PLAN YOUR VISIT
If you have any questions, or would like to arrange for someone to meet you at your car when you arrive, please contact info@Downingtownfriendsmeeting.org and we will do our best to accommodate you.
Who are Quakers?We are members of the Religious Society of Friends, a community of over 300,000 people from all over the world. We refer to ourselves as Friends. You may find many Quaker Meetings along the East Coast of the U.S., as this is where many Quakers settled after fleeing religious persecution in England. Some well-known Quakers include William Penn, Judi Dench, Bonnie Raitt, James Dean and Captain Bildad from “Moby-Dick,” and if you’ve watched the show, “Fleabag,” you might remember the scene where the main character attends Meeting for Worship.
Where do Quakers come from?The Religious Society of Friends dates back to England in 1652 when a young itinerant preacher named George Fox converted a group known as the Westmoreland Seekers. Over the next several years, the new movement grew and attracted the attention of authorities who persecuted and imprisoned Quakers in large numbers, with hundreds dying in harsh prison conditions. Their public witness was crucial in the eventual passage of the Toleration Act of 1689 which guaranteed religious minorities the right to worship in public.
Why do Quakers call each other Friends?From the earliest years of Quakerism in England, we have referred to ourselves as Friends of Truth, or more commonly, just Friends. The word “Quaker” was originally a derogatory nickname. According to George Fox, the name first applied to the group when he advised a magistrate to "tremble at the word of the Lord." Also, early Friends were often said to tremble or quake in the fervor of their religious worship. Nevertheless, the name stuck, and nowadays, we use Quakers and Friends interchangeably.
Are Quakers Amish?No. Quakers were once known for dressing plainly, similar to the style of clothing worn by the Amish today; however, the image of the Quaker Oats mascot is not reflective of our modern fashion choices. Some of us continue to dress in simple, more conservative or ethically produced fashion, while others dress however they want to express themselves. The Amish live separately from society and technology, and the roots of their religion differ from Quaker origin.
What do Quakers believe?To put things simply, we believe that there is “that of God in everyone.” We think all humans, without exception, have the ability to connect directly with God, and each one of us is a being of unique worth. This is why we value all people equally. We refer to God by many names, including the Divine Spirit, Spirit, The Light, the Still Small Voice and the love we find in everyday life, human relationships and Meeting for Worship.
Are Quakers Christian?Today, the majority of us identify as Christians, firmly rooted in the Bible and the wider Christian tradition. However, there are many Friends who describe themselves as other than Christian, out of a conviction that the essence of Quakerism is something universal, transcending the specifics of any one religion.
Do Quakers believe in the Bible?We see the Bible as a precious record that has been left to us by writers who were inspired by their encounters with God. However, we believe that the same encounter and inspiration are available to us today. Quakers have always maintained that only those who are themselves inspired by the same Spirit that inspired the scriptures can understand the meaning of the Bible. So it’s the experience of the Light in our hearts, and not the Bible, that’s our primary source of truth.
What's Thee and Thou?Today, Friends generally look and sound just like everyone else. Historically, though, the Quakers were linguistically unique in their determination to use “thee, thou, and thine” when addressing their fellow people, as these singular pronouns had begun to denote a level of informality that was often considered rude in the hierarchical monarchy of England. While the then-plural pronoun “you” had come to imply respect and deference to “superiors” (in association with the royal “we”), the Quakers’ steadfast refusal to use “you” in their day-to-day interactions represented a larger dedication to equality and the belief that each person held similar value—regardless of title and socioeconomic ties. These days, “you” doesn’t hold the same implications it did back then, so you’ll hear Friends using it without reservation!
TESTIMONIES FROM OUR MEMBERS
THE LIGHT OF GOD
The spirit and the vitality of this group at Downingtown Friends makes me feel right at home, as well as the fact that Quakers, at least this group, can laugh at themselves.
I am glad to have found a home among Friends. It is a whole new spiritual journey for me, and it feels right on so many levels.
I've been interested in Quaker beliefs, and particularly the focus on inclusion, equality, simplicity, and peace, for years and occasionally attended Meeting for Worship at different places in the Philadelphia area. I loved the silent worship and the sharing by members.