Community - Quakers
The Quakers are an insular community that also have their own Quaker
jargon. Many people underestimate their charity work which benefits us all.
Quaker jargon is very enlightening to the inexperienced. We all need to be
understood these days so deciphering any religious or sects order with a jargon buster has got to be good
Whether or not quaker jargon is still evolving is another issue as
new traditions or ways of doing things is never easily accepted within the Quaker Community.
This quaker jargon buster is about it we feel but if anyone knows
of anymore quaker jargon that we may have missed then please do get in touch and let us
Advices and queries - a slim volume of suggestions to help Quakers to evolve spiritually. It forms part of
Quaker faith and practice.
Attender - A person who worships regularly with Friends but has not joined the Religious Society of Friends.
Birthright - Until the late 1940s a person who was born to a Quaker family automatically became a member of the
Society by right of birth, hence birthright! Nowadays an application must be made to become a member of the
Society. Since then the term has come to be used more loosely to describe any Friend born of Quaker parents.
Compare with convincement.
Book of discipline - Now better known as Quaker faith and practice. Discipline is used in the sense of
Britain Yearly Meeting - a meeting for decision making and business administration for Friends in England,
Scotland and Wales. It meets over several days at Friends House, though every fourth year it meets at a provincial
venue to enable more people to attend it. Abbreviated to BYM.
BYM - an abbreviation of Britain Yearly Meeting.
Charney Manor - a Quaker residential centre in the depths of Oxfordshire. It is used for retreats, gatherings,
enquirers' weekends and the like.
Christocentric - A Quaker whose inspiration is essentially Christian and who holds that the Religious Society of
Friends is essentially a Christian denomination. Compare with Universalist.
Clerk - a person appointed by a business meeting or committee to take a meeting through its business and write
the minutes. See also convener.
Committee - there are lots of these, so various and fair. It is said that God so loved the world that she didn't
send a committee. We are trying to build the commonwealth of the Spirit by using committees!
Concern - a idea or prompting by the Spirit which leads a Friend to take on an issue as a personal crusade. The
Friend will probably bring their concern to their business meeting to be tested, that is to see if it is a true
concern or simply a notion.
Convener - usually applied to a person who is responsible for the organisation of a one-off meeting for
business. Compare with clerk.
Convincement - a discovery of truth, as in "Quaker by convincement", one who has become convinced of the truth
of the Quaker way. It is used to describe anybody who joins the Society. Compare with birthright.
Daffodil ministry - every spring a Friend notices how lovely the daffodils look as they come to meeting for
worship, and they minister about how lovely the world is. Generally a pejorative term to describe uncritical and
Elder - as a noun: a member of a meeting charged with responsibility for the ordering of the spiritual life of
that meeting. As a verb: the process of gentle redirection of a person by an elder back onto the path of right
Enquirer - someone enquiring about Quakerism!
Epistle - Quaker gatherings often send a report of their deliberations to other Quakers. The best known example
is the Yearly Meeting Epistle. They often start "To Friends everywhere..."
FMH - an abbreviation of Friends Meeting House, see Meeting House.
Friend - A member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). We get our name from the original title of
"Friends in the Truth". This doesn't means that we have to be nice to each other, rather our first loyalty is to
Truth. Quakers often refer to themselves collectively as Friends and will address a Quaker as "Friend" if they
don't know the person's name.
Friends Book Centre - a very useful source of books on all matters Quakerish, you'll find it at Friends
Friends House - the central offices of Britain Yearly Meeting, opposite Euston Station.
Leading - a prompting thought to be received from the Spirit. It can turn into a concern!
Meeting - used in different contexts, and so confusing. It can be as shorthand for meeting for worship, or it
can refer to a meeting of Quakers that has gathered for business and administrative matters, for example:
preparative meeting, monthly meeting, Six Weeks Meeting and yearly meeting.
Meeting for worship - the great mystery of Quakerism: what happens in meeting for worship? We don't actually
worship using a liturgy, agreed words or ritual in the way that other traditions do. Quakers believe that when we
gather together in silence we can engage in a direct and personal relationship with God. (But we disagree on the
nature of God!)
