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Who Are Quakers?

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Chatham Summit Quakers are inheritors of practice that began in 17th century England.  Early Quakers (a.k.a. Friends) believed that personal experience of the Divine should guide one's life more than creeds or dogma.  That belief leads Quakers today to practice listening for divine guidance and to engage in peace-making and efforts to foster equality and social justice.

What Do Quakers Believe?

Quakers, also known as the Religious Society of Friends, believe that every person can have an inward, immediate experience of the Divine. We gather with other seekers in expectant, silent waiting, open to the movement of the Spirit in ourselves individually and in our worshipping community. We focus more on experience than on doctrine. The essential question is: What is your experience of God?

Friends use many terms or phrases to refer to God: the Light Within, the Inner Light, the Christ Within, the Inward Teacher, the Great Spirit, the Seed, the Guide, the Spirit of Truth, the Divine Presence, that of God in everyone.

As it evolves from its beginnings in the 17th century England, Quakerism finds spiritual truths in many faith traditions. We believe the Divine continues to be revealed in the Bible and other writings, and in diverse times, cultures, and faiths.


In our lives we seek to integrate our work, faith, and practice. The ways we have found to live and act are what Quakers call “Testimonies. ” These are not so much rules for living as they are outward expressions of inward experience of the Light Within. Some of the best recognized “Testimonies” are:

  • SIMPLICITY: focusing on what is truly important and letting other things fall away

  • PEACE: seeking justice and healing for all people; taking away the causes of war

  • INTEGRITY: living as a whole people who act on what we believe

  • COMMUNITY: supporting one another in our faith journeys, in our joys and sorrow

  • EQUALITY: treating everyone, everywhere as equally precious to God

  • STEWARDSHIP: valuing and respecting all of God’s creation in our care for the earth

Faith and Practice

Quaker groups periodically publish books of Faith and Practice, which are guidelines – not rules – for applying faith in our lives and organizations. Click here to access an on-line version of Faith and Practice for New York Yearly Meeting, of which Chatham Summit meeting is a member.

For more information

If you are a new attender, you may wish to read more about What to Expect in Quaker Worship and read answers to these Frequently Asked Questions About What Quakers Believe and How They Live Today.

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