This work originated from, and is based upon, “QuakerSpeak” by Alastair Heron, published in 1994 and revised in 1997, 2003 and 2008. The original book, and subsequent printed editions, were intended to be pocket sized for convenience: the on-line version has no such limitations. We are indebted to Alastair for the use of the original text, many of the entries of which remain the same. However the on-line text will, in future, be updated as found to be necessary. Please follow this link for copyright information .

We used the same criteria for inclusion as had Alastair Heron, which was ‘Any word, term or expression peculiar (or nearly so) to Quakers, that might cause a newcomer or attender to exclaim "What on earth is that?"’.

The story of how "QuakerSpeak" was compiled is told in Alastair's Frontispiece and Introduction. One difference with the on-line edition is that cross-referencing is by links, which are either blue or brown and underlined, (and return by Back Button), and another is that items in brown are terms no longer in general use.
Access is possible direct to each section from the menu. For the larger sections it is possible to enter the section at the start of a desired letter of the alphabet. Within each section it is possible to scroll up or down using the scroll bar, or the page up/down keys.

Anyone wishing to contribute additions or revisions to this version should contact QOY at qsol@quakersinyorkshire.org.uk

Chris Petrie


This little book is mainly directed to the needs of newcomers, attenders, and recently-joined members of Quaker meetings in Britain and Ireland, though it may well prove useful more widely in Europe, and also in Australia and New Zealand. despite differences in yearly meeting structure and in nomenclature. It forms part of a systematic response to the suggestions made by many of the nearly 500 attenders who participated in the 1991 Yorkshire Attenders Survey, the results of which are to be found in the volume published in 1992, jointly by Quaker Home Seivice and Woodbrooke College, under the title Caring * conviction * commitment.

Attenders complained - with justification - that they frequently encountered the use by Quakers of many abbreviated titles, such as for example 'AM' or 'BYM', and words or phrases that seemed to belong to an 'in language'. Examples of the latter might be 'prevented' or 'sense of the meeting'. What was needed was a fairly comprehensive glossary, in pocket or handbag size, to which quick reference could readily be made. It had nevertheless to be of manageable length, if only to keep down the price to be charged for it. With this in mind, the usual upper limit for a definition is about sixty words. We hope this outcome will prove widely useful.

Introduction to the 1st edition

Some questions answered

The criterion for inclusion which we adopted was ‘Any word, term or expression peculiar (or nearly so) to Quakers, that might cause a newcomer or attender to exclaim "What on earth is that?"’ Candidates were sought from earlier publications of a similar kind in Britain and in the U.S.A.; through a brief announcement in The Friend; from both newcomers and regular attenders at a local Quaker meeting; and from many individuals as opportunity offered. The provisional list was then reviewed by members of the Enquirers, Newcomers and Attenders committee of Quaker Outreach in Yorkshire. The ‘definitions’ provided are sometimes taken direct from appropriate source material; some have been suggested by, and gladly accepted from those to whom the item has been referred; but most have been put together by the author. The factual and historical accuracy of all the definitions has been checked by a team of three very experienced and well qualified scrutineers, taking one third of the items each, finally, the penultimate draft was examined independently by two Quakers with extensive experience among those to whose needs this book is addressed.

This is not, however, a dictionary of Quaker and related theological terms, concepts and expressions. If some of the definitions are infuriatingly less than adequate to meet at once the curiosity of the user, one muse hope that this will take her or him straight to the nearest Quaker library. Finally, it is important to stress that the author was positively encouraged to enliven the likely dullness of the contents by adding his own gloss on occasions. He cannot hope to escape censure, given that "if you ask ten Quakers a question, you will get at least eleven answers". Perhaps there should be an entry for ‘individualism’: but that is not "peculiar (or nearly so) to Quakers" just highly characteristic!

I would like to express my appreciation for the suggestions put forward by those who responded to my appeal in The Friend, or spontaneously on hearing about the project; to the attenders who checked the proposed list of items and suggested both additions and deletions; to my colleagues in Quaker Outreach in Yorkshire; to Christina Lawson, Edward Milligan and Malcolm Thomas for serving as my ‘scrutineers for factual and historical accuracy’; to Michael Hutchinson for checking (or having checked) some definitions for ‘central bodies’; to Harvey Gillman and Ben Pink Dandelion for their independent detailed final overviews; and to John Lampen for items likely to be useful in Ireland. Despite all this very necessary and much valued assistance, there will inevitably be some errors and omissions: for those, and for any over-stepping of the mark in my personal glosses, I must take full responsibility.
Alastair Heron

Introduction to the 4th edition

In 2006 Alastair Heron asked Quaker Outreach in Yorkshire to consider publishing a fourth edition of QuakerSpeak. He felt he was no longer was in sufficiently good health to undertake the exercise himself. QOY decided to wait until the changes of nomenclature that produced ‘Local’ and ‘Area’ meetings were well established, and Meeting for Sufferings had settled into its new ‘visionary and prophetic’ role before moving forward. At the same time QOY’s newly formed Resources Information and Media subcommittee felt that an extended version of QuakerSpeak should be developed and made available on the Internet. The subcommittee would have the responsibility of scrutinising the on-line version of the book and keeping it regularly updated.

Friends with an eye for detail will find some minor changes in these pages. There are deletions of bodies that careful Internet searches would indicate no longer function. While the intention is that the book treats present bodies and current Quaker usage, some important historical bodies are referenced, even though they are effectively ‘laid down’. Entries have been retained for some committees or groups which have been superseded or renamed, when the old names still appear in books, leaflets and documents (such has Quaker Home Service, whose publications for new members can often be found in meeting houses).

There is no pleasing everyone, as Alastair is too well aware, and QOY will welcome any corrections or appropriate additional entries for the on-line version of the booklet. These should be sent by email to qsol@quakersinyorkshire.org.uk.
Chris Petrie
Arthur Pritchard


First published in March 1994
Revised and reprinted May 1997
Reprinted 1999
Revised and reprinted 2003
Revised and reprinted 2008
Text © Alastair Heron
HTML © Chris Petrie
Published by Quaker Outreach in Yorkshire
Friends Meeting House, High Flatts, Huddersfield, HD8 8XU
ISBN 0 9519440 2 9
















American Friends Service Committee

Area Meeting

Bedford Institute Association

Britain Yearly Meeting

BYM Trustees
Britain Yearly Meeting Trustees

Charities Aid Foundation (a bank for charities only)

The Charity Commission

Council of Churches in Britain and Ireland

Committee on Christian Relationships

Christian Faith & Practice

Children and Young People Committee [QL]

Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme for Palestine and Israel

Evangelical Friends International

Enquirers, Newcomers and Attenders Committee

Friends Ambulance Unit

Friends Fellowship of Healing
A Listed Informal Group

Friends General Conference

Friends Historical Society
A Listed Informal Group

Friends Housing Bursary Trust
A Quaker Committee

Friends International Drug Education Movement

Friends Meeting House

Friends Relief Service

Friends Service Council

Friends United Meeting

Friends Vegetarian Society

Friends World Committee for Consultation

Guild of Friends in Education

General Meeting [in Britain]

Ireland Yearly Meeting
Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation

Junior Yearly Meeting

Local Meeting

London Yearly Meeting

Meeting for Sufferings

Monthly Meeting

Meeting for Sufferings Committee [Laid down in 2007]

New Foundation Fellowship                   A Listed Informal Group

Northern Friends Peace Board               A Quaker Committee

Nom Com
Nominations Committee

Open Letter Movement
Preparative Meeting
Quaker Retreats & One-to-One Ministry

Quaker Action on Alcohol & Drugs          A Listed Informal Group

Quaker Concern for Animals                   A Listed Informal Group

Quaker Communications Central Committee

Quaker Council for European Affairs        A Quaker Committee

Quakers in Criminal Justice                       A Listed Informal Group

Quaker Esperanto Society                        A Listed Informal Group

Quaker Employment and Services Central Committee

Quaker Fellowship of the Arts

Quaker Facilitators

Quaker Finance and Property Central Committee

Quaker Faith & Practice

Quaker Homeless Action                           A Listed Informal Group

Quaker Home Service

Quaker Housing Trust

Quaker International Centre

Quaker International Social Projects

Quakers in Yorkshire

Quaker Life

Quaker Lesbian and Gay Fellowship          A Listed Informal Group

Quaker Land Value Group                        A Listed Informal Group

Quarterly Meeting [in Yorkshire and Ireland]

Quaker Meeting House

Quaker Medical Society                            A Listed Informal Group

Quaker Outreach in Yorkshire

Quaker Peace and Service

Quaker Peace & Social Witness

Quaker Quest

Quaker Renewal Newsletter Fellowship

Quaker Social Action                            A Listed Informal Group

Quaker Stewardship Committee

Quaker Studies Research Association

Quaker Social Responsibility and Education

Quaker Socialist Society                      A Listed Informal Group

Quaker Universalist Group                   A Listed Informal Group

Quakers United In Publishing

Quaker United Nations Office(s)

Quaker Women's Group                     A Listed Informal Group

Quaker World Relations Committee

Working Group on Representation, Communication and Accountability in our Structure.

Recognised Meeting

Single Quaker in Family

Truth and Integrity in Public Affairs

Westmorland General Meeting

Yorkshire Friends Service Committee

Yorkshire General Meeting

Yearly Meeting

Yearly Meeting's Committee [in Ireland]

Yorkshire Schools Joint Council



Begun by Quakers in the 1840s, but which attracted new leadership towards the end of the century and contributed greatly to the recovery of the Society in Great Britain. This was due mainly to the way in which initial literacy and biblical instruction were later combined with post-Darwinian thought and the new biblical criticism. Some Quaker meetings still have adult school members, meeting as groups when numbers permit.

