The Religious Society of Friends, whose members are known as Quakers or Friends, was founded in England in the 17th century as a Christian religious denomination by people who were dissatisfied with the existing denominations and sects of Christianity. England is a Country which is part of the United Kingdom. Its inhabitants account for more than 83% of the total UK population whilst its mainland Denominationalism|List of Christian denominations|Church (disambiguation A Christian denomination is an identifiable religious body under a common name structure and doctrine within In the Sociology of religion a sect is generally a smaller religious or political group that has broken off from a larger group for example from a Christianity ( Greek Χριστιανισμός from the word Xριστός ( Christ)is a monotheistic Religion centered on the life and teachings Historians generally credit George Fox with being the principal co-founder or most important early leader. George Fox (July 1624 – 13 January 1691 was an English Dissenter and a founder of the Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as the Quakers  The Society of Friends is counted among the historic peace churches. Peace churches are Christian churches groups or communities advocating Christian pacifism.
Since its beginnings in England, Quakerism has spread to other countries, chiefly Australia, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ireland, Kenya, Scotland, the United States, and Wales. For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Australia topics. The Republic of Bolivia (República de Bolivia) named after Simón Bolívar, is a Landlocked country in central South America. Costa Rica, officially the Republic of Costa Rica ( Spanish: Costa Rica or República de Costa Rica,) is a Country in Ireland (pronounced /ˈaɾlənd/ Éire) is the third largest island in Europe, and the twentieth-largest island in the world The Republic of Kenya is a country in East Africa. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the north Somalia to the northeast Tanzania to the south Scotland ( Gaelic: Alba) is a Country in northwest Europethat occupies the northern third of the island of Great Britain. The United States of America —commonly referred to as the Although the total number of Quakers is relatively small, approximately 350,000 worldwide, there are places, such as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Newberg, Oregon; Greenleaf, Idaho; Richmond, Indiana; Friendswood, Texas; Birmingham, England; and Greensboro, North Carolina in which Quaker influence is concentrated. Philadelphia (ˌfɪləˈdɛlfiə Newberg is a city in Yamhill County, Oregon, United States. A tradition holds that this town was named by its first postmaster Sebastian Brutscher for Greenleaf is a city in Canyon County, Idaho, United States. The population was 862 at the 2000 census. Richmond (ˈrɪtʃmənd is a city in Wayne Township, Wayne County, in east central Indiana, which borders Ohio. Friendswood is a city in Galveston and Harris Counties in the U Birmingham ( ˈbɜːmɪŋəm Ber -ming-um
Unlike many other groups that emerged within Christianity, the Religious Society of Friends has tended away from creeds, and in modern times away from hierarchical structure. 
The various branches have widely divergent beliefs and practices, but the central concept to many Friends is the "Inner Light". Inner Light is a concept which many Quakers members of the Religious Society of Friends, use to express their faith and beliefs Accordingly, individual Quakers may develop individual religious beliefs arising from their personal conscience and revelation coming from "God within"; further, Quakers feel compelled to live by such individual religious beliefs and inner revelations.
Many Quakers feel their faith does not fit within traditional Christian categories of Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant, but is an expression of another way of experiencing God. Catholic is an Adjective derived from the Greek adjective '' / 'katholikos' meaning "whole" or "complete". Families of churches Eastern Christians have a shared tradition but they became divided ( Schism) during the early centuries of Christianity in disputes about Protestantism refers to the forms of Christian faith and practice that originated in the 16th century Protestant Reformation.
Although Quakers throughout most of their history and in most parts of the world today consider Quakerism to be a Christian movement, some Friends (principally in some Meetings in the United States and the United Kingdom) now consider themselves universalist, agnostic, atheist, realist, humanist, postchristian, or nontheist, or do not accept any religious label. Universalism can be classified as a Religion, Theology and Philosophy that generally holds all persons and creatures are related to God or the Divine and Agnosticism ( Greek: α- a-, without + γνώσις gnōsis, knowledge after Gnosticism) is the philosophical view that the Atheism Postchristianity, postChristendom or postChristianism are variants of a term used to describe a contemporary cultural attitude strictly linked to Postmodernism Nontheism is a term that covers a range of both religious and nonreligious attitudes characterized by the absence of&mdashor the rejection of&mdash Theism or any belief in a  Calls for Quakerism to include non-Christians go back at least as far as 1870, but this phenomenon has become increasingly evident during the latter half of the 20th century and the opening years of the 21st century, and is still controversial among Friends. An especially notable example of this is that of Friends who actively identify as a members of a faith other than Christian, such as Islam or Buddhism. For other meanings including people named 'Islam' see Islam (disambiguation. Buddhism is a family of beliefs and practices 
George Fox and the other early Quakers believed that direct experience of God was available to all people, without mediation (e. George Fox (July 1624 – 13 January 1691 was an English Dissenter and a founder of the Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as the Quakers The Valiant Sixty were a group of early leaders and activists in the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers God is the principal or sole Deity in Religions and other belief systems that worship one deity. g. through hired clergy, or through outward sacraments). A sacrament, as defined in Hexam's Concise Dictionary of Religion is "a Rite in which God is uniquely active Fox described this by writing that "Christ has come to teach His people Himself. " 
Modern Friends often express this belief in many ways, including the attitude of trying to see "that of God in everyone"; finding and relating to "the Inner light", "the inward Christ", or "the spirit of Christ within. " Early Friends more often used terms such as "Truth", "the Seed", and "the Pure Principle", from the principle that each person would be transformed as Christ formed and grew in them. The ability to "see the light" or see "that of God in everyone" enables Quakers to cast aside more superficial differences and focus on the spiritual elements which connect all people.
