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Overview

Quakerism in Aotearoa/New Zealand is Christian in its origin and inspiration, but is open to ideas and values from other forms of religious expression. We believe that everyone is capable of direct personal experience of what we describe as the Spirit, the Inner Light, or "that of God". There is a fundamental belief in the absolute equality of all people, and we are willing to accept differing lifestyles.

Beliefs
A central feature of Quaker belief is that the Spirit, the inner light, or "that of God", is in all human beings, and that it is directly accessible to us all. This concept comes directly from George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, who proclaimed that there is "that of God in everyone". This is how our distinctive form of worship developed, as Quakers rejected all material aids to worship, waiting silently together in fellowship for an inner awareness of the presence of God.
 
Another distinctive feature of Quakerism that also arises out of our acceptance of the Spirit within, is that everyone has both the possibility and the responsibility of continuing direct revelation of God's will. In this way Quakers reject fixed (especially written) dogma. We rely on individual, and especially on corporate, discernment of the will of God. While Quakers value and use the Bible and other religious writings in their search to learn of God, none of these are given the status of absolute or irrevocable truth.
 
Worship
Central to our practices in New Zealand are our Meetings for Worship; these are held regularly at various locations throughout the country, and you are welcome to attend. Our worship is based on silence, broken only by what we call ministry which may be offered by anyone if they are moved to do so. The topics of ministry range from social to deeply spiritual and poetic. We sit in silence between ministry to consider what has been said. Many of us feel a deep sense of spirituality during this silence, a gathering and centering that is difficult to describe, but is sensed by many as the presence of God.
 
Membership
Membership is not a requirement for full participation in the Society, but is a recognition of a person's willingness to accept the Quaker way of life and to participate in the Society's activities. However, the formal positions of responsibility such as the Clerk, Elders and Overseers, will usually be held by Members. This is done in the manner of a custom rather than a rule.
 
Testimonies
Out of the spiritual basis of our beliefs springs our practice. This is guided by our Testimonies - peace, integrity, simplicity and equality. The application of these principles to contemporary concerns has led us to issue some statements on pressing social issues. There are also some accepted texts providing guidelines and customary practices for Quaker living.
 
Quaker Decision-making
In Aotearoa/New Zealand, our Meetings for Business are also held in the spirit of worship. We seek guidance by the Spirit in our consideration of the matters before us. We do not vote, but rather allow time for all views to be expressed, with the Clerk listening to gain the sense of the meeting. When it appears there is a measure of consensus on the issue, a minute is prepared by the Clerk and put to the meeting. If a way forward is not evident, we will sit in silence awaiting a sense of clearness. If this clearness is not achieved then the matter under consideration is set aside without a decision. 
 
While Quakers are not generally active in evangelising or proselytising, we are keen to inform people about the Society of Friends. We would be happy to send introductory material on Quakers to anyone interested. We also have the Wider Quaker Fellowship for those interested in Friends, but unable to attend Meeting for Worship regularly. You may wish to contact the Fellowship organiser who sends out a letter several times a year.