outward, but he is
a Jew that is one inward, and that is circumcision which
is of the heart.” And so he went on and said, How that
Christ was the Light of the world and lighteth every
man that cometh into the world, and that by this Light they might be gathered
to God, etc. And I stood up in my pew, and I wondered at his doctrine, for I
had never heard such before. And then he went on, and opened the Scriptures,
and said, “The Scriptures were the prophets; words and Christ’s and the
apostles’ words and what as they spoke they enjoyed and possessed and had it
come from the Lord.” And said, “Then what had any to do with the Scriptures,
but as they came to the Spirit that gave them forth. You will say, Christ saith this, and the apostles say this; but what canst thou
say? Art thou a child of the Light and has walked in the Light, and what thou speakest is it inwardly from God?”
This opened me so
that it cut me to the heart; and then I saw clearly we were all wrong. So I sat
me down in my pew again, and cried bitterly. And I cried in my spirit to the Lord. “We
are all thieves, we are all thieves, we have taken the
Scriptures in words and know nothing of them in ourselves.” … I saw it was the
truth and I could not deny it; and I did as the apostle saith,
I “received the truth in the love of it.” And it was opened to me so clear that
I had never a tittle in my heart against it; but I
desired the Lord that I might be kept in it, and then I desired no greater
Fell, about 1652
much is clear: Christians and the Universalists need
each other. Our culture is grounded in ancient Christian symbols, which, if we
listen, still quiver with dense ineffable meanings. In an effort to persuade us
to listen to those meanings, Christians try to find words for them. The danger
is that the words may become idols: creeds graven in stone. Universalists,
alive to this danger, remind us that other cultures have other symbols
which—could we but attune ourselves to their resonance—are just as fraught as
ours. There are other ways of seeing. Here the danger is that we may abandon
particularity altogether and find ourselves adrift on an ocean of light without
stars, landmarks, or anchorage. Christians would call us back to terra firma
lest we dissolve. Universalists would have us venture
forth lest we petrify. The interplay of universal and particular must be as
old as religion itself. Each has dangers which the other counteracts.
The Church Universal needs both its seafarers and
its stay-at-homes. Why is that so difficult? Why have I myself never understood
it until now?
Esther Murer, Faith &
Practice of Philadelphia
Yearly Meeting, 1986
do not speak with one voice. We have so many elements, not only those which are
differently organized, but with each group we go off on different lines and too
often even criticize one another. We want no artificial unison, but the deeper
we get to really central things, the deeper will be the harmonies that emerge.
Henry Hodgkin, Can Quakers Speak to
this Generation?, 1933, pp. 40–41
differences are our riches but also our problem. One of our key differences is
the different names we give our Inward Teacher. Some of us name that Teacher,
Lord; others of us use the names Spirit, Inner Light, Inward Christ, or Jesus
Christ. It is important to acknowledge that these names involve more than
language; they involve basic differences in our understanding of who God is,
and how God enters our lives. We urge Friends to wrestle, as many of us have
here, with the conviction and experience of many Friends through our history
that this Inward Teacher is in fact Christ himself. We have been struck this
week, however, with the experience of being forced to recognize this same God
at work in others who call that Voice by different names, or who understand
differently who that Voice is.
We have wondered whether there is anything Quakers
today can say as one. After much struggle, we have discovered that we can
proclaim this: There is a living God at the centre of all, who is available to
each of us as a Present Teacher at the very heart of our lives.
An Epistle to All Friends Everywhere, from 300 Young
Friends from 34 countries, 57 yearly meetings, and 8 monthly meetings, under
the care of Friends Word Committee for Consultation, 1985
those who believe in a personal God, that will mean developing a personal
relationship with God—a feeling of being nurtured, cherished and personally
guided. For others, it is a sense of beauty and appreciation for
interconnectedness with all of life, caring for all creatures, a sense of
mystery, of transcendence or of special meaning in ordinary living.
Cynthia Taylor, ed., “Religious Education Newsletter,”
Intermountain Yearly Meeting, Spring 1995.
field of my religious training presupposed a clear definite call to a
particular kind of service. I must confess that this has never happened to
me.... I have never aspired to a particular job or asked for one; nor have I
been “stricken on the road to Damascus”
as was Paul and had my way clearly dictated to me from the heavens. The entire
course has been a maturing of family and personal decisions. In perspective, I
should say in all humility that my life has been characterized by an
inadequate, persistent effort to try to find a workable harmony between
religious profession and daily practice.
Clarence E. Pickett, Faith & Practice of Philadelphia Yearly
said to one of the Cuban Friends, “It must be hard to be a Christian in Cuba.”
He smiled. “Not as hard as it is in the United States,” he said. Of course,
I asked why he said that, and he went on, “You are tempted by three idols that
do not tempt us. One is affluence, which we do not have. Another is power,
which we also do not have. The third is technology, which again we do not have.
Furthermore, when you join a church or a meeting, you gain in social acceptance
and respectability. When we join, we lose those things, so we must be very
clear about what we believe and what the commitment is that we are prepared to
Gordon M. Browne, Jr., Faith & Practice of Philadelphia Yearly
Discernment is at the heart of Quaker Spirituality and Practice. It’s grounded
in the central Quaker conviction of the availability to every person of the
experience and guidance of God…. Discernment is the faculty we use to
distinguish the true movement of the Spirit to speak in meeting from worship
from the wholly human urge to share, to instruct, or to straighten people out….
