The Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as the Quakers, was founded in England in 1652 by George Fox (1625-1691). One of Fox's first revelations from God was that, "There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition." Quakers fundamentally believe that there is that of God in every person, everywhere--what we call the "Light within." Quakers do not hold to a formal creed, but believe that all persons can have a personal relationship with God that can be nurtured in our weekly service, known as a Meeting for Worship. In Meeting for Worship, Friends sit in expectant silence, waiting for inspiration from God. When so moved, we stand and speak our minds to the congregation in the form of messages. It is a uniquely beautiful form of worship that we invite you to experience to fully understand.
A visitor to a Quaker meeting, confused by this group of people sitting in silence, once asked a member, "When does the service begin?" "When Meeting for Worship ends," he replied. Since we believe that there is that of God in all persons, Quakers believe that we all have a responsibility to do God's work and nurture this Light through service to all. As George Fox said, "The power of God sprang through me." The Quakers are one of many churches that emphasize the power of service to humankind as one of the most important ways to do God's work on earth. Quakers were pioneers in securing equal rights for women, renouncing and ending slavery in the United States, and providing humanitarian assistance throughout the world. The Quaker American Friends Service Committee was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947 for its work to end suffering during the World Wars.
Quakers hold to the Peace Testimony, first articulated in a declaration to King Charles II of England in 1660; "We utterly deny all outward wars and strife, and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretense whatsoever; this is our testimony to the whole world." Friends believe in living simply and moderately, and caring for ourselves, those around us, and the world with which God has blessed us.
The Religious Society of Friends is organized, somewhat confusingly, into Monthly, Quarterly and Yearly Meetings. The Monthly Meeting is the equivalent of the local congregation in most other churches. Buckingham is a Monthly Meeting, which means that we meet for worship every Sunday, and meet to do business once every month. Buckingham Meeting is part of the regional group of meetings known as Bucks Quarterly Meeting and also of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Consult these sites for more information about Quakerism and other meetings in the area.
Some other Quaker links of interest:
www.friendsjournal.org is the site of the monthly magazine of modern Quaker life and thought.
www.fgcquaker.org is the home of Friends General Conference, a larger Quaker body of which Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and Buckingham Friends are a part. Most FGC Friends practice traditional silent worship as we do in Buckingham. Check out their bookstore, too at www.quakerbooks.org
www.fum.org is the site of Friends United Meeting, which is similar in purpose to to FGC. It is an organization of meetings, mostly in the western US that do not practice traditional silent worship and have ministers like most other Christian churches.
www.quakerfinder.org can help you find Quaker meetings throughout the country.
www.pendlehill.org is the site of the great Pendle Hill Quaker retreat center in Wallingford, PA.
www.fcnl.org is the home of Friends Committee on National Legislation, which lobbies the Federal government on issues of concern to Friends
www.chandlerhall.org is the site of the Chandler Hall Quaker nursing home in Newtown, PA.
www.georgeschool.org is the site of George School, a Quaker high school in Newtown, PA
www.quaker.org.uk Going to Great Britain? Look up a meeting in the homeland of George Fox.
How about Tokyo Monthly Meeting in Japan? They have an excellent page on Quaker history.
www.quakerinfo.com is another compilation of Quaker information and links.