Worship, Life & Witness
Index to Section 2
(Click on a heading to skip to that section)
- 2.1 Meeting for Worship
- 2.2 MInistry in Meeting for Worship
- 2.3 Rights and responsibilities of being a Quaker
- 2.4 Quaker concerns
- 2.5 Quaker testimonies
Section 2 – WORSHIP, LIFE AND WITNESS
NOTE: In this section, when 'Meeting' refers to a group rather than an event, it may refer either to a Monthly or Recognised Meeting or to a local Worship Group, depending on the context and on local structure. The term 'Monthly Meeting' is used when a role belongs specifically to this body.
2.1 MEETING FOR WORSHIP
2.1.1 Central to the life
Meeting for Worship is the centre of the life of the Society. In Meetings for Worship, worshippers come together and turn their hearts and minds towards what some call God, Spirit, or the promptings of love and truth. A Meeting may be held at any suitable time and place, and as often as the group wishes and needs. All are welcome.
Worship can take place as prearranged, either face to face, electronically or in combination. It may also be by a few Friends agreeing to gather, or falling into worship when together, or by Friends at a distance holding one another in light and love.
The spiritual experience of worship may feel different, and perhaps will be harder to enter for some people, when the group is gathered electronically, or some participants are connected on screen or by phone. Monthly Meetings and Worship Groups can find it helpful to arrange a time to reflect on this difference, and on how to assist all those taking part to have a deep and fulfilling experience.
2.1.2. Living worship
Worship is an experience that transcends words. The living silence is central to Meeting for Worship.
Worship can be:
- a response of the human spirit to the presence of the divine and eternal, to the Spirit of God reaching out to us
- an offering of ourselves, body, mind and spirit, to the promptings of love and truth
- a searching for the sacred
- a stilling of ourselves, a liberation from internal and external commotion
- a time to turn inwards, and towards each other, to hold ourselves and others in the light, and to find where it leads us.
We may respond in wonder and awe, in peace and stillness, in receptiveness, in pain and struggle, in laying down things that weigh upon us, in laughter and joy, in thanksgiving, in a sense of challenge and calling, in a sense of being at home. In the living silence, we can feel the flowing of the divine spirit amongst us.
When we come to worship willing to be open, to give as well as to receive, the full possibilities of the Meeting for Worship may be realised, and its influence may spread and grow throughout our community.
2.1.4 Settling the meeting
Each of us is a living part of the Meeting for Worship. Our spiritual life from day to day and our preparation for coming to the Meeting will affect the quality of worship. Preparation of heart and mind can include times of quiet reflection, prayer and helpful reading, and holding Friends in love and care.
Meetings for Worship can take place virtually anywhere and while some Meetings have a dedicated meeting room as part of a larger complex, others may have only one appropriate space available. Such differences will lead to different approaches to starting Meeting for Worship. When there is a separate meeting room, worship can begin when the first person enters the room and takes their place. Friends who feel called to nurture the worship may arrive before the scheduled time and enter into worship, and this can make it easier for the Meeting to settle and to find depth. When there is not a separate meeting room and Friends gather in the one room progressively, it may help to have an initial ‘meet and greet’ period or something similar before starting the worship.
In all circumstances, it is helpful to approach Meeting for Worship with heart and mind prepared and settle into a position which will not distract by discomfort. Once the period of worship has started, the stillness is helped if conversations do not take place at the entrance but are held over till after worship. Out of concern for others, it helps if each person arriving deals with matters such as removing outdoor clothing and taking items out of bags outside the room, in order to enter the Meeting space quietly. The doorkeeper or welcomer can help by using a quiet form of greeting, which will include a brief explanation to newcomers.
Some Friends find it helpful to read for a time as a way of settling; if this is done, Friends need to avoid distracting others, and to retain the sense of being part of a community in worship. There are different distractions when worship is held electronically, for example background noises, which can be prevented if microphones are muted unless the Friend is speaking.
