Movement on the rise

Growing membership: The Quaker meeting house in Sheffield          whose members do not regard any book as being the actual 'word of God'
Growing membership: The Quaker meeting house in Sheffield whose members do not regard any book as being the actual 'word of God'
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It’s easy to spot a cluster of Quaker graves - headstones are usually small and semi-circular, devoid of ornament, and uniform in style, no matter the importance or social stature of the person they represent.

Today, in Sheffield, the Quaker movement is on the rise. There are as many as 220 city Quakers and about 18,000 members in the UK, with 7,000 non members who regularly worship with them.

“Our membership numbers are growing and there are as many as 40 children on the books now,” says Gordon. “We’re even running out of space.”

Quakers do not regard any book as being the actual ‘word of God’ and, if required to give evidence in court, they do not swear an oath on the Bible as they recognise only one standard of truth.

“One of the key characteristics is integrity and personal integrity,” says Gordon. “Quakers don’t swear oaths as if you live a life that’s full of integrity there is no need to make a special case for it in court. Instead we say, ‘I affirm’, because that’s how we behave all the time.”

As for the name, there are two theories as to why followers gained the moniker ‘Quakers’.

One is based on a story that the movement’s founder George Fox, once told a magistrate to quake at the name of God. Another is that the name derives from the physical reactions - shaking, and trembling - that often occurred as a result of Quakers’ religious experiences.