It is the ability to see into people, situations and possibilities to identify
what is of God in them and what is of the numerous other sources in
ourselves—and what may be both….
Discernment is a gift from God, not a personal
achievement.… It is given for the building of the community and of relationship
with God rather for self-fulfillment or self-aggrandizement.… We all have been
given some measure of the gift of discernment. In a life lived with other
priorities, the gift may be left undeveloped. But as we grow and are faithful
in the spiritual life, we may well be given more.
Patricia Loring, “Spiritual Discernment” (Pendle Hill
for the spirit to speak is like waiting for a dear friend to arrive. No noise
escapes our attention. Even as we work on other things we are attuned to
anything that is out of the ordinary. Every part of us is alert to the sound of
its coming … and when it comes, we are there, listening.
Martha Roberts, 2004
1.34 In my
experience, a leading is a persistent desire to do something that may not make much
sense. It is beyond reason. It keeps asking for your attention; it doesn’t go
away. It may be inconvenient. It may be misunderstood by people you love. When
you finally act on it, it is like stepping into a river and letting it carry
you. Your fear doesn’t go away, your confusion doesn’t go away, you’re not
suddenly happy all the time. But you feel relief. There is a kind of knowing
that comforts you.
Paula Palmer, 2005
2.01 Concerning the Holy
Scriptures, we do believe that they were given forth by the Holy Spirit of God,
through the holy men of God, who (as the Scripture itself declares, 2 Peter
1:21) “spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” We believe they are to be
read, believed, and fulfilled (he that fulfills them is Christ) and they are
“profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in
righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto
all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16).
much the Bible has to teach when taken as a whole, that cannot be done by
snippets! There is its range over more than a thousand years giving us the
perspective of religion in time, growing and changing, and leading from grace
to grace. There is its clear evidence of the variety of religious experience,
not the kind of strait jacket that nearly every church, even Friends, have
sometimes been tempted to substitute for the diversity in the Bible. To select
from it but a single strand is to miss something of its richness. Even the
uncongenial and the alien to us is happily abundant in
the Bible. The needs of men today are partly to be measured by their difficulty
in understanding that with which they differ. At this point the Bible has no
little service to render. It requires patient insight into the unfamiliar and
provides a discipline for the imagination such as today merely on the political
level is a crying need of our time.
Further, the Bible is a training school in discrimination
among alternatives. One of the most sobering facts is that it is not on the
whole a peaceful book—I mean a book of peace of mind. The Bible is the deposit
of a long series of controversies between rival views of religion. The sobering
thing is that in nearly every case the people shown by the Bible to be wrong
had every reason to think they were in the right, and like us they did so.
Complacent orthodoxy is the recurrent villain in the story from first to last
and the hero is the challenger, like Job, the prophets, Jesus, and Paul.
Henry Joel Cadbury, 1953
3.01 Prayer releases
energy as certainly as the closing of an electric circuit does. It heightens
all human capacities. It refreshes and quickens life. It unlocks reservoirs of
power. It opens invisible doors into new storehouses of spiritual force for the
person to live by and, as I believe, for others to live by as well. It is
effective and operative as surely as are the forces of steam and gravitation.
Rufus M. Jones, 1918
3.02 One of these deep
constructive energies of life is prayer. It is a way of life that is as old as
the human race is, and it is as difficult to “explain” as is our joy over love
and beauty. It came into power in man’s early life and it has persisted through
all the stages of it because it has proved to be essential to spiritual health
and growth and life-advance. Like all other great springs of life, it has
sometimes been turned to cheap ends and brought down to low levels, but on the
whole it has been a pretty steady uplifting power in the long story of human
progress. The only way we could completely understand it would be to understand
the eternal nature of God and man. Then we should no doubt comprehend why he
and we seek one another and why we are unsatisfied until we mutually find one
Rufus M. Jones, 1931
3.03 As taught and
practiced by Jesus, prayer is communion with God, in which mind and heart
become open to his sustaining power and gladly and humbly submissive to his
The Lord’s Prayer is an example of the simple
directness of the prayers of Jesus. One can meet God without an elaborate chain
of words, even in the rush and tension of everyday life.
Prayer may be response to the beauty or grandeur of nature;
to the courage and goodness sometimes revealed by the human spirit; to a
desperate sense of need. Prayer may be inspired by joy and sorrow, illness and
health, birth and death. Prayer may be without words or in the simplest
phrases. Through prayer, daily or special, he who prays can find serenity,
humility, strength, courage and direction amid the stresses as well as the joys
Prayer is an exercise of the mind and spirit. Its efficacy
is increased by conscious practice. Prayer can work miracles by making
individuals sensitive to the will of God and, through obedience, strong to
accept or surmount the natural conditions of life.
Yearly Meeting, 1972
God, our Father, spirit of the universe, I am old in years and in the sight of
others, but I do not feel old within myself. I have hopes and purposes, things
I wish to do before I die. A surging of life within me cries. “Not yet! Not
yet!” more strongly than it did ten years ago, perhaps because the nearer
approach of death arouses the defensive strength of the instinct to cling to
Help me to loosen, fiber by fiber, the instinctive
strings that bind me to the life I know. Infuse me with Thy spirit so that it
is Thee I turn to, not the old ropes of habit and thought. Make me poised and
free, ready when the intimation comes to go forward eagerly and joyfully, into
the new phase of life that we call death.
