Today, October 2, we celebrate the Society of Friends, better known as Quakers. Quakers are one of many Protestant denominations in the world today. We have been around since 1650 and were founded in England by George Fox.
Obviously, there isn’t time to go into Quaker history in one short blog, so I’ll approach the description of Quakerism from what we call Quaker SPICE, which tells a little about who we are.
S stands for simplicity. Quakers take to heart the saying “Live simply so others may simply live.” It is one of our founding principles. In the early days of our movement, it was shown by simplicity of dress, and by treating all people the same, not a popular position in a society where the nobles expected to be bowed to. Today it leads Quakers to be involved in caring for the Earth, and living a simple lifestyle.
P stands for peace. With the Mennonites and Brethren, Quakers are one of the historic peace churches. We tend to take Jesus’ command to love your enemies seriously and to promote peace in the political process. We also believe in peace between individuals, and try to live that way.
I stands for integrity. In our early days, this led Quakers to refuse to take oaths, especially in court because when you swear to tell the truth, it implies there are different levels of truth, and we believe we should be speaking truth all the time. Today we try to live integrated lives so that our inward life is expressed in outward actions.
C stands for community. We believe in King’s “beloved community,” and strive to make our meetings a place where people feel safe and can grow.
E stands for equality. This had led Quakers to be in the forefront of the fight for civil rights. We divested ourselves of our slaves long before the Civil War in America. Many Quakers were active in the Underground Railroad and in the women’s suffrage movement. You will find us currently in the fight for civil rights for all, both here in the States and abroad.
All of these things arise out of our times of worship, either corporately or individually. If you would like to know more, may I suggest The Quakers: A Very Short Introduction by Ben Pink Dandelion, a current Quaker historian.
Quotes by and about Quakers
I saw also that there was an ocean of darkness and death, but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness: and in that also I saw the infinite love of God.–George Fox
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.–James Nayler
True silence is the rest of the mind; and is to the spirit, what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.–William Penn
Look at the Quakers – they were excellent business people that never lied, never stole; they cared for their employees and the community which gave them the wealth. They never took more money out than they put back in.–Anita Roddick
Quakers are known for wanting to give back. Ban the bomb and the civil rights movement and the native American struggle for justice – those things were very, very front-burner in my childhood, as were the ideas of working for peace and if you have more than you need, then you share it with people who don’t.–Bonnie Raitt
Quakers are terrific.–Ian Mckellen
The Puritans had accused the Quakers of “troubling the world by preaching peace to it.”–Voltairine de Cleyre
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