Friends General Conference

Together we nurture the spiritual vitality of Friends
an unprogrammed Quaker meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee

Defining our spirituality

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It is our understanding that religious knowledge, like the appreciation of beauty, is not attained by a logical process of thought but by experience and feeling. We seek guidance from spiritual leaders and individuals regardless of religious or spiritual affiliation. Quaker thought is both mystical (waiting upon God) and prophetic (speaking truth to power). Although the Religious Society of Friends began as an alternative form of Christianity in the 1600s, many consider themselves spiritual instead of religious.  Modern Friends may or may not align with a specific religious philosophy.  

Being "Children of Light" we find using violence to resolve conflict, social injustice, and the careless use of the earth's resources intolerable.  We look for that of God in ourselves and recognize the Spirit in all others. We believe that seeking to understand in silent, expectant waiting will result in the way opening to a clearer understanding. When we gain insight it is our obligation to end our silence and act on the revelations brought about through our expectant waiting. We acknowledge we have much work to do concerning social issues within ourselves, our societal structures, and the world.  

According to the traditional practice of Friends, most gatherings begin in reverent silence. Although silent waiting appears similar to meditation, out of this silence may come the individual urge to speak, to share with the group some insight or some questioning. In this way, individuals minister to the group. Such words are not an interruption to the silent contemplation: the messages often speak to the hearts of others.  It is this tradition of silence and sharing that makes each gathering of Friends unique.


Hoare, Ted,

Phelps, Sharon, 2013, West Knoxville Friends Meeting

Preast, Melissa, 2020, West Knoxville Friends Meeting

The links include additional information about Quaker Spirituality