"In the silence of the Quaker Meeting I feel I begin to make sense of my life"
"In the Meeting I feel drawn to the inner core that is inside me".
"I like to learn from my own experience, and through sharing with others".
"It took me a long time to recognise the extraordinary power of Meeting for Worship. There are times in the ministry or the silence when there is a real sense of a gathered meeting. In those meetings, something transcends the everyday nature of my life and I return home uplifted and enriched beyond all measure".
A lovely article from the late Agnes Larkins of Street and Taunton Meetings.
'I can't speak for the Society of Friends. All I can speak about are the reasons why I myself am a Quaker.
This is partly because we have no agreed creed, no dogma. For me it's not about certainty, but about searching with an open mind: seeking the truth.
I don't believe it's possible to fully understand the spiritual dimension to life, but I'm grateful for the glimmers of light which give me hope. I see this light most often, not in the things people say, but in the way they have chosen to lead their lives. Quakers take into account the testimonies handed down to us: testimonies to such things as peace, simplicity and social justice. We are also influenced by many people outside the Society who have followed other ways of seeking.
In our Meeting for Worship, we gather as friends in silence to wait together. Each person present contributes to the "gathered meeting" a feeling of unity when it seems no words are needed. Sometimes the silence is broken by "ministry": i.e. a spoken contribution, usually brief and unprepared, when someone feels the need to share an insight with the rest of the group. The speaker resorts to words to express his thoughts, not to define what others should think. This can be very helpful and provide stimulus for others.
At other kinds of meeting Elders and Overseers help to encourage the smooth running of the discussion, but everyone is of equal importance, and any decisions that have to be made are made by general consensus. As with any group of friends, there is also much pleasure in being together, and we try to be aware of each other's needs. At the same time we hope to be welcoming to strangers who visit us. We are happy to share what we feel to be a calm openness.
I'm at ease with what Gerald Priestland calls "reasonable uncertainty", and with the knowledge that I'll be seeking for the rest of my life without fully understanding. I'm also happy that Quakers are based in the Christian tradition, not because it's the only or "right" one, but because it's the one I know and therefore feel most comfortable with.
In the end it all comes down to the injunction to love one's neighbour as oneself. The spirit is love.