(from the Pacific Yearly Meeting’s Faith & Practice)
“We utterly deny all outward wars, and strife, and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretence whatsoever, and this is our testimony to the whole world.… The spirit of Christ which leads us into all Truth will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for kingdoms of this world.” – George Fox, declaration to Charles II, 1660, Britain Yearly Meeting, Quaker Faith & Practice, 1995.
“A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil, that good may come of it.” – William Penn, 1693; Britain Yearly Meeting, Quaker Faith & Practice, 1995.
Based upon love and concern for the wellbeing of all, Friends work for reconciliation and active nonviolent resolutions of conflict. Friends have traditionally supported conscientious objectors to military service, while holding in love, but disagreeing with, those who feel that they must enter the armed forces. Friends oppose all war as inconsistent with God’s will.
Recognizing that violence and war typically arise from unjust circumstances, Friends address the causes of war by working to correct social injustice, and by strengthening communities, institutions and processes to provide nonviolent alternatives to military force. We testify against structural violence implicit in disparities of wealth and income and against discrimination on the basis of race, sex, age, class, sexual orientation, and other divisions of people. John Woolman implored Friends to seek out the seeds of war in themselves:
“Oh that we who declare against wars, and acknowledge our trust to be in God only, may walk in the light and therein examine our foundation and motives in holding great estates. May we look upon our treasures, the furniture of our houses, and our garments, and try whether the seeds of war have nourishment in these possessions?” – John Woolman, 1763
Queries for the Peace Testimony
The work of peace is the work of sustaining relationships of mutual human regard, of seeing and speaking to that of God in everyone, of seeking peace within ourselves, the family, the community and the world. The Kingdom of God is both present in each of us and a goal yet to be fulfilled. The task may never be done, but sustained by God’s love we are called to pursue it. The heart of the Religious Society of Friends is the Meeting for Worship. In direct communion with God, we offer ourselves for God’s will. Our daily lives are linked with the Meeting for Worship, and the Meeting for Worship with our daily lives.
Come regularly to Meeting for Worship, even when you are angry, tired, or spiritually cold. Bring your joys and your hurts, and the needs of other people. Accept and support each other in the community where God dwells among us. As you do so, you may find the grace of prayer.
At times the Spirit may prompt you to speak in Meeting. Wait patiently to know that the sense and the time are right. When you are sure, have confidence that the words will be given to you. Listen to the ministry of others with an open spirit. If it is not God’s word for you, it may be for others. After a message has been given, allow time to ponder its meaning and to let the Meeting return to silent worship. In speech and in silence, each person contributes to the Meeting.
Do I come to Meeting with heart and mind prepared for worship?
In both silent and vocal ministry, do I respond to the leadings of the Holy Spirit, without pre-arrangement and in simplicity and truth?
Am I careful not to speak at undue length or beyond personal spiritual experience?
Do we meet in expectant waiting for the promptings of the Divine Spirit?
Are we drawn together in a living silence by the power of God in our midst?