We draw our fellowship and strength from our Sunday Meetings for Worship. Silence is at the centre; we sit quietly in a circle for an hour and wait. If someone is moved to do so, they stand and speak – which we call ‘ministry’ – and we listen to them in silence. Often several people will minister during a Meeting, but sometimes we simply sit in communal stillness, open to inspiration.
We welcome people who are seeking a sense of inner peace, of fellowship with fellow spiritual travellers; people with questions or a yearning for meaning that the consumer world doesn’t offer. All are welcome. Everyone shares in this sitting and silent waiting in Meeting for Worship.
We are very broadminded when it comes to beliefs. Some Quakers describe themselves as Christians and follow the example and teachings of Christ, but others do not. Some believe in God and would say that God’s Spirit inspires them to speak and act, or indeed, to listen and wait. Others may think of ‘god’ as unknowable or see their spirituality differently.
One thing almost all of us believe is that everyone has an ‘inner light’ within them. Some think of it, for example, as ‘that of god’, others as a spark of goodness in the human spirit. What’s important is looking for it and recognising it in yourself and other people. It gives us hope and compassion.
We think that spiritual inspiration can come from many different sources. We particularly use Quaker Faith and Practice, an anthology of Quaker writings produced across several centuries, as a source of spiritual guidance and inspiration.The content is revised and updated at intervals.
The first section, called Advices and Queries, is a short collection of questions and suggestions which Quakers use to help them think, pray and reflect on their spiritual lives. Other sections in this book are writings and reflections on many aspects of living a Quaker life, as well as practical guidance on how to organise Quakers, from looking after Meeting Houses to running Quaker weddings and funerals. See :
Living our faith
We hold certain values that we call Testimonies:
• Truth – being truthful and honest in all our dealings
• Equality – believing that all people are of equal worth
• Simplicity – living simply, not cluttering up our lives unnecessarily
• Peace – seeking peace and working for reconciliation
• Looking after the environment.
We try to live out these values in our everyday lives.
From their beginnings, Quakers have been actively involved in social justice and reform. Such activities have drawn many of us to this faith community and in Bristol, Friends – as we call ourselves – are involved in resolving conflict non-violently, in outreach with homeless people, campaigning against the arms trade, working for climate justice, supporting asylum seekers and refugees, rooting out racism, and many other causes.
In this website and others, many Quaker terms are used, such as the word Quaker itself, Friend, Member, Attender, Area Meeting, Local Meeting, and Meeting for Worship. Please click on this link to see these terms explained in plain English.
We are grateful to Central England Quakers for this explanation of Quaker terms.
About Quakers and Quakerism
Quakers in Britain – our national website
Quaker Week website – A special site for those who wish to find out more about Quakers.
Young Friends General Meeting National organisation for Quakers (18 – 30yrs) in Britain. YFGM organises a number of events that enable young Friends from around Britain to get together for social and spiritual gatherings.
Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre Woodbrooke is the Quaker Study Centre in the UK. It is based in the former family home of the local chocolate maker, George Cadbury, himself a Quaker, and has, since 1903, provided education for those of any faith or none from around the world.
Swarthmoor Hall The Quaker historic house and retreat at Ulverston which is the birthplace of Quakerism.
Quaker Schools Website dedicated to the seven Quaker schools in England.
Web space for young Quakers What it says on the tin! Place for Quakers under eighteen.
Quaker Groups lists the many groups of Quakers who come together nationally over a shared interest or action to make the world a better place.
They include, for example:
• Nontheist Friends Network
• Quaker Action on Alcohol and Drugs
• Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network
• Quaker Gender and Sexual Diversity Community
• Quaker Peace Studies Trust
• Quaker Universalist Group
Who are the Quakers?
We hope these films give an idea of Quaker lives and beliefs:
See: Our work
Quakers in Bristol
There are seven meetings in and around Bristol. Some are small, some large and they all share the same way of worship.
There was a time when we were outwardly quiet, grey and reserved about communicating. We’re more confident now and think we have a powerful, warm and motivating way of life to offer, and always plenty to learn from those who attend and engage with us. You are most welcome.