Help me to bring my work each day to an orderly
State so that it will not be a burden to those who must fold it up and put it
away when I am gone. Keep me ever aware and ever prepared for the summons.
If pain comes before the end help me not to fear it
or struggle against it but to welcome it as a hastening of the process by which
the strings that bind me to life are untied. Give me joy in awaiting the great
change that comes after this life of many changes. Let my self be merged in Thy
Self as a candle’s wavering light is caught up into the sun.
Elizabeth Gray Vining, Faith
& Practice of Philadelphia
Yearly Meeting, 1978
Meeting for Worship
still in thy own mind and spirit from thy own thoughts, and then thou wilt feel
the principle of God to turn thy mind to the Lord God, whereby thou wilt
receive his strength and power from whence life comes, to allay all tempests,
against blusterings and storms. That is it which
molds into patience, into innocency, into soberness,
into stillness, into stayedness, into quietness, up
to God, with his power.
you come to your meetings, what do you do? Do you then gather together bodily
only, and kindle a fire, compassing yourselves about with the sparks of your
own kindling, and so please yourselves, and walk in the “Light of your own
fire, and in the sparks which you have kindled?” … Or rather, do you sit down
in the True Silence, resting from your own Will and Workings, and waiting upon
the Lord, with your minds fixed in that Light wherewith Christ has enlightened
you, until the Lord breathes life into you, refresheth
you, and prepares you, and your spirits and souls, to make you fit for his
service, that you may offer unto him a pure and spiritual sacrifice?
William Penn, 1678
iron sharpeneth iron, the seeing of the faces one of
another when both are inwardly gathered into the life, giveth
occasion for the life secretly to rise and pass from vessel to vessel. And as
many candles lighted and put in one place do greatly augment the light and make
it more to shine forth, so when many are gathered together into the same life,
there more of the glory of God and his powers appears, to the refreshment of
Robert Barclay, 1671
day, being under a strong exercise of spirit, I stood up and said some words in
a meeting; but not keeping close to the Divine opening, I said more than was
required of me. Being soon sensible of my error, I was afflicted in mind some
weeks without any light or comfort, even to that degree that I could not take
satisfaction in anything. I remembered God, and was troubled, and in the depths
of my distress he had pity on me, and sent the Comforter. I then felt
forgiveness for my offense; my mind became calm and quiet, and I was truly
thankful to my gracious Redeemer for his mercies. About six weeks after this,
feeling the spring of Divine love opened, and a concern to speak, I said a few
words in a meeting, in which I found peace. Being thus humbled and disciplined
under the cross, my understanding became more strengthened to distinguish the
pure spirit which inwardly moves upon the heart, and which taught me to wait in
silence sometimes many weeks together, until I felt that rise which prepares
the creature to stand like a trumpet, through which the Lord speaks to his
4.05 It is
indeed true, as Friends have been accustomed to say, that we cannot expect “to
eat the bread of idleness” in our silent meetings. Every individual spirit must
work out its salvation in a living exercise of heart and mind, an exercise in
which “fear and trembling” must often be our portion, and which cannot possibly
be fully carried out under disturbing influences from without. Silence is often
a stern discipline, a laying bare of the soul before
God, a listening to the “reproof of life.” But the discipline has to be gone through, the reproof has to be listened to, before we can
find our right place in the temple. Words may help and silence may help, but
the one thing needful is that the heart should turn to its Maker as the needle
turns to the pole. For this we must be still.
Caroline E. Stephen, 1908
first thing that I do is to close my eyes and then to still my body in order to
get it as far out of the way as I can. Then I still my mind and let it open to
God in silent prayer, for the meeting, as we understand it, is the meeting
place of the worshiper with God. I thank God inwardly for this occasion, for
the week’s happenings, for what I have learned at his hand, for my family, for
the work there is to do, for himself. And I often
pause to enjoy him. Under his gaze I search the week, and feel the piercing
twinge of remorse that comes at this, and this, and this, and at the absence of
this, and this, and this. Under his eyes I see again—for I have often been
aware of it at the time—the right way. I ask his forgiveness of my
faithlessness and ask for strength to meet this matter when it arises again.
There have been times when I had to reweave a part of my life under this
I hold up persons
before God in intercession, loving them under his eyes—seeing them with him,
longing for his healing and redeeming power to course through their lives. I
hold up certain social situations, certain projects. At such a time I often see
things that I may do in company with or that are related to this person or this
situation. I hold up the persons in the meeting and their needs, as I know
them, to God.
Douglas V. Steere,
are met in a great task when we meet in worship, no less than to realize the
Divine Presence and to create an atmosphere in which that Presence and Power
can touch us into fuller life. Once we remember this, we cannot but approach
the occasion with reverent humility and the desire that nothing on our part may
hinder or disturb.
It is something holy and wonderful we are trying to
build up together—the consciousness of the Presence with us here and the
reality of communion with God.
Quaker poster designed by FGC Press
Worship, according to the ancient practice of the
Religious Society of Friends, is entirely without any human direction or
supervision. A group of persons come together and sit down quietly with no
prearrangement, each seeking to have an immediate sense of divine leading and
to know at first hand the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is not wholly
accurate to say that such a Meeting is held on the basis of Silence; it is more
accurate to say that it is held on the basis of Holy Obedience. Those who enter
such a Meeting can harm it in two specific ways: first, by an advanced
determination to speak; and second, by advanced determination to keep
silent. The only way in which a worshipper can help such a
Meeting is by an advanced determination to try to be responsive in listening to
the still small voice and doing whatever may be commanded.
