The Quaker Way

Communal silent waiting is the Quaker's unique gift to the world

Presence in the midst: James Doyle Penrose

One Step at a Time

Quakers accept that each person's faith is rooted in their experience, particularly in the practice of silent waiting, and must be allowed to grow over time. What we come to believe or are moved to do comes from that inner place of peace, love and connection.

At Milford we have a library of faith and spirituality related books, and encourage everyone to explore the rich diversity of faiths and practices in this world. In addition to our Sunday Meeting we hold other events over the year, many of them along with other Quaker Meetings and faith communities​.

John Perkin: Centring Down

Finding that Place of Calm

We encourage people to take time each day in meditation, contemplation or prayer.

"Be still and cool in thy own mind and spirit from thy own thoughts …" as George Fox counselled in 1658.

​We unite with Quakers and others, locally, nationally and globally, to take action on issues of concern.

​Beginning with stillness our faith becomes action.

Stillness and Silence


In silence which is active, the Inner Light begins to glow – a tiny spark. For the flame to be kindled and to grow, subtle argument and the clamour of our emotions must be stilled. It is by an attention full of love that we enable the Inner Light to blaze and illuminate our dwelling and to make of our whole being a source from which this Light may shine out. Pierre Lacout, 1969: Quaker faith & practice 2:12


The Experiment with Light

Mosaic on Horfield Meeting House

Simplicity, Truth, Equality, Peace.

True godliness don’t turn men out of the world, but enables them to live better in it, and excites their endeavours to mend it: not hide their candle under a bushel, but set it upon a table in a candlestick. William Penn, 1682

Our Testimonies have stood the test of time and guide us in what we do:

Simplicity means we have no creed or set beliefs, but are led by what speaks deeply in us.

Truth and Integrity applies to our words and deeds, and to our understanding.

Equality is fundamental in how we treat people.

Peace in how we live and through our peace-work.

(A fuller explanation of the four key testimonies can be found on our Area Meeting website.)

As with all things Quaker, different Quaker communities have felt the need to add to the basic four, some adding sustainability, because of the climate crisis, and others adding community, to remind us of the needs of inclusion and cohesion. (SPICES/STEPS as acronyms to remember them by).


The Quaker ethos

Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand. Isaac Penington, 1667

Living out the testimonies in our lives produces the Quaker ethos which promotes: inherent worth, inclusion, non-violence, spiritual seeking, quiet communion, continuing revelation, discovery, contemplation, inner peace, openness, right action, rootedness, ethical engagement.

Many Quakers support such projects as The Alternatives To Violence Project or practices like Non-Violent Communication.

Other Quakers take an active part in the Green movement, or try hard to lessen their environmental impact. Many act on social concerns. It is surprising how many charities or Non Government Organisations (NGOs) have have Quakers among their founders. In business, Quakers have a reputation for honest dealing and complete trustworthiness: their word is their bond.


Spiritual insights

There is inspiration to be found all around us, in the natural world, in the sciences and arts, in our work and friendships, in our sorrows as well as in our joys. Are you open to new light, from whatever source it may come? Do you approach new ideas with discernment? Advices and Queries, 7

Long years of being "seasoned" by the practice of silent waiting has made Quakers open to the inner wellspring of spirituality and made them sceptical about theologies. As George Fox said in his Journal, theologies were "windy doctrines that blew people up and down". He preferred to know things "experimentally". The Bible is one sauce of inspiration, but Quakers do not take it as the word of God, especially not the final word. It is that direct and immediate experience which is taken as the guide: the communion beyond words.

This leads to continuing revelation which is why Quakerism is continuing to evolve. In this century being among the first to accept, and even celebrate, same sex marriages. Continuing revelation sometimes can be painful and hard. The paths forwards are not always clear and can be a source of tension and even profound disagreement. Quakers in Britain have never split but have worked their way through, avoiding polarising and reminding themselves to "Think it possible that you may be mistaken" as they collectively discern the way forward led by the spirit. The unique business method of discernment has evolved as a result, where Quakers work together to reveal solutions which all can accept.

