A Quaker Meeting
13205 Philadelphia Street
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Aspects of the Quaker Vision
How did we begin?
The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) was founded by George Fox in 1652 in the north of England. This period of history was a time of great religious and political turmoil. George Fox found himself restless and dissatisfied with the religion of his day and sought for both a more personal experience and greater communication with God. He finally came to believe that persons could have direct communion with God without ritual, ceremony, or the help of ordained clergy. This revolutionary belief caused great opposition from the established church, and Fox, along with thousands of his followers, was imprisoned in the years of persecution that followed. Nevertheless, the movement grew rapidly. By the time of Fox's death in 1691, there were about 45,000 Quakers in England.
Fox and his followers were seeking to find again the life and power of the early Christian Church. They gathered together to seek the living presence of God as an immediate and present reality. In everyday life, Quakers were known for their sincerity, honesty, simplicity, gentleness and loving kindness.
Many of these early Friends came to America. The settlement of Pennsylvania was directed by William Penn, one of the early believers. Quakers also settled in New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island and North Carolina.
What's in a name?
The name "Friends" is taken from the words of Jesus: "You are my friends if you do what I command you" (John 15:14). Quaker is a nickname given to early Friends because they "trembled under the power of God."
How are we organized?
Friends have local groups called a meeting rather than a church. We meet weekly for worship and once a month (monthly meeting) to transact the meeting's business. Meetings in a given geographical area gather semi-annually to worship and transact business (yearly meeting). Some yearly meetings have joined together in a loose confederation called Friends United Meeting, which meets every three years.
The leaders of the meetings are called Clerks. The group, as a whole, seeks to find the will of God for action on the business before it. No votes are taken. If there is not unity on a proposed action, it is delayed until harmony can be achieved. This method of proceeding is based on Paul's words to the Church at Corinth: "I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment" (I Cor. 1:10).
Meetings may either have a pastor or be "non-pastoral" (unprogrammed). Here in Whittier both types of meetings are available.
What do we believe?
"Friends hold many beliefs in common with other Protestant denominations. As Protestants we emphasize the redeeming grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. We believe in the life everlasting and the inspiration of the holy Scriptures. We especially emphasize the continued guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit which gave us the scriptures. Our statements of faith are based upon the teachings of Jesus as we understand them and upon the realities of our own spiritual experiences." (Seth B. Hinshaw)
Although they are not official policies, the statements below indicate the general beliefs of the Quaker faith.
True religion involves an immediate, inward, personal encounter with God. Worship is a personal positive act of seeking, rather than a performance. Communion is, therefore, an inner spiritual experience rather than an outward observance.
Christian love and good will is a way of life which makes hatred and violence impossible. This causes us to be involved in humanitarian service and social justice.
Continuing revelation of the Holy Spirit of God grants us new openings, insights and revelations of spiritual truth.
Each individual has worth, dignity, freedom and responsibility before God.
Tell me about First Friends
First Friends Church, also known as Whittier Monthly Meeting of Friends, was founded by believers from the Midwest who were seeking to establish a community on the West Coast. The City of Whittier and Whittier College were both founded by these pioneering Friends. The church maintains close ties with regional, national, and international groups of Friends. We are affiliated with Friends United Meeting, a world-wide body of Quakers.
We seek to be a nurturing and loving community where people may experience the living light of Jesus Christ. We are called to be a people and a place where all may grow and witness in spirituality, love, community and service as each strives to follow Christ's leading and to seek that of God in each person. We strive to be a beacon of hope and light in the multi-cultural and economically diverse community of Whittier, and to be a loving fellowship in which members and inquirers will feel loved and accepted.
What about Friends in the World?
Quakers have a world-wide reputation in the areas of peacemaking and service to others. The American Friends Service Committee is known in virtually every nation on earth because of its endeavors in the area of peacemaking and working for the betterment of all those who suffer oppression and injustice. Here in the United States, we also serve others through the Friends Committee on National Legislation, which works with legislators to help them understand the convictions and concerns of Friends throughout the nation, Friends Committee on Legislation of California, and Friends World Committee for Consultation, to name a few.
Locally, First Friends is involved in the Homeless Cold-Weather Shelter Program, Habitat for Humanity and the Interfaith Counseling Center.
For Further Information Read
An Introduction to Quakers by D. Elton Trueblood
Created 18-Oct-99 - Revised 14-Mar-10