Since Friends believe that each contains God, much of the Quaker perspective is based on trying to hear God and to allow God's Spirit free action in the heart. Isaac Penington wrote in 1670: "It is not enough to hear of Christ, or read of Christ, but this is the thing - to feel him my root, my life, my foundation. Isaac Penington (1616-1679 was one of the early members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers . . "
Quakerism is often termed a mystical religion because of its emphasis on the personal experience of God. Mysticism (from the Greek grc μυστικός mystikos, an initiate of a Mystery religion) is the pursuit of communion with identity But at first glance it differs from other mystical religions in at least two important ways:
First, Quaker mysticism is primarily group-oriented rather than focused on the individual. The Friends' traditional meeting for worship (see Unprogrammed worship below) may be considered an expression of that group mysticism, where all the members of the meeting listen together for the Spirit of God, speaking when that Spirit moves them. On the other hand it is also possible to consider the Quakers as a special kind of religious order (like the Franciscans, who also practise group mysticism), living the mystic and monastic tradition in their own way. A religious order is a lineage of communities and organizations of people who live in some way set apart from society in accordance with their specific religious devotion usually The term Franciscan is commonly used to refer to members of Catholic Monasticism (from Greek μοναχός, monachos, derived from Greek monos, alone is the religious practice in which one For example this idea is represented by the Anglican minister and Quaker, Paul Oestreicher, who gave the Cary Lecture at Germany Yearly Meeting in 1991.
Second, Quaker mysticism as it has been expressed after the late 19th century includes a strong emphasis on its outwardly-directed witness. Rather than seeking withdrawal from the world, the Quaker mystic translates his or her mysticism into action. They believe this action leads to greater spiritual understanding - both by individuals and by the Meeting as a whole. On the other side it´s also possible to consider the Quakers as a kind of humanistic religion in the sense of Erich Fromm. Humanism is a broad category of ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appealing to universal Erich Pinchas Fromm ( March 23, 1900 &ndash March 18, 1980) was an internationally renowned social psychologist, psychoanalyst In this view mysticism includes social and political activities. For instance the German quaker Heinz Röhr, who held the Cary Lecture in 1992, saw himself as a Friend between Marx and mysticism.
Early Friends rejected the mainstream Protestant idea of sola scriptura, that the Bible is God's written word and therefore self-authenticating, clear and its own interpreter; instead, they believed that Christ, instead of the Bible, is the Word of God. Sola scriptura ( Latin ablative, "by scripture alone" is the assertion that the Bible as God's written word is self-authenticating Robert Barclay wrote in his Apology that the scriptures "are only a declaration of the fountain, and not the fountain itself, therefore they are not to be esteemed the principal ground of all Truth and knowledge, nor yet the adequate primary rule of faith and manners". Robert Barclay ( December 23, 1648 – October 3, 1690) one of the most eminent Writers belonging to the Religious Society  Similarly, George Fox recounted an incident in his Journal in which a minister claimed that the scriptures were authoritative, Fox ". George Fox (July 1624 – 13 January 1691 was an English Dissenter and a founder of the Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as the Quakers . . was commanded to tell them God did not dwell in temples made with hands. But I told them what it was, namely, the Holy Spirit, by which the holy men of God gave forth the scriptures, whereby opinions, religions and judgements were to be tried; for it led into all Truth, and so gave the knowledge of all Truth". 
Early Friends believed that Christ would never lead them in ways that contradicted the Bible; this belief prevented conflicts between Friends' leadings and their understanding of the Bible.
As time passed, conflicts between what the Bible appeared to teach and how many Friends believed they were being led by the Spirit began to arise. Some Friends decided that in these cases the Bible should be authoritative. Today Evangelical Friends believe the Bible is authoritative, for the Bible was inspired by God's Spirit and this belief is affirmed in the Richmond Declaration. The Richmond Declaration was made by 95 Quakers (representatives of 12 Friends Yearly Meetings but excluding those with the majority of membership in September 1887
Other Friends, partly under the influence of movements such as liberal Protestantism, decided that it was possible to be truly led in ways contrary to scripture, and that in such cases scripture should give way. For liberal political views within Christianity see Christian left. Still other Friends rejected (or neglected) the Bible altogether; hence in many liberal Friends meetings one might encounter non-Christian Friends or those who question some or all of the traditional doctrines of Christianity. In nearly all cases, modern Friends believe in the necessity of being continually guided by God. Divine revelation is therefore not restricted to the Bible, but rather continues even today; this doctrine is known as continuing revelation. Continuous revelation or continuing revelation is a theological belief or position that God continues to reveal divine principles or commandments to humanity
A common set of practices emerged which spoke of key principles and beliefs held by Friends. These are "Testimonies", for Friends believe these important principles and practices should be expressed (testified as truth) among Friends as well as to others, in both words and deeds. (see Testimonies for a list and description of several testimonies. ) Rooted in the immediate experience of the community of Friends, for many Friends these values are verified by the Bible, especially in the life and teachings of Jesus.
Generally, Quakerism has had no creed. A creed is a statement of Belief — usually Religious belief — or Faith often recited as part of a religious service George Fox dismissed theologians as "notionists", and modern Quakers are generally little concerned with theology, and are more concerned with acting in accord with the leading of the Spirit. Quakers have historically expressed a preference for understanding coming from God's Spirit over the knowledge derived from objective logic or systematic theology.  Eschewing notions of "authoritative" doctrines, diverse statements of "Faith and Practice" and diverse understandings of the "leading of the spirit" have always existed among Friends. The leading to lay down all sense of authoritative theology (notions thereof) results in broad tolerance within the Society for earnest expressions of "the light within".
