What is a Quaker?

If you ask three Quakers what they believe, you will get four answers.

This is one of those Quaker jokes. More than an element of truth (with a small t as opposed to Truth with a large T, but more on that later), in that joke, like all good jokes.

Quakers is the informal name for the Religious Society of Friends.  The Wikki entry is a good overall view of Friends (another of our names), worldwide.

When I became a convinced member of Friends,  I was attending the Dunedin Monthly Meeting of the Aotearoa New Zealand Yearly Meeting. So I am a member of an unprogrammed tradition. In New Zealand, we are privelaged as a community to have been gifted a Maori name for the Religious Society of Friends  “Te Haahi Tuuhauwiri”, which translates as “A people who are moved by the winds of the Spirit”.

Now, living in England, I am a member of Ely Meeting, part of Cambridgeshire Area Meeting. We are a smallish, newly established Meeting for Worship. We have no premises of our own, having our Meeting for Worship at the Old Dispensary in Ely on Sunday morning at 10:30am. My home meeting is part of the Britian Yearly Meeting

So in just over 200 words I have given not a single clue about what I believe as a Quaker.  I guess that is the great thing for me about being a member of the Society fo Friends – because I know that faith is so complex, it is so personal and individual, it can be hard to say exactly what I believe.

By being a member, I am saying I am prepared to participate in the life of the community to which I have chosen to become a member, and I have sympathy with the testimonies of Friends.

These testimonies are big picture stuff and include; Truth, Justice, Simplicity, Peace and our newest testimony to the Environment.

Again, this says little of what I believe and it can be very hard to explain that my faith community does not tell me HOW to believe these things.  I must take an adult and rational decision about all my actions in life and consider whether or not they uphold the testimonies.

I suspect I will find lots of blog material on the theme of being Quaker and our testimonies and how they apply to my life – but for now I leave you with a favourite quote

“walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one.”

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About kiwihelen

A Quaker woman with something to say. I am 40 years old, a Pakeha (white New Zealander) who is an economic migrant living in the UK. I am a registered dietitian, a feminist (although I am very aware of the mysandry of some feminist authors and also support the work of some Mens Rights Activists), a crafter and I play the trombone. I am in a long-distance relationship with a Quaker man who has two beautiful daughters. I have 12 nieces and nephews and a great nephew and niece. I share a house with my best friend J, and we are the staff for two cats Archie & Asbo.
This entry was posted in Environment, Equality, Justice, Peace, Quaker, Simplicity, Truth. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to What is a Quaker?

  1. Jeanne says:

    My favorite part of the last quote is the final phrase: “…answering that of God in every one.” It demonstrates how we are to ACT in the world, both inside and outside of the Meeting house. It’s active, rather than the more passive form of worship.

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