Adapted from the statement prepared for a Friends meeting
attended by delegates to the World Council of Churches, Amsterdam, 1948
true practice of the essence of Quaker worship is to be free, fully open and
responsive to a full range of leadings of the Spirit from deep silence to
joyful singing and even to dance. Fearlessly and consistently following this
path over the long term would eventually obviate all issues of
multiculturalism, multiracialism and inclusiveness.
Friends Journal cover, October
5.01 Being orderly come
together, not to spend time with needless, unnecessary and fruitless
discourses; but to proceed in the wisdom of God not in the way of the world, as
a worldly assembly of men, by hot contests, by seeking to outspeak
and overreach one another in discourse as if it were controversy between party
and party of men, or two sides violently striving for dominion, not fellowship
of God, in gravity, patience, meekness, in unity and concord, submitting one to
another in lowliness of heart, and in the holy Spirit of truth and
you want to listen, then you hear; if you don’t want to listen, God is working
Gusten Lutter, 2002
5.03 It is a
weighty thing to speak in large meetings for business. First, except our minds
are rightly prepared, and we clearly understand the
case we speak to, instead of forwarding, we hinder the business and make more labour for those on whom the burden of work is laid.
If selfish views or a partial spirit have any room in our
minds, we are unfit for the Lord’s work. If we have a clear prospect of the
business and proper weight on our minds to speak, it behooves us to avoid
useless apologies and repetitions. Where people are gathered from far, and
adjourning a meeting of business attended with great difficulty, it behooves
all to be cautious how they detain a meeting, especially when they have sat six
or seven hours and a good way to ride home.
In three hundred minutes are five hours, and he that
improperly detains three hundred people one minute, besides other evils that
attend it, does an injury like that of imprisoning one man five hours without
John Woolman, 1758
succinct is unnatural for Quakers.
Annette Greenberg, 2004
spirit of worship is essential to that type of business meeting in which the
group endeavors to act as a unit. … To discover what we really want as compared
with what at first we think we want, we must go below the surface of
self-centered desires. … To will what God wills is … to will what we ourselves
Howard Brinton, 1952
be present is … to penetrate the deeper dimensions, … to be open to influence
and change; to be vulnerable, to be able
to be hurt; to be willing to be spent and also to be awake, alive, and engaged
actively in the immediate assignment that has been laid upon us.
Douglas Steere, 1967, “On Being
Present Where You Are” (Pendle Hill Pamphlet #151)
both in individual worship and in meetings for worship and for business,
continue to experience the presence of the living God not only as awe and
healing but also as guidance for conduct. Like the prophets of Israel,
they proclaim the unity of religious faith and social justice.
From the foreword in Faith & Practice of Philadelphia Yearly
seems to me to be a major issue for the Society of Friends ... whether on the
whole the emphasis is to be for a type of open, expectant religion, or whether
it is to seek for comfortable formulations that seem to ensure safety, and that
will be hostages against new and dangerous enterprises in the realm of truth.
Are we charged with hope and faith and vision, or are we busy endeavoring to
coin repetitive phrases and to become secure resting places for the mind?
Rufus Jones, Rethinking Quaker Principles, 1940
6.01 Now the Lord God
hath opened to me by his invisible power how that every man was enlightened by
the divine light of Christ; and I saw it shine through all, and that they that
believed in it came out of condemnation and came to the light of life, and
became children of it, but they that hated it, and did not believe in it, were
condemned by it, though they made a profession of Christ. This I saw in the
pure openings of the Light without the help of any man, neither did I then know
where to find it in the Scriptures; though afterwards, searching the
Scriptures, I found it. For I saw in that Light and Spirit which was before
Scripture was given forth, and which led the holy men of God to give them
forth, that all must come to that Spirit, if they would know God, or Christ, or
the Scriptures aright, which they that gave them forth were led and taught by.
6.02 And oh, how sweet
and pleasant it is to the truly spiritual eye to see several sorts of
believers, several forms of Christians in the school of Christ, every one
learning their own lesson, performing their own peculiar service, and knowing,
owning, and loving one another in their several places and different
performances to their Master, to whom they are to give an account, and not
quarrel with one another about their different practices.
Isaac Penington, 1659
6.03 The test for membership should not be doctrinal agreement,
nor adherence to certain testimonies, but evidence of sincere seeking and
striving for Truth, together with an understanding of the lines along which
Friends are seeking that Truth.
World Conference, 1952
6.04 Our membership of
this, or any other Christian fellowship, is never based on worthiness. … We
none of us are members because we have attained a certain standard of goodness,
but rather because, in this matter, we still are all humble learners in the school of Christ. Our membership is of no
importance whatever unless it signifies that we are committed to something of
far greater and more lasting significance than can adequately be conveyed by the closest association with any movement or
organization. Our membership of the Society of Friends should commit us to the
discipleship of the living Christ. When we have made that choice and come under
that high compulsion, our membership will have endorsed it.