Most Friends believe a formal creed would be an obstacle - both to authentic listening and to the recognition of new insight. On the other hand, some Friends have enumerated and subscribed to a set of doctrines, such as the Richmond Declaration or the "Beliefs of Friends" stated by Evangelical Friends International, which are comparable to mainstream Protestant confessions of faith. The Richmond Declaration was made by 95 Quakers (representatives of 12 Friends Yearly Meetings but excluding those with the majority of membership in September 1887 Evangelical Friends International (EFI is an branch of Religious Society of Friends (Quaker Yearly meetings (regional associations around the world that profess A Confession of Faith is a statement of Doctrine very similar to a Creed, but usually longer and polemical as well as didactic
Robert Griswold's pamphlet on this subject expounds Friends' historic witness against creeds - not just as a principle of individual religious integrity, but as an implied statement that Friends, having encountered and experienced God, found creeds not just pernicious, but irrelevant.  Doctrinal statements which seek to objectify deity fail to communicate the essence of the "holy spirit", "inner light", or "that of God within us", that "speaks to us" and can also compel "witness".
As a public statement of faith, many Yearly Meetings publish their own version of a book often called Quaker Faith and Practice which expresses their sense of truth and purpose; these documents are generally revised every few years. Members of the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers use the term Yearly Meeting to refer to an organization composed of a collection of smaller more frequent constituent Quaker Faith and Practice or Faith and Practice is the common name of the publications of many Yearly Meetings within the Religious Society of Friends.
Early Friends did not believe in the reliance upon practice of the outward rites and sacraments, believing that holiness can exist in all the activities of one's life - all of life is sacred. A sacrament, as defined in Hexam's Concise Dictionary of Religion is "a Rite in which God is uniquely active They experienced baptism by the Holy Spirit as an inward, transforming experience and knew communion with Christ in the midst of gathered worship in the expectant silence. Thus they did not perform baptism as a rite of membership. In Christianity, baptism ( Greek, "immersing" "performing Ablutions " is the ritual act with the use of water by which one is admitted These Friends also believed that any meal with others could be a form of communion. The term Communion is derived from Latin communio (sharing in common
At various times some individuals or small groups of Friends have published corrective cautions against adopting the prohibition of some rite as itself being creedal. The focus should be upon God as Present Teacher, rather than on some human ritual, or the absence of a ritual. Most Friends therefore do not prohibit rites or ceremonies, but they do counsel against allowing these human inventions to take the place of direct experience and leading by God.
Traditionally, wearing plain clothes was an answer to a number of Friends' concerns. Expensive styles were used to show social inequality and make statements about wealth. Only a select few could afford expensive adornments, which could then be used to exacerbate differences between people based on class, where people in fancy clothing would not want to be seen socialising with others dressed tattily. This was inspired by the Quaker testimony to equality. In addition, the frequently buying of expensive new styles and discarding what had been bought a month ago, was considered wasteful and self-seeking, where Friends instead aimed to focus on simplicity, and the important things in life. Notably, Friends did not consider it right to judge people on their material possessions, but this could not be achieved in a society which placed an emphasis on keeping up to date with inconsequential but expensive new trends. At the time, this practice of plainness meant Friends were obviously identifiable.
As fashions changed over time, the Quaker ideal of plain dress stood out against contemporary clothing. As a result, the traditional forms of this practice were dropped by most Friends. Today, it is more likely that Friends will try to put their faith into action by dressing in a plain version of current fashions - such as avoiding clothing displaying designer labels. The term designer label refers to clothing and other personal accessory items sold under an often prestigious marquee which is commonly named after a designer They may also try to buy only the clothing they need, and pay more for fairly traded clothing that has been made ethically. Fair trade is an organized Social movement and market-based approach to empowering developing country producers and promoting sustainability
The logo of Quaker Oats shows a stereotypical 1700s Quaker wearing traditional clothes. The Quaker Oats Company is an American food conglomerate based in Chicago. As the Quaker Oats brand shares the Quaker name, despite having no links with the Society of Friends, there is now a somewhat popular misconception that Friends today still wear the traditional clothing. A very small minority of contemporary Friends have taken up the traditional dress once again, but they are in the tens.
Plainness in speech addressed other concerns to materialism: honesty, class distinction, vestiges of paganism and the speaking of truth. Paganism (from Latin paganus, meaning "country dweller rustic" is a word used to refer to various religions and religious beliefs from across the world These principles were put into practice by affirming rather than swearing oaths, setting fixed prices for goods, avoiding the use of honorific titles and using familiar forms for the second person pronoun. In Law, an affirmation is a solemn declaration allowed to those who conscientiously object to taking an Oath. An oath (from Anglo-Saxon āð, also called plight) is either a Promise or a Statement of Fact calling Fixed price is a phrase used in Indian English to mean that no Bargaining is allowed over the price of a good or less commonly a service The word thou ( in most dialects is a second person singular Pronoun in English. Early Friends also objected to the names of the days and months in the English language, because many of them referred to Roman or Norse gods, such as Mars (March) and Thor (Thursday), and Roman emperors, such as Julius (July). As a result, the days of the week were known as "First Day" for Sunday, "Second Day" for Monday, and so forth. Similarly, the months of the year were "First Month" for January, "Second Month" for February, and so forth. For many Friends today, this is no longer a priority, though the tradition is still upkept by some.
Like many aspects of Quaker life, the practice of plainness has evolved over time, although it is based on principles that have been a lasting part of Quaker thought. These principles now form part of the Quaker testimonies.
Quakers hold a strong sense of spiritual egalitarianism, including a belief in the spiritual equality of the sexes. Egalitarianism (derived from the French word égal, meaning equal) is a political doctrine that holds that all people should be treated as equals and have From the beginning both women and men were granted equal authority to speak in meetings for worship. Margaret Fell was as vocal and literate as her husband, George Fox, publishing several tracts in the early days of Quakerism. Margaret Fell or Margaret Fox ( 1614 - April 23, 1702) was one of the founding members of the Religious Society of Friends, and was George Fox (July 1624 – 13 January 1691 was an English Dissenter and a founder of the Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as the Quakers
The Friends' attitude towards egalitarianism was also demonstrated by their refusal to practice "hat honour" (Quakers refused to take their hats off or bow to anyone regardless of title or rank), and their refusal to address anyone with honorific titles such as "Sir," "Madam," "Your Honour," or "Your Majesty. Headgear, headwear or headdress is the name given to any element of Clothing which is worn on one's head. " This testified to the Friends' understanding that, in the eyes of God, there was no hierarchy based on birth, wealth, or political power - such honours they reserved only for God. This practice was not considered by Friends to be anti-authoritarian in nature, but instead as a rebuke against human pretense and ego.
