Faith and Practice Introductory Statement
The Religious Society of Friends holds as the basis of its faith the belief that God endows each human being with a measure of the Divine Spirit. The gift of God's presence and the light of God's truth have been available to all people in all ages.
Friends find this manifestation of God exemplified in Jesus of Nazareth. The Divine Spirit became so wholly Jesus' own that his teaching, example and sacrificial life reveal the will of God to humanity.
As within ourselves we become conscious of the same Spirit (the "Inward Light" or the "Christ Within"), and as we submit ourselves to its leadings, we are also enabled to live in conformity to the will of God.
Love, the outworking of the Divine Spirit, is the most potent influence that can be applied in human affairs, and this application of love to the whole of life is seen by the Society of Friends as the core of the Christian gospel.
The immanence of God implies that all persons are children of the Divine and brothers and sisters one of another. All have the capacity to discern spiritual truth, and to hold direct communion with God. No mediator, rite, or outward sacrament is a necessary condition of worship. Inspiration and guidance may be realized through meeting with others in group worship where vision is made clearer by the shared experience of those present.
The Society of Friends has no formal creed. Over the years Friends have made many attempts to set down the nature of their faith. Some of these statements, like the letter of George Fox to the Governor of Barbados in the 17th century or the Richmond Declaration drawn up by one group of Friends in the late 19th, have been grounded in Christian orthodoxy. Others, like the writings of Isaac Penington in the 17th century or of Thomas Kelly in the 20th, have a close kinship with the insights of mystics of many ages and many religious traditions. None speaks for all Friends or for all times. We are a religious fellowship based on common religious ideals and experiences rather than on creed or liturgy.
Each person must prayerfully seek individual guidance and must follow the Light found within. Each will be helped by studying the developing interpretations of God in the Bible and the ideas of the great spiritual leaders of all faiths. Especially will help be found as one ponders the life and the teaching of Jesus.
All seekers who in spirit and in truth try to find and follow the will of God and who are in sympathy with the principles and practices of Friends, we welcome to our fellowship.