What Quakers Do

1. Our Meetings for Worship

2. Decision making

3. Putting Faith into Action.

1. Our Meetings for Worship

Newcomers are welcome to attend Quaker meetings for worship. These are normally held
on Sunday mornings. The meeting room is plain, though there may be some flowers in the
centre. Friends (another term for Quakers) sit on benches or chairs arranged in a circle or semi-circle.
They enter the room quietly and sit down with no fuss or greetings. Silence prevails, an 'expectant waiting'. There is no reason why you should not engage in meditation, but this tends to be an inward looking, individualistic practice. It is preferable to aim to be with the others, gathered as it were under the cloak of the Holy Spirit. The meeting ends, usually after an hour, with the shaking of hands. Then the clerk of the meeting gives announcements.

Some Friends may feel moved to speak. This ‘vocal ministry’ is understood to be divinely
inspired. Anyone may minister but they should be sure that the message is meant to be
shared, and that the time is right. After each contribution several minutes silence occurs
before another contribution. One does not argue, or even discuss, but a subsequent
message may build on a previous one. Often ministry that seems banal to some is a source
of great inspiration to others, so one lets pass ministry that does not seem helpful.

After meeting visitors are sometimes invited to introduce themselves but there is no need to do so. Coffee
and tea are often available after Meeting, and there is much loud conversation - a contrast to
the previous silence. Visitors may leave or may make themselves known. The Elders (those
who closed the meeting by shaking hands) or the Clerk will be very willing to answer any

2. Decision making

Business Meetings are held monthly. Visitors are welcome but should check with the Clerk
before hand. The Quaker Decision Making Method is unusual, if not unique. The clerk
introduces a topic, then Friends speak to it in a non-combative manner. The idea is that they
are helping each other seek God’s will. There is no voting. The clerk then writes a Minute, aiming to record the sense of the meeting. The minute may be further discussed, before all can agree its acceptance. Sometimes unity
cannot be found and the subject may be deferred to a later date.

As Quakers do not have a paid hierarchy of priests or ministers, members and attenders
need to help run the organisation. Tending to the Meeting House premises, the children’s
group, a hospitality or social committee, elders to guide the spiritual life of the meeting,
overseers to attend to personal needs and problems, peace and social witness
representatives, etc. etc. There are many jobs that need doing, and many decisions to be

There are meetings at local, area, regional and national levels. A general meeting called
Yearly Meeting is held annually. Non-members wishing to attend it should consult their local
meeting’s elders.

3. Putting Faith into Action.

Quakers working individually are involved in many local and national voluntary groups and
campaigns. Considering the comparatively few Quakers in Britain it is surprising how
frequently they are to be found on committees and action groups, especially in the peace
movement, social justice, prison ministry, and on environmental issues.

In addition to individual witness, British Quakers maintain staff at their London base in
Euston Road. These professionals take action at national and international level on
behalf of Friends in their local worshipping groups. Some of the activities are: Parliamentary
campaigning, ecumenical and inter-faith action, penal reform, peace work including
training in non-violent civil disobedience, campaigning for economic justice, work for
excluded groups such as homeless people and refugees.

A free magazine “Quaker News” is distributed at local meetings to explain the activities
undertaken by staff in Friends House.

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