Some Friends welcome others as they arrive with a smile; some welcome them inwardly. A Meeting needs to decide whether it finds it better for Friends arriving after the scheduled time to enter as they are ready, or for them to wait quietly and all come in together at an agreed time.
Gathering in outward silence is not enough; when we seek an inward stillness, the depths reached may bring a renewed sense of the power of the Spirit, experienced by some as a consciousness of the presence of God. A traditional term for this gathering is 'centring down'. In this experience we may find direction for our lives and strength for our needs, we may be bonded to one another in love, and we may know one another in the things that are eternal. In our united search each of us may be enabled to open the riches of the Spirit to all in the meeting.
2.1.5 - 2.1.13 Ministry in Meeting for Worship
Silence and the spoken word are both part of Quaker ministry. The ministry of silence calls for the committed involvement of every participant in the Meeting. In silence we wait on the leadings of the Spirit; at the same time we are active, loving and supporting one another, bringing our own lives into the worship yet opening beyond ourselves.
There will be times when a Meeting for Worship is held completely in silence; this experience can bring richness and peace. However, if a Meeting regularly lacks spoken ministry, it may need to discern in what ways it can nurture and strengthen its spiritual life.
Very small worship groups may feel this lack especially, and can seek support from Friends elsewhere in the Monthly or Yearly Meeting.
Vocal ministry grows out of the silence, and comes as a gift which the speaker is called to contribute to the worship. It is not offered lightly, but in response to a clear and carefully tested prompting of the Spirit. The words which are given draw upon, but may also transcend, the natural gifts, experience and inward life of the speaker.
A prompting to speak can be tested by asking oneself: "Is this a message for the group, as well as for myself? If so, is it right for these people on this occasion at this stage in the worship? Is it 'in the life' of our worship?" Waiting in trust, we can receive a sense of whether we should offer this vocal ministry.
Some struggle within themselves to discern the true source of the prompting to minister. Friends may hesitate and hold back. At these times ministry may be lost in the search. Ministry from the depths of our being can be offered in trust. The whole weight of responsibility is not ours alone.
If we come to Meeting with an insight or message ready formed, or a reading, we offer it only if so led during the worship. Often it is better to lay it aside or let it be transmuted as the Spirit guides. We may find ourselves given words which do not have meaning for us, but which speak to others present. Sometimes it will not feel right to speak, and we find another Friend has been given our ministry more effectively. When the Meeting is fully gathered, different contributions are powerfully connected by the flow of the Spirit.
Friends have found that more than one contribution by the same person rarely feels like true ministry. If further thoughts arise after we have spoken, it is best to withhold them.
While someone is speaking, others present can help them by attentive listening, prayer, or holding them in the light. The Meeting needs to return to silence after vocal ministry so that each can hold the ministry in their heart, and the inward work of worship can continue. Another contribution too soon may disrupt this process. Though a speaker's words may be inspired by an earlier contribution, worship is not the time for an explicit reply or a discussion.
Words which do not speak to some people may meet the needs of others present, or may become helpful in association with later ministry, or at a later date. Judging the ministry of others does not add to a spirit of worship; receive it in friendship, or let it pass.
A very simple but heartfelt message or prayer may be of great value. Ministry from the diffident or shy who seldom speak is often particularly helpful to the Meeting. A message which appears to be incomplete may lead to further vocal ministry and a sense of wholeness by the close of worship.
Some ministry points to spiritual truths which are new or imperfectly recognised, and goes to the heart of our relationship with God, the Spirit, or the promptings of love and truth. It shows us a way to follow, and how we can respond creatively to the challenges of our time. It may offer a disturbing challenge to the meeting itself.
Teaching ministry combines the power of prayer and reflection, recalling to the Meeting how the lives of individuals and communities are enlightened by their spiritual experience. It may focus on the effort to understand and interpret the lasting significance of Jesus of Nazareth, and his place in history. It reminds us how men and women down the ages have sought to relate the results of their own seeking and finding to their understanding of eternal truth.
