Quaker beliefs tend to range from Quaker meeting to Quaker meeting, from yearly meeting to yearly meeting, and from branch to branch.

Liberal Friends

Theologically liberal, non-pastoral, un-programmed Quaker meetings–like the sort that are commonly associated with Friends General Conference–are known as liberal Friends, or liberal unprogrammed Friends. They meet in silent (waiting) worship, waiting for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for Friends to rise with a spoken message.

There are other independent monthly and yearly meetings who worship in this way that are not affiliated with FGC.

Friends General Conference is not a denomination. It is a service organization to which yearly meetings and independent monthly meetings may belong. FGC does not tell meetings what they must believe, nor does it influence a yearly meeting’s policies or Faith and Practice publications. Still, many liberal Friends call their meetings “FGC Meetings” as shorthand for explaining their affiliation and ideology.

Conservative Friends

Conservative Friends are called such not because their theology is necessarily conservative, but because they are said to be conserving (or maintaining) earlier practices of the Quaker Faith, such as silent worship, some instances of plain dress, and a Christian identity, while being less associated with the evangelism of the 1800s or the more liberal theologies of the 1900s. Even though there is a wide range of beliefs among conservative Friends, they are seen by some as a middle ground between liberal Friends and pastoral and evangelical Friends.

The Conservative Yearly Meetings are:

Pastoral Friends

Pastoral Friends are generally Christians with a wide range of theological beliefs, from liberal to conservative, and have a wide variety of worship styles, from non-Pastoral meetings with waiting worship, to meetings led by pastors with hymns, Bible-reading, a sermon, and some silent worship.

Many pastoral meetings are affiliated with Friends United Meeting–but so are several meetings that are also affiliated with FGC.

Evangelical Friends

Evangelical Friends are generally theologically conservative Christians who meet in programmed worship that closely resembles a typical Protestant church service. They believe that the Bible has no errors or faults and participate in sacraments such as baptism and communion. Evangelical Friends are members of Evangelical Friends Church International, which has six yearly meetings in North America, organized into Evangelical Friends Church North America.

Original text by Eric Evans. Revisions by Rashid Darden.

Other Resouces

Are you a Liberal Quaker or Orthodox? | QuakerSpeak
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