Quakers: The Light Within

explanatory Essay
3053 words
3053 words

On Easter Sunday, a dozen adults and half that many children gathered at the Perry City Friends Meeting an hour before their usual worship time. They came, bringing plates of food for a time of fellowship before worship. The children had an Easter egg hunt, while the adults visited over coffee and snacks. After a while, the group moved to the meeting room for a time of singing. The meeting room, a plain room with a stage at one end and a few small tables holding brochures along the wall, has simple benches arranged in a circle around a central space. Someone had put a small table with a vase of fresh picked daffodils in the middle. Music is not a part of the worship at this meeting which is unprogrammed, so this time of singing together was special for the Easter holiday. One person played the piano, while people looked through the hymnal for their favorite hymns. Anyone was free to suggest a hymn, as no one is in charge of planning a worship service. When worship time approached, the hymnals were gathered up and put away, and one adult led the children downstairs for First Day School. Without announcement, everyone lapsed into silence. The silence at Meeting for Worship is not a passive silence; it is the deep, comfortable silence of people accustomed to joining together this way. It was not broken when a few more people entered the sanctuary to join the group. The silence continued for about an hour with each worshiper communing with the Holy Spirit in his or her own way, not interrupted when the children reentered to join in the silent worship. One man broke the silence to say a few words about the simplicity of Jesus’ teachings, and then the silence returned. At the end of the hour, without announcement, one woman turned to gr... ... middle of paper ... ...ress, 1990. Densmore, Christopher and Thomas Bassett. "Quakers, Slavery and the Civil War." In Quaker Crosscurrents: Three Hundred Years of Friends in the New York Yearly Meetings, edited by Hugh Barbor and Christopher Densmore, 183-197. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1995. Gaustad, Edwin and Leigh Schmidt. The Religious History of America;The Heart of the American Story from Colonial Times to Today. New York: Harper One, 2002. Hamm, Thomas D. The Quakers in America. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003. Hope, Margaret Hope. Mothers of Feminism: The Story of Quaker Women in America. San Francisco: Harper &Row, 1986. Luker, Ralph E. The Social Gospel in Black and White: American Racial Reform,1885-1912. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1991. Punshon, John. Encounter with Silence. Richmond,IN: Friends United Press, 1987.

In this essay, the author

  • Describes how a dozen adults and half that many children gathered at the perry city friends meeting an hour before their usual worship time.
  • Explains that quakers first traveled to the new world in the late 1650s in an attempt to escape persecution, and to bring their beliefs to people already settled there.
  • Explains that there have been several attempts in the 20th century to reconcile the differences and bring quakers back together and to cooperate in working for common causes.
  • Explains that quakers hold a wide range of beliefs, including universalism, christ-centered, social involvement, and fear of getting too involved in the world. they are well known for their peace testimony, which stems from jesus' call to love one another.
  • Explains that quakers are unique in their approach to carrying out the business involved in running a church. friends work together to discern the leading of the spirit, rather than voting on issues.
  • Compares the perry city friends meeting with the trumansburg united methodist church. there are more differences than similarities in structure between the quaker yearly meeting and the methodist annual conference.
  • Explains that quaker beliefs have led to involvement with society, as they try to bring society into closer alignment with the kingdom of god.
  • Explains that not all quakers continue the tradition of unprogrammed silent worship.
  • Explains that the first major split occurred in 1827, with 2/3 of the quaker meetings following elias hicks, who believed that jesus became the christ by living in perfect obedience to the divine light.
  • Explains that quakers are considered abolitionists, but the truth is more complex. they spoke out against slavery and were criticized for being overly involved in worldly affairs.
  • Cites cooper, wilmer a., densmore, christopher, and thomas bassett in quaker crosscurrents: three hundred years of friends in the new york yearly meeting.
  • Describes hope, margaret hope's mothers of feminism: the story of quaker women in america. luker, ralph e. the social gospel in black and white: american racial reform.
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