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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.




 Simplicity is the right ordering of our lives, placing God at the center. When we shed possessions, activities, and behavior that distract us from that center, we can focus on what is important. Simplicity does not mean denying life’s pleasures, but being open to the promptings of the Spirit.We Friends seek to take no more than our share and to be sensitive to the needs of others, especially future generations.

 Early Friends believed that the rituals and elaborate ceremony of the church were distractions from true religious experience. Seeking to emphasize substance rather than form, they gathered to worship simply in silence. To this day Friends in unprogrammed Meetings worship without outward sacraments.

 Maintaining a simple life requires discipline and resolve to avoid getting lost in worldly distractions or undertaking too many activities, even in the service of good causes.When Friends truly practice simplicity, their lives and homes are orderly and they find time for prayer and service.

 In earlier times, and in their concern to avoid frivolity, Friends devalued art and music. Later Friends recognized that music and art can enrich life in the Light. Simplicity need not entail meagerness or crudeness. A simple rendering of speech, writing, or artifacts often enhances that which is genuine and unmasks that which is not.

 Simplicity, when it removes encumbering details, makes for beauty in music, in art, and in living. It clears the springs of life and permits wholesome mirth and gladness to bubble up; it cleans the windows of life and lets joy radiate. It requires the avoidance of artificial or harmful social customs and conventions but it opens wide the door to cultivate and express to all sincere cordiality, kindness and friendliness. This sort of simplicity removes barriers and eases tensions. In its presence all can be at ease.

philadelphia yearly meeting
faith & practice, 1961, pp. 22-24