Quakers have always experienced Christ as the universal Light that “lights everyone who comes into the world.” This experience tells us that no one falls outside the circle of God’s love. We are all equally precious in the mind of God. All of us belong to the same universal family. This is the spirit of peace, harmony and all-inclusive love we experience in worship, and the spirit we try to express in our daily lives.
There is always conflict, cruelty and injustice in the world, but there is also always the possibility of healing, redemption and reconciliation. We do not deny hurt and anger, but we do not give up on the Seed of holiness within each human soul. In the midst of a strife, division and animosity, we seek to stand in patient witness to God’s all-inclusive love.
We often speak of the Quaker “testimonies” in explaining our witness to the world, but it is important to understand that these testimonies are not formal rules. They have never been adopted and written down. No one is required to follow them. They are a kind of collected wisdom, a summary of ways Quakers have tried to live out their faith in the world, a set of guidelines that can help us individually explore our own way of life. They are called “testimonies” because they testify to spiritual truth as we have experienced it. Often the testimonies are expressed in the form of “Queries”—questions that encourage inward reflection and growth.
Although the testimonies are not a written document, many Friends have tried to summarize them over the years. Here is one such summary:
What Do Quakers Stand For?
- Simplicity—Trying to use time and resources wisely, not wastefully
- Peace—Living in a spirit that takes away the occasion for all war
- Integrity—Being who we truly are and truly meaning what we say
- Community—Knowing that we need one another in order to be whole
- Equality—Knowing that everyone, everywhere is equally precious to God