Quakerism: a radical, sustainable faith – questions for reflection

By Simon Best

If my article in Friends Quarterly and my George Gorman lecture could have one outcome it is that we talk more as Friends, in our meetings and in other Quaker groups.

I believe that all Quakers need to talk about the issues I have raised, but most importantly we need to talk about our faith, our spirituality and about our Religious Society of Friends. We need to have that conversation again with each other and to move beyond talking to doing.

This process won’t be easy. People will get hurt. But I’m not a Quaker because it is easy. I’m a Quaker because I am convinced now, right now that it is my faith community and where I belong spiritually.

Change is difficult but it is also inevitable. We can choose the change we want or we will face the change of the Religious Society of Friends dying out. I believe we must move forward but we must do it lovingly, remembering as Isaac Penington wrote that  Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand Quaker faith and practice 10.01

Questions for reflection and discussion in your meeting.

Groups: Groups of 6 to 8 are the ideal size. If your meeting or group is bigger than this then split into smaller groups to consider the questions before coming together for a short plenary.

Time:  Allow about 40 minutes for discussion in small groups, and about 20 minutes for sharing in a plenary.

Structure: Start with a short period of silence. Consider and agree how you will work together (for example agreeing confidentiality, respect, and listening carefully to each other). Using creative listening may also be helpful.

You may want to have large sheets of paper for the group to jot things on as you talk share, and reflect.  End with a period silence too.


  1. What is God calling us as Quakers to be and to do?
  2. Are we willing to change? How?

Individual reflection: You may want to give some time for individual reflection and an opportunity for people to record:



Things they want to off-load now and leave behind

Things they want to carry forward,

  • this week,
  • yourself,
  • in your Quaker meeting/group

    A hand touching water

    Photo: A6U571N/flickr CC

 Note: this article appears as a follow up to “Quakerism: a radical, sustainable faith” published in Issue 1 of The Friends Quarterly journal, 2012. The lecture can be heard here. An interview with Simon Best will also appear here. If you wish to submit your own response to Simon Best’s article or lecture to Nayler please email [email protected]. Simon’s earlier prize-winning entry in the Friends Quarterly competition can be found here.

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