The Beginning of Quakerism
The Society of Friends was founded by George Fox in England at the time of the Puritan Revolution (about 1628 – 1660). George Fox, born in 1624, began a solitary, spiritual quest of truth when he was nineteen. He records in his Journal that at last in 1646, “when all my hopes in … all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could tell what to do, then, O then, I heard a voice which said, ‘There is one even Christ Jesus, that can speak to they condition,’ and, when I heard it, my heart did leap for joy.” Fox proclaimed that God speaks directly to each human soul through a present, living experience of Christ. The heart of his great message was the gospel of this revelation: the Inner Light, requires no human mediator to translate its meaning to the individual.
The Meeting for Worship is set apart for corporate aspiration. Its basis is silent and direct communion with God. It affords opportunity for resolute fixing of the heart and mind upon that which is unchangeable and eternal, making it a time of expectant waiting for the leading of the Divine Spirit.
Our conviction is that the Spirit of God is in all, and that vocal utterance comes when this Spirit works within us. Therefore we do not set anyone apart whose special duty it is to supply the spoken word in our Meetings.The responsibility rests upon every member to be ready and willing to take part in the vocal service under due sense of Divine prompting. It is helpful to have a period of silence between vocal expresssions.
Text on this page is drawn from Book of Discipline of the Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting, Religious Society of Friends; A Guide to Christian Faith and Practice. Revised 1978.