Quakerism began with George Fox of England in the mid-1600's as a movement trying to recapture the essence of early Christianity. As such, it has been traditionally classified under the umbrella of Christian Protestantism. However, as we perceive that revelation is ongoing, the faith is non-creedal. Quakers more often tend to agree on certain values and principles for living, called Testimonies, than they do about various aspects of theology. Quaker Lucretia Mott stated, "The likeness we bear to Jesus is more essential than our notions of him." The six Quaker Testimonies (SPICES) are: Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship.
Here is a sampling of QuakerSpeak videos relating to the six Quaker Testimonies:
SIMPLICITY / Making Space for Faith
PEACE / What It Means to Be a Quaker Peace Activist
INTEGRITY / Who Is John Woolman?
COMMUNITY / My First Time at a Quaker Meeting
EQUALITY / Dreaming of Wholeness: Quakers and the Future of Racial Healing
STEWARDSHIP / How Do Quakers Approach Sustainability Work?
Quakers talk about honoring "that of God" in all people, listening to "Spirit" or the "Inner Teacher," and holding each other "in the Light." We believe in a Love that heals and empowers humanity across all faith traditions. We believe in the divine sparks of beauty and goodness within each individual. We fan those sparks in one another through our meditations / queries, spirited discussions, and acts of service. Many quote Quaker John Woolman who said: "Let your life speak." How we order our lives every day is emphasized over theological opinion, holiday celebrations, and any traditional sacrament.
Quakerism is a very practical, peaceful, experiential, and present-focused faith that is able, as Fox might have expressed, "to speak to our condition." As such, Quakers have a long history of involvement in social justice issues. The Quakers were among the first religious groups to denounce slavery, take a strong position for women's rights, recognize the dignity of the mentally ill, and promote peaceful resolutions through conscientious objection. Many Quakers today are active in addressing such concerns as environmental degradation, the plight of displaced persons, and inequality in various forms and levels. We are currently developing partnerships with other like-minded organizations to further causes in the Macon area.
Within Quakerism today, there are four branches. Our group is aligned with Friends General Conference (FGC) and therefore places great emphasis on unprogrammed, meditative worship in which all members share equally in the worship experience. During these times of "silent expectancy," we may receive insights, or "leadings," that may be audibly shared, thereby ministering to the group. Although a clerk facilitates, there is no paid or ordained pastoral figure. Participation often takes repeated practice to build appreciation for the tradition and realize benefit. Read more about the nature of Quaker worship on our "What Should I Expect?" page.
Many feel the heart of a Quaker Meeting is found within the regular activity of Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business. Group actions (called Minutes) are made based on "The Sense of the Meeting," meaning the overall sense of unity reflected and stated by the clerk and approved by those present. This business is conducted once a month within the context of worship, and as the goal is unity (not always consensus) there are no votes taken. Often the Quaker Process requires much time and thought, but generally, decisions are satisfying and well-supported. Both official members and attenders are welcome to participate in the business of the group.
While there is no proselytizing in Quakerism, information about the faith, as well as our practice, is abundant. For example, see links below to a few videos offered by QuakerSpeak, a project of Friends Journal. Perhaps the best online resource for newcomers and seasoned Quakers alike, however, is the Friends General Conference (FGC) website. From there, seekers may access many articles, books, videos, and directories to aid in understanding the Quaker faith worldwide. The Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Association (SAYMA) publishes the very helpful Guide to Our Faith and Practice (2012). The Macon Quakers group itself is a also a glad resource, and we welcome visitors anytime.