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Faith and Practice

Pacific Yearly Meeting

of the

Religious Society of Friends

a guide to quaker discipline in the experience of pacific yearly meeting of the religious society of friends.
published 2001



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Contents page

i: Pacific Yearly Meeting In Context

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Friends Relationship To Christianity

preface
pym in context
quaker faith & spiritual practice
testimony & experience of friends
organization of the society
procedures
activities & organization of the YM
glossary
bibligraphy
appendices
sources of quotations
index of sources
subject index

We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of Friends who have permitted us to use material for this Faith and Practice.

 

sacraments

 All of life is sacred. Friends recognize that special moments of particular insight and spiritual awareness do occur, but they do not require prescribed rites or external sacraments. Friends practice the inward condition, but not the outward form, of the sacraments of baptism and communion. John Wilhelm Rowntree in 1902 wrote:

 It is the inward change, the inward purification, the spiritual fact and not the outward symbol, that belongs in truth to the Kingdom of God. Neither in the refusal to baptise nor to take the supper do Friends set forth a negation. They assert, on the contrary, the positive truth that the religious life is the inward  life of the spirit. But no place or time can limit its action, nor any symbol adequately express it.

britain yearly meeting
quaker faith & practice, 1995, §27.37

 In most Christian worship services, the goal is communion with God or the celebration of the Eucharist, so that worshipers sense the immediate presence of the divine among them. Friends feel that their experience of Meeting for Worship, especially when it is a gathered Meeting (See “Meeting for Worship” in Part II), parallels this phenomenon. Worshipers who prepare the way by waiting together upon God sometimes experience this mystical connection.

 Friends in unprogrammed Meetings, like most people, cherish the passages and life experiences often marked by traditional sacramental forms and community recognition. Friends hold special Meetings for Worship where some of the content is planned in advance, specifically on the occasion of marriage or death.Many Meetings also hold small, usually informal, celebrations for the birth of a child, graduation, new membership or another special event. These often take on the sacred character of a community united in its focus on the divine: a sacrament.Wary of how quickly a spontaneous celebration can become an empty ritual through repetition, Friends have avoided adopting rituals governed by outer rules or supervised by an ordained individual.†

† A few pastoral Friends practice the outward rituals commonly used in other Christian churches.