The Religious Society of Friends began in the mid 1600’s amid England’s Civil War. The First Friends were drawn to George Fox, who realized that God dwells in each of us, rather than in holy books or buildings. The name Quaker became popular after George Fox told a judge that he should tremble before the Lord and the judge replied, “You are the Quaker, not I”. Early Friends faced persecution until they came to the haven offered by an influential convert, William Penn, Pennsylvania’s first proprietor who passionately believed in religious tolerance, constitutional government, trial by jury, and fair and friendly relations with Native Americans.
Many of today’s Friends come from other religious backgrounds and have found a new spiritual home in Quakerism. Friends believe that all people have the same equal access to God and that God’s Inner Light shines through each of us.
Quaker Meeting for Worship is simple. Friends gather at their meetinghouse as seekers in silence and wait God’s word and guidance. One or more worshippers may break the silence to share an inspired message of hope, joy or thankfulness-or a pressing need, question, or concern. Friends listen carefully and are mindful and accepting of the message in reverent spirit. There is no appointed clergy; anyone may minister. The worship service ends as Friends shake hands. The Meeting meets monthly to conduct its business, hence the term “monthly meeting”.
Because Quakers believe religious faith should lead to action, we have long been involved in a variety of good works. Quakers place extreme value on individual rights and responsibilities, which spring from the belief that there is that of God in each person. Among the values Quakers contributed to our nation were freedom of speech, freedom of religion, equality of women, and education for all. Friends today try to live our testimonies of simplicity, equality, integrity, community, and peace. While continuing to work with local social issues, Quakers contribute to national ecological and relief efforts, and to the peaceful resolution of conflicts worldwide as well as at home and on playgrounds and classrooms.
If you want specific information, please contact Westfield Friends Meeting: Connie Beetle, Meeting Administrative Assistant 856 829-7569