Today, resistance to "hat honour" does not prevail as it once did - most hat customs are not practiced in contemporary daily life - and the individual Friend is left to decide whether or not to practice "hat honour" as a matter of conscience.
Friends have founded many schools and colleges; however Friends have often cautioned against the admission of education credentials as either a form of honouring humans instead of God or as a substitute for a relationship with God. This article is a list of schools associated with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers
Early Friends believed that an important part of Jesus' message was how we treat our fellow human beings. Jesus of Nazareth (7–2 BC / BCE —26–36 AD / CE) They felt that honest dealing with others meant more than avoiding direct lies. Friends continue to believe that it is important not to mislead others, even if the words used are all technically truthful. Early Friends refused to swear oaths, even in courtrooms, believing that one must speak truth at all times, and the act of swearing to it implied different standards of truth with and without oaths; this doctrine is attributed to Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (specifically Matthew 5:34-37). In the Gospel of St Matthew, the Sermon on the Mount is a compilation of Jesus' sayings epitomizing his moral teaching. The Expounding of the Law ( KJV: sometimes called the ''Antithesis of the Law'', is a highly structured ("Ye have heard.
Some Friends have accepted the use of "affirmations" rather than oaths, believing that the problem with oaths is that by swearing an oath, you are admitting that you otherwise might not be expected to tell the truth.
Friends treat all functions of the church as a form of worship, including business, marriage, and memorial services, in addition to regular meeting for worship. The two main forms of Quaker worship are often referred to as "programmed" and "unprogrammed".
While the different styles of worship generally reflect the theological splits, with unprogrammed meetings generally being more theologically liberal and programmed Friends churches more theologically conservative, this is not a strict rule. Many meetings hold both programmed and unprogrammed services or other activities. Some "Conservative" meetings are unprogrammed yet would be generally considered to be theologically closer to most programmed meetings.
Unprogrammed worship is the more traditional style of worship among Friends and remains the norm in Britain, Ireland, continental Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and parts of the United States. During an unprogrammed meeting for worship, Friends gather together in "expectant waiting" for divine leadings. Sometimes a meeting is entirely silent, sometimes quite a few people speak. Meeting for Worship generally lasts about an hour.
When they feel they are led by the spirit a participant will rise and share a message (give "vocal ministry") with those gathered. Typically, messages, testimonies, ministry, or other speech are not prepared as a "speech". Speakers are expected to discern the source of their inspiration - whether divine or self. After someone has spoken, it is expected that more than a few moments will pass in silence before further Ministry; there should be no spirit of debate.
Unprogrammed worship is generally deemed to start as soon as the first participant is seated, the others entering the room in silence. The Meeting for Worship ends when one person (usually predetermined) shakes the hand of another person present. All the members of the assembly then shake hands with their neighbours, after which one member usually rises and extends greetings and makes announcements.
Programmed worship resembles a typical Protestant worship service in the United States. This tradition arose among Friends in the United States in the 19th century in response to large numbers of converts to Quakerism during the national spiritual revivalism of the time. Typically there are readings from scripture, hymns, and a sermon from the pastor. A period of silence (similar in practice to that of unprogrammed meetings, though generally shorter) is included in some Programmed Friends worship services. Most Friends in the southern and central United States worship in this way.
The Friends meetings started in Africa and Latin America were generally started by Friends from programmed elements of the society, therefore most African and Latin American Friends worship in a programmed style.
Some Friends also hold what is termed Semi-Programmed Worship, which brings programmed elements like hymns and readings into an otherwise unprogrammed worship service.
Traditionally, when a couple who are a part of a Quaker Meeting decide to get married they declare their intentions to marry to the meeting. Quaker weddings are the traditional ceremony of Marriage within the Religious Society of Friends. The views of Quakers toward Homosexuality encompass a range from complete acceptance and celebration of Same-sex marriage, to the view that homosexuality The meeting will typically form a "clearness committee" that meets with the couple to provide counsel and ascertain the clearness of their intent.
A traditional wedding ceremony in a Friends meeting is similar to any other unprogrammed Meeting for Worship, which can be very different from the experience expected by non-Friends.  There is no official to conduct the ceremony and sanction the union; the pair marry one another before God and gathered witnesses. After exchanging vows, the meeting returns to open worship and guests are free to speak as they are led. At the rise of meeting all the witnesses, including the youngest children in attendance, are asked to sign the wedding certificate.
In the early days of the United States, there was doubt whether a marriage solemnized in such a manner was entitled to legal recognition, leading at least one jurisdiction, Florida, to enact special legislation on the subject. Florida ( is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States, bordering Alabama to the northwest and Georgia to the 
In recent years Friends in Australia, Britain and some meetings in North America have celebrated weddings or civil partnerships between partners of the same sex.
Business decisions on a local level are conducted at a monthly "Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business", or simply "Business Meeting". Britain Yearly Meeting ( BYM) is the umbrella body for the Religious Society of Friends in Britain (England Scotland Wales the Channel Isles and the Isle The University of York is a Campus university in the city of York, England. A business meeting is a form of worship, and all decisions are reached so that they are consistent with the guidance of the Spirit.
