Who Are We?
We are Quakers, members of the Religious Society of Friends. We gather to worship in silence, believing that God’s spirit can touch each of us directly, without the need for rituals or intermediaries. In the silence we try to settle into a deep place of stillness at the center of our being, where we can discern what God means in our lives. There we find healing and renewal, new understanding of what we ought to do or say, and the strength to do what we must. Sometimes someone will rise and speak out of the silence, sharing the insights or questions that come out of the spiritual search. We listen to each other with love, hearing not only the words—which may, if we listen carefully, speak directly to our own needs—but the spirit behind the words. We are a community, and we need each other. At the close of meeting we shake hands with our neighbors, affirming the communal experience we have shared.
Quakerism began in England in the seventeenth century out of a desire to return to the basics of Christianity. But we have no formal creed. Most Quakers consider themselves Christians, and we commonly turn to the teachings of Christ to guide our spiritual journeys, but we believe that God is equally present to everyone, everywhere, of whatever religion. In this meeting, we joyfully acknowledge a wide diversity of religious backgrounds, and believe that such variety enriches our community. We welcome ministry from many different perspectives, as long as it arises from a heartfelt seeking for truth.
The fundamental teaching of Quakerism is that God is available to all of us; that every person is gifted with a holy seed, an inner light, a direct connection to the divine. This is the basis for the social testimonies for which Quakers are best known. We feel that every life is precious in God’s eyes, that we are called to try to nurture the good in people, to break down the barriers of injustice and prejudice which stifle human potential, and to work for peace and healing in the world. We seek to witness for honesty and simplicity in our daily lives, for example by renouncing gambling, immoderate uses of alcohol, and other distractions, because we do not want to lose sight of that which is truly important. We do not expect everyone to take on all of these concerns. Each of us is called to his or her own particular task.
What we do as individuals may seem a very humble contribution to increasing the good in the world. We Quakers, are after all, very much like everyone else in our troubles and inadequacies. But we believe that the spirit of God is at work within us, prodding and prompting and helping us to be more faithful and loving. We believe that when we follow the gentle promptings of the spirit, more leadings will follow. As a community, we can accomplish more than any one of us alone. Perhaps you would like to join us on this journey. If you have found our meeting for worship refreshing or helpful to you, please come again.
(Reprinted with permission from Swarthmore Friends Meeting)
Blacksburg Monthly Meeting is part of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting. Their introductory statement also provides an introduction to the Religious Society of Friends.