Ideals and Values

Seeking Truth

Founder George Fox's radical revelation was that we do not need clergy to hear God's message or interpret it for us. This idea was radical because it meant people did not have to rely on the church or its hierarchy of clergy for spiritual growth and understanding; the burden of growth and understanding was shifted to the individual. Individuals that worshiped as Fox did were known as "Seekers of Truth." As seekers, we are on a continuous spiritual journey. The Religious Society of Friends formed so that seekers could share their individual journeys and grow as a community, as well as individually. Seeking is an experiential process. By sharing experiences, Friends come to a sense of truth, and these truths help shape our values and give us ideals about how to interact with one another and the world around us. One of the things we've come to understand is that everything is interconnected. We also see that there is "that of God," "that of Love," and/or "that of Goodness" within everyone. In seeing "that of God" in others, and that we are interconnected, we strive to live our lives in ways that help improve the interactions that we have with each other and with nature. In this way, our lives become testimonies of our ideals and values.

This practice, seeking, sharing, reflecting, and acting, has led Friends to some values and ideals for which we strive. Below, we provide a short synopsis of our testimonies, i.e., how we try to live our lives (we've used text from the Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting's "A Guide to Our Faith and Our Practice" SAYMA; our regional Quaker organizing body). "...while Friends do uphold certain principles and beliefs as a corporate body, they do not require adoption or adherence to these as a condition of membership." We revisit these testimonies often, in our Meetings, and share our opinions with the larger community of Friends. The testimonies below come from the process of each Meeting sharing their understanding of truth about the topic, therefore, the ideas expressed are a culmination of seekers and not from a top down authority.


The following is a brief overview of some Quaker Testimonies.


"...freeing oneself of all that [is] unnecessary and worldly... [including] ritual, program, and clerical functions [which can be] a hindrance to worship..." "...In use of time, habits of consumption, sharing of world resources, and indeed every aspect of daily life, simplicity is central for us because it both mirrors and deepens spiritual centeredness [and helps us live more sustainably]."


"Friends still affirm that the best way to relate to people is to appeal to that of God within them. ...In attending to this ... leading, we try to live in ways that promote justice and avoid the causes of war... ...We work to gain wider support for nonviolent solutions."


" and truthful discourse...facilitates full communication and understanding. Friends, therefore, strive to tell the truth at all times."


"Friends are bound together in community by a continual process of common seeking and experience of the Light within. The community provides spiritual and emotional nurture. ...Open recognition of and respect for differences, forthright sharing, and sincere reflection can lead individuals to new insight and strengthen the meeting as a whole. ...Unity emerges not only from agreement but also from a common search for the truth conducted in a spirit of loving concern."


"Equality, the earliest social testimony of Friends, led early Friends to eliminate any behaviors that implied one person was superior to another. ...In seeking to apply this testimony, Friends have often been in the forefront of social change. ...We seek a world where laws and customs foster human dignity. We encourage all people to realize their full potential as human beings..."


"Membership in the Religious Society of Friends identifies a person who seeks, in worship after the manner of Friends... No prescribed or set formula of words and phrases distinguishes a member from a nonmember; instead, the lives of Friends express their faith in accordance with their experiences with Truth and with the meeting community."