Instead of voting, the Meeting attempts to gain a sense of God's will for the community. Each member of the meeting is expected to listen to that of God within themselves and, if led, to contribute it to the group for reflection and consideration. Each member listens to others' contributions carefully, in an attitude of seeking Truth rather than of attempting to prevail or to debate.
A decision is reached when the Meeting, as a whole, feels that the "way forward" has been discerned (also called "coming to unity") or there is a consensus. On some occasions a single Friend will hold up a decision because they feel the meeting is not following God's will; occasionally, some members of the Meeting will "stand aside" on an issue, meaning that these members do not share in the general sense of the meeting but are willing to allow the group to move forward.
Many Quakers describe the search for unity as the gathering of believers who "wait upon the Lord" to discover God's will. When seeking unity, Friends are not attempting to seek a position with which everyone is willing to live (as is often the case in consensual models) but in determining God's will. It is assumed that if everyone is listening to God's Spirit, the way forward will become clear.
The business conducted "in the manner of Friends" can seem time-consuming and impractical. The process can be frustrating and slow, but Friends believe it works well, allowing the group to come to decisions even around the most difficult matters. By the time a decision is recognized, the important issues have been worked out and the group supports the decision; there is no "losing" side.
Many non-Friends express doubts as to whether this process of decision making can work in a large group, although many yearly meetings have successfully employed this practice for generations. Some Quaker-related organizations, such as Haverford College in Philadelphia and Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, also utilize traditional Quaker form practices of governance. Haverford College is a highly selective private, Coeducational liberal arts college located in Haverford, Pennsylvania, a suburb For other places with the same name see Earlham (disambiguation.
Traditional Quaker memorial services are also held as a form of worship. Friends gather for worship and offer remembrances about the person who has died. Memorial services often last over an hour, particularly if there are a large number of people in attendance. Memorial services give everyone a chance to remember the lost individual in their own way, thus bringing comfort to those present, and re-affirmation of the larger community of Friends.
Like many movements, the Religious Society of Friends has evolved, changed, and split into various smaller subgroups.
The highest concentration of Quakers are in Africa. Kenya contains the largest body of Quakers in a single nation  The Friends of East Africa were at one time part of a single East Africa Yearly Meeting, then the largest Yearly Meeting in the world. Today, this region is served by several distinct Yearly Meetings. Most of these are affiliated with the Friends United Meeting, practice programmed worship, and employ pastors. Friends United Meeting (FUM is an association of twenty-six Yearly meetings of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers in North America, Africa There are also Friends meetings in Rwanda and Burundi, as well as new work beginning in North Africa. Small unprogrammed meetings exist also in Botswana, Ghana, Lesotho, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Considerable distances between the colonies, and a low immigration of Quakers, meant that the organization of Friends in Australia was quite dependent on London until the twentieth century. The Society has remained unprogrammed and is constituted as the Australia Yearly Meeting, with local organization around seven Regional Meetings: Canberra (which extends into southern New South Wales), New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia (which extends into Northern Territory), Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. There is an annual meeting each January hosted by a different Regional Meeting over a seven year cycle, with a Standing Committee each July or August.
In Great Britain, Quakers follow unprogrammed worship and are part of Britain Yearly Meeting, where there are 25,000 worshippers in around 500 Local Meetings. Britain Yearly Meeting ( BYM) is the umbrella body for the Religious Society of Friends in Britain (England Scotland Wales the Channel Isles and the Isle
These meetings used to be called Preparative Meetings, and the groups they formed were previously known as Monthly Meetings: now they are Area Meetings. Monthly Meetings are traditionally the basic unit of administration in the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers This change, made in Britain Yearly Meeting 2007, was intended to simplify Quaker jargon. The structure extends into several Area Meetings becoming a General Meeting - formerly Quarterly Meeting - which each continue to meet up to three times per year, but now play no direct role in Quaker structures. Instead, Area Meetings are represented directly in Meeting for Sufferings, which meets in between Yearly meetings. Members of the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers use the term Yearly Meeting to refer to an organization composed of a collection of smaller more frequent constituent 
In addition to Britain Yearly Meeting, there is also a very small minority of independent 'Christian Quakers' who follow Ohio Yearly Meeting's conservative discipline. Conservative Friends refers to members of a certain branch of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers 
Friends in the United States have diverse practices, though united by many common bonds. Along with the division of worship style (see "Quaker Worship" above) come several differences of theology, vocabulary and practice.
A local congregation in the unprogrammed tradition is called a meeting, or a monthly meeting (recently changed to "area meeting") (e. g. , Smalltown Meeting or Smalltown Monthly Meeting). Several local monthly meetings are often part of a regional group called a quarterly meeting, which is usually part of an even larger group called a yearly meeting. Members of the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers use the term Yearly Meeting to refer to an organization composed of a collection of smaller more frequent constituent
In programmed traditions, the local congregations are often referred to as "Friends Churches". Currently, the largest Quaker church in America is Yorba Linda Friends Church, an evangelical Quaker church located in Orange County, California. Friends Church (formerly Yorba Linda Friends Church) is an evangelical Megachurch located in the upscale Orange County city of Yorba Linda Evangelicalism is a theological movement tradition and system of beliefs most closely associated with Protestant Christianity, which identifies with the Gospel Orange County is a county in Southern California, United States.
