The Lord of Heaven and earth we found to be near at hand, and, as we waited upon him in pure silence, our minds out of all things, his heavenly presence appeared in our assemblies, when there was no language, tongue, nor speech from any creature. The Kingdom of Heaven did gather us and catch us all, as in a net, and his heavenly power at one time drew many hundreds to land. We came to know a place to stand in and what to wait in; and the Lord appeared daily to us, to our astonishment, amazement and great admiration, insomuch that we often said one unto another with great joy of heart: “What, is the Kingdom of God come to be with men?”… And from that day forward, our hearts were knit unto the Lord and one unto another in true and fervent love, in the covenant of Life with God… And thus the Lord, in short, did form us to be a people for his praise in our generation.
Francis Howgill, 1672
We are glad that you have come to worship with us. We hope that this pamphlet will help you to learn more about our worship and way of life.
We are a meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, sometimes known as Quakers. The name “Quakers” was used to mock our first members because they trembled in the power of the Lord. Among ourselves we are known simply as “Friends”. We still seek to worship, minister and live under the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Because Friends’ beliefs and practices are unfamiliar to many, we give special attention here to the beliefs and practices that make Friends distinctive. Despite these distinctions, we joyfully unite with all true Christians in our proclamation that Jesus is Lord – a proclamation from which all of our other testimonies flow.
(Parts of this pamphlet are adapted from “The Society of Friends“, published by the Tract Association of Friends, and from the Book of Discipline of Ohio Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.)
A Waiting Worship and A Free Gospel Ministry
We gather in expectant silence to wait upon our Lord. When we gather in His name, Christ Jesus is truly here with us. Therefore we do not seek to worship, pray or sing in our own wisdom or strength, but to hear what the True Shepherd would have us do. the hour of worship is His, to program as He sees fit; our task is to respond with the worship, prayer, ministry or song that He gives us.
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. – John 4:23,24
Since Jesus Christ is the head of the church, our worship should not depend on any one appointed person, but on Christ’s living ministry in our midst. Jesus may at times minister to the meeting directly, with no words being spoken. A message may be given to us inwardly and individually for ourselves alone. At other times we may be given words to speak to the body of worshippers. All true Gospel ministry is given by the direct prompting of Christ through his Holy Spirit. When the Lord gives a message, the speaker’s human accomplishments or talents are of no account, for what God asks us to do. he also strengthens us to do it. No one should let feelings of unworthiness prevent them from speaking if they sense a divine call to speak.
Christ also prepares the listeners to receive rightly the spoken messages that He gives. When we listen with the spiritual ear, we may be richly nourished by a message that appears undistinguished in human terms.
Take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak… but speak whatsoever shall be given you in that hour… for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. – Mark 13:11
To encourage a vigorous gospel ministry, we recognize those who have shown a special gift as Ministers of the Gospel, and “esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake” (1 Thess. 5:13). However, we do not appoint them to any fixed duties or pay them to perform their services, so that they may be free to exercise their gifts where and when they are called to do so, to speak or not to speak as anointed. Men and women are equally called to the work of the ministry.
I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. – Joel 2:28
As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same, one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. – 1 Peter 4:10,11
We believe in God the Father, Almighty, the maker and preserver of all people; and in his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour; and in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. Jesus Christ came into the world, took our nature upon himself and tasted death for everyone, as a perfect sacrifice for sin and a perfect example and pattern to His people in all ages. No one can be saved from sin in any other way than by repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, where he lives and makes intercession for us. At the same time, He is present among us by His Spirit to minister to us, to teach us, and to strengthen us for His service. As George Fox, an early Friend, proclaimed, “Christ is come to teach His people Himself.”
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. – John 3:16.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved – Acts 4:12.
We believe that, since Christ, the Light of the world, died for all, His light is available to all by the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. everyone in the world has been visited by this light, and all people have God’s law written in their hearts in some measure. Only the Holy Spirit, speaking in each heart, can convince us of sin and turn us toward the forgiving love of God, which is offered to all through Jesus Christ. Only by responding in faith to Christ’s light in us can we be turned from sin and made a new creation, fit to glorify and serve God. As we are obedient in the light that we have experienced, we will receive more light and strength to know and do God’s will.
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. – John 1:9
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. – Titus 2:11-14.
