I’m more than a little nervous today. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and attending a Quakers worship meeting. These meetings are not like a conventional service. There is no liturgy, no singing, no prayers and no minister. Instead the hour is spent in silent contemplation – to meditate, listen and connect with ‘God’, whatever your beliefs may be.
Two weeks ago I attended a seminar during which Hal Taussig showed us a number of churches in the United States who were doing church differently (you can read about the seminar here). Since then I’ve been wondering what Brisbane has to offer those who are looking for something authentic, progressive, but different.
The traditional church model and liturgy is not exactly thriving in Australia. And although there are plenty of Pentecostal churches offering an array of worship styles that attract many people, they are far from progressive. I’m not going to be knocking down their doors after my once off experience at Nexus Church.
So I’m embarking on a journey to explore different ways of worshiping. Starting today with the Quakers.
Quakers in Australia
Officially known as the Religious Society of Friends, the Quakers movement was started around 350 years ago in England by George Fox and Margaret Fell. They believed that each person has access to the divine (‘God’) within themselves, this is known as the priesthood of all believers in most protestant churches. They do not, however, adhere to the doctrines of traditional churches.
Quakers effectively did away with the whole structure of the conventional churches and went back to that basic belief. We all have something within us, which many call God, that we can access and share with others. – Quakers in Australia.
Quakers arrived in Australia with the convicts, but was further established when in 1832 two prominent English Quakers, James Backhouse and George Washington Walker, came to Australia. They traveled Australia and eventually established a Religious Society of Friends in Tasmania.
Today there are around 2000 Quakers (or ‘friends’ as they call one another) in Australia. A small number in comparison to the big denominations, so its not surprising that they are relatively unknown.
Progressive Values and Beliefs
An hour of silent contemplation is certainly different from your standard Sunday service. However that’s not what attracted me to their meeting. A quick perusal of their website and it’s clear their values are aligned with Progressive Christianity.