Quakers take long hard look at faith
Quakers in Britain are taking a bold step to rewrite their book of discipline that has guided their work and witness across the centuries.
The book, Quaker faith and practice is hugely significant for the Quaker church.
In the stillness of worship, Quakers often read from this anthology of spiritual wisdom, guidance and advices and queries. They listen and reflect on the experience of Quakers, from the 1600's to recent years. They can read the first hand accounts of Quakers who were imprisoned for their faith three centuries ago.
Regular revision and being open to new truths is part of who Quakers are as a religious society. Quakers compiled the first of these books of discipline in 1738. Since then, each new generation of Quakers has revised the book. A new revision may help it speak to younger Quakers and the wider world.
The decision was taken yesterday at the annual gathering of the Quaker church. More than one thousand Quakers crowded into Friends House in London. They included around 200 children and young people who were discussing the same topics as the adults.
We want to hear the insights of younger and more diverse people, and set out how we are a faith fit for the 21st century. I'm looking forward to it.- Paul Parker, Recording Clerk
The last revision took around ten years to complete and was published in 1995.
Paul Parker, recording clerk for Quakers in Britain said:
“Once in a generation, Quakers decide to take a long hard look at our faith, what it means to us, and what we can say about it. Today's bold decision to revise Quaker faith and practice means it's time for us to do that again. It's exciting. We want to hear the insights of younger and more diverse people, and set out how we are a faith fit for the 21st century. I'm looking forward to it."
The current book of discipline says this: “We are seekers but we are also the holders of a precious heritage of discoveries. We, like every generation, must find the Light and Life for ourselves. Only what we have valued and truly made our own, not by assertion but by lives of faithful commitment, can we hand onto the future."
Hear Recording Clerk, Paul Parker talking about Yearly Meeting's decision on BBC Radio 4 Today programme. Starts at 49:47, the link is cued at this point.