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What is the core of Quaker faith?

Acting in Faith  |  By Lucy Duncan, Jan 9, 2014
Inner Light

Inner Light 

Photo: Rachel (justmakeit on Flickr) / Rachel (justmakeit on Flickr)

Before the end of the year I posted this question on Facebook and I received an amazing string of answers. To me such an exercise is powerfully expressive of Quaker faith, which is not doctrinal but expressed in the individual experiences of those who practice. I think these answers together create a lovely poem expressive of the multitude of ways that Quakers understand and experience Quaker faith. If you'd like to view the whole conversation, go to the original Facebook post. - Lucy

Continuing revelation. Humility. Truth. – Emma Churchman

Unmediated access to the Divine. – T. Harrison

I would add: fearless direct nonviolent action when necessary, consensual process. – Laura Roxanne Seagraves

There is That of God in everyone. That belief is the primary reason that I became a Quaker, and the reason I remain a Quaker. – Marilyn Gilmore

We can access the voice of the Divine if we wait patiently. In all dealing with people we use the knowledge of that of God in each and honor it. That leads us directly to the Quaker process that is the core outer example of that inner faith. – Joan Baulch Spinner

Everyone has direct access to God, but we help each other discern what we hear from that divine presence in community. – Ashley Wilcox

My own feeling is that nothing could possibly be as important to Quaker faith as the concept of Inner Light. This is a theological innovation which liberated believers from the oppression of the Thou Shalt Nots in the Bible (Protestant tradition) and the Catechism of Mortal Sins (Catholic tradition). Friends believe that the answers to their most pressing issues are ultimately found uniquely in their own hearts. – Mitch Gould

From an outsider’s perspective? Acceptance. – Martin Magnuson

For me it’s the silence and the waiting and the discerning what the Spirit is saying and then acting on it. - Edy Nolan

Openness to the Spirit and to love. Keeping the testimonies growing in our hearts and not reaching for the shorthand. Openness to the possibility that, despite believing in divine guidance, we make mistakes and are not always right. – Ruth Seeley

Light by Jez Smith

Unmediated access and God in everyone. – Sharon Smith

Metaphorically, the overlapping of circles (like those from raindrops falling on a calm pond) between us and God… we are a little in God and God a little in us and where the twain meets, light blossoms. – Bill Powell

That every man, woman, and child on this planet has direct access to divine love, presence, and guidance – and if we listen closely to this still small voice we can heal ourselves, our families, our communities, and our world. – Steve Chase

God is with us, helps, leads, and comforts us, if we are willing to stay in touch. – Margaret Kataranides

Truth and integrity (truth to self) are what we seek. When truth within matches truth without we are expressing that which is whole within us. It is then that we are most free: willing to be and do what God [Logos, The Way] wills us to be and do, rather than reacting out of habit, past wounds, and unexamined cultural norms. – La Verne Shelton

“Christ has come to teach his people himself.” – George Fox… This is the power and subversive simplicity of Friends faith and practice. – Johan Mauer

We can be true to our inner light on our own, but we need a covenant community to really find ourselves and discern our work in the world. – Kate DeRiel

I’ve been creeping out of the closet door on this one for some time… Coming out in the Society of Friends on other issues has already put me on the margins of this religion. So, what’s one more? The core of Quakerism for me is Jesus. Quaker tradition is very important to me, and I am part of a Quaker community, and I practice Quaker disciplines, my primary self-understanding is not as a Quaker, but as a follower of Jesus of Nazareth.  –Paul Ricketts

To walk (not run) cheerfully (and lightly) on the earth seeking and acknowledging that of God in every person and all of creation in patient expectation of continuing revelation. (Would that I could do it!) – Kathy Hersh

Peace Candles by Mike Gifford

There is that of God in all living beings – which informs how we relate to other beings. It also leads to the idea of ongoing revelation. It feels like all else Quakers hold important flows from that. – Martha Yager


 

LOVE. - Jada Jackson

The power of kindly attention. – Dave Shoen

That of God in each of us, working towards Unity. – Philip Balcombe

The experience of shared union with the divine through meeting for worship. – Vonn New

What’s at my core is a desire to live as much in alignment with primitive Christianity as possible – to seek to live the essence of being Christian, without giving primacy to the rules that church and society have built around Christianity. My faith is anchored in Jesus’ teaching and I believe that people with other faith systems (non-Christian) are as able to be in communion with God as I am. My faith is Christian and my practice is Quaker. – Kathleen Karhank-Glasby

I experience, in these times, G!d’s primary revelation as the universe itself. The story the universe is telling is one of creativity, a bending toward diversity, complexity and love… none of this is in contradiction to Christianity, especially primitive Christianity – or any of the deepest core understandings of the major religions. To be Quaker is to honor this experience and to be in dialogue with other people’s experience. – Amy Kietzman

The practice of turning attention inwardly to know God’s presence and peace and to listen for truth so that we may be guided by continuing revelation. – Melanie Douty-Snipes

What is a Quaker? Someone who believes in life before death. – Paul Ricketts

About the Author

Lucy serves as Director of Friends Relations for AFSC. She has been a storyteller for 20 years and has worked with Quaker meetings on telling stories for racial justice and of spiritual experience. Before working for AFSC, she was Director of Communications at FGC, managed QuakerBooks of FGC, and owned and managed her own children's bookstore in Omaha, The Story Monkey. She attends Green Street Friends Meeting (PhYM) and lives with her son and partner in a Quaker cemetery.

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About Friends Relations

Lucy Duncan and Greg Elliott work together and with other AFSC staff to foster strong relationships between AFSC and Quakers.

Lucy is AFSC’s Director of Friends Relations. She has been a storyteller for 20 years and has worked with Quaker meetings on telling stories for racial justice and of spiritual experience. She attends Green Street Friends Meeting (PhYM) and lives with her son and partner in a Quaker cemetery.

Greg is the Friends Relations Associate. He grew attending North Branch Monthly Meeting in the Poconos of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Greg currently lives in the Germantown section of Philadelphia.

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