QUAKERS are an ancient Christian group more correctly known as the Religious Society of Friends.
Quakerism was founded by Yorkshireman George Fox during religious ructions in England in the 17th century, as he felt it was possible to share his experiences with God and Jesus Christ without all the pomp and political intrigue that wracked the established churches.
Although the movement embraces a broad section of Christianity and the majority of today’s 370,000 Quakers are evangelical, marking their meetings with songs and a sermon, they’re mostly known for meeting in silence.
That’s how they meet at East Fremantle’s Glyde In each Sunday for an hour at 10am.
Fremantle Quaker Ann says they try to allow connection through spirit.
If the spirit encourages someone to speak up, they share the message with the others in a rare moment through the silence.
At the end of the hour, everyone shakes hands.
Ann says Quakers live their lives through six testimonies which include simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and the most recently added testimony – earthcare/sustainability.
Despite being just a drop in the ocean of faiths, Quakers have had a profound effect on the world.
The original Suffragettes, women had equal status in the Friends from its inception, and in 1848 four of the five women who organised the pivotal Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls (considered the birth of modern feminism) were Quakers.
They were the first organisation to petition the United States Congress to abolish slavery, while in more recent times members have been pivotal in forming groups such as Greenpeace, Amnesty International and Relationships Australia.
But if you’ve not come across Quakers before, there’s a reason for this – they shun preachiness or forcing their beliefs on others, even to the point Ann declined a photograph for fear of being seen to be promoting herself.
by HOLLY COOMEY
Glyde-In Community Centre