12 / 1999
Quakerism was founded in the 17th mainly by Georges Fox as a reaction to the religious wars of the seventeenth century and particularly to the Civil War in England. Due to persecution it is now commoner in USA and a more conventional form of it has led to there being more members in the third World. In Britain the number has remained at about 20000 for the last two centuries. The Society of Friends like early Friends in the first three centuries of humanity, (called quakers)derives their name from their belief in what they called the truth as revealed in the teaching and life of Jesus and their intuitive understanding of the Bible. They relied on their own spiritual experiences instead of relying on a paid Minister. They are all expected to follow the guidance of conscience. They appreciate the ’ inner Light ’ from wherever it may come, including sources outside mainstream Christianity. There is a central belief which characterises all Friends, it is the belief in ’ that of God in everyone ’, regardless of race, age, sex or status. They are therefore believers in the possibility of miracles, whether working with apparently uncontrollable children, mental patients or mediating in international disputes. The service on Sundays consists of an hour of silent worship, prayer and meditation which is usually interspersed with messages members called to give.
Peace work take a very large place in their social work and the testimony is regarded as the most important of the various ’testimonies’ to wich they subscribe.
The peace activities of the Society derive in part from the peace testimony of 1660, which is based in turn on the pacifism of early christianity. Early friends, as members of the Religious Society of Friends are called, knew that in the first three centuries of Christianity it was assumed that all who became Friends would become pacifists even if it meant leaving the Roman army. There may be Friends who put slightly different interpretations on it. They are strong individualists who find cooperation difficult, but peace work often demands such people!
Both the American Friends Service Council and Quaker Peace and Service (UK)have worked for peace through the United Nations by maintaining the offices in New York and Geneva. In these centres diplomats and representative of Non-Governmental Organisations are brought together to pursue some of the paths leading to peace.
Diana Lampen and over have shown that it is possible to listen and to make Friends with both sides, while remaining actively neutral. This may enable them at the right moment to indicate how their opponent sees the future, share the same fears, especially for their own children, and suffer from similar hatred.
File written after the religion and peace’s workshop held in may 99 in Amsterdam and The Hague, in Holland.
DOMMEN, Edouard, Les Quakers (France)