Faith and Practice

singingFaith and Practice

Faith and Practice was created by Canadian Yearly Meeting to provide support, guidance and growth to the spiritual lives of Canadian Friends. By serving as a reference of our values, witness and tradition, the book connects our small community spread across a large country.

Unlike a document that records directives for belief and behavior, Faith and Practice is a collection of writings and quotes selected by Canadian Friends relating to the many facets of Quaker belief. The selections record the insights of Friends inspired by experiences of truth that gave rise to witness and testimony and provides examples of how the Spirit of God can be carried in daily life.

The time will come for renewal and revision to reflect changed circumstances, emerging concerns and new glimpses of truth. We treasure the spiritual insights passed on to us by earlier Friends, but we must also speak to the conditions of our own time. When additions or changes are seen to be necessary, all Canadian Friends are invited to contribute selections from Quaker writings that have been meaningful and inspirational. This process of participation makes Faith and Practice an ongoing project that strives to distinctly express our Yearly Meeting’s most spiritual life.

Faith and Practice is not yet fully available in an electronic format. Samples from each chapter are included below.

You can buy a copy through the Quaker Book Service.

 

Faith and Practice Contents

Introduction

 

In former years a book expressing the faith and practice of a

Friends Yearly Meeting would probably have been entitled

“Book of Discipline.” Indeed, “Discipline” is the generic term

that is still used. In Quaker usage, the word “discipline,” which is

related to “disciple,” has grown from the root meaning of learning.

Thus, a Book of Discipline enables us, if we are willing, to learn to

live as Friends, individually and corporately.

 

Older Books of Discipline tended to make corporate statements

of faith and establish explicit standards of appropriate

Quaker behaviour. Witness, for example, the earliest document of

Quaker Discipline, the “Letter from the Elders Gathered at Balby,

1656” (see Appendix A), of which only the short postscript is familiar

to most Friends today. This epistle comprises a set of expectations

that were considered to be necessary for the growing new movement.

The fundamental elements of their advice are still vital to

our practice although three and a half centuries have passed:

  • a practical organization of meetings for worship held in
  • the right spirit;
  • pastoral care;
  • responsible family life;
  • responsible corporate life, including careful registering of
  • marriages, births and deaths;
  • social responsibilities in one’s employment and public life.

 

A living tradition grows, however, retaining the best of its

past while adapting to the needs of the present. The Yearly Meetings

that were formed as time passed, in faraway lands settled by

Friends as well as in Britain, felt it wise to provide written guidance

for faithful living in new and unforeseen situations. They

included not only advice about dealing with outward behaviour

but also counsel aimed at nurturing the inner life and fostering

spiritual growth.

 

For a Book of Discipline to be useful in promoting learning,

it must reflect the attitudes, experiences and challenges of a given

body of Friends at a particular time and place. That is the aim of

this Canadian Faith and Practice book.

 

Canadian Yearly Meeting was formed in 1955 by the union

of Canada Yearly Meeting (Orthodox), Canada Yearly

Meeting (Conservative) and Genesee Yearly Meeting

(Hicksite). These three Meetings had each been using a different

Discipline: The Discipline of Canada Yearly Meeting of the

Religious Society of Friends (1932), the 1859 edition of the

Discipline of the Society of Friends of New York Yearly Meeting

and The Book of Discipline of the Religious Society of Friends:

Christian Practice, Business Procedure (1929), respectively. One

of the necessary tasks immediately undertaken by the new organization

was to agree on the Discipline it would follow. Part of

this goal was achieved in 1964 when, in accordance with the

recommendations of its appointed Discipline Committee, the

Yearly Meeting adopted Christian Faith and Practice in the

Experience of the Society of Friends of London Yearly Meeting

(1959) as Part One of its Discipline. At the same time, a draft

version of Part Two, Organization and Procedure, was being

developed, based on the usages described in the Disciplines of

the predecessor Yearly Meetings. Since its first printing in 1969

this second component has been frequently modified and

reprinted to reflect changes and developments in the organization

of the Yearly Meeting.

 

Christian Faith and Practice has been cherished by two

generations of Friends in Canada and it continues to teach and

inspire us. For some years, however, Canadian Quakers have

recognized that we need to give our own answer to that probing

question posed by George Fox, “What canst thou say?” In 1982

Friends minuted their intention to prepare a supplement to

Christian Faith and Practice, consisting of passages from the

written record of Canadian Yearly Meeting. Extracts from the

Minutes of Canadian Yearly Meeting 1955–1993, published in

1994, was described as a spiritual resource rather than a formal

part of the Discipline. Its introduction concludes with the words,

“What we have here is a beginning.”

 

During that same decade London Yearly Meeting was in

the process of revising its own Discipline, as it had done in

almost every generation since its first in 1738. Christian Faith

and Practice was destined to go out of print. Thus, in 1998

Canadian Yearly Meeting appointed a small committee to

develop proposals for a way to move forward in this matter. Two

years later it made the decision to initiate the long-term project

of creating its own book of Faith and Practice, which would not

only record our Quaker heritage but also express the Canadian

Quaker experience. Organization and Procedure continues to

serve as an integral part of Canadian Yearly Meeting’s Discipline.

 

What is it that makes our Yearly Meeting’s Quaker experience

distinctive? Consider, first, who the Canadian

Quakers are and where they came from — that is, their

roots, in both a geographical and a theological sense. The Quaker

settlers who began arriving in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth

centuries as pioneers, moving northwards from the newly

born United States, were members of established American

Meetings, Meetings that would soon be suffering the disruptions

and hurts of the unhappy Separations. They brought with them

the doctrinal orientations of the Meetings with which they were

affiliated as well as the usages detailed in their own Books of

Disciplines.

 

In the twentieth century many small rural communities in

Canada, such as those which Quakers had settled, began losing

their populations in a general movement of urbanization. Also,

especially after World War II, an influx of Friends from England

and other European countries contributed yet another background

tradition. These arrivals tended to settle in cities, giving

further impetus to the start of a new Meeting, often centred

around a university. Such embryo Meetings might grow by

attracting newcomers with no Quaker background at all. Today a

large proportion of Friends in Canada have joined the Society by

convincement, as adults; relatively few have grown up in Quaker

families and Quaker communities.

 

It should, therefore, come as no surprise that the writings

collected in a Canadian Faith and Practice express different ways of

understanding the Quaker faith and, in particular, different points

along the Christian-Universalist continuum. The extracts should be

read in the same way that we listen to vocal ministry, even when it

does not match our own beliefs. Rather than rejecting a message

outright, we can welcome it as a means of testing the strength and

validity of our own convictions and as a way of enlarging our vision.

Nor should it be surprising that, in this collection, there seems to be

a wide gap in time between the foundational writings of the first

Quakers in the seventeenth century, mainly in England, and the

written offerings of Friends in Canada, where the first Meetings

were not established until the 1800s.

 

Our Advices and Queries caution us to avoid provocative or

hurtful language. Friends today have recognized that this

admonition has relevance for words relating to gender,

especially when used in religious writing. In this Faith and Practice

book, a product of the twenty-first century, effort has been made to

select extracts that avoid gender-exclusive language or, where

necessary, provide clearly indicated modifications. However, it

would be distorting the honest intentions of Friends living in past

centuries to alter their words in quotations that have become well

known and loved. In a similar spirit, the decision was occasionally

made to retain an unusual language usage where it was clearly the

product of an author’s deeply held conviction.

 

Friends expect a great deal from their Yearly Meeting’s Book of

Discipline. In her Sunderland P. Gardner Lecture at Canadian

Yearly Meeting in 2005, Helen Rowlands enumerated a set of

functions such a book is expected to fulfill:

  • it is used for reading in worship and private devotion;
  •  it expresses the principles by which our Society is regulated;
  •  it teaches us some of our history;
  • it provides a reference point for our Testimonies and values;
  • it helps us understand the developing nature of our faith traditions.

These functions are especially important in the Canadian

situation. We live in a vast land in which just a few Meetings exist,

most of them quite small. Isolated from one another by hundreds

of kilometres, Meetings are rarely able to foster close contact

with one another. Newly convinced Friends in such Meetings may

lack channels through which they can grow in their knowledge of

Quaker values and practice. We need support and guidance from

our Book of Discipline.

 

When Canadian Yearly Meeting began investigating the

feasibility of creating our own Faith and Practice book, Canadian

Friends’ response to a questionnaire was that it should be inspirational,

devotional, challenging and educational; it should be a

source of historical information and it should stimulate personal

growth. Evidently, Friends will use their book for different purposes

at different times.

 

The form in which the content of our Faith and Practice

book is presented may enhance the possibility that these different

purposes may somehow be satisfied. Whereas the Elders at Balby

did not hesitate to state their advice in the form of directives, it is

more typical today for a Book of Discipline to adopt an anthological

presentation, following the practice begun in 1921 by London

Yearly Meeting. This approach offers written records of the lives,

insights and actions of Friends throughout our history, describing

their personal experience of the Truth out of which arose the

inspiration for their witness in the world. Such writings do not

stipulate what we must believe or how we are obliged to behave.

Rather, they are a gift of “patterns and examples,” as George Fox

charged all Friends to be. They demonstrate convincingly that

real men and women, like us, have opened themselves to the

Spirit of God and have been enabled to carry that holy spirit into

daily life, no matter what situations they found themselves in.

A special feature of Canadian Yearly Meeting sessions has

been the preservation of memorable comments of humour and

wisdom, called Gleanings, heard throughout the week. The name

“gleanings” comes from the practice, in biblical times, of allowing

the people to go into the fields to gather what is left after the

harvest. Some of these Gleanings, including the year in which

they were coined, appear in these pages. Thus we continue to

benefit from the harvests of past years.

 

The time will come for this book to be renewed. It is a

characteristic of Quaker Books of Discipline that they are revised

after a generation or two in order to reflect changed circumstances,

emerging concerns and new glimpses of truth. We

treasure the spiritual insights passed on to us by Friends from

earlier times, but we too must speak to the conditions of our own

times and witness to those who come after us.

