Simple, Radical, Contemporary
Quakers (or The Religious Society of Friends to give their correct title) try to live up to all three of these words. Quakerism is a living and breathing faith for a modern age, striving to respond practically to the needs of the world around it. Faith in action is our practical response. Quaker are more interested in this life, than in the next, and believe that all people can find their connection with God here and now.
A Faith for everyone
This statement is truly at the heart of Quaker Faith; the belief that every single human being has the Divine spark or seed within them. Quakers believe everyone can directly access this universal creation if they so choose, regardless of race, colour, age, gender, sexuality or faith. (Indeed whether or not they profess to believe in a Divine force at all!) All are truly equal in God. There are no “chosen or saved ones” and no inherent evil that cannot be transformed. This belief inspires our practical response to the problems of society.
Meeting for Worship is held each week, times below, followed by coffee and fellowship.
Sundays 10.30 -11.30am
Wednesdays 12.15 -12.45pm
More general information about Quakers nationally see www.Quaker.org.uk
We welcome everyone at Meeting for Worship regardless of faith (or none), ethnicity, sexuality, age, gender or background. We say there is "that of God within every person" and this belief in equality is at the heart of Quaker values.
Our meetings are based on silent gathering with no ministers or creeds. In the stillness we open our hearts and lives to new insights and guidance. .There are no set hymns, prayers or sermons. Sometimes we are moved to share what we discover with those present. We call this 'ministry'.
Quakerism is rooted in Christianity but also draws on inspiration from many faiths and mystical traditions. It started in 17th century England during the civil war when society was in turmoil politically & socially.
The founding figure, George Fox (pictured above) was increasingly disillusioned with the established church, finding their rituals & practices increasingly meaningless.
Silent worship underpins Quakerism and makes it profoundly different from other religious practices. It is true many Faiths recognise silence as part of their worship, but for Friends it is right at the heart of the matter. It is the belief that to truly sense the Divine, we feel the need to go to beyond words. What ever you chose to call this universal force – God, Light, the Spirit, oneness – no words can ultimately sum up the experience....
A Priesthood of all
George Fox felt that the clergy were not an aid to accessing the Divine spirit or "Light" within him. If everyone has this Light, then they are all potentially priests or ministers and able to communicate directly with their maker. He sought to rediscover a simpler less cluttered spirituality and found stillness or silence to be the key to truly hearing the promptings of love and truth in our hearts.
"Walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one"
George Fox, co founder of Quakers, 1659
Quakers & Activism
Quakers have a long history of activism and involvement with politics, social concerns, environment, economics and much more. Our testimonies to Truth, Peace, Equality, Sustainability lead us to get involved with many concerns in the quest for a better world for all life, not just human beings. For Quakers, Faith leads naturally to action. Examples include lobbying Government for same sex marriage, protesting against the arms trade, working on literacy programmes in prisons, engaging in reconciliation work between all parties in Northern Ireland or working as independent observers in Palestine. Historically Quakers have been instrumental in abolition of the slave trade (John Woolman), prison reform (Elizabeth Fry) and many as conscientious objectors to war, principally WW1 & 2.
Quakers & Chocolate
The names of Cadbury, Rowntree & Fry are pretty well known to most of us. Less well known is that they were Quaker firms (note: were!). They were business people concerned to put their profits to social good creating better living conditions for their workers, supporting adult education to name a few of their enterprises. In the 18th & 19th century Quakers as non conformists were barred from entering University so set up ethical businesses instead - and were extremely successful!
Quakers & Banking
Alongside famous manufacturing businesses, there are two other household names whose early success was built by Quakers: Lloyds and Barclays. These big names in banking might not occur to you when you think of Quaker values of peace, equality and sustainability, but both were established by Quaker families. Though they no longer have a Quaker connection, Lloyds was formed in 1765, while Barclays began back in 1690. Both became trusted as responsible and ethical lenders. They quickly became established financial institutions during the 18th & 19th century, like the Chocolate Quakers, using their profits for social good. During the 20th Century they had fallen from Quaker ownership and today neither bank has any connection to the Quaker principles that founded it.
HISTORY OF QUAKERS IN HORSHAM
Although the original North Sussex Quakers were collectively called the Horsham Meeting, there was not a meeting house in Horsham until 1693. This probably results from Horsham holding the local assizes (court hearings) and having a gaol.
Quaker activities, and activities of other non-conformist churches, were illegal and the attenders of these groups (the dissenters) were severely punished, often by imprisonment. Not surprisingly the Horsham Quakers were reluctant to build a meeting house in the local centre of law enforcement. It wasn’t until the Toleration act (1689) that these religious groups became lawful.
However the Horsham Quakers came under pressure of other Quakers to have their own meeting house which was finally built in 1693. This first house was replaced by the current building (on the same site) in 1785/6...