This ministry may include quoting from the Bible, Advices and Queries, Faith and Practice books of our own and other Yearly Meetings, this Handbook, other writings of Friends, or other works.
From time to time Meetings have followed the custom of regular readings from Advices and Queries in the course of Meeting for Worship. The Friend entrusted with this awaits a leading as to which section to offer, and whether the timing is right. Meetings have tried occasionally offering a reading from another source, to help Friends settle and focus. If either of these is done, it helps to evaluate it after a few occasions, and to make sure it does not become mechanical.
Another form of ministry is the expression of one's own joys, griefs or perplexities. These contribute to the life of the meeting as one body, and are received lovingly in the stillness. Items of personal news, or topics to be talked over with Friends, come more fittingly in the period of greetings and notices at the conclusion of worship.
Some Friends have the gift of song, or of forms of ministry other than the spoken word.
All forms of ministry need to be offered in a spirit of worship under a sense of leading.
2.1.14 Children in worship
Through their presence in worship children and adults minister to one another.
The natural noises of a young baby are not normally felt to disturb worship, and Meetings are enriched by encouraging parents to bring their babies into worship. When babies are brought to worship for the first time, it is an opportunity to welcome them into the Meeting's community by ministry from a Friend responsible for spiritual care, or another Friend.
Other children usually join the adults for a short part of the Meeting, either at the beginning or at the end or both, and for the rest of the time they may have their own activities. While this happens, both adults' and children's groups are part of a single body of worship. Quite young children can learn to be part of the silent worship. It is helpful for adults to explore with children, in ways suited to their age, what it is we all do in Meeting for Worship. Spoken ministry is welcome from all present, whatever their age.
Some Friends have a particular gift for vocal ministry which is suitable for both children and adults. Spoken ministry while children are present is tested (like any other ministry) to see if it comes from a true leading. Children may have times of worship of their own, or prepare a special contribution which can, by arrangement, be shared with the rest of the Meeting.
2.1.15 Young people in worship
We grow in different ways and at different speeds. Young people benefit by being encouraged to take part in the full Meeting for Worship as they are ready. A group of young people may also wish to have a Meeting for Worship together at a different time, and they may want occasionally to explore different patterns of worship on their own or with older Friends.
Times when younger people and adults learn about and reflect on worship together can help the growth of everyone in the Meeting.
2.1.16 Variations in worship
Friends may recognise a need for worship of a more prepared or 'programmed' (structured) form, or to include prepared contributions in silence-based worship. Sometimes this is associated with a particular event, such as a wedding or memorial meeting. However, caution is needed when prepared elements are introduced into silence-based worship, as they may become the most important part.
Worship which is substantially programmed or experimental can be particularly valuable at residential gatherings and all-age events, but it is a complement to silence-based worship, rather than displacing it. Each type of worship has its own gifts. The preparation of programmed worship is an occasion for seeking the guidance of the Spirit.
2.1.17 Closing the Meeting for Worship
One or two Friends are agreed in advance to recognise the ending of worship. While there is an anticipated time at which worship may end, Friends with this ministry may recognise that there is a sense of continuing worship, especially if time is needed to absorb recent spoken ministry; they allow the worship to continue as long as it feels right. These Friends mark the close of worship by a handshake or other appropriate form of greeting, after which those present greet one another. The Friend hosting online worship, or another Friend agreed in advance, marks the closing by a suitable form of greeting.
This is a suitable time to acknowledge visitors and newcomers, and make them feel welcome.
Meetings often value a time of transition from worship to everyday conversation. During this time Friends are welcome to bring forward joys, griefs or times of new learning which they wish to share with the Meeting. It is best for these to be offered and received in a spirit of worship-sharing, including words of loving acknowledgment, rather than by discussion.
Notices usually come after this session, followed by a social time.
Simple guidelines for worship:
- Is this for the group, not just for me?
- Is this the right time and place?
- Is it the right stage in the worship?
- Am I leaving enough time after another contribution?
- Are the words right?
