“Are your meetings for church affairs held in a spirit of worship and in dependence on the guidance of God? Remember that we do not seek a majority decision nor even consensus. As we wait patiently for divine guidance our experience is that the right way will open and we shall be led into unity.”
Photograph by Jon Davey : www.jondavey.com
About Quakers and Quakerism
WHO ARE THE QUAKERS?
From their beginnings Quakers have been actively involved in social justice and reform. Such activities have drawn many of us to this faith community and in Bristol, Friends – as we call ourselves - are involved in prison reform, in resolving conflict non-violently, in outreach with homeless people, campaigning against the arms trade, green issues and many other causes.
But funnily enough, silence is at the centre of what we call a meeting for worship, from which we draw our fellowship and strength. We sit round in a circle for an hour and wait to be moved to speak. Some of us believe in God and follow the example and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and would say God’s Spirit inspires us to speak and act, or indeed, to listen and wait. Others – people who don’t feel easy about Christian religious language for example- would put it differently, but we share this sitting and waiting, even if we’re very broad minded when it comes to beliefs.
One thing almost all of us believe is that everyone has the ‘inner light’ within them. It’s a question of showing it or finding it. It’s a belief that gives us hope and compassion. So we welcome people who are seeking; a sense of inner-peace, of fellowship with fellow travellers; people with questions or a yearning for meaning that the consumer world doesn’t offer.
We hold certain values: being truthful and honest in all our dealings; believing that all people are of equal worth; living simply - not cluttering up our lives unnecessarily; seeking peace and working for reconciliation; and looking after our environment. We’re not saints - far from it - but we try to live out these values in our everyday lives.
We like to see ourselves as non-materialistic folk who talk straight, are practical, who value community, are suspicious of rules, bosses and hierarchy and like to run our affairs. We’re volunteers who share the running of the business side that comes with any organisation which owns buildings and deals with money, much of it given away. And the business is also conducted in as calm and worshipful a manner as possible; like any group we have our differences.
There are seven meetings in and around Bristol. Some are small, some large, and they all share this way of worship. Their differences have been formed by historical factors. Redland Meeting House on Hampton Road for instance was built with excellent children’s facilities in the 1960s and is now a thriving meeting which many families attend. There are often about 80 people at a Sunday meeting when usually several stand up and share a message. Central Meeting in St Judes was formed when Quakers Friars was sold in the 1950s. It is known for its quietness and strong community, and also has Friends who come regularly from Keynsham. When Quakers were persecuted by the state in the seventeenth century they had to meet well outside any urban centre, and that’s how Frenchay Meeting was established.
The Meetings are at Thornbury, Portishead, Central (St Jude’s), Redland, Horfield Bedminster and Frenchay Click here for local meetings
There was a time when we were outwardly quiet, grey and reserved about communicating. We’re more confident now and think we have a powerful, warm and motivating way of life to offer, and always plenty to learn from those who attend and engage with us. You are most welcome.
(Last update: December 20, 2012)