 

From its inception, the creation of our own Faith and

Practice book was conceived as a project of the whole Yearly

Meeting. The committee appointed to coordinate the task began

by calling on all Canadian Friends to work, either as a group or

individually, to identify appropriate writings. Whenever the preparation

of a new chapter was undertaken, the request sent to

every Meeting and Worship Group was for members to contribute

extracts from Quaker writings that have been particularly

meaningful and inspiring to them. It is this process of participation

by Friends that, more than geography or history or any other

factor, makes this book distinctively a Canadian Quaker Faith

and Practice: the sense of our Yearly Meeting attempting to

express its deepest life.

 

Chapter One — Experiencing the Spirit: Our Faith

For Friends the wellspring of faith is the search for what George

Fox and early Friends described as the Inner Light, the Seed,

the Truth, the Life, the Power, the Christ within — all leading

to an inner awareness through which they embraced and experienced

the Sacred and were changed by it. Waiting in silence that

brought forth vocal ministry, they discovered a power that challenged

them to find their own faith. Friends have found inspiration

in the Christian message and in the role and significance of Jesus,

but at the heart of this faith is an emphasis on the inward experiential

testimony to a way of life that resists creeds or doctrines,

inspiring Friends to act out their faith in their everyday lives.

 

As George Fox said, “We need no mass to teach us, for the

spirit that gave forth the scripture teacheth us how to pray, sing,

praise, rejoice, honour and worship God, and in what, and how to

walk and to behave ourselves to God and man, and leadeth us into

all truth, in which is our unity; and it is our comforter and guide

and leader, and not men without who say they have not the spirit

and power that the apostles had” (Epistle 171, 1659).

 

For Quakers, the encounter with the Sacred is within, and

the inspiration for that encounter may be found in the Bible, in the

Christian faith, in testimonies of other Friends, through individual

and corporate discernment and through our relationship to other

faith traditions and to the natural world. However, the foundation

experience is that the Truth is reached beyond words, in stillness,

in the hearts of all people who seek God.

 

1.1 – 1.12 Historic Testimonies

 

1.7. George Fox wrote the following message to Friends in

November 1663 during a time of much persecution.

Sing and rejoice, ye Children of the Day and of the Light,

for the Lord is at work in this thick night of Darkness that may be

felt: and Truth doth flourish as the rose, and the lilies do grow

among the thorns, and the plants atop of the hills, and upon them

the lambs do skip and play. And never heed the tempests nor

the storms, floods nor rains, for the Seed Christ is over all and

doth reign.

 

1.13 – 1.44 Spiritual Experiences of Friends

(1.32 Inspiration from the Arts)

(1.37 Inspiration from Science and Nature)

 

1.20. It seems to me that faith is optimism and cheerfulness, the

opposite of despair and giving up. Even in the first half of my life,

which was devoid of any religious practice, I had faith — but didn’t

know it. It was a matter of interpretation of terminology, as well as

curiosity, and I am still seeking.

I think of faith in God as a kind of human version of instinct:

the Light Within, or as Aboriginal people say, “instructions from

the Creator.” Quaker silent worship can reveal this right and natural

part of us, and I am grateful to have experienced its mystery. I

have found, too, that this centering connects me with feelings of

justice and equality I have harboured since childhood but didn’t

know what to do with, and stimulates me to act upon them.

—Edith Miller, 1998

 

1.45 – 1.57 Prayer and Meditation

 

1.53. We must first seek the Light, then follow it…For Friends,

silence is a concept that is at once old and familiar, yet in terms

of practice very new and strange. Talking, imaging, visualizing

obstruct the inner life, and our experiencing it. Silence, not just the

absence of talking, needs cultivating and practice for its creative

use. It is a way to transform existing into full living. And when we

become truly at home with silence, it can be a healing and an interconnecting

arm.

—Canadian Yearly Meeting, 1985

 

1.58 – 1.68 The Inward Teacher: Discernment

 

1.66. It is good to be reminded that even trying to discern works

for us as it brings our spirit closer to God. I don’t think of God as

something with personal attributes, so I don’t feel forgiven by God

when I make mistakes, but I can feel the spirit of God working in

others when they forgive me for making mistakes.

—Lynne Phillips, 2001

 

1.69 – 1.101 Quaker Understanding of Christian Faith

(1.94 Quakers and the Bible)

 

1.90. I am Christian because it makes sense to me. It looks to me

as if the message Jesus brought was that the divine is accessible to

everyone, and that from that dialogue with God flows concern for

the people we live among. When John the Baptist asked Jesus

whether he was “the one who is to come,” Jesus said, “Go and tell

John…the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are

cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the

poor have good news preached to them.” In other words, not theology,

not theories about the Son of God, but: look at what is going

on in our community, and listen to the good news. The good news,

as far as I am concerned, was the same as the good news George

Fox discovered: that there is one, Christ Jesus within, who speaks

if we listen. Except Jesus wouldn’t have called the divine spark

“Christ Jesus,” but “God,” or some Hebrew name for the divine.

But that it is THERE is the good news…

It would be unreasonable for me to expect all persons who

come into attendance or membership with the Religious Society of

Friends (Quakers) to call themselves Christian. I do think it is reasonable

to expect all of us to listen respectfully to one another’s

leadings and insights, which are going to come couched in terms

of the stories and myths which are meaningful to the person

speaking…

I feel hurt if a Friend misunderstands my claiming of

Christianity and thinks I must mean that I am closed to all further

revelation.

—Margaret Slavin Dyment, 1999

 

1.102 – 1.113 Friends and Other Spiritual Traditions

 

1.102. The 12th day of the 6th month [the first day] of the week

being a rainy day we continued in our Tent and here I was led to

think on the nature of the exercise which hath attended me. Love

was the first motion, and then a Concern arose to spend some time

with the Indians, that I might feel and understand their life, and

the Spirit they live in, if haply I might receive some instruction

from them, or they be in any degree helped forward by my following

the Leadings of Truth amongst them, and as it pleased the Lord

to make way for my going at a time when the troubles of war were

increasing, and when by reason of much wet weather travelling

was more difficult than usual at that Season, I looked upon it as a

favourable Opportunity to season my mind, and bring me into a

nearer sympathy with them. And as mine eye was to the great

Father of Mercies, humbly desiring to learn what his will was

concerning me, I was made quiet and content.

—John Woolman, 1763

Chapter Two — Faithful Lives

What constitutes a faithful life? Generations of individual

Friends have manifested their faith in many different

ways and in circumstances both ordinary and extraordinary.

Each of us has particular gifts and insights that will lead us

along diverse paths. Our task is to develop and use the talents we

are given.

 

Some Friends have been called to an active public ministry,

travelling the world to respond to the light in their consciences,

inspired perhaps by the example of Jesus or George Fox or Gandhi

while never feeling their efforts are quite strong enough. Some give

a quieter daily witness to the divine spirit of love and peace within,

touching with blessing the lives of everyone they meet. Each person’s

faithfulness is precious.

 

In the first part of this chapter several writers explain their

understanding of the call to faithful living. In the second, a few

examples from Testimonies and memoirs illustrate the thankfulness

we feel for the grace of God shown in a faithful Friend’s life.

 

The Afterword offers the confident message that, as each of us

responds to the call to be faithful, our own lives become spiritually

deeper and richer.

 

2.1 – 2.5          The Call to Faithful Living

 

2.5. Sometimes we will be faithful. We will find the strength to

do more than we ever thought we could in obedience to a call.

Sometimes we will be unfaithful. We will say “No!” to a clear call,

lacking courage, or will not even hear our call. We will stumble.

That’s how we learn to say, “Oops! That wasn’t right. I/We made a

mistake. Let’s try again.” That’s why we call our process “experiments

with truth.” We have to act with the light we have and see

what happens. We also need to remember that God is merciful,

present with us whether we are faithful or not.

—Jan Hoffman, 1998

 

2.6 – 2.22        Thanksgiving for a Faithful Life

 

In accordance with our Testimony of Simplicity, Friends have always

avoided ostentation at funerals and burials. Instead, from the early

years of the Quaker movement we have recorded our thankfulness for

the Grace of God that we have witnessed in the life of a deceased

Friend by preparing a Testimony. Sometimes, too, an individual

Friend has been prompted to write an appreciation of a Friend’s faithful

service. Such records offer us a wealth of material showing

ordinary Friends living out their faith from day to day.

 

2.15. From the Testimony concerning Nancy Meek Pocock

(1910–1998):

In the late 1960s…[Nancy and Jack Pocock] first opened their

home to draft dodgers and deserters coming to Canada rather than

fighting with the U.S. forces in Vietnam. Nancy and Jack’s commitment

to helping end the war by sheltering many, both from Vietnam

and the U.S., continued throughout the years of the Vietnam War.

There are many Americans and Vietnamese whose first Canadian

home was with Jack, Nancy and Judy.

In February 1975, only months before the end of the Vietnam

War, Nancy suffered a great loss when her husband and partner in

work and in life, Jack Pocock, died. From that day forward, Nancy

devoted her life to helping others. Most important was her work on

behalf of refugees from Latin and Central America and indeed all

over the world. Her home became a beacon and a refuge for many.

Nancy continued this work throughout her life, working for refugees

right up until the end. Even as she lay on a stretcher in the

crowded emergency department, she helped to write a letter seeking

support for the refugee programme.

Nancy Pocock’s name and work are known and remembered

around the world. She was invited to Vietnam on five different

occasions, the first while the war was still on. Today a medical

clinic in Vietnam bears her name, and she was awarded the Medal

of Friendship from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1978.

—Toronto Monthly Meeting, 1998

2.23                          Afterword

 

2.23. To most of us are given some common little jobs every day

of our lives. To a very few comes the call to do something extraordinary,

some great task. The world abounds in men and women

who find happiness and opportunities for self-expression in being

faithful in the humble stations of life which are theirs at a given

time. If we are loyal to the truth as we see it, and respond with our

might in the “common” situations in day-to-day living as we face

them, the glow of the grace of God deepens and nurtures our faculties

for insight and for recognition of the true worth of things and

of [people].