2.2 THE RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES OF BEING A QUAKER
Within the Yearly Meeting of Aotearoa New Zealand both Members and Attenders play a full part in the life of the Meeting. In this Handbook the terms 'Quaker' and 'Friend' are used to include both Members and Attenders.
All of us who associate ourselves with a Quaker Meeting are called into ministry. We have the right and the responsibility to contribute as we are called and able, to the Meeting for Worship, to the decision-making and activity of our local and wider groups, to Friends' work and witness in the world, and to being part of a community of faith and fellowship.
2.2.1 The nature of membership
Application for membership and continuation in membership of the Religious Society of Friends is a declaration by individuals that their experience of Friends and their practices have led them to feel at home, and to accept Friends' way of seeking for the light as appropriate for them. It shows a willingness to seek for a life under inner guidance, a wish to be publicly associated with and committed to the Society, and an acceptance of the responsibilities and the disciplines of corporate religious life.
Acceptance of an application for membership by a Monthly Meeting on behalf of the Society is a recognition of this commitment, and a declaration of welcome and continuing spiritual development and nurturing for the Member.
See 4.9 for an outline of the process of applying for and being received into membership by a meeting.
2.2.2 Responsibilities of membership
- Members are called on to attend Meeting for Worship regularly, not only for their own benefit and as a way of spiritual growth, but also for the contribution their presence makes to the life of the Meeting.
- Members are in broad agreement with Friends' faith and practice as expressed in our religious and social testimonies and endeavour to embody it in their lives.
- The Quaker method of conducting business (Section 3) relies on the attendance of Members at Meeting for Worship for business; Members are called on to participate to the extent that family and other circumstances permit.
- Members have a responsibility to give monetary support to the work of their Meeting and of Yearly Meeting, within their financial capacity. It is understood that there may be stages and circumstances in life when financial contribution is not possible.
- Members need to share in the responsibilities within the Society; many of these tasks may also be undertaken by Attenders.
- Members share in the collective responsibility of the Meeting to build a community and to care for all connected with it.
2.2.3 Discerning responsibilities
These responsibilities are not to be understood as rigid obligations. There is a continuum of involvement in a Meeting, and our physical and emotional capabilities, our personal commitment to family members and others, our financial state, and the demands of our occupation or other activities will vary from time to time in our lives. Some Friends will find that they are called mostly to personal responsibilities, or to work for some cause to which they are committed. We all have differing and valuable gifts. Friends
can encourage one another to find the best use for these, and can support one another's choices. We all need to review the extent of our availability as life and circumstances change.
A Meeting values all who take part in its worship and work. Those who are not Members but attend with some regularity may be among the great strengths of the Meeting, and take an active part in its life, in contributions to worship and service. Others, although prevented by circumstances from attending or being active, may clearly be part of the meeting. All these people who are not Members are recognised by the meeting as Attenders.
They receive newsletters and other information, and can be included in the online database and printed list of Meetings, Members and Attenders.
Some Friends may remain Attenders for a considerable period before applying for membership and some may never wish to be other than Attenders. A Meeting should take care that Attenders are aware of the process of coming into membership and are warmly invited to explore this when they feel ready. People need time to be well acquainted with a Meeting before considering the commitment of membership. An Attender may like to seek guidance from individuals, or to spend time with a small group, a 'clearness committee' (6.4), considering what decision is right.
No one should let a sense of unworthiness or inadequacy hold them back from applying. Those contemplating membership need to be clear in themselves and with the Meeting as to what direct involvement in Quaker activities is possible for them at present.
The term 'enquirers' is used for those who have made some contact with the Meeting, including by electronic means, or who occasionally attend worship.
A Meeting offers a warm welcome to those who come through its doors, and ensures in a friendly way that they receive whatever information about Quakers they are seeking, encouraging them to join in worship and other activities which will help them as they discover whether the Meeting can be their spiritual home.
2.2.6 Responsibilities of the Meeting to its Members, Attenders and others who form part of its life
Because we all share in ministry, the Meeting has a collective care for the spiritual nurture and development of each person, while recognising that it does not have the total responsibility. People's needs will differ, and there are many riches elsewhere among and outside Friends.
