Quaker faith springs from a deeply held belief in living our lives according to our spiritual experience. Those of our spiritual insights that we call our testimonies spring from deep experience and have been a part of Quaker faith for many years. They arise out of inner convictions and challenge our normal ways of living:
- they exist in spiritually-led actions rather than rigid written forms
- they are governed by continuing spiritual experience and are not imposed in any way
- they require us to search for ways in which we can live out the testimonies for ourselves
It’s not easy to live out the testimonies, but with loving advice and a supportive community, Quakers are encouraged to keep trying.
Quakers are concerned about the excesses and unfairness of our consumer society, and the unsustainable use of natural resources. We try to live simply and to give space for the things that really matter: the people around us, the natural world, our experience of God.
Quakers are best known for our peace testimony. This arises from our conviction that love is at the heart of existence and all human beings are equal in the eyes of God – and that we must live in a way that reflects this. The peace testimony has led Quakers to refuse military service and to become involved in a wide range of peace activities, from practical work in areas affected by violent conflict to the development of alternatives to violence at all levels, from personal to international. Quakers do this in a variety of ways: campaigning and raising awareness around issues of economic and social justice, offering support and guidance to those seeking alternatives to violence, working to challenge and change the circumstances that lead to war, and by seeking to live peacefully within our own homes and communities.
Truth & Integrity
Quakers try to live according to the deepest truth we know, which we believe comes from God. This means speaking the truth to all, including people in positions of power. Integrity is the guiding principle we set for ourselves and expect in public life.
Justice, Equality & Community
Quakers recognise the equal worth and unique nature of every person. This means working to change the systems that cause injustice and hinder true community. It also means working with people who are suffering from injustice, such as prisoners and asylum seekers.
Unity with Creation
In 1992, Canadian Quakers moved to affirm ‘unity with creation’ as one of our testimonies. Minutes from our yearly gathering stated:
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
Throughout our history, Quakers have sought to live out these values, both individually and as a community, in the ordinary detail of our lives and in the wider world – where much of our work is done through Canadian Friends Service Committee. This way of life is shaped by a deep commitment to these testimonies. It grows from a belief in the sanctity of all life and that there is something sacred in everyone. It is nourished and rooted in our practice of silent and attentive worship.
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