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Faith and Practice

Pacific Yearly Meeting

of the

Religious Society of Friends

a guide to quaker discipline in the experience of pacific yearly meeting of the religious society of friends.
published 2001

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ii: quaker faith and spiritual practice

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Living Our Faith

pym in context
quaker faith & spiritual practice
testimony & experience of friends
organization of the society
activities & organization of the YM
sources of quotations
index of sources
subject index

We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of Friends who have permitted us to use material for this Faith and Practice.




 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

galatians 3:28, the new jerusalem bible

 Friends testimony on equality is rooted in the holy expectation that there is that of God in everyone, including adversaries and people from widely different stations, life experiences, and religious persuasions. All must therefore be treated with integrity and respect. The conviction that each person is equally a child of God opened the way for women to be leaders in the Religious Society of Friends: both women and men ministered in Friends Meetings from earliest days.

 The testimony of equality does not imply that all individuals in a particular role are the same; it recognizes that the same measure of God’s grace is available to everyone. John Woolman exemplified this belief in his travel among Native Americans:

 Love was the first motion, and thence a concern arose to spend some time with the Indians, that I might feel and understand their life and the spirit they live in, if haply I might receive some instruction from them, or they be in any degree helped forward by my following the leadings of Truth amongst them.

john woolman, journal, 1763
ed. j. g. whittier, 1871, p.192

 Before Friends became pacifists, they were dismissed from the army for refusing to treat officers as superior. George Fox and other early Friends demonstrated their conviction that all persons were of equal worth by refusing to take off their hats to those who claimed higher rank, and by addressing everyone with the singular “thou” (or “thee” in America) rather than the honorific plural “you.” Friends recognize that unjust inequities persist throughout society, and that difficult work remains to rid ourselves and the Religious Society of Friends from prejudice and inequitable treatment based upon gender, class, race, age, sexual orientation, physical attributes, or other categorizations. Both in the public realm — where Friends may “speak truth to power” — and in intimate familial contexts, Friends’ principles require witness against injustice and inequality wherever it exists.