Variety of Quaker Perspectives Wanted

My friend Jez Smith from the British Quaker magazine “The Friend” is looking for a variety of Quaker perspectives on a few questions below. Will you read this and consider helping him out?

Just what is the World Family of Friends? From 3-5 September Quakers from Britain Yearly Meeting, Ireland Yearly Meeting, Aotearoa/New Zealand Yearly Meeting and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting will be exploring this question through worship, workshops, activities and fellowship at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham, UK.

The participating Friends will be bringing their own connections to many of the Yearly Meetings and worship groups around the world. But I would like to add some more perspectives to share with participants and to share online as a resource for other Friends who want to explore this starter question. To facilitate this, I would appreciate it if anyone would take the time to answer the following questions:

  • a. Why are you a Quaker?
  • b. How are you a Quaker?
  • c. Please give an example of how a Meeting for Worship is conducted in your tradition.

Ideally please keep to a word count of around 800-1,000 but any length of response will be accepted. Please also give me your name and Meeting details. A photo would be great too. Email to If you prefer to video your response, or have photos online that would help with your response, please email links to uploaded material to the same address. Initial deadline for material for the course is 2 September 2010 but earlier submissions appreciated!

3 responses to “Variety of Quaker Perspectives Wanted”

  1. a. Why are you a Quaker?
    I met some amazing people who were Quakers when I was in my early 20s. Their example provided me a template for the sort of person I wanted to become. I was very glad for the advice early on that before I sought membership, I should explore the variety possible among Friends, and then see if I could still stand within the tradition — The comment, from the late Elise Boulding was “see if you can still stand us!”

    b. How are you a Quaker? Although I began as a “wistful unbeliever” during my decade of exploration and a few years after, I became convinced of the truth as it is in and through the Living Christ. In a variety of ways. I’m active: within the monthly meeting to which I recently transferred, and at the Quarterly meeting level. I am actively paring back my activity at the Yearly Meeting level, since that level seems to struggle the most with expectations laid on us by “the world”. I feel these expectations limit my becoming a better disciple of the Living Christ within.

    I visit many other yearly meetings, and feel quite comfortable across the spectrum of religious language and experience. Having been a “wistful unbeliever” I understand that my experience did not come from my will, but from the Source.

    c. Please give an example of how a Meeting for Worship is conducted in your tradition.

    This reminds me of my mother’s response to a question about what language was spoken in the home. Without missing a beat, she asked “Which day?” and went on to explain that the languages we spoke at home had much to do with what neighbors we invited to dinner or over for tea and companionship. There was a variety: Spanish, German, Danish/Swedish were common.

    I’m not at all certain I can really claim a tradition as “mine”. I’m in a yearly meeting where silent worship is punctuated by vocal ministry (of varying frequency and duration).

    I have sojourned in meetings where there are hymns and homilies, with extended times of open worship, as well as meetings where open worship is less lengthy.

    I feel most at home in traditions where extended worship is the rule rather than the exception. I gain much from the experience of waiting worship that can extend for several hours. That is not the custom within the yearly meeting of which I am currently a part, though there are occasional opportunities of this sort.