Testimonies

A way of living faithfully

Many religious groups have creeds. Quaker faith springs from a deeply held belief in living our lives according to our spiritual experience.

Prepared to be Different

Quaker testimonies are not a set of words, but an expression of our spirituality in action. In attempting to live out our testimonies, we are holding up an alternative vision of humanity and society, centred on meeting real needs rather than ever changing desires.

Quaker testimonies have a long history:

  • we worked for the abolition of slavery and are still involved in racial justice issues.
  • we have always opposed war as a means of settling disputes and still work for peace and alternatives to violence.

Quaker testimonies arise out of an inner conviction and challenge our normal ways of living:

  • they exist in spiritually-led actions rather than rigid written forms
  • they are governed by continuing spiritual experience and are not imposed in any way
  • they require us to search for ways in which the testimonies can become true for ourselves

It’s not easy! But with loving advice and a supportive community, Quakers are encouraged to keep trying.

Truth and Integrity

Quakers try to live according to the deepest truth we know, which we believe comes from God. This means speaking the truth to all, including people in positionsof power. Integrity is the guiding principle we set for ourselves and expect in public life.

Justice, Equality and Community

Quakers recognise the equal worth and unique nature of every person. This means working to change the systems that cause injustice and hinder true community. It also means working with people who are suffering from injustice, such as prisoners and asylum seekers.

Simplicity

Quakers are concerned about the excesses and unfairness of our consumer society, and the unsustainable use of natural resources. We try to live simply and to give space for the things that really matter: the people around us, the natural world, our experience of God.

Peace

Perhaps Quakers are best known for our peace testimony. This derives from our conviction that love is at the heart of existence and all human beings are equal in the eyes of God, and that we must live in a way that reflects this. It has led Quakers to refuse military service, and to become involved in a wide range of peace activities from practical work in areas affected by violent conflict to the development of alternatives to violence at all levels from personal to international.

Earth and Environment

New testimonies emerge as the reasons for them and the underlying spiritual basis of action become clarified. One such area concerns our stewardship of the environment.

For many Quakers what has been an “emerging” testimony to the environment has now become an established one, with close links to the peace testimony and the testimony to simplicity.

Quakers recognise that their testimonies go against many of the current strands of economic, social and political change. This may, therefore, mean dissenting from fundamental aspects of the contemporary social order. It means living out our testimonies so as to hold out an alternative vision of deep human fulfilment. One way of doing so is to share with one another our practice of living our testimonies in accordance with our beliefs much more openly and adventurously, in a spirit of faithful discipleship.

Together with others who share these fundamental values, we need to keep alive an alternative vision of society centred on meeting real human and spiritual needs rather than ever-changing desires; a society where inequalities of wealth and power are small enough for there to be true equality of people as children of God; a society which, mindful of the quality of life and needs of future generations, limits its use of natural resources to what is sustainable; a society which is content with sufficiency rather than excess; and a society in which justice and truth are the basis for social peace and community.

With thanks to the Testimonies Committee of Quaker Peace & Social Witness

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