In 17th-century England, George Fox and Margaret Fell were Seekers of Truth attempting to recover the spirit of early Christianity. They founded the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers. They believed that the Inner Light in each person provides direct access to God without intermediaries or literal readings of Scripture. Waiting in expectant silence, early Friends were inspired by that "still, small voice of God" to work for justice, equality, and peace. The movement spread to other countries, particularly the United States, where Quaker William Penn founded the Pennsylvania colony.
Today, there are three distinct branches with about 305,000 Quakers worldwide:
- an unprogrammed branch, some of which is represented by Friends General Conference
- a semi-programmed branch with clergy, represented by Friends United Meeting
- an evangelical branch, represented by Evangelical Friends International
As an unprogrammed meeting, Live Oak Friends Meeting falls within the first branch.
In unprogrammed Quaker meetings, we are all ministers. We have no paid clergy, and no pre-arrangement for the meeting. Quakers consider outward rites and symbols unnecessary (and even a hindrance) to spiritual experience, and therefore do not celebrate sacraments. Though we have no dogma or officially mandated doctrine, Quakers value certain principles, known as testimonies. These include peace, equality, integrity, and simplicity. We try to embody and live up to these testimonies in all aspects of our lives.
Click here to learn more about Quaker beliefs and testimonies (Wikipedia).