#1 How Do Quakers Worship?
Quakers (also known as ‘Friends’ or their original name originating in the 1600s, ‘Society of Friends’) are a part of the larger Christian denomination that worships God. As the populations of liberal, fundamentalist, evangelical, theist, and atheistic Quakers continue to grow – there are currently more than 377,000 Quakers worldwide.
The worship style of Quakers is unique for the following reasons – Quakers believe (that):
- God is love.
- Everyone has a piece of God living within them
- No priests, ministers, or vehicles of communication are necessary to reach God.
- One can have a relationship with God directly.
- Disciples should worship through everyday actions.
- Formal observances and displays are unnecessary if a person lives according to God’s commandments and expectations.
- You can be a theist (or, in rare cases, an atheist) while remaining Quaker (because the power significantly comes from within).
By integrating God into everything, personal communication and equality is very important in the daily worship of Quakers. Whether they pray in a group meeting or individually, they are always trying to look for and hear God.
Things to note:
- Quakers will sit in a circle to face each other
- Often there is silence in meetings or a meditative reflection
- Equality is a vital pillar of Quakerism, allowing anyone to lead or contribute to the meeting
- The meeting will typically last for one hour
- Anyone is welcome to attend a worship meeting or service
Essentially, every action the Quakers take is in the name of God and their autonomous priesthood as believers.
Not all Quakers use scriptures to worship, but many still select their preferred version of the Holy Bible (typically new testament or old) that they connect most with. Fundamentalists will interpret the Bible quite literally, taking minimal exceptions to God’s word. There is also a book called ‘The Quaker Bible,’ written in 1765, that is still often used.
- “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4:24.
- And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect “harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:14-17.
· How Quakers Worship – Quakers in Britain
#2 How Many Quakers Are There in the United States?
There are more than 377,000 Quakers worldwide, with approximately 20% of them located in North America.
Although the figures are a bit under-investigated, there are a projected 81,392 Quakers in the United States and Canada as of 2017. This projection was a 40% loss in population since 40 years prior, in 1987, when Quakerism hit a twentieth-century peak of 139,200 Quakers in North America.
- How Did the Quakers Come to North America – Quaker Speak; Published June 9th, 2016.
#3 How Do Quakers Dress?
Quakers pride themselves on dressing plainly and modestly. Today, many Quakers dress like everyone else (to the point that you may not even realize they are a Quaker). But if a person is devoted to the fundamentalist approach, they will dress in an established ‘Quaker’ attire of tradition.
The preferred attire options for Quakers that you will commonly see are:
|Female Quakers:||Male Quakers:|
Black skirt at floor-length
Bonnet to cover hair
Black plain shoes
No Jewelry or makeup
|Beard – most common|
Hats or caps to cover the head
Liberalists may have 1 earring
There are no specific rules, and many Quakers stopped speaking ‘plainly,’ in the 1850s; however, they were still encouraged to dress modestly.
If a Quaker dresses’ plainly,’ this means that everyone is relatively uniform and identical.
If you see a style that goes beyond modesty to uniform plainness – this signifies that they are devoted to the traditionalist approach to Quakerism from the 1800s.
- “Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,” – 1 Timothy 2:9.
- “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” – Deuteronomy 22:5.
- Why Do Some Quakers Dress Plain?; Quaker Speak – March 26th, 2020.
#4 How Do Quakers Pray?
The Quaker style of prayer is meant to self-empower and promote a loving-kindness to all living things. Quakers believe in the sovereignty, self-serving nature, and power of their own independence. Because of this, many Quakers do not even worship God directly – seeing God as within themselves.
Typically, prayer is conducted in a circular shape where everyone can face one another. There will commonly be silence, but anyone is allowed to jump in and speak if they feel overcome with the power of the Lord or compelled to do so.
Quakers generally pray:
- In silence.
- Before all meals.
- Anytime they have a moment for grace.
- While holding hands.
- Without a priest or minister – praying directly to God themselves.
- To heal other Quaker members (saying of their congregation’s member ‘hold them to the light,’ which means to keep them in their prayers if going through a death or extreme life circumstance.
Prayer is not intended to be complicated or overly-scriptural.