Quakers have come to accept the sacramental nature of all times and places, so that a Quaker Meeting may be held anywhere at any time. Perhaps most outrageously in the Gestapo Headquarters in Berlin in 1938, when a party of Quakers were given permission for the Kindertransports after falling spontaneously into a deeply gathered silent Meeting. 

From the depths of the practice of silent waiting there can arise a sense of being led to act. This has led to many Quakers and Meetings acting under a concern.  Such is the power of such spiritual leadings that they may feel that are simply obeying what is asked deeply of them. A case of holy obedience

Over the centuries Quakers have involved in many reforming movements because they feel compelled to act under a concern; notably with anti-slavery, prison reform, social justice, peace work, and, increasingly, since the Canterbury Commitment, environmental issues. 

In the silence

God or no God?

Some Quakers discover a profound sense of an embracing presence. For them God is not a belief but an experience. Their spiritual journey is an example of the via positiva: a relationship with God is necessary for their spiritual growth and journey.

Some Quakers never have such experiences, rather "God" is a blockage on their road. Their spiritual growth and journey is an example of the via negativa: the clearing out of the way of constructs such as "God" is essential so that the light can shine within and through them.

Those whose path is the via positiva often have an experience of the transcendent.

Those whose path is the via negativa often have an experience of the immanent.

Both are being true to their authentic experience. Both have spiritual integrity. Both are living out our testimony. 

Due its Christian heritage, much of Quaker faith & practice, and of Advices and Queries are written in terms of the via positiva, which does make them less readily accessible to those whose natural path is on the via negativa. The truths within speak equally to both conditions – to "that of God / that which is best" within each and every person, however experienced.  

Do you respect that of God in everyone though it may be expressed in unfamiliar ways or be difficult to discern? Each of us has a particular experience of God and each must find the way to be true to it. When words are strange or disturbing to you, try to sense where they come from and what has nourished the lives of others. Listen patiently and seek the truth which other people’s opinions may contain for you. Avoid hurtful criticism and provocative language. Do not allow the strength of your convictions to betray you into making statements or allegations that are unfair or untrue. Think it possible that you may be mistaken. Advices and queries 17.


Rooted in Christianity but not confined by it.

In the 1650s when Quakerism began the only text of spiritual insight available for most people was the Authorised Version of the Bible. Christian language was the only language in which spiritual symbolism could be found or expressed. That is why we still have such terms as "Meeting for Worship"; although what Quakers are doing during the communal silent waiting bears absolutely no similarity to any act or rite of worship anywhere else. It does share many characteristics with the meditative and contemplative traditions of many other faiths.

The Christian hallmark Quakerism carries from its roots is the Christian ethic as found in the teachings of the Gospels. Those still inspire. Those are embedded in the testimonies: truth & integrity, simplicity, equality and peace. Quakerism is a way of life, not a cloud of belief.

Sources of spiritual inspiration from other traditions and faiths now abound and Quakers are alert to them. If they speak to our condition then that is what they do. Integrity and authenticity demand openness to them, nothing less.  

The spectrum panel from the Quaker Testestry

Quaker Diversity

Quakers have a diversity of belief but are united by our testimonies of Simplicity, Truth, Equality, and Peace.

We are seekers after the truth, being led by our Inner Light to connect with the spirit, how-so-ever we name it.

Some Quakers find nurture in the tradition's Christian heritage. Others are radically non-theist. Some are Universalist. Many follow multi-religious belonging, such as the being both Zen Buddhist and Quaker.

Britain Yearly Meeting (all the Quakers in Britain acting as one) has a surprising range of Quaker Recognised Bodies.

Key Quaker organisations in the UK

Quaker Life

Woodbrooke (the Quaker learning, research and education centre)