What is Quaker Worship?
Friends usually gather in worship for about an hour on Sunday morning. Unprogrammed meetings are grounded in silent expectant waiting upon the presence of God. Any participant may feel led by the Holy Spirit to share a message and is welcome to speak out of the silence. In pastoral Friends meetings, worship often includes hymns, scripture reading, a children's message and a sermon. At West Newton we have a "semi-programmed meeting" which includes hymns and scripture reading but does not include a pastoral sermon. The open worship or "silent expectant waiting" lasts about 30 minutes. We generally close our meeting by shaking hands and exchanging greetings.
Children are welcome to join meeting for worship. Younger children may go in the care of an adult during the unprogrammed part of worship.
We warmly invite you to join this exciting experience of direct communion with God.
Do you have Sunday School?
At West Newton, typical Sunday School is provided for elementary and junior high age children. The adults have a time of fellowship and discussion while the children are in class. Adult Sunday School varies from time to time and has included book studies, Bible studies, and so on.
What do Friends Believe?
Friends have no creeds--no official words can substitute for a personal relationship with God. These unofficial statements give a general sense of the Friends Faith.
God is love and wants to communicate with anyone who is willing.
Worship is spiritual and must be Spirit-led.
All people are equal before God and may minister as they are led by God.
Jesus Christ is our present Teacher and Lord and we seek to conduct church affairs in unity under his guidance.
The Spirit of God gives guidance that is consistent with the Bible.
As people respond to the Christ within, their lives begin to reflect Jesus peace, integrity, simplicity, and moral purity.
Are the "Quakers" different from the "Friends"?
No. "Quakers" is just a nickname for Friends. The Friends movement began in mid-17th century England. The name "Friends" comes from Jesus statement, "I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." (John 15:15) Early Friends also called thmeseves "The Chidlren of Light" and " Publishers of Truth." Others nicknamed the Friends, "quakers," because they "quaked" (or tembled) in the power of God. They later adopted the name, "The Religious Society of Friends." More recently the term "Friends Chruch" has come into widespread usage, particularly among pastoral Friends.
Do friends believe in the Bible?
The Bible is our primary spiritual text. The scriptures are given for instruction, enlightenment and encouragement. When they are interpreted with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and an understanding of the historical context they are a source of truth. We also understand that good Christians and good people can disagree about the interpretation of scriptures. We are determined not to let these differences of interpretation become a source of rancor among us or between us and other believers. We believe that anyone, regardless of their education level or giftedness, can be a good student of the Bible.
What are the "Quaker testimonies"?
Friends believe that listening to Christ and following the leading of the inward Light will result in lives that look more like Jesus. The "testimonies" are the way that Friends have tried to corporately demonstrate God's power to overcome sin. There is no definitive list of testimonies, but we often speak of peace, simplicity, truth speaking, gender and racial equality, personal integrity,fidelity, and community.
The testimonies challenge ungodly aspects of contemporary culture. From the earliest days of the Quaker movement, Friends have tried to live nonviolently and many Friends have been conscientious objectors to participation in war. In the United States, Friends were among the first to denounce slave-holding and make freeing slaves a matter of church discipline. Friends have always practiced the equality of women and men. In contemporary society, Friends seek to find ways to live free from the dominant culture of materialism, violence, and immorality. There are no rigid, legalistic answers to these problems, but we seek to create communities of faith where individually and together we follow conscience fully informed by the Light of Christ.
Do Friends practice the sacraments?
One of the crucial testimonies of Friends is that the grace of God can be received directly by any person without the need for any human intermediary such as priest or pastor. Friends believe that Jesus Christ baptizes his followers directly with the Holy Spirit. Friends also believe that it is important to live in daily, inward, communion with God. No outward ceremonies can substitute for the inward reality of these experiences.
Do Friends have pastors?
Friends believe that all Christians are called to lives of ministry and service. All Friends meetings have elders who have a special responsibility to care for the spiritual life of the meeting. Traditional unprogrammed Friends do not have paid pastors, but many Friends meetings are pastoral and call pastors to either fulltime or part-time service. West Newton Friends Meeting does not have a pastor. Various members take turns leading worship.
Friends recognize that God gives certain people a special gift and calling for public ministry. Friends "record" this gift of ministry and sometimes release "recorded ministers" for service as pastors. Pastoral ministers serve the meeting by visiting and preaching, but their major responsibility is to help equip the other members of the meeting for the service to which God is calling them.
What's with the guy on the oats box? Do Quakers really dress like that? Are Friends like the Amish?
In the 18th and early 19th centuries, Friends wore what is called "plain dress" as a way of testifying against the vain fashions of the world. In the last hundred and more years, Friends have tried to maintain a simplicity of life without being legalistic about dress codes. The oats-box guy is "old hat" as far as quakers are concerned.
The Amish and the Friends are both Christian denominations, and both are "peace churches." However, they have different roots and different ways of faith and practice.