About Quakers

Who are we? What do we believe? Meeting for Worship Organisation

Who are we?
Meeting for Worship at DorkingDo we (as some people think) still wear strange hats and plain clothes and hold puritanical ideas? Not any more.
We are a group of very ordinary people (whose official name is the Religious Society of Friends) who feel that we belong together as a family that shares beliefs based on a common Christian heritage.

What do we believe?
Firstly, that there is something of God's spirit in all human beings. However much evil and suffering there is in the world, we can speak directly to 'that of God' in everyone and have respect for all God's creation, as did Jesus of Nazareth. That spirit is accessible to us today.
Secondly, we are more concerned with the truth behind the words than with formal statements of belief. For this reason Quakers, ever since the 17th century, have rejected creeds and outward sacraments, as well as a hierarchical church based on an ordained priesthood.
In these beliefs Quakers have, ever since 1652, established a well-thought-out organisation with the minimum of structure. They are well-known for their contribution to international peace and understanding and for their social work. They have been pioneers in education and penal reform.
Always we try to translate the teaching of Jesus into everyday life. None of us would claim that we have all the answers or that we don't often fail; but we do claim that our continual search for that of God both in ourselves and in others gives a meaning and purpose to life which enriches it and makes our pursuit of His will for us an exciting journey.
Meeting for Worship
is central in the life of our 'family'. As we meet together in silent worship we become aware of the 'still small voice' within each one of us. So the whole Meeting is led into an experience of God. As we are drawn together in fellowship, one or other may feel called to share some helpful thought that arises out of the life of the Meeting, or else to pray or to read from the Bible or other writing.
The Meeting for Worship usually lasts an hour and begins when the first Friends enter the meeting room. At Dorking the children come into Meeting at the beginning for a quarter of an hour (and may come in at the end to share their activities with us). The Meeting ends when two elders shake hands. The Clerk, who is responsible for administrative matters connected with the Meeting, then reads out notices. These often reflect the wide range of interests and activities that Friends are involved in, both nationally and locally.
There are about 450 Meetings of Friends in Great Britain, some larger than Dorking and some smaller. Membership is open to those who share our outlook and who, in worshipping with us, find themselves at home with us.
There are just under 20,000 members and perhaps 10,000 attenders in this country; much larger numbers in America and East Africa and smaller groups in most parts of Europe and the rest of the world.
Dorking is one of seven Local Quaker Meetings in this area, making up what is known as West Weald Area Meeting (AM). Each of them holds Sunday meetings for worship and a business meeting (Preparative Meeting or PM) about six times per year, conducted by the Clerk. This is open to all members. Quakers think of their business meetings as an extension of meetings for worship, both being held under the guidance of God. In the larger Meetings such as Dorking some detailed work is carried out by committees with responsibility for special areas of work. The Meeting has some Elders and Overseers who are responsible for the spiritual life of the Meeting and for the welfare of individual members and attenders. There is a list of these on display in Dorking Meeting House; they will be happy to answer your questions.
An Area Meeting is held about six times each year. Here applications for membership are dealt with, appointments to national bodies are made and 'concerns' of individual Friends, having been raised at PM, are talked through and may be forwarded to Yearly Meeting. This is the body that covers the work and life of the Society in Britain. Its executive body is still called 'Meeting for Sufferings', a reminder of the 17th century, when Quakers suffered in large numbers for their faith.
Surrey & Sussex Regional Meeting holds a one-day event four times a year in different parts of the two counties. Interesting topics are presented and discussed. It is also a good chance to meet and talk.

Page updated: 27 Jul 2016

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