G. Dunstan, 1956
6.05 The nature of their
purpose and quest as Friends binds members of a Meeting and of the whole
Society into an intimate fellowship whose unity is not threatened by the
diversity of leadings and experiences which may come to individual Friends. To share
in the experience of the Presence in corporate worship, to strive, conscious
that other Friends are also striving, to let the Divine Will guide one’s life,
to live in a sense of unfailing Love reaching out to the stumbling followers of
Christ is to participate in a spiritual adventure in which Friends come to know
one another and to respect one another at a level where superficial differences
of age or sex, of wealth or position, of education or vocation, of race or
nation are all irrelevant. Within this sort of fellowship, as in a family, griefs and joys, fears and hopes, failures and
accomplishments are naturally shared, even as individuality and independence
are scrupulously respected.
Faith and Practice of New England
Yearly Meeting of Friends, 1966
6.06 “George Fox and his
early followers,” wrote Rufus Jones, “went forth with unbounded faith and
enthusiasm to discover in all lands those who were true fellow-members with
them in this great household of God, and who were the hidden seed of God.” Our
Society thus arose from a series of mutual discoveries of men and women who
found that they were making the same spiritual pilgrimage. This is still our
experience today. Even at times of great difference of opinion, we have known a
sense of living unity, because we have recognised one
another as followers of Jesus. We are at different stages along the way. We use
different language to speak of him and to express our discipleship. The
insistent questioning of the seeker, the fire of the rebel, the reflective
contribution of the more cautious thinker—all have a place amongst us. This
does not always make life easy. But we have found that we have learned to
listen to one another, to respect the sincerity of one another’s opinions, to
love and to care for one another. We are enabled to do this because God first
loved us. The gospels tell us of the life and teaching of Jesus. The light of
Christ, a universal light and known inwardly, is our guide. It is the grace of
God which gives us the strength to follow. It is his forgiveness which restores
us when we are oppressed by the sense of falling short. These things we know,
not as glib phrases, but out of the depths of sometimes agonising
London Yearly Meeting, 1968
Home, Children, Family
7.01 Children have much
to teach us. If we cultivated the habit of dialogue and mutual learning, our
children could keep us growing, and in a measure could bring us into their
future, so that in middle age we would not stand on the sidelines bemoaning the
terrible behavior and inconsiderateness of the younger generation.
will begin here also with the beginning of time, the morning. So soon as you
wake, retire your mind into a pure silence from all thoughts and ideas of
worldly things, and in that frame wait upon God, to feel his good presence, to
lift up your hearts to him, and commit your whole self into his blessed care
and protection. Then rise, if well, immediately; being dressed, read a chapter
or more in the Scriptures, and afterwards dispose yourselves for the business
of the day, ever remembering that God is present, the overseer of all your
thoughts, words, and action; and demean yourselves, my dear children
accordingly; and do not you dare to do that in his holy, all-seeing presence,
which you would be ashamed a man, yea, a child, should see you do. And as you
have intervals from your lawful occasions, delight to step home, within
yourselves, I mean, commune with your own hearts and be still, and (as Nebuchadnezzar
said on another occasion) “one like the son of God you shall find and enjoy
with you and in you; a treasure the world knows not of, but is the aim,
end, and diadem of the children of god.” This will bear you up against all
temptations, and carry you sweetly and evenly through your day’s business,
supporting you under disappointments, and moderating your satisfaction in
success and prosperity. The evening come, read again the Holy Scripture, and
have your times of retirement, before you close your eyes, as in the morning;
that so the Lord may be the alpha and omega of every day of your lives.
William Penn’s Advice to his Children
in the home is a vital force in spiritual nurture. The contacts of parents with
their children’s companions, and the child’s association with adult guests, are
important influences. Parental attitudes toward neighbors and acquaintances are
often reflected in the children. Family conversation may determine whether or
not children will look for the good in the people they meet, and whether they
will be sensitive to that of God in everyone.
Faith and Practice of North Pacific Yearly Meeting, 1991
is a Quaker service in its own right. It should be recognized as such and a
proper balance preserved, so that other activities—even the claims of Quaker
service in other fields—are not allowed to hinder its growth.
Faith and Practice of New England
Yearly Meeting of Friends, 1985
8.01 Sexuality looked at
dispassionately, is neither good nor evil—it is a fact of nature and a force of
immeasurable power. But looking at it as Christians we have felt impelled to
state without reservation that it is a glorious gift of God.
Throughout the whole of living nature it makes possible an
endless and fascinating variety of creatures, a lavishness,
a beauty of form and colour surpassing all that could
be imagined as necessary to survival.
Towards a Quaker View of Sex,” Revised
8.02 The mystery of sex continues
to be greater than our capacity to comprehend it, no matter how much we learn
about it. We engage in it, in often too frantic efforts to enjoy it but, more
subtly, also to try to fathom its ever recurring power
over us. Surely this power and its mystery relate to the mystery of God’s
relationship to us. The mistake we have made throughout the ages has been to
load onto sex the incubus of success or failure of marriage, to look upon sex
as a resolution, an ending. In reality it offers us, if we could only see it, a
fresh beginning every time in that relationship of which it is a part.
S. Calderone, 1973
Living in the World
9.01 Let all nations hear
the sound by word or writing. Spare no place, spare no tongue
nor pen, but be obedient to the Lord God; go through the world and be
valiant for the truth upon earth.… Be patterns, be examples in all countries,
places, islands, nations, wherever you come, that your carriage and life may
preach among all sorts of people, and to them. Then you will come to walk
cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one; whereby in them
you may be a blessing, and make the witness of God in them to bless you.
