The Religious Society of Friends (which is our formal title) was founded in the seventeenth century by George Fox, and it is for this reason that you will hear us refer to each other as 'Friends'. To the public we are more commonly known as Quakers.
It was, and remains, a Christian-based religion; the belief in the existance of Jesus. It is not possible to say what all Quakers believe, because each individual has his or her own spiritual understanding. What draws us together as a worshiping group is a conviction that in everyone there is a spiritual dimension which should be respected and loved.
Some central beliefs hold us together as a religious community:
The light of God is in everyone
Each person can have a direct, personal relationship with God - there is no need for a priest or a minister as a mediator
Our relationship with God is nurtured by worship based on silent waiting
The nature of God is love
These beliefs lead us to strive for:
the equality of all human beings
simplicity in our worship and in our way of life
the right to freedom of conscience
a sense of shared responsibility for the life of our communities and the integrity of creation
We sometimes refer to these as Quaker testimonies.
During our Meetings for Worship we try to clear our minds of distracting thoughts and remind ourselves of the mysteries of life. By sitting in silence we find that peace, and the spiritual setting allows us to be more receptive to such thoughts. Anyone is free to share his or her thoughts with the group by offering Ministry, i.e. standing up and speaking! Coming, as it does, out the silence of a meeting, ministry can be quite moving, and at times it is surprising how many other people were thinking along the same lines.
More than 27,000 people attend Quaker meetings for worship and these take place in 500 places around the United Kingdom many of which are Quaker-owned Friends Meeting Houses of which the Blue Idol is one.
Quaker Business Meetings, known as meetings for church affairs, are open to all members and often attenders.
They are meetings for worship and everyone present has a part to play in the decision-making process.
Quakers do not vote. The Clerk, who conducts the meeting, listens to what is said and takes account of the general feeling. A minute is then made, read and approved during the meeting and so records the united decision.
Great care is taken to ensure that everyone's views are heard and that no one feels that they have been outnumbered. The result is often very long meetings (!), but with a decision that all agree on. At its most profound, this method enables Quakers to sense God's leading in the decision made and in the work we undertake.
At the Blue Idol we hold Business Meetings every other month after a normal Meeting for Worship. This is a local business meeting mainly concerning just Blue Idol issues, and is normally attended only by local members and attenders. Other business meetings that might be held here include West Weald Area Meeting (AM) which is attended by representatives of all the Business Meetings in our group.
We are part of West Weald Area Meeting which meets every month, at a different meeting house each time.