As Quakers have no fixed creed, we need ways of maintaining ourselves as a community. In Britain we use Quaker faith & practice as a book to describe our faith and our organisation. We formally call Quaker faith & practice our Book of Discipline.
It gives guidance on many aspects of life. It can be described as our British Quakers' collection of witness and wisdom. It was first adopted in 1994, and it includes writings from our earlier Books of Discipline.
Although parts of Quaker faith & practice have been changed since 1994 it is getting out of date. At Yearly Meeting 2018 we agreed to create a new book. You can find out more about this decision by visiting the Yearly Meeting 2018 page and watching the introduction videos and reading the minutes.
The Yearly Meeting minute, deciding to revise Quaker faith & practice, reads in part:
We agree that the time is right to start revising our book of discipline. We embrace and rejoice in this decision. Regular revision is an intrinsic part of who we are as a Religious Society of Friends.
We accept the four specific recommendations of the Revision Preparation Group .
We encourage the revision committee to be prayerful, joyful, creative and bold. We hope that this book will help us to be more resilient for an uncertain future and that the process of revision will act as a catalyst for renewal.
In February 2019, 24 Friends were appointed to be the Book of Discipline Revision Committee (BDRC). We have a great mix of people with different lives, ages and experiences of Quakerism.
No timetable has been made for the revision, but last time the committee worked for about nine years.
We encourage the revision committee to be prayerful, joyful, creative and bold.- Yearly Meeting 2018
Revision isn't just a case of looking at the current book and changing the odd word here and there, adding a section or two about new topics, and removing anything that seems outdated. It also won't be an exercise (as suggested in some media coverage) of going through and crossing out every reference to God!
Instead it is an opportunity to start afresh. What do we want our book of discipline to be? What would be useful and helpful and inspirational to include? How should the physical book interact with modern technological options? How can the revision process and its results help us on our shared spiritual path?
We know that we want a book which can speak and be accessible to all present and future Quakers. We want something that builds on the work and spiritual insight of previous generations.
The story so far
The committee first met in May 2019.
Since then, it has helped to put on a weekend conference at Woodbrooke called Why Have a Book of Discipline? Friends from many meetings took part and had the opportunity to offer guidance to the committee and for the revision process.
The committee has considered the purpose of the Book of Discipline. Part of their minute reads: “Our understanding now is that the purpose of the book of discipline is to reflect who we are as a community and where we might be going. It shares our Quaker story of where we have come from, in order to explain why we have reached where we are. It gives guidance on what it means to be Quakers in Britain Yearly Meeting, reflecting, expressing and nurturing our spiritual life and our Quaker way."
Accessibility and inclusion have been themes throughout its work so far. The committee is aware of the diversity within the Yearly Meeting and wants the revision process to be a journey that we take together.
The committee's aim is that engagement in the process of revision will spread to all parts of our yearly meeting.
How can Friends get involved?
Ideas and pieces of writing can be submitted using the online form (offsite link) or by contacting the committee secretary, Michael Booth, at firstname.lastname@example.org or writing to Friends House.
Training and events
We plan to engage with Friends at Yearly Meetings. We also hope to run occasional events as we move further into our task.
Follow us on social media
Find out more
Look at previous versions of ours (Christian faith & practice, church government) often available in Meeting House libraries.