Reflections for 6th Month, 2023

QuakerSpeak estimates that there are about 400,000 (*) Friends around the world.

Africa has the most Friends of any region, with about 200,000. Kenya is the country with the most Quakers. The Friends General Council website notes that African meetings tend to be programmed, using prepared services and pastors.

The Americas, including North, Central, and South America have about 140,000 Quakers. There are about 80,000 in the United States and Canada. The United States population is second to Kenya for individual countries. According to one source, Friends in the US participate in about 1800 individual meetings.

There are an estimated 25,000 Friends in Europe and the Middle-East. The UK, where the Religious Society of Friends began in the 1600s, is sixth on the population list by country. Unprogrammed (silent) meetings are most common in Europe and in former colonies of Britain.

The Asia and West Pacific countries make up the rest of the world’s Quaker population, also with a total of approximately 25,000 Friends.

(*) The numbers for each area can vary slightly depending on the source.

Reflections for 5th Month, 2023

The Earth Quaker Action Team is working to fight the intertwined problems of climate change and income inequality.

Their website ( says they are “a grassroots, nonviolent action group including Quakers and people of diverse beliefs, who join with millions of people around the world fighting for a just and sustainable economy.”

EQAT directly confronts those who benefit from the current systems, but they emphasize doing such confrontations in a nonviolent manner. They say they believe in this method because “it works. Direct action has been crucial to the success of every major social movement over the last century.”

Founded in 2009, EQAT did not wait to launch their first campaign. In 2010 they started their Bank Like Appalachia Matters (BLAM!) campaign, asking PNC Bank to stop financing corporations that participated in mountaintop removal coal mining. After five years of nonviolent direct action, PNC changed their investment policy.

It took six years of work before EQAT’s second campaign — Power Local Green Jobs — successfully influenced PECO, a Pennsylvania electrical utility to boost the local solar economy and invest in job creation for Black and Brown community members.

Their current campaign is working to make Vangaurd change their investment approaches to help address the climate problem and build a livable future.

For more information about EQAT visit their website at or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Reflections for 4th Month, 2023

The Quakers United Nations Office (QUNO) is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Founded in 1948, QUNO represents Quakers at the United Nations and other multilateral institutions.

Their website says “QUNO works to uphold the original ideal of the UN to strive for sustainable peace and justice. QUNO’s consistent commitment to speaking with integrity, lifting up the voices of those on the margins and bringing to light diverse perspectives, insights, and concerns, has led Quakers to be recognised as trusted partners who create space for new and creative solutions in response to global challenges.”

Working out of offices in Geneva and New York City, QUNO works to impact the policies of the U.N. They attempt to accomplish this in the quiet, patient Quaker tradition, and that approach has worked well.

QUNO has successfully worked for banning anti-personnel mines, banning having children in armed combat, the right to conscientious objection, and many other positive policies.

They sum up their mission this way:

“Our work is rooted in the Quaker testimonies of peace, truth, justice, equality, and simplicity. We understand peace as more than the absence of war and violence, recognizing the need to look for what seeds of war there may be in all our social, political, and economic relationships.”

QUNO will be celebrating their anniversary with several events and activities throughout the year. You can see the list of events at their website, or by following them on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

Reflections for 3rd Month, 2023

The Friends Committee on National Legislation is another Quaker organization working to make positive changes in the world.

Their website describes FCNL as “a national, nonpartisan Quaker organization that lobbies Congress and the administration to advance peace, justice, and environmental stewardship.”

FCNL was founded by Quakers in 1943. They work with lobbyists on Capitol Hill and thousands of people across the country to advance policies they believe are necessary for society. They describe these policies as being “informed by our belief that there is that of God in every person and that all creation has worth and dignity.”

It’s not surprising to see that the work they are doing is consistent with Quaker testimonies of peace, equality, justice, and the protection of the earth.

Some of the areas FCNL has been working on include the Middle East & Iran, nuclear weapons, U.S. militarism, gun violence prevention, immigration, justice reform, and Native American rights.

And they’ve been successful!

FCNL has been pivotal in the creation of the Peace Corps, the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

In concert with their legislative work, the FCNL Education Fund promotes civic engagement through education and training.