Originally published in 1682 and then containing only three questions, Advices and Queries were originally intended to provide factual information about the Society to London Yearly Meeting. The content of the Advices and Queries changed over the years to become a guide to living, both individually and as a meeting. They are published both as a booklet, and as part of Quaker faith and practice . They are revised periodically, as the need is seen to arise. A concise history of this practice can be found in the introduction to Advices and Queries in Quaker faith and practice.

[For the Quaker testimony against oaths, see Yea and Nay]. The Affirmation Acts 1696 and 1722 enabled Quakers to make, in lieu of an oath in most cases where it was required, a solemn affirmation that they were telling the truth. This right to affirm was gradually extended into a general right, notably by the Oaths Act of 1888.

The independent body through which many of the Quaker yearly meetings in the USA, and their individual members, channel their support for practical service, both at home and abroad. The AFSC has a long record of work in the field of international mediation and reconciliation. British and American Quakers were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize after the second world war.
Links & Contacts

Formerly called Monthly Meetings, the area meetings are the bodies to which Friends formally belong and from which all decisions of membership are made. A group of local meetings within a geographical area, this is the primary meeting for church affairs. It consists of those who are recorded by minute as its members, and who are attached to one or another of its local meetings, it also until recently indicated the frequency with which meetings for worship for church affairs [business] in that area were held. With the change to area meeting in 2007, many meetings also changed their geographical name. Area meetings communicate with Britain Yearly Meeting by sending representatives to Meetings for Sufferings (MfS).

A committee appointed under the requirements of the Charity Commission as the body legally responsible for the financial affairs of the society at area meeting level.

One who, not being a member, frequently attends a local meeting for worship and is usually included as such in the temporary lists of members and attenders prepared by many local meetings. Printed lists are published triennially by most general meetings, making use of a fresh revision of temporary lists by the local and area meetings in its area.

From the earliest days, Quakers have experienced difficulty in reconciling an individual dependence on the guidance of the Inward Light with the need for some acceptable corporate check. The Ranters failed to deal with this, but George Fox distanced himself from their individualist stance by setting up the basic structure of business meetings, in which spiritual authority was vested, on the basis that God's will is being sought.

See Quaker Social Action

From 1737 until 1960, the children of' Quaker parents automatically became members of the Society at birth. This overlapped from the 1940’s for some years with ‘temporary membership’ for children, but the current provision is that parents may apply to their area meeting for ‘child membership'.

The title of Ireland Yearly Meeting's equivalent to Britain Yearly Meeting's ‘Church Government’ prior to the recent revision of the latter.

The full title is ‘Book of Christian discipline of Britain Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends’, which at present includes ‘Christian faith and practice’ and ‘Church Government’. A revision of the present Book was undertaken by the Yearly Meeting in 1994 becoming Quaker faith and practice.

Published annually by Britain Yearly Meeting, this provides information about all the Quaker meetings in Britain, Ireland and the rest of Europe, plus Africa, Asia and the West Pacific area. Comparable information for North, Central and South America is to be found in the Friends Directory, published by the Friends World Committee for Consultation.

See Joint Trust Funds

Formerly London Yearly Meeting, this title denotes both the "final constitutional body of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain", and the annual gathering [Yearly Meeting] of those in membership in its constituent area meetings, all of whom have a right to take part in its proceedings; the area meetings no longer send appointed representatives, but steps are taken to ensure the participation of one or more Friends from each.
Links & Contacts

A committee created to satisfy the Charity Commission as the body responsible for the financial affairs of the society with effect from 2007.

See Churches Together in Britain & Ireland.

A reference to the departments of Britain Yearly Meeting, based at Friends House London, which work on behalf of Quakers throughout the yearly meeting. Quaker Life and Quaker Peace and Social Witness have central committees, and QPSW has a representative council which does not have executive functions. There are also six service departments which operate under the Administrative Committee. The central committees are listed here.

An expression traditional among Quakers, and still in general use, which refers to the process through which those who are taking part in a meeting for worship use the silent basis gradually to find an inward stillness, where they may be open to the leadings of God.

Quaker retreat house and conference centre near Oxford, administered by Quaker Life.
Links & Contacts

The name adopted by the first Quakers, later gradually replaced by ‘Friends in the Truth’. The ‘Light’ was explicitly ‘the inward light of Christ’, who they proclaimed ‘had come to teach his people himself’.

see ‘Children of the Light'.

The title of Ireland Yearly Meeting's equivalent to Britain YM's ‘Christian faith and practice’ prior to the revision of the latter.

The name of the first part of the Books of Christian Discipline published between 1738 and 1994, and consisting of texts from many sources and intended to be a source of guidance and inspiration in the way we conduct our lives. Revised and published in 1994 as Quaker faith and practice.

A label, usually applied by others, to identify those who base their worship on an acceptance of the Inward Light of Christ [the position of early Quakers, and of most until relatively recently]. It is also used to refer more widely to all professing Christians in other denominations and churches.

Part of the present Book of Discipline , of which the proposed Revision was considered by London Yearly Meeting in 1994 and became part of Quaker faith and practice.

This replaced the British Council of Churches and then the Council of Churches in Britain and Ireland. Britain Yearly Meeting was accepted as a full member on the basis of a special clause which recognises the position of non-creedal religious bodies.

A Quaker centre in Surrey for healing, rest and renewal.
Links & Contacts

A term used traditionally by Quakers to describe the sense of ‘seeing the right way forward’, in relation to a desire to identify and follow God’s purpose in a particular matter. Also used to describe an absence of serious obstacles to an intention of marriage under the care of a Quaker meeting. More recently applied generally to a small group formed to help an individual or couple seeking a right decision, on whatever basis.

A member of a Quaker meeting appointed to ‘sit at the table’ in a ‘meeting for worship for business’ . The clerk is expected to have a spiritual capacity for discernment and sensitivity to the meeting. He or she prepares the agenda and guides the meeting through it; listens to what is said; and in each item tries to frame the ‘sense of the meeting’ in a written minute . No attempt is made to reach consensus , and in all matters of substance the aim is to cooperate with the purposes of God.

As there is no fixed programme for the traditional meeting for worship, based on silent worship, it has been customary for it to be brought to an end by two elders shaking hands. Recently this has been extended to pairs of other members of the meeting. Flexibility in timing is clearly important, to ensure sensitive awareness of the movement of the Spirit as primary rather than a routine based on habit.

The special Quaker use of this term is to denote ‘a divine imperative to action laid inwardly upon a person’ (which may also come to a group). Such awareness requires to be ‘tested’ in a religiously valid way: this is most often achieved by laying it before the local or area meeting ‘to search together in worship, to see whether this is actually what God wants’. ‘Concern’ should be clearly distinguished from ‘concern about’.

A useful way in which to refer to a feeling that "something should be done" or that "someone should do something", about a problem or situation. The term serves to make clear the difference from a strong inward sense that one has to do something oneself, and that this may be a direct leading of the Spirit [see Concern].

The aim of a secular method of decision-making which does not rely upon the taking of a vote, seeking (if necessary by very long discussion) to reach the point where all are agreed, or at least ready not to object. It is not however the aim of the Quaker business method: this depends upon the assumption that all or most of those present are trying to perceive the purpose of God for the matter under consideration.

Quakers who are members of small yearly meetings in the USA which seek to maintain the Christian beliefs and some of the testimonies of the first two centuries of the movement that are no longer held generally by other yearly meetings, being seen as peculiarities now lacking the relevance which obtained at that time.

This term is rarely encountered among present-day Quakers of the ‘liberal’ silence-based tradition, but it is essential to an understanding of George Fox and his companions who founded the movement. It may he described as the spiritual experience that followed convincement: but it was not necessarily sudden and complete. The convinced man or woman had the human will to contend with, and was faced with a process of being re-made.

In the time of George Fox, to be convinced meant "to be convinced of your sin", and led to repentance. As Robert Barclay made clear in a famous passage, "Not by strength of arguments or by a particular disquisition of each doctrine, and convincement of my understanding thereby, came I to receive and bear witness of the Truth, but by being secretly reached by the Life". During this century it has tended to be used in the way he rejected.

See Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.

Not a specifically Quaker term, but found generally in writings on the spiritual life, referring to the process of perceiving the will of God through close attention to the leadings of the Spirit. It is therefore important for Quakers in their individual lives and in corporate decision-making.

Expulsion of a Quaker from membership by the Monthly Meeting is no longer in use in London Yearly Meeting. Until the mid 19th century Quakers who married a non-Quaker were usually disowned; other offences leading to this included bankruptcy, immorality, and persistent drunkenness. Today either the individual or the area meeting can initiate what is described as ‘termination of membership’.

These relate to the matters to be considered during the sessions of Yearly Meeting , and also contain considerable amounts of additional information. In addition to an agenda and timetable, with short introductory statements for the main sessions, epistles from other yearly meetings and ‘testimonies to the grace of God’ in the lives of deceased Friends are included. Changes in format and content adapt to fresh perceptions.

A Quaker conference for Quakers in Yorkshire of all ages, held at Cober Hill, near Scarborough, over Easter.
Links & Contacts

Individual Quakers appointed by their area meeting to assume responsibility as a group for the nurture of the spiritual life of the constituent meetings, and of the individual members and attenders; and to ensure the provision of religious education, in its broad sense, for the members and attenders of all ages. They usually work collaboratively with the group of overseers.

A one day conference, organised by Quaker Outreach in Yorkshire , for people wishing to learn more about Quakers. It held a few times a year in Yorkshire, according to demand.
Links & Contacts

A letter issued at the close of Yearly Meeting, often addressed to all Friends everywhere, which reflects the matters considered and the experience of those present. Most yearly meetings around the world send out epistles, and it is the practice of Britain Yearly Meeting to print all those received in ‘Documents in advance’. Early Quakers, especially George Fox, sent epistles to groups and meetings in Britain and abroad.