—Ranjit Chetsingh, 1975

Chapter Three — The Meeting Community

 

The Meeting Community is that place where each of us is

supported in the life of the Spirit. More than a place or a

group of people, it is a state of possibility and an experience

of community that underlies our religious life together.

Our community is embodied in the life and witness of

Friends. Our experience of the corporate life of the Meeting

community, sitting together in worship to discern the will of God,

whether in Meeting for Worship or in Meeting for Business, is a

process of being open to the direct guidance of God, aligning ourselves

with Divine Spirit and recognizing our place in the order of

things. This is what sustains us, binds us together. We meet, and

we are a Meeting. Deborah Haight, in her 1987 Sunderland P.

Gardner Lecture, titled Meeting, distinguished two complementary

ways in which Friends use the word “Meeting”:

“The easier half to grasp is the usage of Meeting to

refer to a coming together at a given place and time for

any one of a number of designated purposes: worship,

discipline, business affairs, celebration of marriage,

memorial to the life of one deceased, planning for and

commitment to service by others, and so on. The less

easily recognized, but to my mind the primary usage, is

that of Meeting as a body of people, a community…I

would like to suggest that this sense of Meeting is the

primary continuity that accounts for us being the

Religious Society of Friends for more than three centuries.

I will even suggest that to lose or never to grasp

this sense of Meeting more than anything else jeopardizes

our life today and tomorrow as a religious body.

Let me try a simple differentiation between these

two usages: for the easier we say go to Meeting; for the

other we say we are the Meeting. In the first sense we

assemble and disperse; in the second we live, day in

day out, acknowledged by, known to one another. For

the first usage, we need a calendar, clocks, and maps;

for the second, we need to be named; we need to know

who we are, and whose we are; we need to know by

whom we are gathered.”

 

The extracts in this chapter cover the many aspects of being

a Meeting. Some describe our worship, our decision-making

process, our thoughts on religious education, our care for one

another in a society that has no paid pastors, and the fellowship

that supports us. Others reveal our associations within the whole

family of Friends. Together, the writings show how the inward

journey of an individual relationship with God, leading to the outward

journey of witness to the wider society, is nourished and

strengthened by membership in the Meeting Community.

 

3.1 – 3.14        Worship

 

3.1. A Friends meeting, however silent, is at the very lowest a

witness that worship is something other and deeper than words,

and that it is to the unseen and eternal things that we desire to give

the first place in our lives. And when the meeting, whether silent or

not, is awake, and looking upwards, there is much more in it than

this. In the united stillness of a truly “gathered” meeting there is a

power known only by experience, and mysterious even when most

familiar. There are perhaps few things which more readily flow

“from vessel to vessel” than quietness. The presence of fellow worshippers

in some gently penetrating manner reveals to the

spirit something of the nearness of the Divine Presence…And it is

out of the depths of this stillness that there do arise at times spoken

words which, springing from the very source of prayer, have something

of the power of prayer — something of its quickening and

melting and purifying effect. Such words as these have at least as

much power as silence to gather into stillness.

—Caroline E. Stephen, 1908

 

3.15 – 3.27      Ministry

 

3.17. The Meeting affects the ministry quite as truly as the ministry

affects the Meeting. If those who come together do so in

expectant faith, and in genuine love and sympathy with one

another, striving to put far from them thoughts of criticism and

fault-finding, and praying earnestly that the right persons may be

led to speak and the right messages be given, they will not go away

unhelped. It is in such an atmosphere that the Holy Spirit can work

effectively to bring forth the utterances that are needed, and to

check those that are not required. On the other hand, the spirit of

indifference or of cold and unfriendly criticism injures the whole

life of the Meeting, and we need not wonder if in such an atmosphere

speakers mistake their guidance.

—Discipline, Canada Yearly Meeting (Five Years Meeting), 1932

 

3.28 – 3.38      Living the Spiritual Community

 

3.31. There is an undercurrent of concern for deepening the life of

the Spirit…[W]e realized it must begin with the inner work of each

individual. We must continually pay attention to the Light as it

shows us things inside that do not conform to the Light. We must

then ask God to transform those parts so we are better able to hear

and obey God. As we commit ourselves to this individual process,

we as a group will be enabled to hear and obey God. We cannot

expect the yearly meeting to be a shining example of a faith community

under the direct guidance of the Spirit unless a solid core

of members are seriously engaged in living into the Truth, as we

are challenged to do by our history and faith.

—Marty Grundy, Clerk of Lake Erie Yearly Meeting, 1991

 

3.39 – 3.5        Meeting for Business

 

3.43. We see our meetings for church affairs not as business meetings

preceded by a period of worship, but as “meetings for worship

for business.” Ideally, the sacred and the secular are interwoven

into one piece. Believing that all our business is brought before

God for guidance, we deprecate all that may foster a party spirit

or confrontation. We therefore seek for a spirit of unity in all our

decision making.

—London Yearly Meeting, 1986

 

3.51 – 3.61      Membership

 

3.57. Membership in the Religious Society of Friends is offered to

those who wish to share in the search for divine guidance, according

to the manner of Friends. Meeting in worship, Friends gather

to experience communion with God. Believing that God speaks

directly to each person, worshippers are listeners, ready to receive

God’s message. The call to a vocal ministry may come to any

worshipper. Membership in the Society of Friends includes the

responsibility of attending meetings for worship and for business,

sharing in the religious life of Friends, and in the practical expression

of our religious faith through our care for each other and

service to the wider community.

—New Brunswick Monthly Meeting, 1998

 

3.62 – 3.75      Companions on the Journey

 

3.66. Let us not underestimate our own ability to help each other.

Perhaps we delegate too much of such responsibility to committees

because we fail to see the caring that we ourselves may give.

Care can be very simple and yet be appropriate and valuable.

A smile can take on a meaning far beyond appearances. We

are not always thinking about the other person, but often of how

they might think about us. The little things are an important part

of caring.

—Canadian Yearly Meeting, 1980

 

3.76 – 3.84      Religious Education

 

3.78. “The Spirit of God may emerge from the pages of a book to

take wings in the life of a reader.” I saw these words recently on a

poster, and feel that they express the basic purpose of the library in

a Friends meeting…

Since our unprogrammed meetings do not have teaching

sermons, a heavy responsibility lies with each person to learn on

her own; faith is a maturing process that must go on all of one’s

life. Reading thoughtfully somehow sensitizes a person and broadens

and sharpens his perception and awareness. Good books seem

to hold a mirror up to us, and we see ourselves in reflection in a

different light…

Somehow, in our busy lives we must take time to read and

reflect. So often we feel helpless about situations beyond our

immediate control. But we can become informed about issues, and

by becoming informed we find our concerns are sharpened and we

are made more open to the leadings of the Spirit.

—Arnold Ranneris, 1971

 

3.85 – 3.89      The Family of Friends

 

The Religious Society of Friends often looks upon itself as a family.

A person who becomes a member of a Monthly Meeting thereby

becomes also a member of the Yearly Meeting and the worldwide

Society of Friends. The sense of belonging within the Society is a

treasured heritage.

 

3.89. There have been many unforgettable moments of deeply felt

kinship among the world family of Friends. One such moment

came during a meeting for worship at the [Friends World

Committee for Consultation] Triennial in Oxtapec, Mexico in 1985.

Bolivian Friend, Salome Barteloma, rose and prayed in her native

language, Aymara. Her heartfelt prayer was not translated into

English, as there was only Spanish/English, English/Spanish translation.

When the period of worship had ended, a Korean Friend

was heard to remark, “How is it that a Friend from Bolivia knows

how to speak Korean?”

—Doris Calder, 2000

Chapter Four — Testimony: Faith in Action

Let your lives speak. These challenging words continue to

inspire Friends as they seek, in the twenty-first century, to live

in the Light.

Early Friends experienced a transforming power when they

found their Inward Teacher. Francis Howgill, an early Friend, tells

of the sense of the “Lord of heaven and earth…near at hand…We

came to know a place to stand in and what to wait in, and the Lord

appeared daily to us, to our astonishment, amazement, and great

admiration, insomuch that we often said one unto another with

great joy of heart: ‘What, is the Kingdom of God come to be with

men?’ ”

Friends have always found difficulty with outward forms

and written creeds. The Testimonies of our Religious Society have

played a significant and uniting role in helping Friends experience

the beloved community and a living faith.

In a courtroom a witness testifies to the truth in a given situation.

Friends testify in words and deeds to the Truth to which the

Inward Teacher calls us. Because the inner promptings so often led

Friends to similar actions, these became recognizable behaviours

by which one could identify Friends.

This chapter on Faith in Action refers especially to the

unfolding understanding of Testimonies among Canadian Friends.

The Testimonies of early Friends created a community of faith at a

time of political and religious turmoil. They were able to live their

Testimonies as a people gathered, guided and ordered by God. We

are their heirs. Their faithfulness set a direction and pointed to the

future. As Canadian Friends we are seeking to learn more of what

is required of us in our own days. We seek to be led by the same

Inward Teacher and to be guided,

 

4.1 – 4.11        Quaker Understanding of Testimony

 

4.9. …[S]tart from the premise that to remain silent on crucial

issues is to make a conscious decision. It is therefore pointless to

remain silent in order to avoid accountability. We will be held

responsible for our silence, as well as for our activities; just as the

university teachers of the Germany of my childhood were held

responsible — morally and fraternally — for their silence and their

collaboration with an evil system. We need to think clearly and to

speak out together with insights coming from the collective knowledge,

experience, and conviction of our community.

—Ursula Franklin, 2000

 

 

4.12 – 4.17      Integrity

 

4.17. We know truth through what we see, read, do and feel ourselves.

We dare etching our testimonies every time we state what

we deeply believe and do what our soul calls us to do. We learn

from the past but live in the present looking to a future for all creation.