FCNL describes their approach this way: “Grounded by faith and morality, we combine a pragmatic and results-driven strategy with a clear-eyed, ambitious vision of the world we seek.”

For more information, visit their website at

Reflections for 2nd Month, 2023

The Religious Society of Friends is small in number compared to many other religions, and might be considered to be a quiet group. We worship in silence. It doesn’t get any quieter than that.

But there are several Quaker organizations actively making noise to try to create a better world.

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is one such group. Since 1917, AFSC has been pursuing their goal to “challenge injustice and build peace around the globe”.

AFSC started that year as a way for conscientious objectors to have alternatives to serving in the active military, which goes against the Quaker Peace testimony. In 1919, after World War I ended, they started a program to feed children in Austria, Germany, and Poland. As their website described it, “AFSC was willing to do what others would not—to house, feed, and train people scorned as enemies.”

Through the years the Committee has tackled poverty and racism, provided support for refugees, and opportunities for youth to participate in service projects. They have worked for prison reform, supported farmworkers, and brought to light the abuses of the Military Industrial Complex.

In 1947, AFSC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the British Friends Service Council for their work to heal the damage from World War II, and to prevent future wars.

AFSC is still very active today. In 2022, they were involved with the successful fight to prevent the lethal use of police robots in San Francisco, provided legal assistance to more than 2,000 immigrants in New Jersey, and worked internationally in Burundi and El Salvador. Closer to home, they helped homeowners in Atlanta’s historic Peoplestown community against the City which was using eminent domain to displace them.

For more information about AFSC, go to their website at

Reflections for 1st Month, 2023

Thinking of famous Quakers, historical names tend to be the first ones that come to mind.

George Fox founded the Religious Society of Friends in the mid 1600s. Margaret Fell, John Woolman, William Penn, and Elias Hicks are familiar names to Friends that all lived prior to the 1900s.

While you’ll probably recognize the names of these more contemporary people, you may not know that they all are, or grew up as Quakers.

United States Presidents Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon, actors Judi Dench and James Dean, and musicians Bonnie Raitt, Joan Biaz, and Dave Matthews all had Quakerism play an important part of their lives.

Baez has said that the Friends peace testimony has been a strong influence on her music. About her Quaker upbringing, Dench said “I think it informs everything I do. I couldn’t be without it.”

And if you need one more famous Quaker, how about Cassius Coolidge, the man who created the iconic Dogs Playing Poker painting?

Reflections for 12th Month, 2022

This is the seventh in a series of Reflections posts about Quaker testimonies.

Elizabeth Freyman’s Walking Cheerfully is a delightful website ( that is designed and written to be shared with children, providing inspiration for First Day School programs.

Walking Cheerfully describes the Stewardship testimony as “the responsibility we have for the gifts we have been given.”

It goes on to say:

“What if the gift I am thinking of isn’t even mine, it is something I am sharing with others? I think the thing I love most about the testimony of Stewardship is that it leaves space for the possibility that we are not the owners of the gift that we are caring for, we might just be taking a turn with it.”

The Fort Meyers Quakers in Florida describe the testimony this way:

“To Friends, good stewardship means taking care of what has been given, not just for ourselves, but for the people around us and for future generations as well.”

As we try to be good stewards of the gifts we’ve been given, we can reflect on some of the queries the Fort Meyers Quakers ask:

  • Do we respect life and nature? As human beings, how do we act as caretakers of the Earth?
  • Do we think about what happens to the Earth and its creatures as a result of our own behavior? How can we help make the world a welcoming place for all the different animals and plants we share it with?
  • How can I be a better steward of our environment in my consumption and recycling habits? How can I help others care for the environment?

The Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice sums up the testimony very well:

“All that we have, in ourselves and our possessions, are gifts from God, entrusted to us for our responsible use. From the beginning, it was through the wonders of nature that people saw God. How we treat the earth and its creatures is a basic part of our relationship with God.”

Reflections for 11th Month, 2022

This is the sixth in a series of Reflections posts about Quaker testimonies.

