What are Quakers & Quakerism?
We are a group of ordinary people whose official name is the Religious Society of Friends. Quakers share a way of life, more than a set of beliefs.
We believe each person is uniquely valuable and there is something of God in everyone. This is a divine spark to be nurtured and protected.
We are more concerned with the truth behind the words than the formal statements of belief.
Quakerism has its roots in Christianity, but emphasises individual experience over creeds, and embraces expressions of the spirit of love and truth in other religious traditions, in secular sources and in people’s lives.
In Great Britain, there are about 18,000 members of the Religious Society of Friends across 450 Meetings. There are around 340,000 Quakers worldwide.
Click here for more information about Quakers.
What happens in a Meeting for Worship?
We meet together for worship based on silent waiting, in which we seek to come nearer to one another and to God. The Meeting for Worship begins as soon as anyone sits down in silence. The silence may be broken by anyone who feels compelled to speak, pray or read.
No two Quaker Meetings are the same, and a meeting can embrace a wide range of experience.
Everyone is welcome: Christians, those from other faiths and from none. In Sheffield Central Meeting, the children join us about 10 minutes before the end of our Meeting for Worship.
Come along to one of our meetings – you will be very welcome.
We offer a children’s meeting every Sunday during school terms, starting at 10.30am. During school holidays (including half-terms) there is no organised activity, but families would still be welcome, provided supervision is undertaken by the parents/carers.
Currently, our children’s group is around 8 -10, though that varies from week to week. We have a creche worker to play with and care for the youngest ones (pre school age), and there is always an activity (stories, drama, craft etc) for the older children. All activities are organised according to clear Safeguarding guidelines, with adults who supervise required to have DBS certification.
At around 11.20, the children join the main Meeting for Worship, so they learn our way of silent worship. They are then welcome to the social time for refreshments, under the supervision of their own family.
Other activities are also organised occasionally, such as picnics, and open-air swimming at Hathersage.
There is no paid minister/vicar/pastor and we do not work with a hierarchy. There are various roles within the meeting such as clerk, assistant clerk, elders and pastoral care team. (These were formerly known as ‘overseers’, and the term was changed recently in line with modern usage).
We have a committee (called the Nominations Committee) who meet to consider very carefully who might be able to fulfil these roles. Then individuals are appointed to serve in that capacity for a fixed term – usually 3 years, sometimes 6 years. Then there will be a complete change. This means that Quakers will be able to serve the meeting in a variety of ways during their life in the meeting.
Our pastoral care team’s role is to be welcoming, encourage attendance and caring friendship, care for the needs of attendees, and respond to any needs which arise within the community.
Elders in the community are responsible for caring for the spiritual life of the meeting, carrying out practical arrangements for meetings and occasions, and for encouraging opportunities for all to broaden and deepen their knowledge and understanding of Quakerism.
Sheffield Quakers have in the past been involved in many other activities, but some had to be discontinued during the pandemic. There are opportunities to get to know each other better through discussion and social time after the main meeting. There are small groups for:
- Spiritual Friendship
- Bible Study
- Guided Meditation (Experiment with Light)
In the past we have also had various recreational/social activities and as we continue to emerge from the pandemic period, we hope some of these will start again.
We also have a fine library with books, periodicals and pamphlets on Quaker and general religious and spiritual themes.
Within 20 years of George Fox bringing his radical message, that God’s inspiration could be experienced as a direct personal relationship, Quaker meetings sprang up at Tickhill, Balby and Woodhouse, followed by Upperthorpe and Sheffield in 1669.
Land was purchased for a burial ground off Broad Lane in 1676 (now a vacant lot just to the left of McCague’s Garage). At that time Quakers met for worship at sites like this or in their own homes.
Websites of other Quaker Meetings in the Sheffield and Balby Area:
- www.doncasterquakers.org.uk — the website of Doncaster (Balby) Quaker Meeting.
- http://www.hopevalleyquakers.com — the website of Hope Valley Quaker Meeting.
- https://netheredge.quakermeeting.org – the website of Nether Edge Quaker Meeting.
- www.sheffieldandbalbyquakers.org.uk – Sheffield and Balby Area Meeting – the website of our Area Meeting (which includes Hope Valley, Doncaster and the two Sheffield meetings)
Here is a collection of links to other websites of interest:
- www.quaker.org.uk — the website of Britain Yearly Meeting.
- http://www.quakercommunity.org.uk – website for Bamford Quaker Community
- Quakers In Yorkshire — Spreading knowledge of Quakerism and the Society of Friends in the region.
- Sheffield Quakers Blog — Reflections and discussion from Quakers in Sheffield.
- Northern Friends Peace Board — Supporting Quakers’ peace witness, promoting a culture of peace and challenging militarism in the north of Britain.
- Quaker Tapestry — A modern tapestry, this international community project explores three centuries of social history within 77 fascinating panels. Based at Kendal in Cumbria.
- Yorkshire Friends Holiday School — An annual, week-long residential gathering for around a hundred 13-18 year olds. We aim to build a vibrant, respectful community and organise a mixture of activities – both fun and thought-provoking, for both small and large groups.
- Quakers on BBC Local Sheffield and South Yorkshire
- Friends’ School Council – about Quaker Schools
- www.leaveners.org The Leaveners: An exciting and creative project exploring the beliefs of young Quakers today through the arts.
- QUARN – Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network – Supporting Quakers to bring about justice for asylum seekers and refugees.
- Experiment with Light – A form of guided meditation, based on early Quaker practice.
Organisations we have connections with:
- CRESST — Conflict Resolution Education in Sheffield Schools Training. CRESST helps children and young people learn conflict resolution skills that can be used in their schools and communities. It was originally set up as a project of Sheffield Central Meeting using legacy money. Now an independent charity, they retain strong links to Sheffield Quakers through its trustees and volunteers.
- City Of Sanctuary. A movement to build a culture of hospitality for people seeking sanctuary, which started in Sheffield with the support of Quakers.
- Assist — Asylum Seeker Support Initiative – Short Term is a Sheffield charity that helps destitute asylum seekers in and around Sheffield.
- Double Joy — Double Joy Children’s Farm is a home and school for children orphaned by Aids in Kenya.
- Hlekweni — Hlekweni is a rural training centre outside Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Craig Barnett, of our meeting, was Director from 2010 – March 2011.
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