The word Quaker comes from a derogatory name given to George Fox by a judge in a Derbyshire courthouse when confronted by this young Friend of the Truth. A title now used generally all over the globe.
British Quakers mainly adhere to the beliefs offered by George Fox and his early followers although since the turn of the 19th into the 20th century we have become somewhat more liberal in our thoughts and beliefs. Quakers have always been of the opinion that the sense of rightiousness and truth move on. Science and academic studies of the older texts suggest that our religion should not be locked in 2000 year old and older stories and texts. We like to think our way allows for evolution. Not only Darwin's writings but our own testaments of belief. For this reason our guide to our way called 'Quaker Faith and Practice' is assessed for possible rewrites and inclusions every decade or so.
As Quakers we commit ourselves to living our faith. Not just turning out every Sunday to attend worship, but in attempting to lead a goodly life in the way Jesus of Nazareth might have wished us. Loving our neighbours, refraining from causing pain and grief to the point where we try to avoid breaking all the commandments, especially those requiring us not to steal, not to kill and to love people of all races and creeds.
We in Britain do not employ pastors as we have a system of Eldership and Oversight that reduces this need. We have a system where we may at any time be nominated to cover certain duties that we feel needs cover. We generally do this in triennial periods. Relief from duty should be arranged by our Area Meeting Nominators. In Dorset we do this corporately. We are all part of the Eldership and Oversight.
Our organisation starts from the bottom upwards. Contrary to most organisations! Our individual Local Quaker meetings hold Meetings for Worship which approximately every two months are extended to cover our business needs. Any concern coming out of our LQM are put forward to our Area Meeting. This is a Meeting which includes six LQMs in this part of England. Area Meeting holds a Meeting for Worship for Business where the concerns from LQMs and other important matters are considered in a worshipful manner. The Area Meeting clerk will then form a minute which needs to be approved by those attending. If any matter is thought to be of greater concern, that minute will be forwarded to British Yearly Meeting by way of Meeting for Sufferings. A quaint name you might think for a business meeting which stems back to our origins when many Quakers were persecuted, some to death, by the ruling classes of this society of ours. Many suffering from loss of their homes and their businesses. Where whole families were jeopardised by the actions of cruel people.