We need to affirm our own place in history-in-the-making by

living and speaking our truths for ourselves and our children…

By taking up the call of our spirit and living life with passion

and conviction, we feel the heat of truth and rightness in our heart

of hearts. Here, in our stirrings of gut knowledge and intuition, we

find our passionate calling to certain beliefs, our lovers, our place

in this chaotic world, answers (or solace) for the questions that

confront us. Each of us feels the passion called truth. It’s our choice

to listen and act or not. The truth in our bones can be scary; it asks

us to put our hearts on the line. In following our hearts, however,

we will find ourselves in exquisite alignment with the power-filled

spirit that we seek truth from.

—Jane Orion Smith, 1994

 

4.18 – 4.36      Peace

 

The Peace Testimony is probably the best known of the Quaker

Testimonies. The roots lie in the personal experience of the love and

power of Christ which marked the founders of the Quaker movement.

The early statements of the Society’s corporate witness set the

basic principles of the Peace Testimony and served to distinguish

Quakers from those suspected of plotting to overthrow the established

authorities.

 

4.27. Inspired by the Sunderland P. Gardner Lecture presented by

Murray Thomson in 2006, Canadian Yearly Meeting in session

approved the statement, “Toward a Culture of Peace,” which includes

these prophetic words.

As a Society, we have refused to condone or participate in

war. As a result of our witness and that of other historic peace

churches, the right of conscientious objection to war has become a

right of all Canadian citizens.

Seventy-five years ago, the work of Friends on issues of

peace, social justice and humanitarian relief led to the formation

of the Canadian Friends Service Committee. Since its founding

this service arm of Friends in Canada has extended its concerns to

include solidarity with aboriginal peoples, support for refugees,

international concerns of development and peace and abolition of

the death penalty.

Since the end of World War II, Canadians have made longlasting

contributions toward building a global culture of peace.

Canada helped to construct and put into place many agencies of

the United Nations, including its major programmes for disarmament,

development and human rights. Our country contributed to

strengthening institutions of international law. And, until recently,

Canadians led and participated in almost all of the united peacekeeping

missions. Canada has also been a haven for immigrants

and refugees.

To our dismay, we witness a change in our country’s moral

compass, one that points away from a culture of peace toward a

culture of war…

The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) calls on our

government and fellow citizens to turn away from a culture of war

toward a culture of peace.

We call on our government to redirect vision and resources

into an ecologically sustainable planet Earth…

We are part of a great chain of people who care about the

Earth. Let us work to protect and restore it again to health…

And in such ways we Friends will be faithful to our 350 year

tradition. In the words of William Penn, seventeenth century

Quaker, “Let us try, then, and see what love can do.”

 

4.37 – 4.44      Simplicity

 

4.44. If we can attain it, how does simplicity shape our lives?

Needing little, keeping away from extremes, excess, brings another

kind of contentment, a simpler wealth. Simplicity is the essence of

stillness, an untroubled way that keeps from grasping, hoarding.

Simplicity lies at the heart of the Quaker way of life. Keeping to

simplicity is to realize that it is the Light within that leads us,

restrains us, inspires us. Knowing this Divine Light is within, we

are all children of the Light, all equal. Keeping to the contentment

of simplicity leads to peace. Following the plain truth leads to

integrity. So all the testimonies are reflected in simplicity. Need

little. Want less. It seems a difficult concept in the frantic haste of

the world today. We are surrounded on all sides by voices crying

their bad advice to buy (save), conform without question, voices

that condone greed and excess. It seems hard going against all the

pressures that urge us away. Yet keeping to simplicity is turning

back to God, is a relief, is the only thing we can really do…Early

Friends testified against the extravagance and snobbery of English

society in their times and turned away from the superfluities of

society to wait in stillness on God. They were as concerned as we

are that lives too full of triviality and mediocrity overburden and

distract us from the essential, the positive, the simple truth that we

are children of God, and that the first thing we have to do is love

God with all our heart and mind and strength.

—Anne-Marie Zilliacus, 2001

 

4.45 – 4.52      Equality

 

4.48. Those that speak against the power of the Lord, and the

Spirit of the Lord speaking in a woman, simply by reason of her

sex or because she is a woman, not regarding the Seed and the

Spirit and Power that speaks in her, such speak against Christ and

his Church.

—Margaret Fell, 1666

 

4.53 – 4.67      Justice

4.55        Solidarity with Aboriginal Peoples

4.58        Human rights

4.62        Transformative Justice

 

4.64. In the small room where I meet inmates face to face one

afternoon each week, the Spirit is constantly challenging me to

leave behind the perceptions and apprehensions that I carry about

with me on the outside.

The walls of the prison are constantly dissolving as relationships

are formed out of little more than the mutual presence of two

individuals who are open to the mediation of an Eternal Listener,

if only for a short time.

The spiritual life is a matter of being present in everything

we do, with everyone we encounter. This is hard enough to maintain

on a day-to-day basis. But in prisons, which stand among the

darkest shadows of our human society, the sense of the divine presence

is particularly wonderful when it breaks through.

—Keith Maddock, 1999

 

4.68 – 4.79      Unity with Creation

 

4.77. We affirm the interrelatedness of nature, spirit and all living

beings as expressions of God’s creation. This guides us towards a

holistic lifestyle which models for ourselves and others ways to heal

the earth. We are responsible for what we eat, wear and use. To

paraphrase John Woolman: Let us be open to discern how the seeds

of destruction of our planet are present in our ways of living.

We are thankful that so much joy and beauty have been

offered to us.

—Canadian Yearly Meeting, 1992

Chapter Five — The Lifelong Journey

One of the miracles of human life is that we remain the same

person even while moving from infancy, through childhood

and adolescence, into the fullness of adulthood in all its

manifestations. Awareness of God’s presence comes to us in different

ways at different times. Each stage of life offers opportunities

for growth in experiencing the Spirit.

 

5.1- 5.24          Childhood and Youth

 

5.15. Interaction between adults and youth is very important for

understanding each other. But we obviously don’t do enough of

this, if you look at how intimidated the groups are by one another.

The question is how we create situations that older and younger

people can be together in.

I have had the luxury of always having older Friends and

role models whom I feel comfortable with, and I’m sure they feel

comfortable with me. But through them, I have found out that I

am, in some circumstances, the only teenager they can relate to in

the way they do. After hearing this shocking news, I started watching

my age group from as much of an adult point of view as I

could. I realized how right my adult friends were in saying that

teenagers are intimidating. I suppose I was a little horrified to

figure this out, as I have always loved any time I get to spend with

older (and wiser?) people, and wanted to know why other kids my

age didn’t seem to. I then stepped back and looked at the adults’

actions towards us. And what did I find? They were just as

intimidating…

So what am I saying? Get out there and learn about each

other!

—Beth Curry, 1999

 

5.25 – 5.28      The Journey Continues

 

5.26. Early Friends committed themselves to living fully in the

Kingdom of God, in gospel order. This concept of gospel order is

described by Lloyd Lee Wilson as “the right relationship of every

part of creation, however small, to every other part and to the

Creator…As one comes more closely into harmony with the gospel

order, one’s life is filled more and more with the peace that passes

understanding, and one’s relationships reflect this peace and harmony.

Relationships outside the gospel order, in contrast, are full

of tension and conflict, and lead not to greater peace but greater

anxiety and clash.” (The Quaker Vision of Gospel Order)

In this one can see that greater commitment to God, and to

gospel order, leads to strengthened relationships of all sorts and to

integrity in the way we lead our lives — which are in relationship

with many. But still, the primary relationship is with God. It is a

commitment of absolute trust that God is able to support and love

us on our difficult path.

—Anne-Marie Zilliacus, 1999

 

5.29- 5.31        Work and Career

 

5.31. I married and had three children, and then I realized how

imperative it was that my childhood convincement that war or any

violence was wrong had to be visible in everything I did. It wasn’t a

sudden turning on of a lamp in my head; rather it was a deeply

centred awareness of a responsibility I must carry and reflect in all

I did. So our home became weapons-toy-free from the start. That

wasn’t easy in a neighbourhood that was heavily led by consumerism,

where Johnny 7 guns were the hot item on the street. My

children remark today on the feelings they have of wonder that

they were never spanked, as their friends so frequently were.

My verbal arsenal of words that can hurt had to be kept in check.

I became a freelance writer, and for 25 years wrote scripts

for…children’s TV… The thing I remember most about that time

was that every time I started to write, I closed my eyes and imagined

children in all places of Canada, in all conditions of living.

From slum ghetto to affluent suburb; from far northern habitation

to life on a boathouse; in Chinatown or in a Ukrainian prairie town

or on a reservation. All of them had to be reached in my one script,

and my message must be one of loving life in all its wonders and

challenges.

—Joy Newall, 1997

 

5.32 – 5.33      Sexuality

 

5.32. By fostering healthy sexuality in adults and children and by

recognizing our individual responsibility for our own actions, we

better understand ourselves as loving spiritual beings. God calls us

to a wide range of dynamic relationships, many of which are passionate

and loving. Only some will be rightly ordered as sexual.

Sexuality is an embodied part of our spirituality, and so is sacred.

Sexual love can be one of the most life-giving paths we will explore

and has rich and varied forms of expression. Growing into a full

and healthy sexuality, from childhood through adulthood, requires

careful nurture and boundaries. The decision to enter into a sexual

relationship calls for maturity, spiritually grounded discernment,

truthfulness, mutuality, care and respect, and a shared understanding

of commitment.

—Discipline Review Committee draft report on

“Fostering Healthy Sexuality,” 2003

 

5.34 – 5.42      Marriage and Committed Relationships

 

5.39. In a Quaker Meeting, couples whose marriages have been

approved by a local Meeting marry each other in the presence of

the community without officiating clergy. Our usual practice is

only to approve the marriage of those couples where at least one of

the partners has membership in our Religious Society.

Whether or not to support same-sex marriages is decided at

the local Meeting level. Some Meetings have chosen to recognize

marriage as open to both opposite and same-sex couples, and

several have taken same-sex marriages under their care, even when

these relationships were not recognized in law as marriages.

Our experiences and discernment on this issue have been

partly shaped by the presence in our community of wonderful,

loving, committed same-sex relationships.

