There is one story of naming Quakerism that in 1650 George Fox was taken to court to answer for his unorthodox views. While on trial Fox told the judge to, “tremble and quake at the word of the Lord”, and the judge replied, “You are the Quaker, not I”. The term Quaker has become interchangeable with Friend over time.
In the 350 years since, Friends have developed several principles, which they call “testimonies,” which are spiritual and ethical in nature (as opposed to creeds of some other religions), and which offer wisdom and guidance for their daily lives. These “Quaker Testimonies” can be remembered with the acronym of “S.P.I.C.E.S.” Here they are, in a nutshell:
Simplicity: Quakers strive to embrace a commitment to living simply so that others may simply live. For example, this may entail avoiding excess, living intentionally and with restraint, and living a life true to one’s core beliefs.
Peace: This basic Quaker testimony grows out of the belief of “that of God in every person.” It shows both a positive concern towards living in such as way as to remove the occasion for war, as well as a commitment to non-violence in resolving all matters of interpersonal conflict.
Integrity: To live a balanced and spiritually whole life, it helps to be truly in harmony with oneself and in alignment with one’s beliefs and values. Quakers strive to be faithful and consistent in living their truth, and in “letting their lives speak.”
Community: Our ability to live in accordance with our Divine inspiration is strengthened when we work together, recognize each other’s gifts and needs, and support one another. This ethos of community functions within a family, a school, a neighborhood, a country and the whole world.
Equality: Quakerism maintains that there is “that of God” in each person. Accordingly, we are spiritually equal beings, and each of us is entitled to opportunities to express that divinity in our special ways.
Stewardship: We are responsible for the careful use of the natural world, and for that which has been entrusted to us. Historically, Quakers thought of stewardship in relationship to money and property, but we are increasingly understanding it to encompass care of the earth, too.
Quakers think of life as sacramental and of all persons as being of value. Religion is not just a Sunday ceremony, but is inseparable from everyday living. Quakerism is not a society of saints, but it can contribute to an emphasis on living responsibly, from a place of love, care and respect.