Quaker Beliefs

In 17th-century England, George Fox and Margaret Fell, among others, were Seekers of Truth attempting to recover the spirit of early Christianity. They founded the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers. They believed that the Inner Light in each person provides direct access to God without intermediaries or literal readings of Scripture. Waiting in expectant silence, early Friends were inspired by that “still, small voice of God” to work for justice, equality, and peace. The movement spread to other countries, including the United States, where Quaker William Penn founded the Pennsylvania colony.

Today, there are three distinct branches with about 305,000 Quakers worldwide:

  • an unprogrammed branch, some of which is represented by Friends General Conference
  • a semi-programmed branch with clergy, represented by Friends United Meeting
  • an evangelical branch, represented by Evangelical Friends International

As an unprogrammed meeting, Haddonfield Monthly Meeting  falls within the first branch, and is a part of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, the largest Yearly Meeting in the United States.

In unprogrammed Quaker meetings, all Friends are ministers. There is  no paid clergy, and no pre-arrangement for the meeting. Quakers consider outward rites and symbols unnecessary (and even a hindrance) to spiritual experience, and therefore do not celebrate sacraments. Though there is no dogma or officially mandated doctrine, Quakers value certain principles, known as testimonies. These include simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship. Friends try to embody and live up to these testimonies in all aspects of their lives.

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