We have experience of couples in same-sex relationships

that are bringing up children in the same loving way we would

expect any family we know to do. “Love makes a family.” We

strongly object to statements by some religious groups that it is

harmful to children to be brought up in same-sex families.

Whether a family is a loving and supportive place, or is a harmful

place to bring up children, does not depend upon the gender of

the parents.

We support the right of religious groups (including individual

Quaker Meetings) and clergy, to consent to or to refuse to

perform same-sex marriages. We also support the right of same sex

couples to a civil marriage and the extension of the legal

definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.

—Canadian Yearly Meeting, 2003

 

5.43 – 5.50      Family Life

 

5.50. As the boy or girl grows towards adolescence, parents often

have to stand back, for other people can frequently give better help

at this stage. If the parents’ way of life continues to make them

acceptable partners in adventures of the spirit, and if they are

willing to be called upon when needed, they still have opportunities

to help the adolescent, but these opportunities come only now and

then in actual words. The parents, however, must hold firmly to

their own religious faith and principles, and can help the adolescent

best by doing so. Trust, a sense of humour, a ready forgiveness, and

the ability to “speak the truth in love” are other elements of the good

home background for this age. Parents, too, should be ready to

share experiences they have found precious — not only specifically

religious but experiences of people, art, music, poetry and nature.

—Friends Education Council, 1952

 

5.51 – 5.56      Friendships and Close Relationships

 

5.56. The amount of solitude which is attainable or would be

wholesome in the case of any individual life is a matter which each

of us must judge for himself…A due proportion of solitude is one

of the most important conditions of mental health. Therefore if it

be our lot to stand apart from those close natural ties by which life

is for most people shaped and filled, let us not be in haste to fill the

gap; let us not carelessly or rashly throw away the opportunity of

entering into that deeper and more continual acquaintance with

the unseen and eternal things which is the natural and great

compensation for the loss of easier joys. The loneliness which we

rightly dread is not the absence of human faces and voices — it is

the absence of love…Our wisdom therefore must lie in learning

not to shrink from anything that may lie in store for us, but so to

grasp the master key of life as to be able to turn everything to good

and fruitful account.

—Caroline E. Stephen, 1908

 

5.57 – 5.70      The Later years

 

5.62. I am convinced it is a great art to know how to grow old

gracefully, and I am determined to practice it…I always thought I

should love to grow old, and I find it even more delightful than I

thought. It is so delicious to be done with things, and to feel no

need any longer to concern myself much about earthly affairs…I

am tremendously content to let one activity after another go, and

to await quietly and happily the opening of the door at the end of

the passage way, that will let me in to my real abiding place.

—Hannah Whitall Smith, 1903

 

5.71 – 5.85      Death and Dying.

 

5.84. And this is the comfort of the good, that the grave cannot

hold them, and that they live as soon as they die. For death is no

more than a turning of us over from time to eternity. Death, then,

being the way and condition of life, we cannot love to live if we

cannot bear to die.

They that love beyond the world cannot be separated by it.

Death cannot kill what never dies. Nor can spirits ever be divided

that love and live in the same Divine Principle, the root and record

of their friendship. If absence be not death, neither is theirs.

Death is but crossing the world, as Friends do the seas; they

live in one another still. For they must needs be present, that love

and live in that which is omnipresent. In this divine glass, they see

face to face.

This is the comfort of Friends, that though they may be said

to die, yet their friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever

present, because immortal.

—William Penn, 1693

Chapter Six — Advices and Queries/Conseils et Questions

Chapter Six — Advices and Queries/Conseils et Questions

Introduction

 

As Friends we commit ourselves to a way of worship which

allows God to teach and transform us. We have found corporately

that the Spirit, if rightly followed, will lead us into

truth, unity and love: all our testimonies grow from this leading.

Although the corporate use of advices and queries is

governed by more flexible regulations than in the past, they should

continue to be a challenge and inspiration to Friends in their

personal lives and in their life as a religious community which

knows the guidance of the universal spirit of Christ, witnessed to

in the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

Advices and queries are not a call to increased activity by

each individual Friend but a reminder of the insights of the Society.

Within the community there is a diversity of gifts. We are all therefore

asked to consider how far the advices and queries affect us

personally and where our own service lies. There will also be diversity

of experience, of belief and of language. Friends maintain that

expressions of faith must be related to personal experience. Some

find traditional Christian language full of meaning; some do not.

Our understanding of our own religious tradition may sometimes

be enhanced by insights of other faiths. The deeper realities of our

faith are beyond precise verbal formulation and our way of worship

based on silent waiting testifies to this.

Our diversity invites us both to speak what we know to be

true in our lives and to learn from others. Friends are encouraged

to listen to each other in humility and understanding, trusting in

the Spirit that goes beyond our human effort and comprehension.

So it is for the comfort and discomfort of Friends that these advices

and queries are offered, with the hope that we may all be more

faithful and find deeper joy in God’s service.

 

Advices and Queries

 

1. Take heed, dear Friends, to the promptings of love and truth in

your hearts. Trust them as the leadings of God whose Light

shows us our darkness and brings us to new life.

2. Bring the whole of your life under the ordering of the spirit of

Christ. Are you open to the healing power of God’s love? Cherish

that of God within you, so that this love may grow in you and

guide you. Let your worship and your daily life enrich each

other. Treasure your experience of God, however it comes to

you. Remember that Christianity is not a notion but a way.

3. Do you try to set aside times of quiet for openness to the Holy

Spirit? All of us need to find a way into silence which allows us

to deepen our awareness of the divine and to find the inward

source of our strength. Seek to know an inward stillness, even

amid the activities of daily life. Do you encourage in yourself

and in others a habit of dependence on God’s guidance for each

day? Hold yourself and others in the Light, knowing that all are

cherished by God.

4. The Religious Society of Friends is rooted in Christianity and

has always found inspiration in the life and teachings of Jesus.

How do you interpret your faith in the light of this heritage?

How does Jesus speak to you today? Are you following Jesus’

example of love in action? Are you learning from his life the

reality and cost of obedience to God? How does his relationship

with God challenge and inspire you?

5. Take time to learn about other people’s experiences of the Light.

Remember the importance of the Bible, the writings of Friends

and all writings which reveal the ways of God. As you learn

from others, can you in turn give freely from what you have

gained? While respecting the experiences and opinions of

others, do not be afraid to say what you have found and what

you value. Appreciate that doubt and questioning can also lead

to spiritual growth and to a greater awareness of the Light that

is in us all.

6. Do you work gladly with other religious groups in the pursuit of

common goals? While remaining faithful to Quaker insights,

try to enter imaginatively into the life and witness of other communities

of faith, creating together the bonds of friendship.

7. Be aware of the spirit of God at work in the ordinary activities

and experiences of your daily life. Spiritual learning continues

throughout life, and often in unexpected ways. There is inspiration

to be found all around us, in the natural world, in the

sciences and arts, in our work and friendships, in our sorrows

as well as in our joys. Are you open to new light, from whatever

source it may come? Do you approach new ideas with

discernment?

8. Worship is our response to an awareness of God. We can worship

alone, but when we join with others in expectant waiting

we may discover a deeper sense of God’s presence. We seek a

gathered stillness in our meetings for worship so that all may

feel the power of God’s love drawing us together and leading us.

9. In worship we enter with reverence into communion with God

and respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Come to meeting

for worship with heart and mind prepared. Yield yourself

and all your outward concerns to God’s guidance so that you

may find “the evil weakening in you and the good raised up.”

10. Come regularly to meeting for worship even when you are

angry, depressed, tired or spiritually cold. In the silence ask

for and accept the prayerful support of others joined with you

in worship. Try to find a spiritual wholeness which encompasses

suffering as well as thankfulness and joy. Prayer,

springing from a deep place in the heart, may bring healing

and unity as nothing else can. Let meeting for worship nourish

your whole life.

11. Be honest with yourself. What unpalatable truths might you be

evading? When you recognize your shortcomings, do not let that

discourage you. In worship together we can find the assurance

of God’s love and the strength to go on with renewed courage.

12. When you are preoccupied and distracted in meeting let wayward

and disturbing thoughts give way quietly to your awareness

of God’s presence among us and in the world. Receive the vocal

ministry of others in a tender and creative spirit. Reach for the

meaning deep within it, recognizing that even if it is not God’s

word for you, it may be so for others. Remember that we all

share responsibility for the meeting for worship whether our

ministry is in silence or through the spoken word.

13. Do not assume that vocal ministry is never to be your part.

Faithfulness and sincerity in speaking, even very briefly, may

open the way to fuller ministry from others. When prompted to

speak, wait patiently to know that the leading and the time are

right, but do not let a sense of your own unworthiness hold you

back. Pray that your ministry may arise from deep experience,

and trust that words will be given to you. Try to speak audibly

and distinctly, and with sensitivity to the needs of others. Beware

of speaking predictably or too often, and of making additions

towards the end of a meeting when it was well left before.

14. 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.

15. Do you take part as often as you can in meetings for church

affairs? Are you familiar enough with our church government

to contribute to its disciplined processes? Do you consider difficult

questions with an informed mind as well as a generous

and loving spirit? Are you prepared to let your insights and personal

wishes take their place alongside those of others or be set

aside as the meeting seeks the right way forward? If you cannot

attend, uphold the meeting prayerfully.

16. Do you welcome the diversity of culture, language and expressions

of faith in our yearly meeting and in the world community

of Friends? Seek to increase your understanding and to gain

from this rich heritage and wide range of spiritual insights.

Uphold your own and other yearly meetings in your prayers.

17. Do you respect that of God in everyone though it may be

expressed in unfamiliar ways or be difficult to discern? Each of

us has a particular experience of God and each must find the

way to be true to it. When words are strange or disturbing to

you, try to sense where they come from and what has nourished

the lives of others. Listen patiently and seek the truth which

other people’s opinions may contain for you. Avoid hurtful criticism

and provocative language. Do not allow the strength of

your convictions to betray you into making statements or allegations

that are unfair or untrue. Think it possible that you may

be mistaken.

18. How can we make the meeting a community in which each

person is accepted and nurtured, and strangers are welcome?