A reference to the members of yearly meetings forming part of Evangelical Friends International. These are to be found on the Pacific seaboard and in Ohio, together with several yearly meetings in Latin America, involving some with many more active members than are to be found in the silence-based yearly meetings in North America and here in Europe. They stress personal salvation through Christ as redeemer.

Taken from a statement of George Fox on his personal faith: "And this I knew experimentally", meaning ‘through first hand experience’. This is a central concept for all Quakers, since from the outset they rejected the outward authority of both a hierarchical church and of the Bible [though they knew well and greatly valued the latter]. For Fox and early Quakers, the authority was to be found with ‘the Inward Light of Christ’.

See Outreach.

In older Quaker meeting houses it is often found that the benches are set out in a square or rectangle, and that one or more rows along one of the sides are set higher. These were for the use of those ‘recorded’ as ministers, and facing them sat the elders. During the 18th century and beyond, it was one duty of the latter to support and advise the recorded ministers, and to identify and encourage others appearing thus gifted.

The short title proposed in the revision of the Book of Discipline in 1994 .

In the early days of the Quaker movement the days of the week and the months of the year were numbered in order to avoid the use of names originating from pagan gods. Although this usage has not died out, the recent tendency has been to avoid ‘peculiarity’ and use the generally familiar names. Many American meetings, both programmed and silence-based, refer to First-Day School.

See The Friend.
Links & Contacts

The Irish bi-monthly Quaker journal.
Links & Contacts

An organisation set up during the 1914-18 War, to enable Quakers and other conscientious objectors to render non-combatant service, not as members of the Armed Forces. It was re-activated during the 1939-45 War, and along with the Friends Relief Service carried out both wartime and post-war relief and refugee work in many areas.

See Quaker Book Shop

This is a grouping, started in 1900, of yearly meetings in North America, mainly of those adhering to the silence-based 'unprogrammed’ tradition, but including others in which some local or monthly meetings are programmed. The latter are likely also to be affiliated to the Friends United Meeting. Meeting annually, the Conference provides services for the constituent yearly meetings, but has no authority.

Refers to the building opposite Euston Station in London. This contains the offices of Britain Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), as well as a large and a small meeting house. The annual gathering of the Yearly Meeting is held here, except each fourth year when it is held residentially in other parts of Britain.
Links & Contacts

A British Quaker periodical published by the trustees of The Friend (which appears weekly). It provides a limited outlet for the more academic or scholarly article, at somewhat greater length than is acceptable to The Friend or to Quaker Monthly.
Links & Contacts

Quaker concern for the casualties of armed conflict and of famine, including refugees, found expression in relief work in the 19th century and the 1914-18 war. From 1940 to 1948 Friends Relief Service was responsible under London Yearly Meeting for work in hostel and air-raid shelter situations in the UK, and then in France, Germany, Greece and other areas on the Continent: grey uniforms were worn with the Quaker star.

There are seven surviving secondary boarding schools in England, and two in Ireland. All endeavour to maintain what may be called ‘a Quaker ethos’ despite the fact that very few of the staff are Quaker, and only a minority of the pupils come from Quaker background, even though a good deal of financial assistance is available from trusts, and from general [quarterly] and area meeting funds. One school, Breckenbrough, is a Special School for boys of above average intelligence assessed as EDB. The schools in brief.

The central body which is the custodian trustee for most meeting houses, burial grounds and endowments. These are normally beneficially owned and managed by local Friends.
Links & Contacts

Formerly the Five Years Meeting, this is a federation of yearly meetings in the Americas, characterised by ‘programmed’ worship frequently very similar to that found in mainstream Protestant churches. Many have paid pastors, who usually take no active part in the decision making process of the meeting/church. Though Bible based, the programme does not however include the outward sacraments or recitation of a creed.
Links & Contacts

Representative of Friends around the world, this body is recognised as a non-governmental organisation by the United Nations. With headquarters in London, it meets triennially in different countries and is mainly responsible for the ‘once in a generation’ [approximately] Friends World Conference, when limited numbers of members of the ‘world family of Friends’ have an opportunity to share and explore their differing faith and practice.
Links & Contacts

The traditional words, still frequently used today, describing the sense that a meeting for worship has entered a deeper phase, as those present have individually ‘centred down’. Even in meetings familiar with this experience over the years, it does not happen every time. As for each person, so for the worshipping group: the determining factor is a true openness to the grace of God and to the leading of the Inward Light.

Ireland Yearly Meeting's term for what Britain Yearly Meeting refers to as ‘Advices’.

Until 1967 was known as the Quarterly Meeting [as it remains in most other Yearly Meetings]. Composed of several area meetings within a geographical area, it no longer has a constitutional role, and the formal business mainly involves trusts and, in some cases, responsibility for schools or the management of residential homes for the elderly. General meetings can still provide for consideration of subjects brought up in, or referred to the constituent area meetings. Some general meetings are much more vigorous than others.

A Quaker guest house in Grasmere, run by Quakers in Yorkshire and Westmorland General Meeting and used for Quaker conferences.
Links & Contacts

A week long conference for 13-17 year old Friends, organised by Quaker Outreach in Yorkshire and held in the summer in Yorkshire.
Links & Contacts

Set up in an area granted to William Penn by Charles II, in lieu of repayment of debts to his father, Admiral Penn. This became Pennsylvania, with Philadelphia as its capital. Penn started the colony in 1681 by a peaceable approach to the native American tribes, but Quaker control of the colony was relinquished at the outbreak of the Seven Years War in 1756, as non-Quaker pressure mounted for armed resistance to French allied tribes.

An expression used to signify agreement / disagreement in a business meeting.

There are Quaker International Centres in several of the main cities of Europe and Asia. Those in Geneva and New York are closely associated with the work of the Quaker United Nations Offices.

This is the yearly meeting of Quakers in the whole of Ireland.
Links & Contacts

Formerly known as Brighouse Charities, now Brighouse, Leeds and Settle Monthly Meetings Buildings Charities. Originally there were two monthly meetings, Brighouse and Settle, covering some of what was then the West Riding of Yorkshire. In 1853 Settle and Brighouse Monthly Meetings (and part of Knaresborough) merged into Brighouse: in 1923 this Monthly Meeting split into three; Brighouse, Leeds and Settle Monthly Meetings. BLSMMBC, a Registered Charity, manages some meeting houses and graveyards, and also provides funds to meetings within the old Brighouse area for the maintenance of their meeting houses.

Junior Holidays are regular residential holidays for younger Quaker children, aged 7 -12 years, which provide a chance for children from different Quaker meetings to meet together, get to know one another, and spend time away form their family in a Quaker group. Organised through Quaker Outreach in Yorkshire .
Links & Contacts

A Quaker centre for healing and renewal near Penrith in the Lake District, closed in 2006.

The simple expression used to indicate that the work of a committee or ad hoc body having come to an end, that body need no longer remain in existence.

A Quaker term for what many would refer to as ‘guidance’, usually attributed to the Holy Spirit - as did George Fox and early Quakers. He distinguished such relatively common experience from what he called ‘openings’, using that term to denote a fresh and major insight into the ways of God, which often led to specific courses of action or to the taking of a particular stand on the matter concerned.

The Quaker performing arts organisation which aims to express Quaker faith and values through performance. It has an associated orchestra and chorus, with several major productions to its credit. Its activities involve many Young Friends, but many older ones participate actively on the musical side.
A Listed Informal Group

Provided by a meeting or a committee to a Quaker setting off on a journey during which contact with one or more Quaker meetings is anticipated. It does not have the status of a travelling minute.

Sometimes used to describe collectively all those in membership of meetings in the ‘unprogrammed tradition’, with the exception of the small Conservative yearly meetings. Their beliefs stemmed from late 19th century discoveries in biblical criticism, scientific thought and social life, and a rediscovery of early Quaker history. From the turn of this century the movement gained momentum and progressively changed in character.

The term used by the early Quakers to denote the source of leading and inspiration, to be found at the still centre sought through the silence of personal or corporate worship. For them it was unequivocally the light of Christ, "come to teach his people himself”, a far cry from the undefined ‘light’ or ‘spirit’ to which most ‘unprogrammed’ Quakers today feel able to make reference.

Link is a regular meeting of young people, aged 13-18, from Quaker meetings around an area, eg Yorkshire Link Group. It is an opportunity for fun, friendship and discussion, linking young people with Quaker connections.
Links & Contacts

So called because the names and brief details are listed in the annual "Book of Meetings", compiled by the Recording Clerk of Britain Yearly Meeting . About thirty in number, their interests range widely. It has been observed that the felt need to form such groups arises, at least in part, from the channelling of topics through the area meetings and the Yearly Meeting Agenda Committee, so limiting chances of a ‘national’ forum. The groups as in 2007.

Previously called Preparative Meetings, Recognised Meetings or Notified Meetings, these are the groups of Friends who worship together and, together, form the congregation of the area meetings. Defined as "any local group holding a public meeting for worship regularly and not less frequently than once a month, either on a Sunday or a weekday, and which has done so for at least a year, may be recognised by minute of the area meeting". It may, but need not have, a preparative meeting. In most cases a local meeting is centred on a meeting house. Local meetings communicate with area meetings by sending representatives to business meetings, which occur between six and twelve times a year. Quakers in Ireland use the earlier term ‘Allowed meeting’, though not recognised in their Book of Christian Discipline.

See Britain Yearly Meeting

In a meeting for worship for marriage, the man and woman make their vows to each other without the participation of a priest, or any other officiating person. All those present are encouraged to sign the marriage certificate as witnesses. The legal requirements are dealt with by a member of the area meeting serving as a Registering Officer.