The Meeting cares for those associated with it, in times of joy, celebration, stress, grief or trouble, in the spirit of friendship, while not attempting to be a substitute for professional help when needed.
The Meeting does not exist separately from its Members, Attenders, and others who form part of its life. We all have a responsibility to share in mutual care and in fostering the life of the Meeting.
2.2.7 Life within a Meeting
Life within a Meeting involves learning, seeking and growth, which can be experienced as discipleship. It is a process of continuing revelation for individuals and the group. Those who worship must be prepared to meet surprise and change in things that matter deeply to them, and a Meeting must be prepared to be surprised and changed by the gifts and leadings of those who come to it. A Meeting cannot demand that those who are part of it accept every aspect of Quaker faith and practice. We help one another explore and understand Friends' spiritual life, religious and social testimonies and practices, and the background of faith from which these arise. We try to apply in our lives what we learn in this search, and to support the efforts of others.
2.3 QUAKER CONCERNS
2.3.1 Introduction: the Quaker understanding of a concern
Religious commitment implies love of one's neighbour, which may be put into action in many different ways.
Sometimes an individual Friend may feel an imperative call or leading to undertake a particular service or form of witness, or to support a particular cause. This can be experienced as an over-riding obligation or a sense of guidance. Such an experience is known to Friends as a 'concern'. The concern may be laid upon one person, or it may appear to be for a group of Friends, for a Meeting, or for the Society as a whole.
2.3.2 Testing a leading
Friends can encourage one another to be attentive to possible leadings. A leading is more than a strong conviction or enthusiasm: it is an experience of being rightly guided.
Some ways of testing a leading are:
- reflection and prayer over a period;
- other Friends being convinced of the rightness of the leading;
- harmony with Friends' testimonies, and with general moral principles;
- considering the consequences to other people, especially family;
- considering the consequences to oneself — is one prepared to accept them?
- whether one has the necessary gifts;
- whether one is clear of obligations which would compete;
- whether necessary resources, training and help are likely to be available;
- whether the time is right.
A concerned person needs to have patience and humility in seeking support. It is helpful for a Friend to bring such a sense of concern to their Worship Group, which may be able to test and foster it in various ways:
- by arranging for the Friend to meet with a small group of Friends in a "clearness committee", which can listen, ask questions and seek a way forward with understanding and honesty; (On clearness committees see 6.4.)
- by considering the concern in the Worship Group;
- by forwarding it to the Monthly Meeting.
This practice of testing expresses the mutually accepted obligation of each Friend to test a personal concern against the counsel of the group, and of the group to seek spiritual guidance in exercising its judgment. In this exercise everyone can be enriched. Both the individual and the group need, in a spirit of tender acceptance, to consider it possible that they may be mistaken.
2.3.3 Supporting a concern
If a Meeting decides to support the concern of an individual, this may be done in various ways:
- a 'support group' of a few Friends who can meet with the Friend at intervals, listen, advise and encourage;
- other Friends joining in the work;
- freeing the individual from responsibilities in the Meeting;
- practical and financial support, e.g. child care, travel costs;
- providing an income for a period so that the Friend may work full-time on the concern.
If a concern is taken up by a Meeting as a whole, or by Yearly Meeting, a working group or committee may be appointed to pursue the concern with the support and involvement of the rest of the Meeting. It may be that the concern will undergo changes, and that the responsibility may move from the Friend who initiated it.
2.3.4 Civil disobedience
A Friend or group of Friends may become convinced that, as a matter of witness, conscience and obedience to God's leading, they are obliged to break the law in some respect. This needs to be tested sensitively, with the help of others.
Those concerned need to take into consideration the possible harm to others, the effect on the Religious Society of Friends and society as a whole, and the possibility of alienating people of goodwill. To be done in good conscience, civil disobedience needs to be done openly, and those involved must be prepared to accept the legal consequences.
