Friends World Committee for Consultation - Europe & Middle East Section

Meeting the Spirit

Contents

Introduction

“Be patterns, be examples, in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come, that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one.”

George Fox, 1656

The Quaker movement arose in the mid-17th century in England. Its followers called themselves “Friends of Truth”, as they thought of themselves as friends of Jesus (John 15:15). In time they came to be known simply as “Friends”. The name “Quaker” was a nickname used by others, as it was said that they trembled or quaked with religious zeal. Friends have since adopted the term and today the words Friend and Quaker have the same meaning. The formal title of the Quaker movement is now: “Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)”.

Originally, this introduction was prepared for a ‘Meeting for Learning’ to help introduce a new group of Friends in Lithuania to Quaker beliefs and practices. The text is based on a number of existing leaflets, brochures and books. I thank all Friends and organisations that have supplied me with their material, especially Quaker Home Service of Britain Yearly Meeting and Friends General Conference in Philadelphia. You can find a list of the sources and other relevant publications in the Literature list. I also thank the Friends who have critically reviewed the text.

Of course this brief introduction cannot possibly cover all aspects of Friends and Quakerism in depth. I also realise that my selection of texts is subjective. Still, I hope it helps interested individuals and groups to learn more about Quakers, their beliefs, their ideals, and the ways they put their faith into action.

Friends are invited to translate this publication in their own language and to use it for their own ‘outreach’. Over the centuries Friends have introduced and used many words and phrases which are very difficult to translate into other languages. While editing the text I have tried to avoid such ‘Quaker English’, but this was certainly not easy and could not always be avoided.

For further information you can contact the FWCC office in London or the office of the Europe & Middle East Section (addresses below).

Hans Weening

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