It was a practice of Friends until 1860 to disown a member who married someone not in membership, and not willing to apply for membership. The effects were progressively disastrous, and the practice was identified in 1859 by John Stephenson Rowntree as the principal cause of the Society's numerical decline in Britain.

The full title should be ‘meeting for worship for business’, which indicates the basis on which all Quaker ‘church affairs’ are intended to be conducted. [See ‘Consensus’, ‘Clerk’ and ‘Minute’].

The standing representative committee of the yearly meeting, entrusted between the meetings thereof with the general care of matters affecting Britain Yearly Meeting as a whole. Its function was both deliberative and executive until January 2007 when it took on a ‘visionary and prophetic role’, intended to draw the Quaker community together and work for a better world. The title originated with the period in the early days of the Quaker movement when many adherents and their families were imprisoned, fined or had their dwellings distrained.

Now laid down, its duties included preparing the budget recommendations, constantly reviewing Britain Yearly Meeting’s core purposes and balance of responsibilities between committees and staff, management of functions of central departments, and the presentation of business to Meeting for Sufferings.

The name given to the silence based Quaker equivalent of a church service. Originally lasting several hours, with no set duration, the practice has slowly evolved to the present point, where the meeting is expected to last about one hour. Signs of habit about this may be attributed to the domestic pressures in the characteristic one-Quaker household, and the usual British loyalty to the ‘Sunday dinner’. [see 'Ministry'].

The name given by Quakers [and other religious bodies] to the building in which the regular occasions of worship take place. In the case of Quakers, it is explicit that no building is more sacred than another, so their meeting houses can be used by themselves and others for any purpose which the meeting concerned regards as appropriate.

Apart from a dwindling number of ‘birthright’ members, membership of the Religious Society of Friends is acquired by application to an area meeting. Those applying are visited by two Friends, appointed by the area meeting. The purpose is to ensure that the applicant is sufficiently familiar with the heritage and testimonies of Quakers, and in unity with its views and practices.

A meeting for worship on the occasion of the death of a member , or of an attender closely associated with the life of the meeting. It may take place on the day of the funeral, or at a later date which is chosen to enable more to attend who wish to do so. The intention is to "give thanks for the grace of God" in the life of the deceased person.

Various forms of service to which the gifts [spiritual and other] of an individual may be matched [see 'Nominations Committee’].

It is part of the Quaker tradition from the beginning, that during a meeting for worship anyone may rise to speak or to pray. Until recently, it was understood that the call to offer spoken ministry should arise from a clear sense that it came from the Holy Spirit. Vocal ministry has been described as "the offering of experience won in thought and in life which… has led to a deeper vision of God ".

Drafted by the clerk during a meeting for worship for business, and offered as a concise summary of the position reached by the meeting on the matter in hand [‘ the sense of the meeting’]. Only in exceptional circumstances [such as awareness that the ‘sense’ has not yet been achieved] or to permit some rephrasing [e.g. ‘over lunch’] is the acceptance of a minute not achieved before moving on to the next item.

See Area Meeting

Although frequently heard [as in "I felt moved to speak"], it would be unwise to assume that the original Quaker sense is in use: that of an inward motion of the Spirit, impelling the person involved to speak or to carry out some specific course of action.

A small group of people of any age at a conference or similar event, selected with the intention of getting to know each other better. More appreciated by the younger, less so by the elderly.

The traditional means by which Quakers identify those among their number for service of various kinds. Nominations are laid before the body of Friends that has appointed the nominations committee. In theory, anyone may express hesitation, or raise queries about the extent of the search [since it has not been Quaker practice to offer oneself], but this has become rare, thus tending to equate nominating with appointing.

See local meeting.

The original Quaker term for ideas or proposals which are ’heady’, lacking in spiritual depth. Thus more generally applied to any approach to religious matters which is not primarily based on first hand spiritual experience.

See Leadings.

Previously known as extension work, the name given to the activity involved in making the Quaker approach available to others who might he interested, and then providing the necessary contacts, information and support. Unlike early Quakers, they no longer try to draw people from existing denominational attachments [proselytising], and tend to be cautious about sharing whatever good news they, have [evangelising]: "Everyone must be allowed to go at their own pace".

Individual Quakers appointed by their area meeting to assume responsibility for the general care of all members and attenders, with particular reference to families and children, and those in special need of support and assistance. They usually work collaboratively with the group of elders, since the service is both complementary and overlapping.

The genetic term for the service to all members and attenders that is the shared responsibility of all, together with the additional responsibilities of eldership and oversight, and the work carried out by the committees and staff departments of the yearly meeting.

Members of yearly meetings, in the USA and elsewhere, which have pastors [sometimes as members of a team leadership]. While all these would be in ‘programmed meetings’, not all the latter have pastors.

The basis of' the Quaker opposition to the use of war and other forms of organised violence as a means of dealing with national or international problems, or of settling disputes. Traditionally seen as originating in the address submitted to Charles II in 1661, to dissociate Quakers from the politically suspect ‘Fifth Monarchy Men’. The positive aspect lies in efforts to facilitate reconciliation as trustworthy mediators.

The term used to describe some of the testimonies held in earlier times by the Quaker movement. These included the refusal to doff the hat as a mark of conventional courtesy [because all are equal]; the use of ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ in the place of ‘you’; and the adoption of plain clothing [usually dark and without collar or other ‘frills’].

Near Clitheroe in Lancashire, from the summit of' which George Fox “saw a great people to be gathered", northwest across Morecambe Bay [see 1652 Country]. Also the name of a Quaker centre for study and contemplation, at Wallingford just outside Philadelphia.

A guest house in central London, handy for Friends House. Established in 1920 with funds made available from the Friends Ambulance Unit which no longer needed a Central London base. It retains ties with Friends and Quaker organisations throughout the UK.
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William Penn as the son of an admiral wore a sword as part of his accustomed clothing. Becoming increasingly concerned at this un-Quakerly display of weaponry he is reputed to have taken the problem to George Fox who told him “I advise thee to wear it as long as thou canst.” The phrase is often applied to-day as a metaphor.

Rarely encountered outside the small yearly meetings of Conservative Friends in the USA; characterised by retention of the very plain dark clothing and the ‘plain speech’ [thee and thou] as the surface manifestations, but additionally by the emphasis on traditional Quaker Christian spirituality.

As mentioned under ‘Plain Quakers’, but also used to include the element of directness, illustrated by "his yea is yea and his nay is nay, and no more". Older Quakers have noticed a tendency for such plainness to be losing ground, through loss of the conviction upon which it was based in earlier times.

A meeting for church affairs in connection with a local meeting which is responsible for the nurture of the spiritual life of the meeting and for the conduct of its business. The term ‘preparative’ stems from the fact that such meetings send matters for consideration by the area meeting (as well as receiving from it business requiring its attention at local level).

A euphemism widely used by Quakers to cover any and all reasons other than illness for the absence of a member listed as being expected to attend a business or other meeting. An example of non-plain speech.

What George Fox and his companions said they were experiencing. He was explicit that the structure and activities of the Christian Church from the end of the apostolic period had been apostasy - an abandonment of the faith and principles of Jesus as preached in and by his first century followers. Early Quakers were convinced that "Christ had come to teach his people himself”, inwardly through the Light of the Holy Spirit.

One not wholly based on silence as the means to worship, but similar to that of most non-conformist Protestant churches, though without a creed or use of the outward Sacraments. In most meetings in the USA of this kind, provision is made for silence (in varying amounts), usually described as ‘open worship’. The uses to which this is put vary widely from one place to another, according to how well-informed is the ‘congregation’.
Originally related to the trembling sometimes experienced through spiritual experience (as when moved to speak during a meeting for worship) the term was applied in derision by a Justice before whom George Fox was appearing, and then later adopted positively by the movement. It is today a more satisfactory title than ‘Friends’, since there are so many organisations, both commercial and charitable, named similarly.

Once known as Friends Bookshop, it is located on the ground floor of Friends House. This shop stocks or can obtain most Quaker literature which is in print, and other works besides. It will form part of the planned BYM Quaker Centre in London.
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Friends believe that their decision-making process must be undertaken in a spirit of worship. Hence, business meetings are meetings for worship for business affairs, contributions are ministry and all unite with the agreed minute .

Deals with communications both inside and outwith the Society, fundraising, organising yearly meeting and summer gatherings.

To provide a focus in continental Europe for British and Continental Quakers to act jointly within the framework of the European Community. The Council's centre in Brussels is known as Quaker House.
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At Friends House, oversees all personnel matters, office services, information technology and the restaurant.

The 1995 revision which combined ‘Christian Faith and Practice’ and ‘Church Government’ into the present ‘Book of Christian Discipline’. 'Christian Faith and Practice' was the name of the first part, published between 1738 and 1994, and consisting of texts from many sources and intended to be a source of guidance, example and inspiration in the way we conduct our lives. Church Government was the second part which provided guidance in church affairs. The present Revision was considered by London Yearly Meeting in 1994 and became part of Quaker faith and practice. The text is comprehensively revised about every generation, with smaller changes periodically.
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Responsible for overseeing the finances of yearly meeting and for the properties in its ownership.

See Quaker Life.

The centre for Irish Friends in Dublin.
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A national Quaker channel for practical Quaker witness in housing. Assists local groups with local projects.

This Centre [with which is associated William Penn House] was situated in central London not far from Friends House. With meeting rooms and accommodation for visitors, it provided a focal point for Quaker and other travellers visiting Britain, including diplomats and others with whom Quaker reconciliation work is involved. Its facilities were also available to Quakers in Britain and those closely associated with them.

