Quakers called Friends, are a Christian group of religious movements formally known as the Religious Society of Friends, Society of Friends or Friends Church. Members of the various Quaker movements are all united in a belief in the ability of each human being to experientially access "the light within", or "that of God in every one"; some may profess the priesthood of all believers, a doctrine derived from the First Epistle of Peter. They include those with evangelical, holiness and traditional Quaker understandings of Christianity. There are Nontheist Quakers whose spiritual practice is not reliant on the existence of gods. To differing extents, the different movements that make up the Religious Society of Friends/Friends Church avoid creeds and hierarchical structures. In 2007, there were about 359,000 adult Quakers worldwide. In 2017, there were 377,557 adult Quakers, with 49% in Africa. Around 89% of Quakers worldwide belong to the "evangelical" and "programmed" branches of Quakerism—these Quakers worship in services with singing and a prepared message from the Bible, coordinated by a pastor.
Around 11% of Friends practice waiting worship, or unprogrammed worship, where the order of service is not planned in advance, is predominantly silent, may include unprepared vocal ministry from those present. Some meetings of both types have Recorded Ministers in their meetings—Friends recognised for their gift of vocal ministry; the first Quakers lived in mid-17th-century England. The movement arose from the Legatine-Arians and other dissenting Protestant groups, breaking away from the established Church of England; the Quakers the ones known as the Valiant Sixty, attempted to convert others to their understanding of Christianity, travelling both throughout Great Britain and overseas, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some of these early Quaker ministers were women, they based their message on the religious belief that "Christ has come to teach his people himself", stressing the importance of a direct relationship with God through Jesus Christ, a direct religious belief in the universal priesthood of all believers.
They emphasized a personal and direct religious experience of Christ, acquired through both direct religious experience and the reading and studying of the Bible. Quakers focused their private life on developing behaviour and speech reflecting emotional purity and the light of God. In the past, Quakers were known for their use of thee as an ordinary pronoun, refusal to participate in war, plain dress, refusal to swear oaths, opposition to slavery, teetotalism; some Quakers founded banks and financial institutions, including Barclays and Friends Provident. In 1947, the Quakers, represented by the British Friends Service Council and the American Friends Service Committee, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. During and after the English Civil War many dissenting Christian groups emerged, including the Seekers and others. A young man, George Fox, was dissatisfied with the teachings of the Church of England and non-conformists, he had a revelation that "there is one Christ Jesus, who can speak to thy condition", became convinced that it was possible to have a direct experience of Christ without the aid of an ordained clergy.
In 1652 he had a vision on Pendle Hill in Lancashire, England, in which he believed that "the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered". Following this he travelled around England, the Netherlands, Barbados preaching and teaching with the aim of converting new adherents to his faith; the central theme of his Gospel message was. His followers considered themselves to be the restoration of the true Christian church, after centuries of apostasy in the churches in England. In 1650, Fox was brought before the magistrates Gervase Bennet and Nathaniel Barton, on a charge of religious blasphemy. According to Fox's autobiography, Bennet "was the first that called us Quakers, because I bade them tremble at the word of the Lord", it is thought that Fox was referring to Isaiah 66:2 or Ezra 9:4. Thus, the name Quaker began as a way of ridiculing Fox's admonition, but became accepted and is used by some Quakers. Quakers described themselves using terms such as true Christianity, Children of the Light, Friends of the Truth, reflecting terms used in the New Testament by members of the early Christian church.
Quakerism gained a considerable following in England and Wales, the numbers increased to a peak of 60,000 in England and Wales by 1680. But the dominant discourse of Protestantism viewed the Quakers as a blasphemous challenge to social and political order, leading to official persecution in England and Wales under the Quaker Act 1662 and the Conventicle Act 1664; this was relaxed after the Declaration of Indulgence and stopped under the Act of Toleration 1689. One modern view of Quakerism at this time was that the relationship with Christ was encouraged through spiritualisation of human relations, "the redefinition of the Quakers as a holy tribe,'the family and household of God'". Together with Margaret Fell, the wife of Thomas Fell, the vice-chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and an eminent judge, Fox developed new conceptions of family and community that emphasised "holy conversation": speech and behaviour that reflected piety and love. With the restructuring of the family and household came new roles for wom
Friends General Conference
Friends General Conference is a North American Quaker association of 15 Quaker yearly and 12 monthly meetings in the United States and Canada that choose to be members. FGC was founded in 1900. FGC-affiliated meetings are in the "unprogrammed" Quaker tradition, though there are a number of Friends churches, or meetings, with pastoral leadership who belong. "Unprogrammed" means that such meetings take place without a designated pastor who leads the service, or a prepared order of worship. In 2013, there were 35,000 members in 641 congregations in the United States affiliated with FGC. FGC's programs include traveling ministries, religious outreach, interfaith relations, book publishing and sales, religious education, an annual conference; the main offices for the FGC are in Pennsylvania. As of February 2015, FGC is overseen by a Central Committee of 142 Friends, 69 of whom are appointed by affiliated yearly and monthly meetings. Members of this committee, known as Central Committee, are appointed on an annual basis.