Seek to know one another in the things which are eternal, bear

the burden of each other’s failings and pray for one another.

As we enter with tender sympathy into the joys and sorrows of

each other’s lives, ready to give help and to receive it, our meeting

can be a channel for God’s love and forgiveness.

19. Rejoice in the presence of children and young people in your

meeting and recognize the gifts they bring. Remember that the

meeting as a whole shares a responsibility for every child in its

care. Seek for them as for yourself a full development of God’s

gifts and the abundant life Jesus tells us can be ours. How do you

share your deepest beliefs with them, while leaving them free to

develop as the spirit of God may lead them? Do you invite them

to share their insights with you? Are you ready both to learn

from them and to accept your responsibilities towards them?

20. Do you give sufficient time to sharing with others in the

meeting, both newcomers and long-time members, your understanding

of worship, of service, and of commitment to the

Society’s witness? Do you give a right proportion of your money

to support Quaker work?

21. Do you cherish your friendships, so that they grow in depth and

understanding and mutual respect? In close relationships we

may risk pain as well as finding joy. When experiencing great

happiness or great hurt we may be more open to the working of

the Spirit.

22. Respect the wide diversity among us in our lives and relationships.

Refrain from making prejudiced judgments about the life

journeys of others. Do you foster the spirit of mutual understanding

and forgiveness which our discipleship asks of us? Remember

that each one of us is unique, precious, a child of God.

23. Marriage has always been regarded by Friends as a religious

commitment rather than a merely civil contract. Both partners

should offer with God’s help an intention to cherish one another

for life. Remember that happiness depends on an understanding

and steadfast love on both sides. In times of difficulty

remind yourself of the value of prayer, of perseverance and of a

sense of humour.

24. Children and young people need love and stability. Are we doing

all we can to uphold and sustain parents and others who carry

the responsibility for providing this care?

25. A long-term relationship brings tensions as well as fulfillment.

If your relationship with your partner is under strain, seek help

in understanding the other’s point of view and in exploring your

own feelings, which may be powerful and destructive. Consider

the wishes and feelings of any children involved, and remember

their enduring need for love and security. Seek God’s guidance.

If you undergo the distress of separation or divorce, try to maintain

some compassionate communication so that arrangements

can be made with the minimum of bitterness.

26. Do you recognize the needs and gifts of each member of your

family and household, not forgetting your own? Try to make

your home a place of loving friendship and enjoyment, where

all who live or visit may find the peace and refreshment of

God’s presence.

27. Live adventurously. When choices arise, do you take the

way that offers the fullest opportunity for the use of your gifts

in the service of God and the community? Let your life speak.

When decisions have to be made, are you ready to join with

others in seeking clearness, asking for God’s guidance and offering

counsel to one another?

28. Every stage of our lives offers fresh opportunities. Responding

to divine guidance, try to discern the right time to undertake or

relinquish responsibilities without undue pride or guilt. Attend

to what love requires of you, which may not be great busyness.

29. Approach old age with courage and hope. As far as possible,

make arrangements for your care in good time, so that an

undue burden does not fall on others. Although old age may

bring increasing disability and loneliness, it can also bring

serenity, detachment and wisdom. Pray that in your final years

you may be enabled to find new ways of receiving and reflecting

God’s love.

30. Are you able to contemplate your death and the death of those

closest to you? Accepting the fact of death, we are freed to live

more fully. In bereavement give yourself time to grieve. When

others mourn, let your love embrace them.

31. We are called to live “in the virtue of that life and power that

takes away the occasion of all wars.” Do you faithfully maintain

our testimony that war and the preparation for war are

inconsistent with the spirit of Christ? Search out whatever in

your own way of life may contain the seeds of war. Stand firm

in our testimony, even when others commit or prepare to commit

acts of violence, yet always remember that they too are

children of God.

32. Bring into God’s light those emotions, attitudes and prejudices

in yourself which lie at the root of destructive conflict, acknowledging

your need for forgiveness and grace. In what ways are

you involved in the work of reconciliation between individuals,

groups and nations?

33. Are you alert to practices here and throughout the world which

discriminate against people on the basis of who or what they

are or because of their beliefs? Bear witness to the humanity of

all people, including those who break society’s conventions or

its laws. Try to discern new growing points in social and economic

life. Seek to understand the causes of injustice, social

unrest and fear. Are you working to bring about a just and compassionate

society which allows everyone to develop their

capacities and fosters the desire to serve?

34. Remember your responsibilities as a citizen for the conduct of

local, national and international affairs. Do not shrink from the

time and effort your involvement may demand.

35. Respect the laws of the state but let your first loyalty be to

God’s purposes. If you feel impelled by strong conviction to

break the law, search your conscience deeply. Ask your meeting

for the prayerful support which will give you strength as a right

way becomes clear.

36. Do you uphold those who are acting under concern, even if

their way is not yours? Can you lay aside your own wishes and

prejudices while seeking with others to find God’s will for them?

37. Are you honest and truthful in all you say and do? Do you

maintain strict integrity in business transactions and in your

dealings with individuals and organizations? Do you use

money and information entrusted to you with discretion and

responsibility? Taking oaths implies a double standard of truth;

in choosing to affirm instead, be aware of the claim to integrity

that you are making.

38. If pressure is brought upon you to lower your standard of integrity,

are you prepared to resist it? Our responsibilities to God

and our neighbour may involve us in taking unpopular stands.

Do not let the desire to be sociable, or the fear of seeming peculiar,

determine your decisions.

39. Consider which of the ways to happiness offered by society

are truly fulfilling and which are potentially corrupting

and destructive. Be discriminating when choosing means of

entertainment and information. Resist the desire to acquire

possessions or income through unethical investment, speculation

or games of chance.

40. In view of the harm done by the use of alcohol, tobacco and

other habit-forming drugs, consider whether you should limit

your use of them or refrain from using them altogether.

Remember that any use of alcohol or drugs may impair judgment

and put both the user and others in danger.

41. Try to live simply. A simple lifestyle freely chosen is a source of

strength. Do not be persuaded into buying what you do not

need or cannot afford. Do you keep yourself informed about the

effects your style of living is having on the global economy and

environment?

42. We do not own the world, and its riches are not ours to dispose

of at will. Show a loving consideration for all creatures, and

seek to maintain the beauty and variety of the world. Work to

ensure that our increasing power over nature is used responsibly,

with reverence for life. Rejoice in the splendour of God’s

continuing creation.

 

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

Conseils et Questions

(traduit du texte anglais, Groupe Languedocien de l’Assemblée de France)

1. Soyez attentifs, chers Amis, aux inspirations d’amour et de vérité dans vos

coeurs, car ils viennent de l’Esprit. Ayez confiance, car elles nous amènent

dans la Lumière qui nous montre nos obscurités et nous conduit à une

nouvelle vie.

2. A mène la totalité de ta vie sous la direction de l’Esprit de Jésus. Es-tu

ouvert à la puissance guérisseuse de l’amour? Chéris le divin en toi, que

cet amour puisse grandir et te guider. Prends comme trésor ton expérience

du divin, quelque soit sa façon de t’aborder. Rappelle-toi que notre foi

n’est pas une notion, mais une voie.

3. Essaies-tu de réserver des périodes de tranquillité durant lesquelles tu

peux t’ouvrir à l’Esprit divin? Nous avons tous besoin de trouver notre

façon de rentrer dans le silence qui nous permet d’approfondir notre conscience

du divin et de trouver la source intérieure de notre force. Cherche

à connaître une tranquillité intérieure, même dans les activités de la vie

quotidienne. Encourages-tu les autres et toi-même à chercher chaque jour

la direction divine? Tiens-toi et tiens les autres dans la Lumière, sachant

que tous sont chers à l’Esprit.

4. L a Société religieuse des Amis a ses racines dans la chrétienté et a

toujours trouvé de l’inspiration dans la vie et les enseignements de Jésus.

Comment interprètes-tu ta foi dans la lumière de cet héritage? Comment

Jésus te parle-t-il aujourd’hui? Suis-tu son exemple de l’amour en action?

Apprends-tu, en regardant sa vie la réalité et le coût de l’obéissance

à l’Esprit? Comment t’inspire sa relation avec Dieu? Quel défi cela

représente-elle pour toi?

5. P rends la peine d’apprendre en observant la vie des autres, et leur expérience

de la Lumière. Rappelle-toi de l’importance de la Bible, des écrits des

Amis et de toute écriture qui révèle les chemins de l’Esprit. Tandis que tu

apprends, est-ce que tu peux à ton tour donner librement de ce que tu as

reçu? Tout en respectant les expériences et les opinions des autres, n’aie pas

peur de dire ce que tu as trouvé et les valeurs auxquelles tu tiens. Sois conscient

que le doute et les questions peuvent mener à la croissance spirituelle

et à une conscience plus grande de la Lumière qui est en chacun de nous.

6. Travailles-tu joyeusement avec d’autres groupes religieux à la recherche de

buts communs? Tout en restant fidèle aux intuitions quakers, essaie de

rentrer avec imagination dans la vie et le témoignage des autres communautés

religieuses, créant ensemble des liens d’amitié.

7. Sois conscient de l’Esprit à l’oeuvre dans les activités et les expériences

ordinaires de ta vie quotidienne. L’apprentissage spirituel continue tout au

long de la vie, et souvent de façons inattendues. De l’inspiration se trouve

tout autour de nous, dans la nature, les sciences, les arts, et dans notre

travail et nos amitiés; dans nos chagrins aussi bien que dans nos joies.

Es-tu ouvert à une lumière nouvelle, quelque soit la source d’où elle vient?

T’approches-tu avec discernement des idées nouvelles?

8. D ans le culte nous répondons à notre conscience du divin. On peut y

répondre en étant seul, mais en se réunissant avec d’autres dans une

attente silencieuse nous pourrions découvrir un sens approfondi de la

présence divine. Dans nos cultes nous cherchons une pleine participation

au silence afin que tous puissent sentir la puissance de l’amour divin qui

nous rassemble et qui nous guide.