Previously Quaker Home Service, the central department of Britain Yearly Meeting, primarily responsible for the nurture of the spiritual life of all the meetings, members of all ages, attenders and newcomers and for bringing the Quaker position and message to the attention of those who may be interested.
Also a publication of Friends United Meeting
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A periodical produced by Quaker Life. Aimed particularly at the interests of newcomers and attenders, it also provides a valuable outlet for material which may not readily find a place in the weekly journal [The Friend].
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A ‘broadsheet' [in colour] that is made available without charge to all those who attend the more than 400 Quaker meetings in Britain. The purpose is to provide, in readable prose and an attractive format, information about the work of the ‘central’ departments and services, and to set out and explain the financial basis upon which all such activities must depend. Attention is drawn to many other topics of interest.
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Previously known as 1905 Committee, then Yorkshire Friends Sevice Committee, the committee of Quakers in Yorkshire which is responsible for Enquirers, Newcomers and Attenders days, Holiday School, Easter Settlement, Quaker exhibitions and other matters in Yorkshire, and Resources, Information and Media, who publish this document.
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See Quaker Peace and Social Witness

One of the two central standing committees of BYM. Originally an amalgam of the former Quaker Peace & Service and Quaker Social Responsibility and Education. Quaker Peace and Service was a central department of Britain Yearly Meeting responsible for the promotion and execution of the work implied by its title. This is carried out both in the UK and abroad, and often is in response to needs expressed by the country concerned. It attracts funding from many non-Quaker sources because of the widespread recognition of Quaker work and commitment in the fields of service, and of conflict resolution. Quaker Social Responsibility and Education was the central department of Britain Yearly Meeting that provides support for the interest and activities of Friends and meetings across a wide range of special topics such as, for example, housing and homelessness; poverty; the effects of unemployment; racial discrimination; criminal justice.

A series of meetings, usually four to six, and held in the evening, aimed at introducing Quakerism to members of the public who have no or very little knowledge of Quakerism. Originally a project of Hampstead Monthly Meeting, Quaker Quest teams now operate in many areas of the country.
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Originally known as the Bedford Institute Association, Quaker Social Action is a Quaker charitable body that has been working in the City and East End of London since 1867. It is responsible for a number of practical and innovative schemes to address the human problems resulting from unemployment and the widespread lack of acceptable housing.
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A Listed Informal Group

See Quaker Peace and Social Witness.

The role of this body is to support meetings in the management of finance and property; to ‘encourage accountability, transparency and integrity’ and ‘enable Friends to work with statutory bodies, such as those administering charity law, on issues that affect all meetings and their associated bodies.' Their work in guiding meeting through the changes due to RECAST and by legislation has resulted in the publication of the Treasurers Handbook and the Trustees Handbook.
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A series of panels, made by hand in tapestry, depicting the history of Quakerism, and on display, usually in Kendal Meeting House or at other locations during the winter months.
Links & Contacts                   A Listed Informal Group

These are located in Geneva and New York, enabling an active role in the work of the Non-Governmental Organisations, as well as providing many opportunities far diplomats to meet in quite acceptable neutral surroundings for informal conversation and discussion.
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Founded as a movement, not as a sect, the Quakers have never claimed to be a ‘denomination’. By 1900 their historians were using the term ‘Quakerism’ without comment or explanation, though many of its members today are less than happy with the suffix. Creedless and increasingly diverse in terms of personal belief, there has been a growing tendency to stress the ‘way of life’ as revealing whatever identity it now can recognise. Within what is referred to as ‘the world family of Friends’, held together on a representative basis by the Friends World Committee for Consultation, there are of course many yearly meetings in no doubt about their own identity: this is a problem more frequently encountered by those in the silence based unprogrammed tradition, such as Britain Yearly Meeting.

Formerly Yorkshire Quarterly Meeting, then Yorkshire General Meeting, this is the general meeting for the seven area meetings in the southern part of Yorkshire. Since 2008 the regular meetings of this body have been referred to again as Quarterly Meetings.
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The body and occasion still known by this name in Ireland Yearly Meeting. [For Britain Yearly Meeting, see ‘General Meeting’].

Part of ‘Advices and Queries’ in Britain Yearly Meeting : the full title in Ireland Yearly Meeting is ‘Queries for serious consideration’.

The term used to describe Quakers in the 18th century, often implying that they were inward-looking and defensive. Under the watchful eyes of the elders during that period, spoken ministry was concentrated in the ‘recorded ministers’, who travelled widely. Their waiting for a ‘leading’ to speak sometimes disappointed those present, when they had no clear sense of a ‘message to deliver’. But the period produced deeply spiritual Quakers.

One of the many sects contemporaneous with the first Quakers, from which some were in fact recruited. It espoused the antinomian doctrine, whereby the individual was completely free to follow her or his interpretation of the leading of the Holy Spirit, regardless of the moral or other law. Fox saw the danger of this, stressing the need for letting the worshipping group provide a safeguarding check. [see Authority].

See local meeting. Quakers in Ireland use the earlier term ‘Allowed meeting’, though not recognised in their Book of Christian Discipline.

[see under Quietist]. From 1723 until 1924, this term referred in those whose special gifts had been recognised by their Monthly meeting, identifying them as ‘possessed of prophetic insight, of more than usual powers of persuasive speech, of clean sober character, and of convincing quality of life’. Recording was abandoned in the hope of encouraging more ‘ordinary members’ to contribute, as moved, to the spoken ministry.

In BritainYearly Meeting, the principal full time administrator. In addition to certain specific duties he or she is responsible for ensuring that decisions taken by the Yearly Meeting or by the Meeting for Sufferings are conveyed to the bodies or individuals involved in their implementation. The Recording Clerk does not ‘record’ or draft minutes as this is the responsibility of the clerk of each meeting or committee.

A member appointed by a monthly meeting to serve as the person responsible £or the proper preparation for, and the right holding of, meetings for worship for the solemnisation of marriage, according to the legal requirements and the usages of the Society.

The terms sometimes used to describe the position of a member who has been recognised by the area meeting, or by Meeting for Sufferings, as having a religiously valid concern to undertake a specific service which will cause her or him to be absent for a substantial period, or to travel frequently. Originally (and still sometimes today) such a ‘release’ might involve the financial support of spouse and/or dependants.

The correct title of Britain Yearly Meeting, and of several other yearly meetings around the world.
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Formerly both Quaker Life and Quaker Peace and Social Witness had representative councils, but as mentioned under central departments, these did not have any executive power, even though in Britain Yearly Meeting they were the only bodies other than Meeting for Sufferings that are ‘representative’ in the sense that the bulk of their members were appointed by the area meetings. Quaker Peace and Social Witness’s council was laid down in 2007. Quaker Life's council provides opportunities for important topics to be explored, and the central committees to bring up matters for wider consideration.

A specialist, not-for-profit therapeutic centre for mental health in York, founded by William Tuke in 1796 and run by Quakers ever since.
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Carried out in a manner consistent with the accumulated experience and insights of the Society, and with the relevant guidelines provided Quaker faith and practice.

Described in some parts of the Christian Church as "the outward and visible signs of an inward and visible grace", these have never been observed in practice by Quakers, who have maintained that they are not necessary and can lead to meaningless ritual performance. But Quaker practice itself often falls far short of this ideal, for example when asserting that "every meal can be a eucharist”, or “the meeting for worship is sacramental".

Quakers have long maintained that no distinction can or should be made between the ‘sacred’ and the ‘secular’, on the grounds that all creation is sacred. This would appear to many to ignore obtusely the fact that whereas a commercial bank is plainly a secular institution, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) equally plainly is not. They are on firmer ground in saying that worship can occur anywhere.

The printed form sent out annually to enable members to decide how much of their income to give to support the work of their local, area, general and yearly meetings. While apparently helpful to some, it is confusing to many and is daunting to those who are on very low incomes. Recently it has been seen as needing to be complemented by such well tried alternatives as the ‘weekly envelope’ method, or in other ways.

A peculiarly apt Quaker term to describe a member with considerable experience of the faith and practice of the Society, and evidencing through her or his ministry and life a good measure of spiritual maturity and depth.

The metaphor used by some early Quakers, most notably Isaac Penington, to denote the "part of God's nature, capable of growth, which was brought into the heart of man". It was that which he had met with, so that he could write "I have met with my God, with my saviour". For him it was "the Inward Light of Christ" as well as what Fox called "that of God", now quoted out-of-context, and so without meaning as a faith statement.

Small groups of individuals which in the 17th century were dissatisfied with the churches and sects of the day. They met together, often in silent waiting, seeking for the Truth. Some of these groups were receptive to the preaching of George Fox [see, for example, under 1652 Country].

Recently described succinctly as “a commitment to faith", in contradistinction to consensus, described as "the product of an intellectual process". In a Quaker meeting for worship for business, ‘sense of the meeting’ is sought on the assumption that all or most of those present are seeking to cooperate with God's purpose for the matter in hand.

This word is included here because it is seen as important to stress that silence is the basis of a Quaker meeting for worship, a means to the end of achieving an inward stillness, not an end in itself. And this in turn is an experience shared with the whole Christian tradition, and with other world faiths.

Often listed as one of the Quaker ‘testimonies’ , this can be applied very narrowly to material possessions, such as apparel and furniture, or more broadly to include both the outward demeanour of an individual and the lack of inner ‘clutter’ which gives rise to that demeanour. Over-attention to the material aspect can be at the expense of spiritual integrity, as several Quaker writers and many others have testified.

Now a registered charity, the committee, dating from 1671, which oversees and is responsible for ensuring the proper upkeep of Quaker meeting houses in London and Middlesex General Meeting.
A Quaker Committee

An expression likely to be used at times when Quakers are particularly concerned about some issue on which action, or a change of attitude, on the part of those in authority seems to be essential: the personal approach adopted a century ago and earlier is seldom possible at the highest levels these days, but a channel of communication can often be found.