The Quaker approach to prayer is meant to be off-the-cuff, spontaneous, and a simple conversation with God. You are meant to communicate directly with God, be imaginative, and go inward to become more pure of heart.
- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” – Philippians 4:6.
- “Pray without ceasing,” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
- The Prayer Life of Quakers – July 25th, 2019 from Quaker Speak.
#5 How Do Quakers Read the Bible?
Many Quakers do not utilize the Bible, but historically (1600s-1800s), the holy Bible was exceptionally important to Quakerism. Over time, the interpretation and evangelical-nature of this denomination became more and more liberal – allowing each member to find the style that best suits them.
As self-empowerment and personal sovereignty became a holy pillar of Quakerism, the way that Quakers interpreted the Bible changed greatly, even leading to many dismissing the Bible altogether.
After the rejection of scriptural-relevance, reading the Bible became replaced by meetings of silence in which a meditative-like ritual of silence occurs. Members sit in a circle and will chime in when they feel they are being provoked or inspired by God directly; if not, they will remain silent together.
In today’s age of Quakerism, you are recommended to:
- Let the spirit of God speak to you
- Be intentional about what you seek
- Don’t speak too much
- Remain open to the answer, and God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit will answer you
· “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
- Quaker Speak – How do Quakers Read the Bible; May 1st, 2014.
#6 How Do Quakers Celebrate Easter?
Quakers do not typically celebrate Easter or Christmas; However, there have been a growing number of Easter services seen in the more liberal side of the Quaker denomination, also known as ‘Society of Friends.’ This can be seen in the PlainFieldFriends.org advertisement for an Easter worship service in 2020.
Formerly, no Quaker celebrated holidays. But the numbers have progressively grown into modern-day where it is not unusual to see Easter gifts or a Christmas tree in a Quaker home.
If a Quaker is more liberally progressive or embracive of the Easter holiday, it is seen as a period to:
- Revere Jesus’ sacrifice
- Refrain from frivolous activities that could debase the meaning behind the holiday
Quaker.org writes in its piece Quakers and Easter:
“The story of Holy Week and Easter, seen as a whole, is vivid and unsettling. It contains within it themes of friendship, betrayal and political tension. There is state-sponsored murder, and the violent pendulum swing of public opinion from adoration to condemnation. There are moments of loneliness, desolation, unspeakable cruelty, and profound courage. There is falling and failing, of many kinds. And there is tenacious and unflinching love.”
To this point, the author also acknowledges that Jesus may be important to some Quakers while being irrelevant to others. Each Quaker is allowed a wide range of approaches to the religion, depending on how progressive or traditionalistic they are. The same will go for their views on Easter.
- “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” – 1 Peter 1:3.
- Plain Field Friends “Finish the Story” Easter Worship Service; Published April 11th, 2020.
#7 How Do I Join The Quakers?
To become a Quaker, the steps to follow are:
- Attend a Quaker meeting.
- As a newcomer, it is suggested that you get accustomed to the Quaker approach to worship. You would be encouraged to meet people, attend many meetings, and take time before formally making a decision.
- If you are certain after many meetings (it is not uncommon to remain an ‘attendee’ for months or even years), you will write a letter to the clerk of that church/establishment. You will address the length of time you’ve been attending, the reasons you are drawn, and why you should be approved for official membership.
- Once accepted, the clerk of the Church will guide you on the enrollment.
You can also:
- Sign up for community service, volunteer projects, and display yourself as a contributing member of their community
- Pray more
- Display your non-performative intentions for being kind – fundamentally, have no motive, even though your motive is acceptance into the Church. Remain genuine in your kindness.
- Dress modestly
- Place God at the center of your moral compass
This can be a lengthy process because Quakers never want you to feel pressured to join. Although they used to conduct missionary trips historically, this is less common in today’s age and they are seen as a relatively private Christian denomination.
If you are ready to join, find a meeting near you, take your time, and then express sincere interest. If your conviction is strong, the clerk will recognize this in you. Regardless, it is unlikely you will feel strong pressure to join or not join, which may also be comforting.
- How to Become a Quaker of a Quaker Meeting – Quaker Speak; November 8th, 2018.