Being open to new light

A group of Quakers has begun to revise the book of discipline that has guided Quaker witness, community and worship across the centuries.

Brilliantly coloured embroidered butterfly
From Open to new Light, 'Purple Butterfly'. Medium: Acrylic on paper. Linda Cusworth

One year into the revision, the group say they feel “daunted and excited by the size and importance of our task".

Quakers compiled the first of these books of discipline in 1738. Regular revision and being open to new truths is part of who Quakers are and that has led each new generation of Quakers to revise the book.

The current book is an anthology of witness and wisdom, called Quaker faith & practice. It includes first-hand accounts of Quakers who were persecuted for their faith three centuries ago.

This week, the revision group − drawn from Quakers across a range of occupations, abilities, ages and gender − made its first report to Meeting for Sufferings, the standing representative body, entrusted with the care of the business of Quakers in Britain through the year. Enthusiastically welcoming the report that “gives hope for the future", Meeting for Sufferings minuted key themes and insights describing the unity of the Quaker way which will run as threads through the book.

“Themes include:

  • Spirituality, worship and discernment - individually and collectively with God;
  • Quaker community - life in our meetings;
  • Testimony and faith in action;
  • Stages of personal life - journeys, and close relationships;
  • Church government - how we organise ourselves;
  • Our story - where we have come from and where we are going;
  • Advices & Queries.

“The insights have been articulated as:

  • We can all have direct access to a transforming experience of the divine;
  • We live under the guidance of the promptings of love and truth in our hearts;
  • We recognise and seek to address that of God in each person;
  • There is a dynamic spirit bringing continuing revelation;
  • We hold the whole of life to be sacramental."

The last revision took ten years to complete and was published in 1995.

A new creative project, called Open to new Light, welcomes submissions to inspire the committee as the work gets under way

Submit an idea for the new book

Read the story so far

Read the current Quaker faith & practice