Means "that is very apt/timely/helpful to me at this moment". It is on record that when one young Quaker said that something did not speak to his condition another quickly replied "Perhaps you are not in a condition to be spoken to".

The term used by George Fox when needing to refer to a building usually called a ‘church’ on the grounds that the real Church was not made by human hands. As he once put it, "The church is the people whom God has purchased with his blood, and not the house".

A Quaker way of expressing an inward sense of hesitancy about the rightness of some proposed course of action.

In Dublin, the former historical library and administrative offices of Ireland Yearly Meeting.
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The home of Judge and Margaret Fell. See 1652 Country.
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Since 1908, a lecture delivered at the time when Britain Yearly Meeting gathers, but not forming part of the proceedings. It is usual for a full version to be published simultaneously. It serves to ‘bring before the public the spirit, aims and fundamental principles of friends’; and ‘to interpret further to the members of the Society their message and mission'.

TABLE, at the
The phrase coming at the end of a sentence reporting the identities of those serving as clerks, for example when London Meeting is in session.

A statistical summary published annually as part of the documents available to all those taking part in the Yearly Meeting [and therefore also included in the printed records]. Originally listed by general meeting, but now by area meeting, it provides figures for membership; the number of new members during the year; details about marriages [both according to Quaker usage and otherwise] and of the numbers of attenders’ listed in the Area Meeting returns.

Rarely used today in the 17th century sense, of "well-disposed, open, ready to receive and pay attention".

This word is used by Quakers in more than one sense: for example, as in the case of ‘A testimony to the grace of God in the life of XY’, or differently when referring to ‘our historic peace testimony'. Attempts to form a generally acceptable list of the latter type prove difficult, mainly because only the Yearly Meeting could validate it, following due consideration and some early testimonies still held by Conservative Friends. The main testimonies.

Most frequently met in relation to the ‘testing’ of what is believed to be a religious ‘concern’ an inward sense that God is laying a task upon a person or a group. Most usually the ‘testing’ is carried out by the appropriate area meeting [or by a ‘clearness group’ which it sets up for the purpose].

A euphemism for ‘definitely not suitable’ with respect to nominations.

A phrase occurring in a letter written by George Fox from prison to ‘Friends in the ministry’. Frequently cited today as the only belief that Quakers in the silence based tradition have in common, and are likely to assert, its context is unknown to the majority of those who use it. Without that context, it loses most of its significance and also questions whether the speaker knows what ‘that’ implies, or what ‘God’ means to her/him.

The weekly journal published in London. It celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1993. Independent of the Religious Society of Friends, it is owned [along with The Friends Quarterly] by a trust. It carries a variety of short submitted articles, typically headed 'News', 'Opinion' or ‘Comment’; reports on the proceedings of Yearly Meeting, of Meeting for Sufferings, and other events; reviews, advertisments and a vigorous ‘Letters to the Editor’section.
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An essential feature of the life of the Society from the earliest days, until about a century ago most usually involved a ‘recorded minister’ and a companion, less experienced. In process of being revived with charitable trust support this ministry is being undertaken by individuals as well as by pairs, but still implies the element of religious concern as the basis of the work.

This is issued by an area meeting [or by Meeting for Sufferings] to a Quaker who is setting out on a journey among Quaker meetings, in Britain or abroad, which the meeting has recognised as one carried out under ‘concern’.

A comprehensive manual to guide those who undertake the role of Treasurer. It is updated periodically, and the 2008 edition makes clear how accounts should be kept to comply with the recent changes to Charity Commission requirements. It is available from the Quaker Bookshop or as a download from the Support for Meetings.

A concise guide to the ethical and legal requirements of being a Trustee, updated periodically and available from Quaker Bookshop or as a download from the Quaker Stewardship Committee.
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The name by which early Quakers called their movement [following the first title ‘Children of the Light’]. They were quite clear that the Truth to which this referred was what they believed Christ had "come to teach his people himself", revealed through the Inward Light of his Spirit. The modern tendency to attribute ‘Friends’ to the Johannine reported words of Jesus, "I have called you friends" is not well founded.

A group set up by Britain Yearly Meeting "to unite with the concern for standards in public life which exercises many Friends" and laid down in 2006.
Newcomers among British Quakers are likely to encounter references to this concept, most probably in relation to ‘diversity’. Since the latter is very obvious across the spectrum of personal belief, from deep conviction based on personal experience right across to none at all, it can sometimes be difficult to reach unity. The other [loose] use of ‘unity’ takes the form "I can unite with that” which means "I probably agree."

In the Quaker context, exemplified by the position of a group which believes "that spiritual awareness is accessible to men and women of any religion or none and that no one Faith can claim to be a final revelation or to have a monopoly of truth". Most Quaker-Christians [as distinct from most other Christians] will accept this, though some would say that "one can only truly respect another's faith when rooted and grounded in one's own".

As contrasted with the ‘programmed’, this is the silence-based mode of corporate worship, with no planned programme, out of which spoken ministry may arise from anyone present.

When the clerk is concentrating on the framing of the minute, during a meeting for business, those present are expected to provide supportive worship (or at least to maintain a deep silence).

The two Friends appointed by the area meeting to visit an applicant for membership. Usually one of the visitors will be known to the applicant and the other will belong to a different meeting.[see Membership].
An adjective applied to an individual Quaker who is perceived by the person using it as being either very experienced/spiritually mature/etc., or as one who is influential [whose words ‘carry weight’] in the affairs of the Society or sometimes as both.

Originally Woodbrooke College, the first of the ecumenical group known as the Selly Oak Colleges, affiliated to the University of Birmingham, it was founded in 1903 when George Cadbury gave his house and extensive grounds for the purpose of what he called ‘a Quaker settlement’. His purpose was to meet the need for training in a religious society without a clergy. Greatly diversified, it is now also a ‘study centre’ with many non academic short courses.
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A form of discussion, structured for a specific occasion, intended for members of all ages. One person speaks at a time, without interruption and time must pass before the next person speaks. It encourages listening to what others say, rather than making one’s own views heard. See Quaker faith and practice 2.80-81.

Early Quakers, convinced of the relevance of Matthew 5:33-37 and of James 5:12 to everyday life, refused to take oaths in courts of law (for which many went to prison), or in many other places, thus precluding them from many professional and public positions. They also saw the need to keep to ‘Yea’ and ‘Nay’ to promote strict standards of integrity in personal and business life, thus achieving a reputation for dependability.

The name of the body which in Ireland Yearly Meeting holds the same relative position as ‘Meeting for Sufferings’ in Britain Yearly Meeting.

An old name for Quaker Outreach in Yorkshire.

See Quakers in Yorkshire

See Quakers in Yorkshire

Until 1993 known as the Young Friends Central Committee, it is an active body open to both members and attenders from the age of 18 years to a notional 35. Its meetings take place over weekends three times annually, plus a yearly gathering, in larger meeting houses around Britain. With two representatives on Meeting for Sufferings, it can put forward matters for consideration both to that body and to the Yearly Meeting.

The periodical published by Young Friends General Meeting.
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An area in northwest England, bounded by Brigflatts, Ulverston, Kendal and Lancaster, where Fox met [wrote Penn] "a large group of seeking and religiously inclined people", many of whom joined him as he fulfilled a vision of "a great people to be gathered". Swarthmoor Hall near Ulverston became the nerve centre of the Quaker movement, through the generous spirit of Judge Fell, whose wife Margaret and most of his household were convinced, though he did not become a Quaker himself.

See QOY.



ROBERT BARCLAY (1648 - 1690)
He had experienced the extreme narrowness and bitterness of both Protestant and Catholic in the religious disputes of his time. He was the son of David Barclay, a distinguished cavalry officer who turned Quaker, and of Catherine Gordon, granddaughter of the Earl of Sutherland. With the advantage of an education part Scottish Presbyterian and part Catholic at the Scottish College in Paris, Barclay was able at twenty-seven to write the famous 'Apology', which for the first time formulated Quakerism in a way which compelled the attention of the theologians of Europe; the first edition (in Latin) appeared in 1676. In form it was a direct challenge to much of the Westminster Confession and the Shorter Catechism (1646-1648). It forcibly attacked 'school divinity', for Barclay felt that, in his own time, God had 'chosen a few despicable and unlearned instruments, as He did fishermen of old, to publish His pure and naked Truth, and to free it of these mists and fogs wherewith the clergy had clouded it', At the first meeting of Friends which Barclay attended, he was 'reached in the time of silence' but impressed, too, with the words of an unknown minister: 'In stillness there is fullness, in fullness there is nothingness, in nothingness there are all things'.

GEORGE CADBURY (1839 - 1922)
George Cadbury was born into a Quaker family of tea and coffee merchants in Edgbaston. In 1861 he, with his brother Richard, took over the family business and in 1866 started selling cocoa as a powder with which to make a drink. It was this which was to establish the family fortune and by 1879 the business had so outgrown its premises that a 15 acre site at Bourneville was purchased on which both a new factory and a new village were built. Despite the effort required to run a large company, George was a regular teacher for much of his life at the Birmingham Adult School on Sunday mornings. He supported Gladstone politically but later opposed the Boer and 1914-18 wars, co-founding the Union of Democratic Control party which was the leading political opposition to these wars.


JUDGE THOMAS FELL (1598 - 1658)
Born into a well known family at Hawkshead, Thomas studied law and became a barrister, an MP in the Long Parliament, an Assize Court Judge and eventually the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He married Margaret Askew in 1632 when a barrister and built Swarthmore Hall, near Ulverston, as his home. Initially he supported Cromwell, but later disapproved of Cromwell's assumption of authority. Although never becoming a Quaker, he supported both his wife Margaret and the many early Friends whom she brought to his home in this, and was able to protect them to some degree from the effects of the civil war.