9.02 We are a people that
follow after those things that make for peace, love, and unity; it is our
desire that others’ feet may walk in the same, and do deny and bear our
testimony against all strife and wars and contentions.…Our weapons are not
carnal, but spiritual. . . And so we desire, and also expect to have liberty of
our consciences and just rights and outward liberties, as other people of the
nation, which we have promise of, from the word of a king.…Treason, treachery
and false dealing we do utterly deny; false dealing, surmising or plotting
against any creature on the face of the earth; and speak the Truth in plainness
and singleness of heart; and all our desire is your good and peace and love and
9.03 Prison shall be my
grave before I will budge a jot; for I owe my conscience to no mortal man; I
have no need to fear, God will make amends for all.
the Witness of God in every man, whether they are the heathen that do not
profess Christ, or whether they are such as do profess Christ that have the
form of godliness and be out of the Power.
9.05 The Cross of Christ
... truly overcomes the world, and leads a life of purity in the face of its
allurements; they that bear it are not thus chained up, for fear they should
bite; nor locked up, lest they should be stole away; no, they receive power
from Christ their Captain, to resist the evil, and do that which is good in the
sight of God; to despise the world, and love its reproach above its praise; and
not only not to offend others, but love those that offend them.… True godliness
doesn’t turn men out of the world, but enables them to live better in it, and
excites their endeavours to mend it; not hide their
candle under a bushel, but set it upon a table in a candlestick.
9.06 Every degree of
luxury of what kind soever, and every demand for
money inconsistent with divine order, hath some connection with unnecessary
labor.…To labor too hard or cause others to do so, that we may live conformable
to customs which Christ our Redeemer contradicted by his example in the days of
his flesh, and which are contrary to divine order, is to manure a soil for
propagating an evil seed in the earth.
Woolman, c. 1763
was the first motion, and then a concern arose to spend some time with the
Indians, that I might feel and understand their life and the spirit they live
in, if haply I might receive some instruction from them, or they be in any degree helped forward by my following the leadings
of Truth amongst them. …
my mind covered with the spirit of prayer, I told the interpreters that I found
it in my heart to pray to God, and I believed, if I prayed right, he would hear
me, and expressed my willingness for them to omit interpreting, so our meeting
ended with a degree of Divine love. Before our people went out I observed Papunehang (the man who had been zealous in laboring for a
reformation in that town, being then very tender) spoke to one of the interpreters,
and I was afterward told that he said in substance as follows: “I love to feel
where words come from.”
9.08 For Friends the most
important consideration is not the right action in itself but a right inward
state out of which right action will arise. Given the right inward state, right
action is inevitable. Inward state and outward action are component parts of a
9.09 As Friends, we need
to develop our spiritual lives so that we may become increasingly able to speak
to “that of God” in those with whom we come in contact and to point out to them
by our lives as well as our words that there is a power and a spirit within
them that can make war impossible. We should show by our lives that they as
well as we are responsible to this authority within, and none other.
Yearly Meeting, 1950
know only too well what a poor old broken world confronts us at the present
moment. This is not time for soft and easy optimism. Jeremiah the prophet
usually took a dark view of things. He did not expect the leopard to change his
spots, or the Ethiopian to go white. He looked for no miraculous panacea—no balm
in Gilead—to change the hard conditions. But watching a
potter remake a spoiled vessel on his potter’s wheel, he suddenly has a vision
of reality and in a flash he saw that that is what God does with His world. He
does not scrap the marred clay. He remakes what has gone wrong. How often He
has done it! What a list it is!
From The Luminous Trail, quoted in
Harry Emerson Fosdick, ed., Rufus Jones Speaks to Our Time, 1961
can resist injustice, but only in community can we do justice.
The defense of human rights … is faith-based and
worship-initiated, but we need look neither to Heaven nor to the Bible nor to
corporate conscience for the higher law that overrules unjust laws.
In the United States, protecting people
from human rights violations is, if nonviolent, never illegal.
A society’s constituent individuals and communities
retain primary responsibility for protecting human rights, a responsibility
that we may entrust but never forfeit to the state.
has been labeled “civil disobedience” is, more accurately, civil initiative; it
is the exercise by individuals or communities of their legally established duty
to protect the victims of government officials’ violations of fundamental
Excerpts from Sanctuary as a Quaker Testimony,
a report by Jim Corbett to Philadelphia Yearly Meeting , 1986
9.12 It is thought that
realizes will. Only a thinking man can live. Only a thinking people can create
history. Only a thinking kind can live in the midst of the dead.
The future always belongs to us. It is neither the working
of nature, nor that of fate. It comes by our resolution.
Only a person who resolves not to be enslaved enjoys
freedom. Only a person who resolves not to assert his own enjoys freedom.
Only the person who resolves to love even at the cost of his
own life can win love.
The first ingredient of life is courage.
The problem of today is not that of knowledge or technology.
It is a spiritual problem. It is a question which requires a revolution in our
outlook on life, on history, and on the nation.
The world today does not require an increase in technology,
nor an easier access to its store of learning. It requires faith and spirit to
overcome the present hurdle. The age calls for a new religion.