9. D urant ces réunions de recueillement, nous entrons avec respect en communion

avec le divin et nous nous efforçons de répondre aux inspirations

de l’Esprit. Viens au culte le coeur et l’esprit préparés. Remets-toi et toutes

tes préoccupations dans la Lumière et sous la direction du divin, afin que

tu puisses trouver « le mal en toi s’affaiblir et le bien croître ». (Barclay)

10. Viens régulièrement au culte, même quand tu es triste, déprimé ou froid

spirituellement. Dans le silence demande et accepte avec joie le soutien

des autres qui t’entourent au culte. Cherche à trouver une intégrité

spirituelle dans laquelle peuvent être incluses souffrance aussi bien que

joie et reconnaissance. La prière venant des profondeurs du coeur peut,

comme rien d’autre, apporter la guérison et l’unité. Laisse nourrir toute ta

vie par le recueillement.

11. Sois honnête envers toi-même. Quelles réalités inconfortables éludes-tu?

Quand tu reconnais tes erreurs, ne te laisse pas décourager. Au culte

ensemble nous pouvons trouver l’assurance de l’amour divin et la force

d’avancer avec un courage renouvelé.

12. Quand tu es préoccupé et distrait pendant le recueillement, laisse les

pensées égarées et perturbatrices céder silencieusement à la conscience

de la présence divine parmi nous et dans le monde. Reçois avec douceur

et un esprit créatif le ministère vocal des autres. Cherche sa signification

dans ses profondeurs, reconnaissant que, même si ce n’est pas un

message divin pour toi, il peut l’être pour d’autres. Rappelle-toi que nous

partageons tous la responsabilité pour le culte, que notre ministère soit

par le silence ou la parole.

13. N e présume pas que tu n’auras jamais à faire un ministère vocal. Fidélité

et sincérité de parole, aussi brève qu’elle soit, peut ouvrir une voie pour

un autre ministère plus ample par d’autres. Quand tu te sens poussé à

parler, attends pour être sûr que l’inspiration et le moment soient justes,

mais ne te laisse pas retenir par ta peur de ne pas être digne. Prie pour que

ton ministère émerge d’une expérience profonde, aie confiance que des

paroles te seront données. Parle clairement pour être entendu par tous,

restant sensible aux besoins auditifs des autres. Évite de parler de façon

prévisible ou de parler trop souvent, d’entrer en discussion, ou d’ajouter

quelques paroles vers la fin du culte, quand il aurait mieux valu s’abstenir.

14. Est-ce que vos réunions de culte pour les affaires du groupe sont tenues

dans un même esprit de culte et en se remettant à la volonté divine?

Rappelez-vous que nous ne cherchons ni une décision majoritaire, ni même

un consensus. Notre expérience est que, lorsque nous attendons patiemment

la direction divine, la voie s’ouvre et nous sommes guidés vers l’unité.

15. P rends-tu part, aussi souvent qu’il t’est possible, aux réunions de culte

pour les affaires? Abordes-tu les questions difficiles avec un esprit informé,

de même qu’avec un coeur généreux et aimant? Acceptes-tu que tes

intuitions et désirs personnels soient mis parmi ceux des autres et même

mis de côté pour que l’assemblée cherche la bonne voie? Si tu ne peux pas

être présent, soutiens l’assemblée par la prière.

16. Te réjouis-tu de la diversité de culture, langage et expression de foi dans

notre Assemblée Annuelle et dans la communauté mondiale de la Société

religieuse des Amis? Cherche à augmenter ta compréhension et à accueillir

ce riche héritage et cette variété d’inspirations spirituelles. Soutiens ton

Assemblée Annuelle et toutes les autres par la prière.

17. Respectes-tu le divin en chacun, même s’il s’exprime de façons qui ne te

sont pas familières ou qui te sont difficiles à discerner? Nous avons chacun

une expérience particulière du divin et devons chacun trouver comment y

être fidèle. Quand des paroles te semblent étranges ou incongrues, essaie

de sentir d’où elle viennent, et ce qui a pu nourrir la vie des autres. Écoute

avec patience et cherche la vérité que peuvent contenir pour toi les

opinions des autres. Évite de faire des critiques blessantes et d’utiliser un

langage provocateur. Ne laisse pas la force de tes convictions te trahir et

faire ainsi des déclarations injustes ou fausses. « Pense qu’il est possible

que tu te trompes ».

18. Comment pouvons-nous faire de notre assemblée une communauté où

chacun est accepté et nourri, où les étrangers sont accueillis? Cherchons

à nous connaître dans les choses qui sont éternelles, portons le fardeau de

nos faiblesses mutuelles et prions les uns pour les autres. Lorsque nous

partageons les joies et les peines des autres, prêts à offrir et à recevoir de

l’aide, notre assemblée peut être un canal pour l’amour et le pardon divin.

19. Réjouis-toi de la présence des enfants et des jeunes dans ton assemblée et

reconnais les richesses qu’ils apportent. Rappelle-toi que l’assemblée

entière partage la responsabilité pour chaque enfant sous ses soins.

Cherche pour eux comme pour toi-même un plein développement des

dons du divin et la vie abondante dont Jésus nous a parlé. Comment

partages-tu avec eux tes convictions les plus profondes, tout en les

laissant libres d’évoluer selon la direction de l’esprit divin? Les invites-tu

à partager leurs sentiments? Es-tu prêt à la fois à écouter, à apprendre et

à accepter ta responsabilité envers eux?

20. Consacres-tu assez de temps pour partager avec les autres dans l’assemblée,

aussi bien les nouveaux que les anciens, ta compréhension du culte, du

service, et de l’engagement aux témoignages de la Société? Donnes-tu une

proportion adéquate de ton argent pour soutenir l’oeuvre quaker?

21. Fais-tu en sorte que tes amitiés puissent mûrir en profondeur, en compréhension

et en respect mutuel? Dans des relations proches nous risquons

de la peine aussi bien que de la joie. L’expérience d’un grand bonheur ou

d’une grande douleur peut nous rendre plus ouverts à l’oeuvre de l’Esprit.

22. Respecte la grande diversité entre nous dans nos vies et relations. Évite

des jugements remplis de préjugés sur les chemins de vie des autres.

Cultives-tu l’esprit de compréhension mutuelle et de pardon que nous

demande notre statut de disciple? Rappelle-toi que nous sommes chacun

unique, précieux, enfant du divin.

23. L es Amis ont toujours compris le mariage en tant qu’engagement religieux

plutôt que comme simple contrat civil; les deux partenaires s’unissent

dans l’intention, avec l’aide divine, de chérir chacun l’autre pour la vie

entière. Rappelle-toi que le bonheur dépend d’un amour compréhensif et

fidèle des deux côtés. En périodes de difficultés, rappelle-toi la valeur de

la prière, de la persévérance et d’un sens d’humour.

24. L es enfants et les jeunes ont besoin d’amour et de stabilité. Faisons-nous

tout ce que nous pouvons pour soutenir et conforter les parents et autres

qui portent la responsabilité de pourvoir à ces besoins?

25. U ne relation à long terme amène des tensions aussi bien que des

plénitudes. Si ta relation avec ton partenaire subit des épreuves, cherche

de l’aide pour comprendre le point de vue de l’autre et pour explorer tes

propres sentiments qui peuvent être puissants et destructifs. Pense aux

désirs et sensibilités des enfants qui peuvent être impliqués et souvienstoi

de leur besoin continu d’amour et de sécurité. Cherche l’aide divine.

Si tu dois subir la détresse de la séparation ou du divorce, essaie de

maintenir une bonne communication afin que les affaires puissent être

réglées avec le minimum d’aigreur et avec compassion.

26. Reconnais-tu les besoins et les dons de chaque membre de ta famille et du

ménage, sans oublier les tiens? Essaie de faire de ton foyer un lieu d’amour

amical et de joie où tous ceux qui y vivent et où les visiteurs puissent

trouver la paix et le ressourcement de la puissance divine.

27. Vis ta vie comme une aventure! Quand se présentent des choix, prendstu

la voie qui offre le plus d’opportunités pour l’application de tes

aptitudes au service du divin et de la communauté? Laisse parler ta vie!

Quand il faut prendre des décisions, es-tu prêt à te joindre à d’autres

pour chercher la clarté, demandant la direction de l‘Esprit et offrant et

recevant des conseils?

28. Chaque étape de nos vies nous offre des opportunités nouvelles. Répondant

à la direction divine, essaie de discerner le bon moment pour entreprendre

ou pour te dégager des responsabilités, sans fierté ni culpabilité excessive.

Fais attention à ce que demande l’amour, cela n’est pas nécessairement un

excès de zèle.

29. Rapproche-toi de la vieillesse avec courage et espoir. Autant que possible

organise bien à l’avance tes affaires pour que tes besoins de soins ne

se présentent pas comme un fardeau excessif sur d’autres. Bien que la

vieillesse puisse apporter des aptitudes décroissantes et de la solitude,

elle peut amener aussi de la sérénité, du détachement et de la sagesse.

Prie pour que dans tes dernières années tu puisses trouver des façons

nouvelles de recevoir et de refléter l’amour divin.

30. P eux-tu contempler avec équanimité ta mort et la mort de tes proches? En

acceptant le fait de la mort nous sommes libérés pour vivre plus pleinement.

Endeuillé, donne-toi le temps de faire ton travail de deuil. Quand

d’autres sont en deuil, entoure les de ton amour et tiens les dans la Lumière.

31. N ous sommes appelés à vivre « en vertu de cette vie et pouvoir qui enlèvent

les causes de toute guerre ». Maintiens-tu fidèlement notre témoignage que

la guerre et la préparation de la guerre sont contraires à l’enseignement

de

Jésus? Découvre, dans ta propre façon de vivre, tout ce qui peut contenir la

semence de la guerre. Soutiens avec ténacité notre témoignage, même

quand d’autres font ou se préparent à commettre des actes de

violence, mais rappelle-toi qu’eux aussi sont des enfants du divin.

