FAQ

1. Why are Quakers called ‘quakers’?

“When the morning came he rose and went to the justices, and told them that he and his house had been plagued for my sake. One of the justices replied (as he reported to me) that the plagues were upon them, too, for keeping me. This was Justice Bennet, of Derby, who was the first that called us Quakers, because I bade them tremble at the word of the Lord.[58] This was in the year 1650.”
from Fox’s Journal (see fn.58 here).

2. Do Quakers ‘quake’?

Before I first went to a Quaker meeting, I thought that perhaps people there would shake or quake, speak in an excited manner or even speak ‘gibberish’ or ‘in tongues’. In fact meetings are often mostly silent or with occasional sober ‘ministry’ from whoever feels like speaking. I haven’t yet seen anyone ‘quake’. However, in Ben Pink Dandelion’s ‘Celebrating the Quaker Way’ p.18, he quotes another Quaker saying of ‘ministry’ – “Just thinking about it makes me shake…I feel terrified,…it’s exposing yourself…exhilarating but also terrifying…if I had a choice, I would stay sat down”. This reflects the idea that someone ‘giving ministry’ (which anyone at the Meeting can do) should only do so if they feel compelled to do so, being moved by ‘the spirit’. In the 1650’s when the Quakers were coming into being, there were also ‘Seekers’, some of whom later became Quakers and later there were ‘Shakers’ who broke away from the Quaker meetings.

3. What do Quakers do in their meetings (‘for worship’)?

I’m pasting this answer from the ‘BYM’ quaker forum (http://forum.quaker.org.uk/) for my own reference too (11/1/12):
From LaurieA
Post subject: Re: my first Quaker meeting
Posted: Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:47 am
British Quakers answered the question, “What kind of activity best describes what you are doing in Meeting for Worship?” (1996) – in percentages: praying 35, praising 13, meditating, 42, listening 54, communing 30, seeking God’s will 34, seeking union with the Divine 20, sleeping 7, worshipping God 17, thinking 66, opening up to the spirit 60. (Some were doing more than one activity during the hour’s meeting).
From: “The Liturgies of Quakerism, Ben Pink Dandelion, Ashgate, 2005.

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