The source of our beliefs
As Quakers, our beliefs come from personal experience not from an external source such as church, bible, or priest. Some Quakers describe this as the presence of Christ who teaches and guides them. Waiting and listening in silence enables us to experience a presence which can illuminate, heal and transform us allowing the spirit to flourish. This is often referred to as the ‘lnner Light’. Most Quakers would consider themselves Christian, though perhaps not in the orthodox sense. George Fox the founder of Quakerism said that “Christ has come to teach his people himself”, and that they should answer to “that of God in everyone”. Some Quakers identify the light in other ways, using different language or no language at all.
Given our beliefs that all are equal before God, we need to have compassion for one another, whoever that other may be. There is a special concern for those disadvantaged, oppressed or marginalised. Our compassion may be shown at a personal, local, national or international level.
There is a strong history of Quaker testimony to peace and to removing the causes and occasions for war. Quakers believe that conflict cannot be resolved by violence or armaments, but only by patient negotiation, and they have explored ways of doing this. Many have been conscientious objectors in time of war, but have
committed themselves to relief of suffering e.g. through the Friends Ambulance Unit.
Justice and Social Action
Quaker values lead them to action, and they have always been willing to make their witness an active one. Justice is sought wvherever there is inequality or unfairness, whether it be in the abolition of slavery, prison reform, fairness in trade, working withln the United Nations or in mediating in areas of conflict such as the Middle East
Honesty and Integrity
Quakers value honest and truthful dealings in all their transactions in work, business, finance and in personal
relationships. This requires an awareness of our limitations as well as the possibilities.
Quakers desire to step lightly in the world, avoiding excess and unnecessary complication. This can apply to their personal lifestyles e.g. buying habits, possessions, savings, travel and food. Simplicity is also shown in our way of worship.
Quakers strive for a unity that encompasses diversity. They value cooperation rather than competition, taking time to learn from other points of view, trying not to be confrontational. This is practised in collective decision-making, where the ‘sense of the meeting’ is paramount.
Seeing themselves as part of creation, Quakers recognise their interdependence with the earth and all its creatures, seeking to work with them, and not to dominate or exploit other forms of life. They work for a just sharing of the earth’s resources, though this may well mean limiting their own use of them. They are opposed to technologies which harm our planet, and pollute the lives of its creatures.
Quakers do not place special emphasis on certain days, places, buildings, times of the year, or on particular ritual actions. They celebrate the whole of life as sacred.
A questioning attitude to what we believe and how we act is needed for continuing growth. There are meetings for study and discussion, so that questions may be raised. Quakers try to keep
their minds and hearts open to fresh insights, and although firmly rooted in their history, welcome new light on the mysteries of existence.