The Holy Scriptures
The Scriptures are the very words of God, given through His inspired prophets and apostles. We cannot rightly understand them unless we are in the same Spirit that gave them forth. All Christians should learn the Bible and seek to live in accord with its teachings, confident that the Jesus proclaimed in Scripture is the same One who lives among us as Lord today.
Though we seek to be led by the direct promptings of the Holy Spirit, this does not weaken the importance of the Scriptures in our Christian walk. the Scriptures give us a standard outside ourselves to test our impressions of God’s leadings. A thorough knowledge of the Bible will help us to distinguish the Holy Spirit’s inward guidance from our own impulses, or from harmful spiritual influences. Robert Barclay, an early Friend, wrote:
“The Holy Scriptures are the only fit outward judge of controversies among Christians; whatsoever doctrine is contrary to their testimony may justly be rejected as false. Whatsoever any do, pretending to be inspired by the Spirit, which is contrary to the scriptures, should be considered and reckoned a delusion of the devil. As every evil contradicts the scriptures, so it doth also contradict the Spirit, from which the scriptures came, whose motions can never contradict one another.”
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. – 2 Timothy 3:16,17.
Baptism and Communion
We believe that the true baptism into Christ, and the true communion with Him, are spiritual. As witness to the importance of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and direct communion with God, we set aside outward ceremonies designed to symbolize these inward realities.
Therefore we do not “baptize” with water or observe communion with bread and wine. We seek to have communion with Jesus Christ, the substance of our faith, and to be baptized with Him into His life.
With other Christians, we affirm the necessity of baptism and communion for salvation and full Christian living. Our avoidance of outward rituals obliges us to examine ourselves humbly, to be sure that we participate as faithfully in these spiritual realities as our fellow Christians do in their outward expressions.
John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh… he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. – Luke 3:16.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. – Revelation 3:20
Over many years, Friends have arrived at a number of testimonies – fruits of our search to discern what the Lord requires of us as a people. Some of these are outlined below.
War and violent conflict are utterly opposed to the Gospel of Christ. We do not participate in war, but instead seek to let the Spirit of love govern all of our dealings with others, including enemies.
Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts. – Zechariah 4:6.
Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. – Luke 6:27,28
Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight. – John 18:36.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. – 2 Corinthians 10:3.4.
We seek to follow the plain command of Jesus, “Swear not at all” (Matthew 5:34-37). We avoid the use of oaths in all circumstances, and seek to make truthfulness the standard for all of our conduct, a standard that makes oaths pointless.
But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. – James 5:12.
Believing that simplicity, straightforwardness and modesty should govern all aspects of the Christian’s walk, we seek to set aside any-thing vain and unnecessary in dress, possessions and speech, so that we may be more free to turn our lives to the service of our Lord. Our life choices should stem from a constant search to know God’s will for us, rather than from the shifting fashions of a godless world.
Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. – Romans 12:2.
Let not your adorning be outward… but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. – 1 Peter 3:3,4.
We believe that faithfulness to our Lord requires that we avoid gambling, betting, and the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other harmful drugs. These testimonies are especially important today, when drug abuse is destroying parts of our society and governments actively promote the addictive and destructive practice of gambling.
What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your own body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. – 1 Corinthians 6:19,20.
Marriage is a gift of God, appointed for the help and blessing of both partners, and for the right upbringing of the next generation. God’s gift of sexuality was intended to bless and support the union of man and woman in marriage. We seek to uphold marriage as a lifelong divine covenant, supported by chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within it. A rightly founded marriage depends on a common faith in God and a mutual desire to open heart and home to the spirit of Christ.
Our meetings for business are sometimes called “meetings for worship with a concern for business”. We conduct our business in a spirit of worship, seking to discern the lord’s will in each decision that comes before us. Decisions are not made by voting, but by seeking to come to one mind in Christ. A clerk presides over the meeting and seeks to express the “sense of the meeting” as it emerges from the body’s prayerful reflection.
Most local congregations are called Monthly Meetings, since they gather for business once per month (in addition to meeting for worship at least once per week).
Our meeting is part of the Religious Society of Friends in Christ. We are sometimes called “Primitive Friends”, since we have tried to maintain the basic Christian beliefs and testimonies given to the first Friends many years ago.
We encourage you to worship among us again and enjoy Christian fellowship with us.
If you would like to learn more about our meeting or about Friends, or if you wish to speak with someone about any spiritual concern, contact us. More information about our faith and practice can be found in Friends’ in Christ Queries & Advices, & Statement of Faith. Please feel free to ask for a copy.