Around the world

George Fox was a principal founder of Quakerism in England in the mid 1600s. This new movement soon spread round much of England. When the Pilgrims went to found the American colony, many were Quakers escaping persecution.

Different groups developed different emphases. Liberal Quakers kept an emphasis on the inner light, and retained silent worship. Evangelical Quakers emphasised the teachings of Christ and the centrality of the Bible. Evangelical Quaker churches have pastors and their worship is more like other Christian churches. They sent missionaries to developing countries.

Quakers in Australia have always followed the liberal tradition with silent worship and no pastors or missionaries. However, these two styles, and others, continue in other countries. There is increasing respect for the value and importance of each other's traditions.

Quakers have a tradition of welcoming other Quakers even when they have not met before or come from different traditions. This develops into a strong sense of a global Quaker family. Such networking promotes cooperation on global causes and actions.

The Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) links many Quaker groups in the world, providing opportunities for increased understanding and cooperation amongst Quakers from different backgrounds. Both Evangelical and Liberal Quakers belong to FWCC and it underpins the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO), which is a recognised non-governmental organisation at the UN. QUNO has offices in New York and Geneva and does a lot of quiet diplomacy with UN delegates.

QUNO often works for peace behind the scenes, inviting diplomats and others who may influence decisions to a simple meal. This encourages conversation at a personal level and allows exploration of ideas that may not be heard in more formal settings. Such events can have significant influence on world agreements.

QUNO’s effective organisation structure keeps the staff who meet the diplomats in close contact with ordinary Quakers from around the world.

There is more information here about Quakers around the World.