Like the other Quaker testimonies, the Equality testimony has its foundation in the belief that there is that of God in everyone.

On their website, the Lincoln Quaker Meeting in England says “Equality is the acceptance that everyone is equal and every person has the right to be respected.”

Friends believe this means equality for everyone, regardless of their religion, race, nationality, gender, sexuality, age, or ability.

Another aspect of equality that has long been important to Quakers is the fair and humane treatment of prisoners. Early Quakers were often imprisoned for their beliefs. They knew from firsthand experience that conditions in jails were frequently terrible.

Friends Elizabeth Fry and Richard Wiston were two of the early Quakers who started working for prison reforms. That is a mission that continues today for many Quaker organizations, including the Alternatives to Violence Project, which was started by Quakers.

Philadelphia Yearly Meeting sums up equality this way:
treating everyone, everywhere, as equally precious to God; recognizing that everyone has gifts to share.

Reflections for 10th Month, 2022

This is the fifth in a series of Reflections posts about Quaker testimonies.

There are several definitions of the word “society”, and almost all of them contain the word “community”. So it makes sense that the Community testimony is an integral part of the Religious Society of Friends.

On their page about Community, the American Friends Service Committee website says “While the Quaker faith is founded on the principle that every person can have a direct relationship with God, an equally central tenet lies in the power of the ‘gathered community’. When Friends gather in silence to worship, they are collectively seeking the will of God, rather than meditating individually. Shared worship signifies unity and trust.”

But Friends’ concept of community extends far beyond meetings for worship. Quakers have a long history of helping people and building relationships outside of their meetings.

Many Quaker queries ask us to look for ways to extend our faith – through our actions – into ways that benefit our communities.

In that regard, we don’t just mean people who live near us. As Friend Parker Palmer said, “Community does not necessarily mean living face-to-face with others; rather, it means never losing the awareness that we are connected to each other.”

The other Quaker testimonies such as simplicity, peace, integrity, equality, and stewardship are founded on not only what is good for Quakers, but what is good for others outside our meetings – in other words, what is good for our community.

Author Ursula Jane O’Shea said it this way:

“Living out the immanent and transcendent aspects of spirituality as a Friend has never been a private matter. Quaker structures depend on the shared inward experiences of members as the basis for worship, the ordering of business, and social and humanitarian action. The Quaker way takes on faith the seemingly irrational proposition that the inspirations of individuals can lead a community to unity and spiritual power, not to chaos and dismemberment.”

Reflections for 9th Month, 2022

This is the fourth in a series of Reflections posts about Quaker testimonies.

The Quaker testimony of integrity forms a foundation not only for all the other testimonies, but for how Quakers want to live their entire lives. The website says “The testimony of integrity is not simply telling the truth; it is speaking and acting in and from the divine in each situation.”

Matthew 5:37 is considered to be the Biblical basis for the integrity testimony: “But let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these comes from the evil one.”

It’s the basis of why many Quakers do not “swear” to tell the truth. They believe swearing that you’ll tell the truth in a specific situation, such as for a court testimony, means there are times you will not tell the truth. And they even expand that to include not making statements that are misleading, even if they are technically true.

Early Quakers became known for their integrity in business dealings. Years ago, it was common for shopkeepers to not put prices on their products. They would negotiate with their customers to get the highest price they could on each transaction. Quaker shopkeepers thought it was unethical to charge different prices to different people for the same product. They would set a fair price and charge everyone the same amount. This approach gave them a reputation for honest dealings, and usually led to profitable businesses.

Anita Lucia Roddick DBE (1942 – 2007) was a British businesswoman and the founder of the British version of The Body Shop, a cosmetics company based on ethical consumerism. Roddick admired “those Quakers who ran successful businesses, and made money because they offered honest products and treated their people decently.”

The QuakerWiki website says, “The Testimony of Integrity also means refusing to place things other than God at the center of one’s life – whether it be one’s own self, possessions, the regard of others, belief in principles (such as rationality, progress or justice) or something else. It is the understanding that even good things are no longer good when they supplant God as one’s center.”

The integrity testimony is a difficult one to live up to, but our lives and our society will be better if we try.