MARGARET FELL (1614 - 1702)
Born Margaret Askew at Dalton-in-Furness, she married Thomas Fell, a barrister in 1632 and bore him nine children. In 1652 she heard George Fox preach and became convinced. She, with her husband's agreement, turned their family home, Swarthmore Hall, into the early centre of Quakerism, providing hospitality to many early Friends. She was arrested in 1664 for refusing to take an oath, and for holding Meetings for Worship in her home, and eventually sentenced to life imprisonment at Lancaster Gaol. Pardoned by Charles II in 1668, she married George Fox in 1669, 11 years after the death of Thomas Fell, and outlived him also. An upright and determined woman, she is quite rightly looked on as the 'mother of Quakerism'.

GEORGE FOX (1624 - 1691)
The charismatic preacher from the Midlands of England, who from 1648 was mainly responsible for the rise and establishment of the Quaker movement. He shared the leadership with many others, which helps to explain why the movement has never been called ‘Foxism’.

He was the son of a Leicestershire weaver, and he described his mother as 'of the stock of the martyrs'. His Journal was first published in 1694, extensively edited by Thomas Ellwood, and has been many times reprinted. In 1643, when he was nineteen, and apprenticed to a shoe-maker and wool dealer, he was shocked by the failure of 'professors', i.e. professing Christians, to live up to their Christian standards. This disillusion­ment drove him from his home in search of spiritual help. He reached his own first-hand experience of Christ amid the religious con­fusion of the Civil War. When this experience came to him he spent himself thereafter drawing others into it, and in knitting them into an enduring fellowship. Years of his life were spent in travel, and he suffered eight imprisonments for conscience' sake. He 'settled the Monthly Meetings in the Lord's everlasting power' and his organizing ability gave our Society a structure which stands to this day.

Alastair Heron was born in Edinburgh in 1915, but like many Scots has spent most of his life abroad (in Canada, Africa and Australia) and in England since 1975. A member of Balby Monthly Meeting and attending Sheffield Central Meeting it is now more than sixty years since he became a Quaker. In 1986 he spent nine weeks travelling in the ministry in Australia and three years later did the same coast-to-coast in Canada. His first Quaker book, Caring, conviction, commitment. published in 1992, resulted from the survey he carried out in Yorkshire to learn at first hand of the experiences of attenders from the time of their first entry into a Quaker meeting. The present little handbook was one of his first responses to the needs they expressed. In 1996 his major work Quakers in Britain; a century of change was the only book to mark the centenary of the Manchester Conference that had opened the way for what later became known as the 'liberal stage' in British Quaker history. Abstracted from it came The British Quakers: 1647 to 1997, still the only short modern introduction available to inform newcomers, attenders - and quite a few members! In addition to two other books and an essay The future of British Quakers (2001), his autobiography Only one life - a Quaker's voyage was published in 1998.
For thirty years Alastair Heron was a research psychologist working mainly in the fields of human development through the lifespan, and in cross-cultural studies. In the late 1960s and early 1970s he was professor and head of department of psychology in the University of Melbourne, Australia. He and his wife Margaret reached their sixtieth wedding anniversary in November 2000, less than a year before her death at 88. Their son and daughter Keith and Joy live in England and the USA respectively, and Alastair is a great-grandfather.

WILLIAM PENN (1644 - 1718)
His life of high adventure, which has left its mark on the history of England and America, was that of a man of commanding gifts and eager spirit vowed to "follow the Christ, the King'. When he threw in his lot with Friends in 1667, he preferred 'the reproach of Christ' to the career at Court open before him, and he never flinched from his decision. For his inner spirit, we can turn to his writings, especially to 'No Cross, No Crown', and the two little books, called 'Fruits of solitude', written when he was under the ban of the authorities owing to his friendship with the exiled James II. Penn's other writings include his 'Essay towards the present and future peace of Europe', written in 1693 and foreshadowing a League of States.

William Charles Braithwaite wrote of him: 'Life to Penn was an arena for adventurous service. His eagerness of mind and universal spirit made him leap from the seats of the spectators with which so many are content into the thick of action. Rapt in great designs and careless of self he was often buffeted and baffled, deceived or mistaken, but his courage was never defeated, nor the fineness of his temper marred. ... We go to others for flawless thought and deeds of passive patience, but for the kindled vision compacted into glowing act, out of which the famous deeds of history are wrought, what other Englishman of that age can rank with the hero of our religious freedom, and of the Holy Experiment of Pennsylvania?

ISAAC PENNINGTON (1616 - 1679)
The son of a prominent Parliamentarian leader, was already a man of forty two and a practised author when he joined the Quakers in 1658. He suffered five imprisonments at Aylesbury and one at Reading - some five years confinement in all, often in cold, damp and unhealthy rooms that nearly cost him his life. He was much occupied in writing, and in travail of soul, 'being retired in spirit and mourning to my God, for the powerful bringing forth of his pure life yet more perfectly both in myself and others'. His writings, though diffuse, are often strangely beautiful, and reflect his own depth of experience and tenderness of spirit.

Born into the Rowntree family of York, he had a strong influence on the reform of the Quaker movement, writing, in 1859, "Quakerism past and present". As well as being involved in running the family business he felt a strong civic duty and was elected Lord Mayor of York in 1880. He married Elizabeth Hotham in 1858 and had nine children by her. After her death he married Helen Doncaster in 1878, who survived him.

SEEBOHM ROWNTREE (1871 - 1954)
Born into the Rowntree family of York, he entered the family business as research chemist and also became a dedicated teacher at York Adult School. In 1895, he visited Newcastle where he encountered poverty at first hand. This was to set him on a course of investigating the causes and effects of poverty with three major reports, in 1901, 1936 and 1951, about poverty in York. He married in 1897, and had five children.

WILLIAM TUKE (1732 - 1822)
Born into a Quaker family of tea and coffee merchants in York, he was able to devote some of his early years to philanthropy. In 1792 he became aware of the conditions of the insane asylums of the time when a Friend died in one, and by 1796 he has collected enough funds to start "The Retreat", an insane asylum where patients were treated humanely in a clean and pleasant environment with good food and where the benefits of therapeutic work were pioneered.


       VI         ORGANISATION


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The following quotations are taken from the 1994 and 1959 editions of Christian Faith & Practice, to demonstrate the wide range of Testimonies developed over the years. Some Friends consider that there should be only one testimony: but on analysis, it will be found to contain seeds from all the testimonies below, and probably more.
Some of those below are more of an historical interest than others.


Betting and gambling
In our 'Advices' we are warned against commercial speculations of a gambling character, and we are told to 'remember how widespread and diverse are the temptations to grow rich at the expense of others'. The faithful observance of this advice points the way to an issue greater than personal rectitude with regard to gambling. It should lead to an examination of the system which permits or encourages these abuses, and to a demand for drastic changes.
S.N.Brayhaw (1933)


Capital Punishment
The real security for human life is to be found in a reverence for it. If the law regarded it as inviolable, then the people would begin also so to regard it. A deep reverence for human life is worth more than a thousand executions in the prevention of murder; and is, in fact, the great security for human life. The law of capital punishment while pretending to support this reverence, does in fact tend to destroy it.
LYM (1818)


Compulsory military service is sometimes claimed as a duty attaching to citizenship. But it is not true social service. On the one hand it is part of the attempt to maintain peace by force, and on the other it is training in methods that are contrary to the highest moral standards recognised by man... The training of men to kill each other is a violation of the sacredness of personality for it is a crime against that of God in every man. It requires an inhumanity and a blind obedience that is a negation of responsible service to our fellow men. It demands much that in private life is recognised as anti-social and criminal... Christ bids us love our enemies; governments bid us kill them...The conscript is, in effect, required to endorse war in advance.

MfS (1945)


Hat honour
A knot of my old acquaintance (at Oxford), espying me, came to me. One of these was a scholar in his gown, another a surgeon of that city... When they were come up to me, they all saluted me, after the usual manner, putting of their hats and bowing, and saying, 'Your humble Servant, Sir', expecting no doubt the same from me. But when they saw me stand still, not moving my cap, nor bowing my knee, in a way of congee to them, they were amazed, and looked first one upon another, then upon me, and then one upon another again for a while, without a word speaking. At length, the surgeon... clapping his hand, in a familiar way, upon my shoulder, and smiling on me, said, 'What, Tom, a Quaker!' To which I readily, and cheerfully answered, 'Yes, a Quaker.' And as the words passed out of my mouth I felt joy spring in my heart, for I rejoyced that I had not been drawn out by them into a compliance with them, and that I had strength and boldness given me to confess myself to be one of that despised people.


