Our testimonies are about the way that we, as Friends, try to lead our lives. Putting faith into practice often comes with great difficulty, arising from an understanding of certain value and principles which are central to each Quaker. Quakers understanding of faith shows that true human fulfilment comes from an attempt to live life in the spirit of love, truth, and peace, answering that of God in everyone. These values spring from a sense of inward felt equality, compassion, and striving to acknowledge and fully know the sacred in all life. Our testimonies show Quakers commitment to those values. Our day-to-day practice of the testimonies faces us with many dilemmas and compromises. We seek a sense of the Meeting when conducting business. We do not hold votes, but we do work through our challenges with the Consensus process.
The testimonies arise out of a deep, inner conviction and challenge our normal ways of living. They do not exist in any rigid form nor are they imposed in any way. All Quakers have to search for the ways in which the testimonies can become true to themselves.
The testimonies also reflect the society we live in, and so have changed over time. Early Quakers had testimonies against outward symbols, taking oaths and the payment of tithes, and about peace, temperance, moderation and forms of address. Later, testimonies evolved with regard to slavery, integrity in business dealings, capital punishment and prison reform, nonviolence and conscientious objection to military service.
As the testimonies come from leadings of the spirit, this may mean taking a stand against common social practices. The interaction between faith and action, as expressed in the testimonies, is at the heart of Quaker spiritual experience and living.
SAYMA's 1998 Faith and Practice Contained eight Testimonies - The latest Faith and Practice has five Testimonies and four Areas of Witness.
The Testimonies are Integrity, Peace, Simplicity, Community, Equality, and Sustainability. The Areas of Witness are Children, Education, Government and Sexuality.