Quaker Faith and Practice or Faith and Practice is the common name of the publications of many Yearly Meetings within the Religious Society of Friends. It is intended to be an expression of that Yearly Meeting's sense of truth and purpose, and also describe the current structure and administration of that yearly meeting.
Text and Usage
The contents of Faith and Practice are agreed on by a consensual decision-making process by members of the authoring yearly meeting. This is thought to be a fitting way of expressing the breadth of Quaker theology and practice, and consistent with an intention that they be based in evolving personal experience and 'inner light' rather than fixed creeds. The writings are not intended to represent strict rules which followers must agree with or adhere to, but may be used as a source of guidance or discipline. Since the majority of the Society remains within a Christian theistic tradition, this is reflected in the publication.
Extracts from the book are sometimes read aloud in Quaker meetings for worship as a focus for meditation or consideration.
The origins of the publication can be traced back to a manuscript in 1738, following the development of the Quaker movement in the mid-17th century in England. The first printed collection appeared in 1783. From 1861 the Book of Discipline was divided into separate chapters, and in 1921 adopted a new approach of attempting 'to state truth, not by formulating it, but by expressing it through the vital personal and corporate experience of Friends'. This began the use of extracts which has subsequently been developed as an acceptable method of expressing the breadth of Quaker theology. The British 1959/1967 revision consisted of two volumes: Christian faith and practice and Church Government.
A new British revision was worked on from 1985, due to requests "not from the centre but from local meetings and individual Friends, as well as committees" to reflect developments in society, language and belief. The process of revision is described by Brian Meara in an article in Friends Quarterly (1994) in an extended metaphor - "charting a river". The new version appeared in 1995 in one volume. Britain Yearly Meeting, in 2006, started the process of producing a new Book of Discipline .
There are currently over 24 different versions in print, each by a different yearly meeting, some also available to be viewed on-line. The names of the publications vary.
Britain Yearly Meeting produce the current British Quaker Faith and Practice. The text of this edition was originally approved by the Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain in 1994, and is regularly revised to reflect developments in Quaker attitudes or organisation. It is sometimes termed the (Christian) 'Book of Discipline' but this has become less common. The current third edition is sold in print and is freely available on-line .
The first chapter, Advices and Queries, originated from queries asked of Britain Yearly Meeting to the quarterly meetings about the state of their meetings. Over time the queries became ones to be considered rather than answered and general advices were also included. This chapter is also published as a separate booklet and is published in both English and Welsh.
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, in the United States, title their version Faith and Practice. It was originally published under that title in 1955 and was revised in 1972, 1979, 1997 and minor revisons were made in 2002. Prior to Faith and Practice, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting published a Book of Discipline as early as 1806. The current edition is available both in print and on-line .
Australia Yearly Meeting publishes two separate books in the tradition of Quaker faith and practice collections. The Handbook of Practice and Procedure gives a brief history of the Society and detailed instructions on how the Society in Australia is run.. This We Can Say: Quaker life, faith and thought, first published in 2003, was written over a period of ten years from 1993, to express personally the living faith of contemporary Australian Quakers. It also includes the Britain Yearly Meeting Advices and Queries.
- The Testimonies of the Religious Society of Friends
- Brian Meara "Charting the river: the revision of the Book of Discipline" in Friends Quarterly Vol 28, No. 2 pp 49-53. (April 1994).
- New edition started - report in The Friend, Dec 8, 2006).
- Currently available at http://quakersfp.live.poptech.coop/qfp/index.html
- The 1806 version can be seen on-line at http://www.qhpress.org/texts/obod/
- Currently available at http://www.pym.org/publish/fnp/
- Australia Yearly Meeting (2005) Handbook of Practice and Procedure, 4th Edition
- Australia Yearly Meeting (2003) This We Can Say: Quaker life, faith and practice
- Do Young Friends Use Quaker Faith And Practice? from Quaker Youth Forum
- List of different Quaker Faith and Practice books in use compiled by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
- Search many different Quaker Faith and Practice books
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