Mending the World

True religion does not draw us out of the world but enables us to live better in it and excites our endeavors to mend it.

 

Quakers and Social Change

The quote above from William Penn expresses a central truth for Quakers: We are called to make the world a better place.

History. Quakers have a long history of working to do this, and our meeting continues to seek ways to build a more peaceful, just, and sustainable society.

Ongoing struggle. And . . . we continue to struggle to release ourselves from the legacies of privilege, including our roles in displacing indigenous people and slaveholding, and our ongoing complicity with racism.

Spiritual grounding. We seek, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to achieve healing and integrity in our community, and to continue to bring our faith values to the healing of the world. 

Below are quick links to aspects of our work for social change.

Quicklinks

The Testimonial Life

Spirit-led action. This is the heart of the Quaker approach to social change: to follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit, which seeks always to lead us into right word and action. Our goal is to live our outward lives in accordance with the inward guidance of the Spirit.

The "Testimonies"

The testimonies. Over the centuries, Quakers have been led to certain “testimonies,” truths about how to live in the world and relate to our society. Lists of such testimonies vary among Friends, but they commonly include the following:

  • Peace and nonviolence. We are opposed to wars and embrace nonviolent methods of social change; we encourage our young people to seek conscientious objector status in times of war.
  • Equality and social justice. We seek equality for women, for people of all races, ethnicities, and religions, for LGBTQ folks and all gender identities, for immigrants, and for all oppressed and marginalized people.
  • Criminal justice reform. We seek to end mass incarceration and an end to the death penalty.
  • Care for the earth. We seek:
    • not just the preservation of our mother earth but the restoration of a stable and life-sustaining climate and whole and healthy ecosystems everywhere;
    • environmental justice and access to clean, affordable energy for all;
    • a sustainable economy and energy system;
    • the end of mass extinction, the health of our oceans, and the reversal of our climate catastrophe.
  • Simplicity. We seek to live as lightly on the earth as possible and we embrace a plain religious architecture without religious accoutrements and a radically simple form of worship.
  • Honesty and integrity. Following Jesus’ injunction (Matthew 5:34), we do not take oaths in court or elsewhere; rather we affirm our truthfulness, seeking to “let our yay be yay and our nay be nay,” and to be honest and truthful in all of our dealings. In general, we seek to “let our lives speak,” to be authentic and genuine in our personhood, and to be faithful to our conscience.

Social Concerns Committees of the Meeting

Peace and Social Concerns Committee—Explores and engages in social concerns on behalf of the meeting, encourages participation in social change work and faithfulness to our social change leadings.

Racial Healing and Wholeness Committee—Facilitates opportunities for the meeting to increase its awareness of the impact of racism on all of us and supports creating a strongly welcoming environment for visitors, attenders, and members who are people of color.

White-Richardson Trustees—Recommends disbursal of income from a trust fund dedicated to supporting enhanced educational opportunities for children of color in Philadelphia.

Social Change Ministries

Several Friends in the meeting pursue what we call witness ministries under the meeting’s care, sustained efforts to effect change in areas of deep concern to them. They include:

  • Helping the Religious Society of Friends Become More Welcoming to People of Color—Vanessa Julye (pronounced like the month), author of Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship: Quakers, African Americans, and the Myth of Racial Justice. Vanessa conducts retreats for Friends of Color; leads workshops and gives presentations to increase awareness of white supremacy and its effect on Quakerism; and provides a place where Friends who work for racial justice can come together and support each other in their work within their meetings and other communities.
  • Love and Respect Transform—.O: .O conducts support groups, develops curricula, delivers workshops, builds relationships in North Philadelphia and Grays Ferry, and facilitates educational programs to unite Philadelphians around our Right to Breathe, health and safety over profit, no fossil fuel expansion, and a green economy for all.

Quaker Resources on Social Concerns

Concerns, Leadings and Testimonies,” Faith and Practice, a book-length presentation of our beliefs and practices written by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, our regional denominational organization.

Friends Witness in the World,” Faith and Practice, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.

Videos on the Quaker approach to a number of social concerns.

Getting Involved

If you would like to get involved in the meeting's work for peace, justice, and earthcare, contact the office (office@cpmm.org) and someone on one of our social change committees will get in touch.

Back to home