Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Steve Angell answers a Quaker Questionnaire

College student Samantha Siebert reached out to ESR's Leatherock Professor of Quaker Studies Stephen Angell to complete a questionnaire on Quakerism for a project in her religion class. Below are her questions and his responses. Do you think he got all of the answers right?

Quaker Questionnaire

Thank you for taking the time to do this questionnaire. Please fill out each question to the best of your knowledge.

1.      Please describe your affiliation with/connection to the Quaker religion?
I am a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

2.      To the best of your knowledge, when was the Quaker religion founded?
The middle of the 17th century (about 1650).

3.      Please describe a typical Quaker service. What takes place? Is there a spiritual or prayer leader? What role does that person play in the service? What is that person called?
It varies from place to place. In some locales, such as the area of Philadelphia, the group meets in silence. If some one is given a message from God, they are free to share that with the group, but then the group returns to the silence. The role of the leader is to close the worship by shaking hands. She or he has no title. In other parts of the world, there is often a pastor who leads the Quaker worship. A short period of silence may be included in the worship, but generally there are lots of hymns, prayers, and a sermon.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Quakers Are Mystics

ESR MA student Tracy Davis completed this essay for her Quaker Mysticism course with Carole Spencer. You can find out more about Spirituality courses at ESR here, and our Quaker Studies courses here.

Quakers are mystics. Friends testify to a communicative Creator who is both transcendent and immanent, present among us, even within us. Our practices of silent waiting worship, corporate prayer, or verbal sharing in message or songs of admiration and gratitude, create an intentional inviting environment for awareness of the guidance and action of the Holy in our personal lives, in community and in all of creation. Dorothee Soelle understands that: The basic conviction of Quakers wasand isthat God reveals Godself without respect of persons’” (Soelle 2001, 173). God continues to reveal that which is real directly to any person or sincere group of seekers, no exceptions. Positive energy within a group enhances our perception of the brightness of the Light because humans respond to and open up their hearts more when nurtured in acceptance, respect and encouragement. As it should be mysticism is, indeed, at the center of Quaker praxis, both personal and corporate.