Various names have been used for the Friends movement and its adherents. These include:
In the first few years of the movement, Quakers thought of themselves as part of the restoration of the true Christian church after centuries of apostasy. For this reason, during this period they often referred to themselves as simply the "saints". Other common names in the early days were "Children of the Light" and "Friends of the Truth", reflecting the central importance in early Quaker theology of Christ as an Inner light that shows you your true condition. Inner Light is a concept which many Quakers members of the Religious Society of Friends, use to express their faith and beliefs
The name "Quaker" was first used in 1650, when George Fox was brought before Justice Bennet of Derby on a charge of blasphemy. George Fox (July 1624 – 13 January 1691 was an English Dissenter and a founder of the Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as the Quakers Derby (pronounced "dar-bee" /dˈɑːbɪ/ is a city in the East Midlands of England. Blasphemy is the disrespectful use of the name of one or more gods. According to Fox's journal, Bennet "called us Quakers because we bid them tremble at the word of God", a scriptural reference (e. g. , Isaiah 66:2, Ezra 9:4). The Book of Isaiah ( Hebrew: Sefer Y'sha'yah ספר ישעיה is a book of the Bible traditionally attributed to the Prophet Isaiah, who lived The Book of Ezra is a book of the Bible in the Old Testament and Hebrew Tanakh. Therefore, what began apparently as a way to make fun of Fox's admonition by those outside the Society of Friends became a nickname that even Friends use for themselves.
The name "Religious Society of Friends" came many years later, in the 18th century. This remains the most widely-accepted name to this day, although often "Quakers" is added in parentheses for the sake of clarity. However, there are some Friends who prefer other names: some evangelical Friends' organizations use the term "Friends Church", and some Friends (usually in unprogrammed meetings) object to the word "religious" and refer to themselves as part of the "Society of Friends". Friends Church (formerly Yorba Linda Friends Church) is an evangelical Megachurch located in the upscale Orange County city of Yorba Linda There are some monthly meetings that for this reason do not include "religious" in their name, while most larger Quaker organizations, such as yearly meetings, use the full name. Members of the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers use the term Yearly Meeting to refer to an organization composed of a collection of smaller more frequent constituent
The Religious Society of Friends began in England in 1648, as a Nonconformist breakaway movement from English Puritanism. William Penn ( October 14, 1644 – July 30, 1718) was founder and "Absolute Proprietor" of the Province of Pennsylvania, Nonconformism is the refusal to conform to common standards conventions rules customs traditions norms or laws A Puritan of 16th and 17th century England was an associate of any number of religious groups advocating for more "purity" of Worship and Doctrine, As the movement expanded, it faced opposition and persecution. Friends were imprisoned and beaten in both Great Britain, Ireland and the British colonies. William Penn was imprisoned in England on a number of occasions. In the 1670 "Hay-market case", William Penn was accused of the crime of 'preaching Quakerism to an unlawful assembly', and while he freely admitted his guilt he challenged the righteousness of such a law. The jury, recognizing that William Penn clearly had been preaching in public, but refusing to find him guilty of speaking to an unlawful assembly, attempted to find Penn guilty of "speaking in Gracechurch-street". The judge, unsatisfied with this decision, withheld food, water, and toilet facilities from the jurors for three days. The jurors finally decided to return a not guilty verdict overall, and while the decision was accepted, the jurors were fined. One of the jurors appealed this fine, and Chief Justice Sir John Vaughn issued an historically-important ruling: that jurors could not be punished for their verdicts. This case is considered significant milestone in the history of jury nullification. Jury nullification means making a law void by jury decision in other words "the process whereby a jury in a criminal case effectively nullifies a law by acquitting a defendant regardless 
In the Massachusetts Bay colony, Friends were banished on pain of death - some (most famously Mary Dyer) were hanged on Boston Common for returning to preach their beliefs. The Massachusetts Bay Colony (sometimes called the Massachusetts Bay Company, for the institution that founded it was an English settlement on the east coast of North America Mary Barrett Dyer (c 1611 – June 1 1660) was an English Puritan turned Quaker who was hanged in Boston Massachusetts Boston Common is a central Public park in Boston, Massachusetts. In England Friends were effectively banned from sitting in Parliament at Westminster from 1698-1833. The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom and British overseas territories Westminster is an area of Central London, within the City of Westminster. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn, as a safe place for Friends to live and practice their faith. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ( often colloquially referred to as PA (its abbreviation by natives and Northeasterners is a state located in the Northeastern William Penn ( October 14, 1644 – July 30, 1718) was founder and "Absolute Proprietor" of the Province of Pennsylvania, Despite persecution, the movement grew steadily.
During the 19th century Friends in Ireland and the United States suffered a number of separations. Ireland (pronounced /ˈaɾlənd/ Éire) is the third largest island in Europe, and the twentieth-largest island in the world The United States of America —commonly referred to as the The word schism (ˈsɪzəm or /ˈskɪzəm/ from the Greek σχίσμα skhísma (from σχίζω skhízō, "to tear to split"
In 1827 a division occurred within Philadelphia Yearly Meeting when its members could not agree on who was to be clerk. The issue involved the visits and preaching of Elias Hicks in violation of the will of numerous meetings; they claimed his views were universalist and contradicted the historical tradition of Friends. Elias Hicks ( March 19, 1748 - February 27, 1830) was an itinerant Quaker preacher from Long Island, New York Universalism can be classified as a Religion, Theology and Philosophy that generally holds all persons and creatures are related to God or the Divine and The same year, a number of Friends in sympathy with him separated to form a parallel system of yearly meetings in America, referred to as Hicksite and those who did not were called Orthodox; ultimately five yearly meetings divided.
The splits in New York and Philadelphia Yearly Meetings were overcome in 1955 when in each yearly meeting the Orthodox and Hicksite meetings merged; Baltimore's division ended a decade later.