If after thorough and worshipful consideration, the action appears right, the Meeting may be able to unite with it, or some Friends may be able to give support, of a personal, practical or public nature.
Where Friends disagree as to what action may in conscience be undertaken, there is need for especial tenderness and humility, both in worship and in personal relations.
2.3.5 Travelling under concern
If a Friend under concern needs to travel outside the area of the Monthly Meeting which supported the concern, the Meeting minutes at its Meeting for Worship for Business a 'travelling minute'; this introduces the Friend, outlines the concern, and expresses the Meeting's support. This minute is presented by the Friend to other Meetings visited, and is usually endorsed by the clerk or other representative, with greetings, and is presented to the home Meeting on return.
Such a travelling minute, offered specifically for a journey under concern, is different from a simple 'letter of introduction' which a Meeting can give to any Member or Attender who is travelling for whatever reason and expecting to make contact with Friends elsewhere (4.2.3 c).
2.3.6 Laying down a concern
An individual Friend who feels ready to lay down a concern may wish to ask for the help of the Meeting in the decision; it may be that it is time for the concern to end, or that there may be others who are prepared to take it up.
If a Meeting or group feels that it should lay down a concern, this needs to be considered carefully in a context of worship. Whenever a concern is laid down, Friends should be careful of the needs, rights and feelings of others who have been involved, in particular of any people employed and of those whom the concern has served. (4.2.1 g)
2.4 QUAKER TESTIMONIES
The promptings of love and truth in the hearts and minds of early Friends convinced them that they should live in simple discipleship. Their understanding of the teachings of Jesus, combined with their experience of divine guidance, led to certain ways of living, which are held as 'testimonies'.
These are not rules or creeds but patterns of life which Quakers stand for, and to which we bear witness ('testimony' = act of witness). There is much that one can read about Friends' testimonies, for example in books of Quaker Faith & Practice. It is only within the last 100 years that Friends have sought to list specific testimonies, as a way of helping one another to understand our way of life. In truth the things we stand for are different aspects of a whole pattern of life under guidance.
Testimonies grow out of Friends' corporate life and worship. They develop to meet the needs of differing times and places. Re-examination of testimonies can be a process of renewal for a Meeting.
The following is a brief description of the main testimonies, as currently understood by Friends in Aotearoa New Zealand.
2.4.2 Religious practice
Our religious practice grows from and testifies to the understanding that there is "that of God in every one".
From this arise the following distinctive features of Quaker religious life:
- a simple, non-hierarchical structure without ordained clergy;
- universal ministry — worship and service are open to contributions from anyone who is led, since we recognise that each has gifts to offer (2.1.1- 2.1.17);
- worship as a communal activity and responsibility;
- refusal to bind one another to creeds and dogma;
- continuing revelation - inspiration comes from more sources than the Bible or religious tradition, and leads to new understandings;
- experiences are a source of revelation;
- universal sacredness — any place, day or season is as holy as any other. Traditionally we have not marked religious festivals. Meeting for Worship is most commonly held on Sundays because this has been a day when more people are relatively free from other commitments.
From these flow our social testimonies (2.4.3 – 2.4.9).
Each person has value and dignity, and is precious to God, however understood. On this basis Quakers work for equality in all areas of social, cultural, legal, political and economic life, rejecting artificial distinctions of race or social status. For true equality we are called to honour our commitment to Te Tiriti, and to recognise that equality can require special action to restore the rights of indigenous peoples, minorities, and other groups who are prevented by social and economic forces from full social participation. We try to treat all people on a basis of equality, preferring to address and to be addressed by names without titles.
