The “Religious Society of Friends” was founded in the 1650’s in Northern England by George Fox and assorted like-minded “seekers”. This religious movement arose from the foment of civil war and religious dissent in mid-17th-century England, and was fueled in part by disillusionment with the established churches of the time. Members first began to be called ‘Quakers’ soon after the foundation of the Society; this is really a nickname, but is now more commonly used than the official title. The words ‘Friend’ and ‘Quaker’ are interchangeable.
The central basis of Quakerism is the belief that each person can make direct contact with the Divine, which led Quakers to reject the need for clergy to act as intermediaries between us and God. This is closely related to our belief in the intrinsic equality of all people, and that there is “that of God in everyone”. As a consequence of these basic beliefs, Sunday masses or services became unprogrammed “Meetings” held mostly in silence, with occasional spontaneous vocal ministry. Because they believe fresh insights are always being revealed, Friends have never had a written creed or a printed prayer book.
You can find out more about Quakerism by trying some of these websites:
For Quakers In Ireland, visit the website of Ireland Yearly Meeting: www.quakers-in-ireland.ie
For Quakers in Britain: visit the website of Britain Yearly Meeting: www.quaker.org.uk
For Quakers worldwde, try the Friends World Committee for Consultation: www.fwccworld.org