Who are the Quakers?
The Religious Society of Friends, often called Quakers, was founded more than 350 years ago when George Fox and his followers discovered that the qualities of Christianity were more important than its dogma.
Since then Friends have tried to live by this principle and have become known for their quiet conviction, their concern for peace and justice and their belief that business and commerce can thrive without disregarding Christian values.
What do we believe?
Quakers often use the term 'inward light'. George Fox called it 'that of God in every one'. It is the individual's spiritual awareness, a profound sense of right, which, if listened to, acts as a guide through life. Fox urged his followers to attend to their spiritual well-being and to be patterns and examples so that they might 'walk cheerfully over the world answering that of God in every one.'
As a result, although Friends emphasize the teachings of Jesus and try to live by his example, they are open to the lessons to be learned from life's experience and to the insights of other faiths. All accept the existence of a universal spiritual life and the overwhelming power of love. Spontaneity and equality are at the heart of the Quaker approach to life.
They believe, too, in the value of human relationships, in living adventurously and that life is to be enjoyed.
How do we worship?
The Meeting for Worship has been central to Friends for more than three centuries. It is based on silence and is not led by a priest or minister. Out of a 'quiet waiting on God' anyone is free to speak, pray, or read a passage from the Bible or other source of inspiration and, in so doing, contribute to a 'gathered meeting' in which a deep sense of oneness and harmony becomes a profoundly spiritual experience.
How long have we been in Lewes?
Meetings have been held since 1655, at first in private houses. The first meeting house was replaced by the present one in 1784. It is a timber-framed building covered in front with mathematical tiles. The simple interior has wooden panelling and an upper gallery. The modern part of the building at the right has a kitchen, library, children's room and a flat for the warden.
Quakers and the modern world
Quakers are drawn from all walks of life. They lead busy lives but many of them feel a call to concern themselves with the problems of the world. First and foremost they are known for their work for peace. Friends have always opposed war as inconsistent with the spirit and teaching of Christ and actively seek non-violent solutions to conflict. Friends are found helping to resolve conflict or bringing help to victims in Northern Ireland, the Middle East or any one of a dozen trouble spots and a Quaker peace team is permanently based at the United Nations headquarters. Housing the homeless, rehabilitating young offenders and finding better alternatives to prison are all areas which involve today's Quakers.
Quaker business meetings
These are held in a spirit of worship. There is no voting, and Friends seek consensus rather than compromise, as the intention is to find the will of God in the work of the meeting.
Will I be welcome?
Meetings for Worship are open to all. Explanatory leaflets are available at the door, and when the Meeting ends, after about an hour, we would be happy to talk with you over tea or coffee, and invite you to use our library. You will be under no obligation, but your first-time experience may prompt you to come again.