Ham Sok Hon, 1965
10.01 The important thing about worldly possessions, in fact, is
whether or not we are tied to them. Some, by an undue love of the things of
this world, have so dulled their hearing that a divine call to a different way
of life would pass unheard. Others are unduly self-conscious about things which
are of no eternal significance, and because they worry too much about them,
fail to give of their best. The essence of worldliness is to judge of things by
an outward and temporary, and not an inward and eternal standard, to care more
about appearances than about reality, to let the senses prevail over the reason
and the affections.
London Yearly Meeting, 1958
10.02 Of the interest of the public in our estates: Hardly any thing
is given us for our selves, but the public may claim a share with us. But of
all we call ours, we are most accountable to God and the public for our
estates: In this we are but stewards, and to hoard up all to ourselves is great
injustice as well as ingratitude.
10.03 Perhaps what we are now considering
is the question: What was the central concern of Jesus? I may say quite simply,
The answer to that question is: human conduct.... [For
Jesus there] are not primarily questions of religious ritual ... [nor]
questions of philosophy, or theology or belief. There are rather questions of
how you should behave.... Jesus, in his teaching, would not be asked ...
abstract questions nearly as much as ... questions about the will of God for
Henry J. Cadbury, 1961, from Faith & Practice of Philadelphia Yearly
10.04 At the first
convincement, when Friends could not put off their hats to people, or say You
to a single person, but Thou and Thee; when they could not bow, or use
flattering words in salutations, or adopt the fashions and customs of the
world, many Friends, that were tradesmen of several sorts, lost their customers
at the first; for the people were shy of them, and would not trade with them;
so that for a time some Friends could hardly get money enough to buy bread. But
afterwards, when people came to have experience of Friends’ honesty and
truthfulness, and found that their Yea was yea, and their Nay was nay; that
they kept to a word in their dealings, and that they would not cozen and cheat
them; but that if they sent a child to their shops for anything, they were as
well used as if they had come themselves; the lives and conversations of
Friends did preach, and reached to the witness of God in the people.
10.05 It’s a dangerous thing to lead young Friends much into the
observation of outward things, which may be easily done, for they can soon get
into an outward garb, to be all alike outwardly, but this will not make them
true Christians: it’s the Spirit that gives life. I would be loath to have a
hand in these things.…
Fell Fox, 1698
10.06 My mind through the power of Truth was in a good degree weaned
from the desire of outward greatness, and I was learning to be content with
real conveniences that were not costly; so that a way of life free from much
Entanglements appeared best for me, tho’ the income
was small. I had several offers of business that appeared profitable, but saw
not my way clear to accept of them, as believing the business proposed would be
attended with more outward care & cumber than was required of me to engage
in. I saw that a humble man, with the Blessing of the Lord, might live on a little, and that where the heart was set on greatness,
success in business did not satisfy the craving; but that commonly with an
increase of wealth, the desire for wealth increased. There was a care on my
mind so to pass my time, as to things outward, that nothing might hinder me
from the most steady attention to the voice of the
Woolman, c. 1744
10.07 I wish I might emphasize how a life becomes simplified when
dominated by faithfulness to a few concerns. Too many of us have too many irons
in the fire. We get distracted by the intellectual claim to our interest in a
thousand and one good things, and before we know it we are pulled and hauled
breathlessly along by an over-burdened program of good committees and good
undertakings. I am persuaded that this fevered life of church workers is not
wholesome. Undertakings get plastered on from the outside because we can’t turn
down a friend. Acceptance of service on a weighty committee should really
depend upon an answering imperative within us, not merely upon a rational
calculation of the factors involved. The concern-oriented life is ordered and
organized from within. And we learn to say No as well as Yes by attending to
the guidance of inner responsibility. Quaker simplicity needs to be expressed
not merely in dress and architecture and the height of tombstones but also in
the structure of a relatively simplified and coordinated life-program of social
responsibilities. And I am persuaded that concerns introduce that
simplification, and along with it that intensification which we need in
opposition to the hurried, superficial tendencies of our age.
R. Kelly, 1941
10.08 For some there is a
danger that care for the future may lead to undue anxiety and become a habit of
saving for its own sake, resulting in the withholding of what should be
expended for the needs of the family or devoted to the service of the Society.
The temptation to trust in riches comes in many forms, and can only be
withstood through faith in our Father and his providing care.
London Yearly Meeting,
10.09 Life is meant to be lived from a
Center, a divine Center—a life of unhurried peace and power. It is simple. It
is serene. It takes no time but occupies all our time.
Thomas R. Kelly, 1941
10.10 In spite of our varying degrees of emphasis on how our Peace
Testimony should be expressed, there are many ways to peace. There are:
who feel that we must seek inward peace first, as self purification.
Those who are moved to radical personal and group action,
and need the support of Meetings.
Those who feel that as citizens of governments we still have
opportunities to influence events.
We support Friends
who are led to walk in any of these ways to peace.…We
differ, yet we love each other.
Yearly Meeting, 1959
10.11 How healing to come into the Religious Society of Friends,
whose founder saw clearly that the Light of God is not limited to the male half
of the human race. Membership and participation have helped me grow toward
wholeness, as I have followed my calling into a ministry that embraces all of
life. Though I believe deeply in women’s liberation, I cannot put men down or
join in consciousness-raising activities that foster hatred of everything
masculine. I have loved the men in my life too deeply for that kind of
As women gain rights and become whole human beings, men too
can grow into wholeness, no longer having to carry the whole burden of
responsibility for running the affairs of humankind, but in humility accepting
the vast resources, as yet not very much drawn on, and the wisdom of women in
solving the colossal problems of the world.
totally oppose all wars, all preparation for war, all use of weapons and
coercion by force, and all military alliances: no end could ever justify such
We equally and actively oppose all that leads to
violence among people and nations, and violence to other species and to our
This has been our testimony to the whole world for
over three centuries.