The Beaconite Controversy arose from the book "A Beacon to the Society of Friends," published in 1835 by Isaac Crewdson. He was a minister in the Manchester Meeting. The controversy arose in 1831 when doctrinal differences amongst the Friends culminated in the winter of 1836-1837 with the resignation of Isaac Crewdson and of 48 fellow members of the Manchester Meeting. About 250 others left in various localities in England including prominent members. A number of these joined themselves to the Plymouth Brethren and brought influences of simplicity of worship to that society. The Plymouth Brethren is a Conservative, Evangelical Christian movement, whose history can be traced to Dublin, Ireland Notable among the Plymouthists who were former Quakers included John Elliot Howard of Tottenham and Robert Mackenzie Beverley. Tottenham (pronounced "tot-num" by locals is an urban area of north London, England in the London Borough of Haringey, situated north-east of
The Orthodox Friends in America were exercised by a transatlantic dispute between Joseph John Gurney of England and John Wilbur of Rhode Island. Joseph John Gurney ( 2 August 1788 - 4 January 1847) was a banker in Norwich, England and an evangelical Minister of For the football player of the same name see John Wilbur (football player. Gurney emphasized scriptural authority and favored working closely with other Christian groups. Wilbur, in response, defended the authority of the Holy Spirit as primary, and worked to prevent what he saw as the dilution of Friends tradition of Spirit-led ministry. Wilbur was expelled from his yearly meeting in a questionable proceeding in 1842. Over the next several decades, a number of Wilburite-Gurneyite separations occurred. The Wilburite tradition is carried on today to varying degrees by the conservative yearly meetings of Ohio, Iowa, and North Carolina; Ohio Yearly Meeting (Conservative) is generally considered the most traditional in this regard, retaining more rural Quakers who use the plain language and continue wearing plain dress more than the other two. Conservative Friends refers to members of a certain branch of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers 
Joel Bean was an Orthodox Friend who opposed the extreme evangelicalism that was creeping into his branch of Quakerism. Joel Bean (1825-1914 was a Quaker ( Religious Society of Friends) minister whose name has been associated with a branch of Quakerism that some label “ Beanite. He formed a new branch of Quakerism in the western part of the United States when his membership was terminated and his meeting was laid down by Iowa Yearly Meeting.
The "Beanite", or independent, Quakers resemble an amalgam of Hicksite and Wilburite Quakerism. During the 1980s some of them adopted the label "Christ-Centered Universalism".
Quaker testimonies are an expression of "spirituality in action". "Testify" redirects here For other uses see Testify (disambiguation and Testimony (disambiguation.  They can be regarded as the traditional statements of Quaker belief, though Quakers avoid creeds. A creed is a statement of Belief — usually Religious belief — or Faith often recited as part of a religious service The Testimonies are not a formal, static set of words, but rather a shared view of how many Quakers relate to God and the world. This leads to each Quaker having a different understanding of what the testimonies are, and while the ideologies remain quite similar for all Quakers, they go by different names, and different values are included throughout the Religious Society of Friends. The Testimonies are interrelated and can be seen as a coherent philosophical system, even outside Christian theology. The testimonies have not always been consistent, but throughout their history they have challenged Friends and provided them guidance.
The list of testimonies is, like all aspects of Friends theology, continuously evolving - so as to be relevant to today, but the following are common:
Some Friends also include other testimonies, such as Unity, Community, Compassion, Justice, Truth, Stewardship and Sustainability. The Peace Testimony, also known as the Testimony Against War, is a shorthand description of the stand generally taken by members of the Religious Society of Friends The Testimony of Equality is the Quaker belief that all people are created equal in the eyes of God The Testimony of Integrity, or Truth Testimony, is the Quaker (also known as Friends belief that one should live a life that is true to God, true to oneself The Testimony of Simplicity is the Quaker belief that a person ought to live his or her life simply in order to focus on what is most important and ignore or play down what is In the USA, Children and Friends school students are often taught the acronym SPICES, which stands for Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality and Stewardship. The United States of America —commonly referred to as the In the UK, the acronym STEP is used, or more affectionately, PEST, which includes the testimonies to Peace, Equality, Simplicity and Truth. Truth tends to be the more common name of the integrity testimony in the UK, although Integrity is also sometimes added as a fifth testimony. Similarly, in recent years the Environment has also come to be regarded by some in the UK as an "emerging testimony", one that is respected and valued, but has not traditionally been prioritised.
An interesting example of Quaker attitudes is in the writings of William Penn, "Some Fruits of Solitude In Reflections And Maxims", written in his retirement.
Excerpt: "The Wise Man is Cautious, but not cunning; Judicious, but not Crafty; making Virtue the Measure of using his Excellent Understanding in the Conduct of his Life. "
The Peace Testimony is probably the best known testimony of Friends. The Peace Testimony, also known as the Testimony Against War, is a shorthand description of the stand generally taken by members of the Religious Society of Friends The belief that violence is wrong has persisted to this day, and many conscientious objectors, advocates of non-violence and anti-war activists are Friends. A conscientious objector (CO is an individual who on religious moral or ethical grounds refuses to participate as a combatant in war or in some cases to take any role that would support Nonviolence is a philosophy and strategy for social change that rejects the use of physical Violence. The term anti-war usually refers to the opposition to a particular nation's decision to start or carry on an armed conflict unconditional of a maybe-existing just cause. Because of their peace testimony, Friends are considered as one of the historic peace churches. Peace churches are Christian churches groups or communities advocating Christian pacifism. In 1947 Quakerism was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, which was accepted by the American Friends Service Committee and British Peace & Social Witness on behalf of all Friends. The Nobel Peace Prize ( Swedish, Danish and Nobels fredspris is one of five Nobel Prizes Bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC is a Religious Society of Friends ( Quaker) affiliated organization which provides Humanitarian relief Quaker Peace & Social Witness ( QPSW) previously known as the Friends Service Council, is an organisation of Quakers based in Britain that works The Peace Testimony has not always been well received in the world; on many occasions Friends have been imprisoned for refusing to serve in military activities - many conscientious objectors have been Quakers. A conscientious objector (CO is an individual who on religious moral or ethical grounds refuses to participate as a combatant in war or in some cases to take any role that would support
Some Friends today regard the Peace Testimony in even a broader sense, refusing to pay the portion of the income tax that goes to fund the military. Yearly Meetings in the United States, Britain and other parts of the world endorse and support these Friend's actions. Quaker Council for European Affairs campaigns in the European Parliament for the right of conscientious objectors in Europe not to be made to pay for the military. It should be stressed that these Friends are not trying to get out of paying taxes and they would willingly give the money to peaceful purposes. Some do pay the money into peace charities and still get goods seized by bailiffs or money taken from their bank account.
