Society of Friends (Quaker)

By Becky Parkinson


Origins - History

  • Quakers Quakers are members of a group with Christian roots that began in England in the 1650s.
  • The formal title of the movement is the Society of Friends or the Religious Society of Friends.
  • There are about 210,000 Quakers across the world.
  • In Britain there are 17,000 Quakers, and 400 Quaker meetings for worship each week. 9,000 people in Britain regularly take part in Quaker worship without being members of the Religious Society of Friends

Organization - Structure of the Church

Like many movements, the Religious Society of Friends has evolved, changed, and split into various smaller subgroups. 

In Britain there has been a high level of organizational unity throughout the history of the Society. The local Friends meetings there are called preparative meetings. Several local meetings are part of a monthly meeting. Several monthly meetings are organized into a general meeting. Formerly, general meetings were called quarterly meetings, and, while they continue to meet up to three times per year, they usually play no direct role in Quaker structures. Monthly meetings are represented directly in Meeting for Sufferings, which meets in between Yearly meetings.

Central Beliefs - Worship

Quakers believe that there is something of God in everybody and that each human being is of unique worth. This is why Quakers value all people equally, and oppose anything that may harm or threaten them.

Quakers seek religious truth in inner experience, and place great reliance on conscience as the basis of morality.

They emphasise direct experience of God rather than ritual and ceremony. They believe that priests and rituals are an unnecessary obstruction between the believer and God.

Quakers integrate religion and everyday life. They believe God can be found in the middle of everyday life and human relationships, as much as during a meeting for worship.

What Quakers believe

Among key Quaker beliefs are:

  • God is love
  • the light of God is in every single person
  • a person who lets their life be guided by that life will achieve a full relationship with God
  • everyone can have a direct, personal relationship with God without involving a priest or minister
  • redemption and the "Kingdom of Heaven" are to be experience now, in this world