Quakers renew the story of their community

By agency reporter
February 10, 2019

A group of Quakers has been tasked to revise the book of discipline that has guided Quaker witness, community and worship across the centuries. In a bid to include voices, experiences and identities that reflect the full breadth and depth of Quakers in Britain today, the revision committee draws on Quakers across a range of occupations, abilities, ages and gender. Two of the committee are teenagers.

The current book is called Quaker faith & practice. In the stillness of worship, Quakers often read from this anthology of wisdom and witness. They listen and reflect on the experience of Quakers, from the 1600's to recent years. They can read the first-hand accounts of Quakers who were imprisoned for their faith three centuries ago.

Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain said: “Once in a generation, Quakers decide to take a long hard look at our faith, what it means to us, and what we can say about it. The bold decision to revise Quaker faith & practice means it's time for us to do that again. It's exciting. We want to hear the insights of younger and more diverse people, and set out how we are a faith fit for the 21st century. I'm looking forward to it."

The revised Quaker faith & practice will aim to speak to younger Quakers and to the wider world. A search group has been working hard since last year and were delighted to receive more than 200 expressions of interest to serve on this group. Meeting for Sufferings, the national representative body for Quakers in Britain, has approved the names of 24 people who make up the revision committee.

The decision to revise was taken last summer when more than one thousand Quakers met in Friends House for Yearly Meeting and said, “We look forward with anticipation …to the process of revision, accepting that we may expect to be changed, both personally and as a church. We should be ready to feel vulnerable, wounded, renewed or transformed as we engage with issues about our faith, and how we practise it together, with open hearts."

Regular revision and being open to new truths is part of who Quakers are as a religious society. Quakers compiled the first of these books of discipline in 1738. Since then, each new generation of Quakers has revised the book. The last revision took around ten years to complete and was published in 1995.

*  Quakers are known formally as the Religious Society of Friends. Around 23,000 people attend 478 Quaker meetings in Britain. Their commitment to equality, justice, peace, simplicity and truth challenges them to seek positive social and legislative change.

* Quakers in Britain http://www.quaker.org.uk/

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