In America, others pay into an escrow account in the name of the Internal Revenue Service, which the IRS can only access if they give an assurance that the money will only be used for peaceful purposes. Escrow is a legal arrangement in which an asset (such as Cash, Real property or other tangible assets is deposited into safekeeping (e The Some Yearly meetings in the US run escrow accounts for conscientious objectors, both within and outside the Society.
Many Friends engage in various non-governmental organizations such as Christian Peacemaker Teams serving in some of the most violent areas of the world. Christian Peacemaker Teams ( CPT) is an international organization set up to support teams of peace workers in conflict areas around the world
Friends believe that all people are created equal in the eyes of God. The Testimony of Equality is the Quaker belief that all people are created equal in the eyes of God Since all people embody the same divine spark all people deserve equal treatment. Friends were some of the first to value women as important ministers and to campaign for women's rights; they became leaders in the anti-slavery movement, and were among the first to pioneer humane treatment for the mentally ill and for prisoners. In Christian churches, a minister is someone who is authorized by a church or religious organization to perform clergy functions such as teaching of beliefs
Also known as the Testimony of Truth, or Truth Testimony, the essence of the Testimony of Integrity is placing God at the center of one's life. The Testimony of Integrity, or Truth Testimony, is the Quaker (also known as Friends belief that one should live a life that is true to God, true to oneself To Friends, integrity is in choosing to follow the leading of the Spirit despite the challenges and urges to do otherwise.
This testimony has led to Friends having a reputation for being honest and fair in their dealings with others. It has led them to give proper credit to others for their contributions and to accept responsibility for their own actions. In those legal systems where it is allowed, rather than swearing oaths in a court of law Friends will prefer to affirm - in England this has been the case since 1695. 
Among some early Friends this testimony led them to refuse to participate in drama, stating that to pretend you were someone else was to deny your integrity.
Simplicity to Friends has generally been a reference to material possessions (see plainness above). The Testimony of Simplicity is the Quaker belief that a person ought to live his or her life simply in order to focus on what is most important and ignore or play down what is Friends traditionally limited their possessions to what they needed to live their lives, rather than pursuing luxuries. Recently this testimony is often taken to have an ecological dimension: that Friends should not use more than their fair share of the Earth's resources.
This testimony is largely responsible for the tradition of plain walls and functional furniture in meetinghouses.
Throughout their history, Quakers have founded organizations for many causes they felt are in keeping with their faith. Within the last century there have been some 100 organizations founded by either individual Friends, groups of Friends or Friends working with others. Amongst others: Amnesty International, Greenpeace, OXFAM, Peace Action, WILPF. Amnesty International (commonly known as Amnesty or AI) is a Western based international Non-governmental organization which defines its mission as "to Greenpeace, originally known as the Greenpeace Foundation, was founded in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1972 Oxfam International is a confederation of 13 organizations working with over 3000 partners in more than 100 countries to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice Peace Action is a peace organization formed through the merger of The Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy and the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign (also known (SEE List of Quaker Businesses)
There are many schools around the world founded by Friends (see List of Friends Schools). This is a list of notable businesses organizations or charities founded by Quakers. This article is a list of schools associated with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers Several organizations centered on education have continued amongst Friends, including Friends Council on Education (FCE) an organization supporting Friends schools (typically primary through secondary, often boarding) and Friends Association for Higher Education (FAHE) which supports Friends post-secondary institutions and those who resonate with Friends' teaching and traditions who serve in higher education.
There are various organizations associated with Friends including a U. S. lobbying organization based in Washington, D.C. called the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL); several service organizations like the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the Quaker United Nations Offices, Quaker Peace and Social Witness, Friends Committee on Scouting, the Quaker Peace Centre in Cape Town, South Africa and the Alternatives to Violence Project. Washington DC ( formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, the District, or simply D The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL a public lobby organization founded in 1943 by members of the Religious Society of Friends. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC is a Religious Society of Friends ( Quaker) affiliated organization which provides Humanitarian relief Quaker Peace & Social Witness ( QPSW) previously known as the Friends Service Council, is an organisation of Quakers based in Britain that works The Friends Committee on Scouting (FSC of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers is responsible for developing curricula for the religious awards programs of Scout groups Alternatives to Violence Project ( AVP) was started in 1975 by a group of inmates at Green Haven Prison as a Workshop in collaboration with the Quakers
Additionally Friends have founded organizations to help maintain order and communication within the society. Some yearly meetings belong to larger organizations, the three chief ones being Friends General Conference (FGC), Friends United Meeting (FUM), and Evangelical Friends International (EFI) (in all three groups, most member organizations are from the United States). Members of the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers use the term Yearly Meeting to refer to an organization composed of a collection of smaller more frequent constituent The Friends General Conference (FGC is a North American Quaker organization primarily serving the Quaker yearly and Monthly meetings in the United Friends United Meeting (FUM is an association of twenty-six Yearly meetings of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers in North America, Africa Evangelical Friends International (EFI is an branch of Religious Society of Friends (Quaker Yearly meetings (regional associations around the world that profess FGC is theologically the most liberal of the three groups, while EFI is the most conservative. FUM is the largest of the three. Some monthly meetings belong to more than one of these larger organizations, while others are independent, not joining any. Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) is the international Quaker organization which loosely unifies the diverse groups of Friends; FWCC brings together the largest variety of Friends in the world. Friend World Committee for Consultation (FWCC is a Quaker organization that works to communicate between all parts of Quakerism
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