Today, Quakers are a worldwide, global community of people who are diverse in every way, include what they believe and practice. There are a variety of Quaker Faith and Practices online that give a much deeper perspective on this question. Here are just a couple:
- Britain Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice
- Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice
- New England Yearly Meeting
It would be difficult to catalogue all the differences between Quaker yearly meetings but one summary, from Quaker Scholar Pink Dandelion, is useful for our purposes here.
In his Swarthmore lecture, Dandelion outlines four practices he sees among Quakers worldwide:
Four shared practices
Direct Encounter with God – Quakers believe that they do not need a mediator, a priest, pastor, or physical elements like the Eucharist or water Baptism to interact with God. For Friends, all people have the possibility of direct access to God.
Nurture the Life of the Spirit – Quakers believe that the meeting for worship is essential. Anyone can worship on their own, but for Friends the gathered community worshipping together is a critical component to what it means to nurture the life of the Spirit. See Silence and Worship.
Practiced Discernment – As a community making decisions together, Quakers seek the “Sense of the Meeting,” through a process of communal discernment. They do not vote. This practice of communal discernment is a long-standing practice among Friends everywhere and is the way communities discern the will of God for themselves. This is why there is not an overly top-down hierarchy for Friends. The goal of all Quaker yearly meetings is to support, nurture, and protect the discernment of each meeting. See Decision-Making.
Testimony – For Quakers, living out one’s faith in community is of utmost importance. Overtime, Friends have been led to work against war, racism, poverty, and lead simple lives. These fall under the category of Quaker “testimony” as they are a witness of the faith of the lived community. See Testimony.
You can learn more about what Quakers believe by visiting our introductory page found here.
A Selection of Quaker Speak Videos on Quaker Beliefs
What Do Quakers Believe? A Religion of Everyday Life by Geoffrey Durham
Telling the Truth About God – Quaker Approaches to Theology by Rhiannon Grant
A Testament of Devotion by Thomas Kelly