We are not naïve or ignorant about the complexity
of our modern world and the impact of sophisticated technologies—but we see no
reason whatsoever to change or weaken our vision of the peace that everyone
needs in order to survive and flourish on a healthy, abundant earth.
The primary reason for this stand is our conviction
that there is that of God in every one which makes each person too precious to
damage or destroy.
While someone lives, there is always the hope of
reaching that of God with in them; such hope motivates our search to find
nonviolent resolution of conflict.
There is no guarantee that our resistance will be
any more successful or any less risky than military tactics. At least our means
will be suited to our end.
If we seem to fail finally, we would still rather suffer
and die than inflict evil in order to save ourselves and what we hold dear.
If we succeed, there is no loser or winner, for the
problem that led to conflict will have been resolved in a spirit of justice and
Such a resolution is the only guarantee that there will
be no further outbreak of war when each side has regained strength.
The places to begin acquiring the skills and maturity
and generosity to avoid or to resolve conflicts are in our own homes, our personal
relationships, our schools, our workplaces, and wherever decisions are made.
We must relinquish the desire to own other people, to
have power over them, and to force our views on to them. We must own up to our own
negative side and not look for scapegoats to blame, punish, or exclude. We must
resist the urge towards waste and the accumulation of possessions.
Conflicts are inevitable and must not be repressed or
ignored but worked through painfully and carefully. We must develop the skills of
being sensitive to oppression and grievances, sharing power in decision making,
creating consensus, and making reparation.
In speaking out, we acknowledge that we ourselves are
as limited and as erring as anyone else. When put to the test, we each may fall
We do not have a blueprint for peace.… In any particular
situation, a variety of personal decisions could be made with integrity.
We may disagree with the views and actions of the politician
or the soldier who opts for a military solution, but we still respect and cherish
What we call for in this statement is a commitment to
take the building of peace a priority and to make opposition to war absolute.
What we advocate is not uniquely Quaker but human and,
we believe, the will of God. Our stand does not belong to Friends alone—it is yours
Let us reject the clamour
of fear and listen to the whisperings of hope.
Aotearoa/New Zealand Yearly Meeting,
from Faith & Practice of Philadelphia
Yearly Meeting, 1998
10.13 And thus the Lord Jesus hath manifested himself and his Power, without
respect of Persons; and so let all mouths be stopt that
would limit him, whose Power and Spirit is infinite, that is pouring it upon all
Death and Memorials
11.01 They that love beyond the World cannot be separated by it. Death
cannot kill what never dies. Nor can Spirits ever be divided that love and live
in the same Divine Principle. They live in one another still.
11.02 Eternity is at our hearts, pressing upon our time-worn
lives, warming us with intimations of an astounding destiny, calling us home to
Thomas R. Kelly, 1941
11.03 The night before landing
in Liverpool I awoke in my berth with a strange
sense of trouble and sadness. As I lay wondering what it meant, I felt myself invaded
by a Presence and held by the Everlasting Arms. It was the most extraordinary experience
I had ever had. But I had no intimation that anything was happening to Lowell [his
eleven-year-old son]. When we landed in Liverpool
a cable informed me that he was desperately ill, and a second cable, in answer to
one from me, brought the dreadful news that he was gone. When the news reached my
friend John Wilhelm Rowntree, he experienced a profound sense of Divine Presence
enfolding him and me, and his comfort and love were an immense help to me in my
trial.… I know now, as I look back across the years, that nothing has carried me
up into the life of God, or done more to open out the infinite meaning of love,
than the fact that love can span this break of separation, can pass beyond the visible
and hold right on across the chasm. The mystic union has not broken and knows no
11.04 In hours of loss and sorrow,
when the spurious props fail us, we are more apt to find our way back to the real
refuge. We are suddenly made aware of our shelterless
condition, alone, and in our own strength. Our stoic armor and our brave defenses
of pride become utterly inadequate. We are thrown back on reality. We have then
our moments of sincerity and insight. We feel that we cannot live without resources
from beyond our own domain. We must have God. It is then, when one knows that nothing
else whatever will do, that the great discovery is made. Again and again the psalms
announce this. When the world has caved in; when the last extremity has been reached;
when the billows and waterspouts of fortune have done their worst, you hear the
calm, heroic voice of the lonely man saying: “God is our refuge and fortress, therefore
will not we fear though the earth be removed, though the mountains be carried into
the middle of the sea.” That is great experience, but it is not reserved for psalmists
and rare patriarchs like Job. It is a privilege for common mortals like us who struggle
and agonize and feel the thorn in the flesh, and the bitter tragedy of life unhealed.
Whether we make the discovery or not, God is there with us in the furnace. Only
it makes all the difference if we do find him as the one high tower where refuge
is not for the passing moment only, but is an eternal attainment.
Spiritual Energies in
Daily Life, quoted in
Henry Emerson Fosdick, ed., Rufus Jones Speaks to our Time, 1961