Integrity is one of the virtues for which Quakers in the past have been praised. It is a quality worth having, but it is doubtful if it can be reached by self-conscious effort or by adherence to a principle... Integrity is a condition in which a person's response to a total situation can be trusted: the opposite of a condition in which he would be moved by opportunist or self-seeking impulses breaking up his unity as a whole being. This condition of trust is different from the recognition that he will always be kind or always tell the truth. The integrity of some Dutch Friends I have met showed itself during the war in their willingness to tell lies to save their Jewish friends from the Gestapo or from starvation.
K.C.Barnes (1972)


The law permits all those who object to the taking of an oath on religious grounds, or because they have no religious faith, to affirm. We encourage Friends to spread a knowledge of the law so that all those who share either of these objections may take advantage of its provisions. We regard the taking of oaths as contrary to the teaching of Christ, and as setting up a double standard of truthfulness, wherein sincerity and truth should be practised in all dealings of life.
(1911; 1959)


We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the whole world. The spirit of Christ, by which we are guided, is not changeable, so once to command us from a thing as evil and again to move into it; and we do certainly know, and so testify to the world, that the spirit of Christ, which leads us to all Truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world.
Declaration to Charles II, 1661

In considering the character and basis of our testimony for peace we have felt strongly that its deepest foundation lies in the nature of God, and that its character must be inclusive of the whole of life. There is urgent need for a fuller recognition that God's essential nature is love, that the Cross of Jesus represents the highest point in the revelation of the character of God, and that there is a seed of God in every man, that spiritual forces are the mightiest, and that we must be prepared to rely upon them and to give expression to them in daily work and character as well as in what we call the great crises of life. We must set before us the highest ideal, that which ought to be, rather than that which is, believing that God is not alone the God of things as they are but the God of things as they are meant to be.
All Friends Conference, 1920

The Quaker testimony concerning war does not set up as its standard of value the attainment of individual or national safety, neither is it based primarily on the iniquity of taking human life, profoundly important as that aspect of the question is. It is based ultimately on the conception of 'that of God in every man' to which the Christian in the presence of evil is called on to make appeal, follow­ing out a line of thought and conduct which, involving suffering as it may do, is, in the long run, the most likely to reach to the inward witness and so change the evil mind into the right mind. This result is not achieved by war.
Neal Brayshaw (1921)


Penal Reform
The terrible sufferings of our forebears in the prisons of the seven­teenth century have given us as a people a special interest in the man­agement of prisons and the treatment of crime. George Fox protested to the judges of his day 'concerning their putting men to death for cattle and money and small matters'; and laid before them 'what a hurtful thing it was that prisoners should lie so long in jail'; showing how 'they learned wickedness from one another in talking of their bad deeds'.
There is, however, much work still to be done, in creating a right understanding of the nature and causes of crime, and in emphasising the need for redemptive treatment rather than retributive punish­ment. Society is in measure responsible for the criminal, a fact which emphasises the duty of meeting moral failure by redemptive care. Evil can only be finally overcome by good.
(1911; 1925; 1959; 1994)


Plain Language
Towards any form of pretence, hypocrisy, shallow or muddled thinking, he was merciless. He had a shattering way of evoking the memory of George Fox at the most inconvenient moment... Gatherings of Friends were often put upon their mettle by a summing up from Joseph Southall, and many were the sharp encounters which reminded us of simple but vital principles in danger of being smothered by more material concern. And then, the battle over, who has not seen him shaking hands with his late adversary over a cup of tea, beaming through his half-moon spectacles with the world's most celestial twinkle in his eyes, the clear parchment pallor of his face broken into what would have been the smile of a benevolent old gentleman had it not somehow been pointed with the wit of a Joseph Southall.
Testimony concerning Joseph E Southall (1861-1944): Warwickshire Monthly Meeting (1945)


Relief of suffering
There are no harriers of race, national feeling, custom, climate or culture which cannot be broken down by the method of Woolman and St Francis - the method of self-identification with the need of the poorest, even in distant lands, by means of hard manual work done at his side for his benefit. It remains to apply this method, and this idealism, to the international situation in Europe to-day...The influence of such work will no doubt be entirely negligible as regards the international situation, as the influence of Woolman seemed to be in his own lifetime, or as the influence of Francis seemed to be in his lifetime...But failure does not matter. All that matters is that the right way should be tried; and if the Christian religion means anything at all, the right way is the way of self-identification with the poorest, the way of appeal to the friendliness in others by means of active and practical friendliness in ourselves, the way of unostentatious service... The original international fellowship of Christianity was founded in this way, as barriers of every kind - language, nationality, race, sex, class - were broken down through the literal following of the command for this august sacrament of menial service, as instituted by Christ at his last supper with his disciples.
J.S.Hoyland (1936)


A deep concern was laid upon the minds of Friends of a past generation for the abolition of the slave trade and slavery. In that cause they laboured faithfully, and in the end with much success. These great evils still prevail under various names. In Africa and elsewhere indentured labour is secured and maintained by pro­fessedly Christian nations, under conditions similar to those of the slave trade and slavery; whilst slavery itself with its cruelty and immorality still exists in various parts of the world. We desire that the interest of Friends in the cause of the helpless and oppressed may be maintained, and that they may still labour and pray for the removal of these great iniquities.
LYM (1875)


It is our tender and Christian advice that Friends take care to keep to truth and plainness, in language, habit, deportment and behaviour; that the simplicity of truth in these things may not wear out nor be lost in our days, nor in our posterity's; and to avoid pride and immodesty in apparel, and all vain and superfluous fashions of the world.
Yearly Meeting, (1691)


Social order
The war of 1914-18 made Friends more vividly aware of the close connection between war and the social order. Nine months after the outbreak of war Yearly Meeting was impressed by the words of John Woolman, 'May we look upon our treasures, the furniture of our houses, and our garments, and try whether the seeds of war have nourishment in these our possessions'. After three years' exercise of mind eight Foundations of a True Social Order were adopted, which were 'not intended as rules of life but <as> an attempt to set forth ideals that are aspects of eternal Truth and the direct outcome of our Quaker testimony to the individual worth of the human soul.'

1. The Fatherhood of God as revealed by Jesus Christ, should lead toward a brotherhood which knows no restriction of race, sex or social class.

2. This brotherhood should express itself in a social order which is directed, beyond all material ends, to the growth of personality truly related to God and man.

3. The opportunity of full development, physical, moral and spiritual, should be assured to every member of the community, man, woman and child. The development of man's full personality should not be hampered by unjust conditions nor crushed by economic pressure.

4. We should seek for a way of living that will free us from the bondage of material things and mere conventions, that will raise no barrier between man and man, and will put no excessive burden of labour upon any by reason of our superfluous demands.

5. The spiritual force of righteousness, loving-kindness and trust is mighty because of the appeal it makes to the best in every man, and when applied to industrial relations achieves great things.

6. Our rejection of the methods of outward domination, and of the appeal to force, applies not only to international affairs, but to the whole problem of industrial control. Not through antagonism but through co-operation and good-will can the best be attained for each and all.

7. Mutual service should be the principle upon which life is organised. Service, not private gain, should be the motive of all work.

8. The ownership of material things, such as land and capital, should be so regulated as best to minister to the need and develop­ment of man.


Sunday observance
We ask Friends to be very considerate as to the extent to which they make use of the labour of others on the first day of the week. The general cessation of ordinary business gives opportunities for refreshment of body and mind, for united family life, for religious service and for public worship. Friends highly value these privileges for themselves, and we urge them so to regulate their conduct as not needlessly to hinder others from the enjoyment of the same privileges.
(1911; 1925)


Try to live simply. A simple lifestyle freely chosen is a source of strength. Do not be persuaded into buying what you do not need or cannot afford. Do you keep yourself informed about the effects your style of living is having on the global economy and environment?
Advices & Queries 41

The use and misuse of the earth's resources must be considered in our everyday life if we, the human race, are to continue living on earth. Some of the resources are finite: land, coal, oil and uranium in particular; some can be infinite if properly husbanded: sunlight, water, agricultural products and the wind and tides. The finite resources will not last forever, although some reserves are far greater than others. The use and husbanding of the infinite resources must therefore become the foundation of our lifestyle. We are but stewards of this planet and must aim to pass it on to future generations in as good a condition as we received it.


Temperance and moderation
Every degree of luxury of what kind soever, and every demand for money inconsistent with Divine order, hath some connection with unnecessary labour... To labour too hard or cause others to do so that we may live conformably to customs which Christ our Redeemer contradicted by His example in the days of His flesh, and which are contrary to Divine order, is to manure a soil for propagating an evil seed in the earth. Such who enter deep into these considera­tions and live under the weight of them, will feel these things so heavy and their ill effects so extensive, that the necessity of attending singly to Divine wisdom will be evident, thereby to be directed and supported in the right use of things in opposition to the customs of the times, and supported to bear patiently the reproaches attending singularity. To conform a little to a wrong way strengthens the hands of such who carry wrong customs to their utmost extent; and the more a person appears to be virtuous and heavenly-minded, the more powerfully does his conformity operate in favour of evil-doers...While we profess in all cases to live in consent opposition to that which is contrary to universal righteousness... what language is sufficient to set forth the strength of those obligations we are under to beware lest by our example we lead others wrong?
John Woolman (1763)


Times and seasons
Many of the testimonies and practices established by early Friends have survived only in part. One which has almost died out in Britain is the naming of days and months by number instead of by names of pagan origin. It is rare now to hear 'first day" instead of 'Sunday' or 'third month' instead of 'March', though the practice is still acceptable.

Another testimony held by early Friends was that against the keep­ing of 'times and seasons'. We might understand this as part of the conviction that all of life is sacramental; that since all times are therefore holy, no time should be marked out as more holy; that what God has done for us should always be remembered and not only on the occasions named Christmas, Easter and Pentecost.

This is a testimony which seems to be dying of neglect. Many Friends, involved with family and the wider society, keep Christmas in some meetings, Easter and its meaning is neglected, not only at the calendar time but throughout the year. What I would hope for is neither that we let the testimony die, nor that we keep it mechanically. I hope for a rediscovery of its truth, that we should remember and celebrate the work of God in us and for us whenever God by the Spirit calls us to this remembrance and this joy.
Janet Scott (1994)


He suffered imprisonment and spoiling of goods with much patience, which proved to be his lot pretty early, by wicked men who became informers, seeking his ruin, with many others; yet the Lord preserved him in faithfulness, and brought him clean through all these exercises. He stood firm in his testimony against the anti-christian yoke of tithes, that none might be unfaithful therein, either in paying or in receiving them. And, having a gift beyond many in the government of church affairs, he exercised the same in much wisdom and prudence, and laboured diligently for the peace of the church, and to keep out everything that might appear to cause strife and debate. He had an excellent gift of healing and making up of breaches.
Testimony concerning Christopher Story (1648-1720): Carlisle Monthly Meeting (1721)



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