Central Committee is responsible for: Making final policy decisions affecting the Friends General Conference organization and program Approving the annual budget Making changes in the corporate by-lawsThe work of the FGC is carried out by the staff members of its program committees and numerous volunteers. FGC is managed by the General Secretary; the General Secretary provides spiritually grounded leadership for FGC, adhering to the vision statement and objectives as determined by Central Committee. In 2015, FGC had assets of US$5.5 million. A key program of FGC is the annual Gathering of Friends held at a different college campus every July; the event attracts 1,200 to 1,500 attenders from around the world, but most participants come from the United States and Canada. The event features a slate of plenary speakers. Topics covered include Quaker faith and practice and crafts, multigenerational programming, opportunities for political dialogue and action; the Gathering hosts both Quaker and non-Quaker speakers focusing on messages of interest to Quakers.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. offered a Plenary presentation in 1958. More the Gathering hosted Lester Brown in July 2004, Shane Claiborne in March 2015, Ben Pink Dandelion. In addition to workshops and plenary sessions, the gathering features special events such as concerts. Renowned folk singer Pete Seeger performed a concert in 1997. Canadian singer/songwriter and playwright Evalyn Parry has performed several times at FGC, including in 2002, 2006, 2011; the 2018 edition of the Gathering of Friends will take place July 1-7 at the University of Toledo and include plenary presentations by author Robbin Wall Kimmerer, civil rights activist Dr William Barber, Farm Labor Organizing Committee founder Baldemar Velásquez, in addition to a performance by storyteller La'Ron Williams. <https://www.fgcquaker.org/connect/gathering/programs-and-events/evening-programs> FGC has two sister organizations within Quakerism, Friends United Meeting and Evangelical Friends Church International, that serve the allied branches of Quaker faith and practice.
Each of these three organizations represent different branches within Quakerism. FUM encourages Quakerism through 31 yearly meetings and international mission work, while EFCI places greater emphasis on evangelical Christian beliefs; some Quaker meetings are dually affiliated with both FGC and FUM. Friends affiliated with FGC tend to be decidedly more and theologically liberal than Friends who identify with other traditions in Quakerism, though FGC welcomes Friends with diverse experiences and points of view. In many respects, they are analogous to mainline Protestants who hold progressive viewpoints on matters such as biblical authority, sexual mores, attitudes towards public policy, with forms of worship, historic gender equality, pacifism being FGC's chief distinctives. FGC's history can be traced back to a series of precursor conferences held between 1868 and 1900; these conferences included the First Day School Conference, the Friends Union for Philanthropic Labor, the Friends Religious Conference, the Friends Educational Conference and the Young Friends Associations.
The precursor conferences were joined together as the Friends General Conference at Chautauqua, New York in August 1900. From 1900 until 1963 FGC's annual conference was held as a biennial conference in a different location each time. Between 1900 and 1922 its location changed for each Conference; the Conference was not held in 1918. The conference was held at the following locations between 1900 and 1922. 1900: Chautauqua, New York 1902: Asbury Park, New Jersey 1904: Toronto, Ontario 1906: Mountain Lake Park, Maryland 1908: Winona Lake, Indiana 1910: Ocean Grove, New Jersey 1912: Chautauqua, New York 1914: Saratoga, New York 1916: Cape May, New Jersey 1920: Cape May, New Jersey 1922: Richmond, Indiana The 1924 and 1926 Conferences were held in Ocean City, New Jersey. From 1928 until 1962, the Conferences were held in New Jersey. Beginning in 1963, FGC hosted an annual conference and once again changed locations more frequently. In the late 1970s in "order to make room for emphasis on the other important work of Friends General Conference, the annual conference began to be called the Gathering".
Although it was most held in the Eastern United States, the Gathering has been hosted by college campuses in Stillwater, Hamilton, Canada, Parkland and Greeley, Colorado. 1963: Traverse City, Michigan 1964: Cape May, New Jersey 1965: Traverse City, Michigan 1966: Cape May, New Jersey