Decisions of the Society are made by the group under guidance in a spirit of worship at business meetings open to all Members, and usually to Attenders. Responsibilities, with very few exceptions, can be held by either Members or Attenders. Friends recognise the ministry and service of all genders, young and old, experienced and less experienced. (2.4.9, 2.4.10)
2.4.4 Peace and social justice
Friends' peace testimony arises from the belief in "that of God in every one". Early Friends recognised that they must seek to bring about "God's will" without the use of force or violence — a person labelled as 'enemy' is equally precious. Quakers have refused to take part in war and preparations for war; we resist the culture of military values and the social and economic distortions which militarism causes. In a broader sense, the peace testimony includes action against unjust structures of society, racism, the denial of human rights, and other forms of oppression, which are themselves forms of violence. Friends have acted to end slavery, to relieve the suffering caused by war and oppression, to mediate between parties in conflict, and to promote worldwide economic and cultural development on a basis of selfdetermination and dignity.
2.4.5 Ecojustice and sustainability
A full testimony to peace includes a harmonious relationship with the many life-forms and diverse riches of our planet, and a commitment to live as part of earth's systems, not as their proprietors, as contributors not as controllers.
Responsible living means choosing not to waste, exploit or destroy. We try to remember that harm to the environment usually inflicts the most damaging consequences on people who are already worst off materially, and ultimately, damage to the whole of humanity. We encourage a reverence for life and a sense of wonder. A Yearly Meeting 2000 statement on sustainability is in Appendix 1E.
A centred life will be characterised by integrity, sincerity and simplicity.
Outward simplicity does not require a strict formula, but influences our choices of purchases, activities and life-style. Moderate living avoids over-indulgence and devotion to what is fashionable; it requires a responsible attitude to alcohol and drugs of any kind.
There are strong pressures on children and young people to conform, acquire, consume and do what is fashionable or aggressively advertised.
Adults can help children to develop inner strength by their own example, and by working out together what is right and possible, given the family's circumstances.
Simplicity has its own beauty. Artistic creativity can feed a deep human need, and be an expression of the divine.
Inner simplicity Friends seek for an inner stillness in worship and in personal spiritual life, and a simplicity which lets go of inessential commitments and activity in order to be truly centred.
Integrity in outward conduct flows from a developing inner spiritual wholeness.
Quakers aim to be honest and straightforward in speech and in all our dealings. We try to honour our financial responsibilities, as family members and as citizens.
The longstanding testimony against oaths is based on honesty — we reject the implication of a double standard of truthfulness. On any occasion where an oath is expected, all citizens are entitled to make a legally acceptable affirmation; it is helpful to let the official responsible know in advance that you wish to use this alternative.
Quakers have a responsibility of stewardship over our possessions.
Historically, Friends have avoided gambling, on the principle that money should be acquired through honest work. Today we continue to refrain from gambling, and from raising money by games of chance, in view of the adverse social consequences.
2.4.8 Speaking truth to power
From early times Quakers have felt called to remind Governments and other powerful bodies of their obligations to act justly. This may be done by letters, submissions, delegations or other means. Friends try to ensure that their own lives are clear of any practice to which they propose to object.
Friends are willing also to give praise where praise is due, and to support acts of justice.
2.4.9 Racial justice
The efforts of Friends in many places to promote racial justice and reconciliation can be seen as integral to the testimonies to equality and peace.
On the Yearly Meeting's commitment to its responsibilities under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, see 1.3 and Appendix 1 B.
2.4.10 The testimonies in Aotearoa New Zealand
The testimonies have been put into practice in Aotearoa New Zealand in many ways.
Quakers were involved in the founding of CORSO for relief and development after World War II, and have been active in various peace groups including the movement for nuclear disarmament, and in the antiapartheid movement.
We have supported moves to remove discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation, have joined the movement for a living wage, and have linked with penal reform organisations.
Groups which have been supported financially in recent years include Christian World Service, Peace Movement Aotearoa, Generation Zero, the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Just Speak, the Howard League for Penal Reform, and Alternatives to Violence Project Aotearoa.
The Yearly Meeting is engaged in reducing its impact on the environment, while wrestling with challenges as to what actions are feasible and best for the future of our planet and its life forms, and are appropriate for Quaker faith and practice.
Statements on peace, reconciliation, social and environmental concerns and Treaty issues will be found in Appendix 1 and on the website here.