32. Mets dans la Lumière divine toutes les émotions, attitudes et préjugés qui

sont à la racine des conflits destructeurs, reconnaissant ton besoin

de pardon et de grâce. De quelle façon t’impliques-tu dans le travail de

réconciliation entre individus, groupes et nations?

33. Es-tu au courant des pratiques, à travers le monde, qui sont discriminatoires

envers des personnes à cause de ce qu’elles sont ou à cause de leurs

croyances? Sois humain envers tous, y compris ceux qui rompent les

conventions de la société ou ne respectent pas ses lois. Tâche de discerner

les courants nouveaux de progrès dans la vie sociale et économique.

Cherche à comprendre les causes de l’injustice, des remous sociaux et de

la peur. Travailles-tu pour une société juste et compatissante, qui permette

à tous de développer leurs capacités et qui encourage le désir de service?

34. Rappelle-toi tes responsabilités en tant que citoyen pour la conduite

des affaires locales, nationales et internationales. Ne recule pas devant le

temps et l’effort que ton engagement peut demander.

35. Respecte les lois de l’État, mais que ta loyauté principale soit aux

exigences de l’Esprit. Si tu te sens appelé par des convictions fortes à

enfreindre les lois, consulte profondément ta conscience. Demande aux

Amis de te soutenir dans la prière afin que tu puisses discerner le bon

chemin pour toi.

36. Soutiens-tu ceux qui agissent « sous concern », même si leur chemin n’est

pas le tien? Peux-tu mettre de côté tes propres désirs et préjugés tout en

cherchant avec d’autres à trouver la volonté divine pour eux?

37. Es-tu honnête et dis-tu la vérité en toute circonstance? Maintiens-tu une

intégrité rigoureuse dans les affaires et dans les transactions avec des

individus et des organisations? Emploies-tu l’argent et les informations qui

t’ont été confiés avec discrétion et d’une façon responsable? Prêter

serment implique deux critères de vérité. En te bornant à affirmer, sois

conscient que tu déclares ton intégrité.

38. Si tu subis des pressions pour baisser ton niveau d’intégrité, es-tu prêt à y

résister? Nos responsabilités envers le divin et nos semblables peuvent nous

amener à prendre des positions impopulaires. Ne laisse pas le désir d’être

sociable, ni la peur de sembler excentrique, déterminer tes décisions.

39. Examine quelles voies vers le bonheur offertes par la société sont pleinement

satisfaisantes, et quelles voies sont potentiellement corruptrices et

destructrices. Sois sélectif en choisissant tes moyens de divertissements

et d’information. Résiste au désir d’acquérir des possessions ou des

revenus par des investissements non-éthiques, de la spéculation ou

des jeux de hasard.

40 Étant donnés les dégâts causés par l’emploi d’alcool, de tabac et d’autres

drogues addictives, examine si toi-même tu limiteras ou abandonneras

leur emploi. Rappelle-toi que leur emploi, même en quantité mesurée,

peut diminuer le jugement et mettre en danger la vie autant des autres que

de l’utilisateur.

41. Tâche de vivre simplement. Un style de vie choisi librement donne de la

force. Ne sois pas persuadé d’acheter ce dont tu n’as pas besoin ou qui

dépasse ton budget. Te tiens-tu informé des effets de ton style de vie sur

l’économie et l’environnement global?

42. N ous les humains ne sommes pas propriétaires de la planète et ses

richesses ne sont pas à notre seule disposition. Montre une considération

d’amour envers toutes les créatures, et cherche à maintenir et conserver la

beauté et la variété de la planète. Travaille pour assurer que notre pouvoir

croissant sur la nature soit utilisé avec responsabilité, avec révérence pour

la vie. Réjouis-toi de la splendeur continue de la planète.

 

Soyez des modèles, des exemples dans tous les pays, endroits,

îles, peuples, partout où vous passez. Que votre comportement

et votre façon de vivre puissent prêcher à toutes sortes de

personnes; alors vous pourrez marcher joyeusement à travers le

monde, répondant au divin en chacun. —George Fox, 1656

 

APPENDIX A : Letter from the Elders Gathered at Balby, 1656

APPENDIX A: Letter from the Elders

Gathered at Balby, 1656

 

Given forth at a General Meeting of Friends of the Truth at

Balby in Yorkshire, in the ninth month 1656, from the Spirit

of Truth to the Children of Light in the light to walk, that all

in order may be kept in obedience, that He may be glorified, who

is worthy over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” (Text quoted by

William C. Braithwaite in The Beginnings of Quakerism)

 

The Advices in the epistle were originally expressed at somewhat

greater length than they are in the following version. Even in

this abridged form, however, which appears in the Book of Discipline

of New York Yearly Meeting, 1995, they retain the core of the Elders’

counsel.

 

1. The settled meetings to be kept each first-day. General Meetings,

as a rule to be on some other day of the week.

2. As any are brought in to the Truth new meetings are to be

arranged to suit the general convenience, without respect of

persons.

3. Persons ceasing to attend meetings are to be spoken to. Persons

who walk disorderly are to be spoken to in private, then before

two or three witnesses; then, if necessary, the matter is to be

reported to the Church. The Church is to reprove them for

their disorderly walking, and, if they do not reform, the case is

to be sent in writing “to some whom the Lord hath raised up in

the power of the Spirit of the Lord to be fathers, — His children

to gather in the light” so that the thing may be known to

the body and be determined in the light.

4. Ministers to speak the word of the Lord from the mouth of the

Lord, without adding or diminishing. If anything is spoken out

of the light so that the “seed of God” comes to be burdened, it

is to be dealt with in private and not in the public meetings,

“except there be a special moving to do so.”

5. Collections to be made for the poor, the relief of prisoners, and

other necessary uses, the moneys to be carefully accounted for,

and applied as made known by the overseers in each meeting.

6. Care to be taken “for the families and goods of such as are

called forth in the ministry, or are imprisoned for the Truth’s

sake; that no creature be lost for want of caretakers.”

7. Intentions of marriage to be made known to the Children of

Light, especially those of the meeting where the parties are

members. The marriage to be solemnized in the fear of the

Lord, and before many witnesses, after the example of scripture,

and a record to be made in writing, to which the witnesses

may subscribe their names.

8. Every meeting to keep records of births, or of burials of the

dead that died in the Lord. Burials to be conducted according

to scripture, and not after customs of “heathen.”

9. Advice to husbands and wives, as in 1 Peter iii:7. Advice to

parents and children, as in Ephesians vi:1–4.

10. Advice to servants and masters, as in Ephesians vi:5–9.

11. Care to be taken “that none who are servants depart from their

masters, but as they do see in the light: nor any master put

away his servant but by the like consent of the servant; and if

any master or servant do otherwise in their wills, it is to be

judged by Friends in the light.”

12. Needs of widows and fatherless to be supplied: — such as can

work and do not be admonished, and if they refuse to work,

neither let them eat. The children of needy parents to be put to

honest employment.

13. Any called before outward powers of the nation are to obey.

14. “That if any be called to serve the Commonwealth in any public

service which is for the public wealth and good, that with

cheerfulness it be undertaken and in faithfulness discharged

unto God, that therein patterns and examples in the thing that

is righteous yet may be to those that are without.”

15. Friends in callings and trades are to be faithful and upright,

and keep to yea and nay. Debts to be punctually paid, that

nothing they may owe to any man but love to one another.

16. None to speak evil of another, nor grudge against another, nor

put a stumbling-block in his brother’s way.

17. None to be busybodies in others’ matters.

18. Christian moderation to be used towards all men.

19. The elders made by the Holy Ghost are to feed the flock,

taking the oversight willingly, not as lords, but as examples to

the flock.

 

Dearly beloved, these things we do not lay upon you as a

rule or form to walk by, but that all, with the measure of light

which is pure and holy, may be guided: and so in the light,

walking and abiding, these may be fulfilled in the Spirit, not

from the letter, for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.

 

APPENDIX B: Explanatory Notes

APPENDIX B: Explanatory Notes

Akwesasne (1.62). The Akwesasne Mohawk reserve is on the

border between Canada and New York State. During a conflict

there in the spring of 1990 some Friends felt led to go to

Akwesasne as observers, at the invitation of the local Council.

Antinomians (3.41). Antinomianism implies opposition to being

subject to moral dogmas. The outstanding examples during the

early Quaker period were the Ranters.

Brother Lawrence (1.17). This seventeenth century lay-brother

learned to “practise the presence of God” even while being

busily at work in the kitchen of a French monastery.

Camp NeeKauNis (2.14, 2.22, 5.24). This Quaker summer camp

on Georgian Bay near Waubaushene, Ontario, was founded in

1931. The name, which comes from a local First Nations

language, means “place of friendly meeting.” The Camp played

a significant role in the formation of Canadian Yearly Meeting

as Young Friends from three preceding yearly meetings

worshipped, worked and played together there.

McClure, Bob (4.33). Robert McClure was a doctor who had

grown up in China in a missionary family. Some of the conscientious

objectors who served in the Friends Ambulance Unit in

China during World War II worked with him.

Peace Pilgrim (1.49). This twentieth century American woman

adopted a life of voluntary simplicity. She walked nearly 25,000

miles from place to place “as a prayer,” determined to wander

“until mankind learned the way of peace.”

Pendle Hill (4.24). The Pendle Hill referred to in this extract is a

Quaker centre founded in 1931 for study and spiritual development.

Located near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it was named

after the hill in Lancashire, England, at the top of which George

Fox in 1652 experienced a vision of “a great people to be

gathered.”

Ranterism, Ranters (1.99, 3.41). “Ranters” was a nickname given

to a loosely-defined set of people in seventeenth century

England, whose religious views of spiritual freedom from the

Mosaic law led to behaviour that was sometimes seen as

immoral.

Tagore (5.70). Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) was a respected

Hindu poet and internationally known lecturer. He was awarded

the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913.

Thich Nhat Hanh (1.50). This Vietnamese Buddhist monk is well

known in western countries, especially through his books in

which he teaches the doctrine and practice of mindfulness.

Tillich, Paul (1.106). This twentieth century Protestant theologian

and philosopher is especially known for his declaration that

God is “the ground of our being.”