Meeting House - a place where Quakers gather for worship, though not the only place that they may do so. When
early Quakers referred to churches as "Steeplehouses" it wasn't meant as a compliment.
Meeting for Sufferings - a meeting for decision making and business administration for Friends in England,
Scotland and Wales. It is the executive body of Britain Yearly Meeting and meets regularly at Friends House.
Membership - what you apply for when you decide to want to join Friends. Visitors will then come round to see
you! Contrast with Attender.
Ministry - this is our term for what a person gives when they stand up and speak during meeting for worship.
Ministry is inspired by the Spirit.
Minutes - these are the record of the proceedings of a business meeting written by the clerk or convener of that
meeting. Quaker minutes are written and agreed as the meeting proceeds with its business.
MM - an abbreviation of Monthly Meeting.
Monthly Meeting - a meeting for business administration and decision making for a group of local Preparative
Meetings. Abbreviated to MM.
Notion - 1) any approach to religious matters not based on first-hand spiritual experience. 2) a leading that
didn't turn into a concern, someone else's concern that isn't important to you, or any religious and spiritual
practice that you don't feel is relevant. Quakers rarely exert judgement, but deciding when something is a notion
is one time when they do. A derisive term.
Occur - as in "This Friend's name would not have occurred to me." a Friendly (i.e. devious) way of damning a
Overseer - a member of a meeting charged with responsibility for the general welfare of the members of that
Plain speech - this is how Quakers aspire to speak ("Let you Yea be your Yea") but too often they will couch
their meaning in obscure and devious phrases, see occur.
Popcorn ministry - There are days when everybody seems to have something to say at meeting for worship. There is
little or no silence. People keep bursting into ministry like a panfull of popcorn on the stove. A pejorative
Preparative meeting - a meeting for decision making and business administration for a local meeting. Abbreviated
Programmed - describes a meeting for worship that has an order of service and is led by a pastor. Two thirds of
Friends world-wide belong to yearly meetings that hold programmed meetings. Meetings for worship in Britain are
PM - an abbreviation of Preparative Meeting.
Quaker - originally a pejorative name for a member of the Religious Society of Friends, now a title worn with
pride and probably more widely known by the public than the more correct term of Friend.
Quaker faith and practice - a book which seeks to express in words the workings of the Spirit as experienced by
Quakers over three hundred years. It is both an anthology of Quaker thought and guidance on the right ordering of
Quaker affairs. It is revised every generation to reflect the continuing revelation and understanding of the
Spirit. It is also known as the Book of discipline.
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) - the correct title of the organisation to which Friends/Quakers
Right ordering - done in the correct manner, in keeping with Quaker tradition and practice. A body of wisdom and
insights that has evolved over three hundred years of seeking the guidance of the Spirit, it is captured in part by
the Book of discipline, but only in part.
Six Weeks Meeting - a committee of London and Middlesex General Meeting responsible for the administration of
Quaker premises in and around London.
Swarthmore Lecture - a lecture given at the time of Britain Yearly Meeting by one or more Friends, it is an
important platform for the continuing development of Quaker thought and theology.
Testimonies - The cumulative lived witness of generations of Friends. Aspects of our witness on which most
Friends can actually agree! They include (in alphabetical order) equality, peace, simplicity and truth.
Testing a concern - a process of deliberation by a preparative or monthly meeting to examine whether a Friend's
concern has religious validity and should be promoted and supported by that meeting.
Universalist - A Quaker who believes that there is a universal truth that may be found in all faiths, as opposed
Unprogrammed - describes a meeting for worship where all ministry and prayer is inspired by the Spirit rather
than by a predetermined order of service. This is the practice in Britain. Compare with programmed.
Visitor - 1) If you apply for membership two people will be appointed by your local monthly meeting to help you
and the monthly meeting decide if the commitment to membership is right for you. They will write a report to help
your monthly meeting reach its decision. 2) A Friend visiting from another PM. 3) Somebody new to meeting.
Weighty Friend - one who is influential (i.e: their opinion carries weight) within the Society (while remaining
consistent with our testimony on equality, of course).
Woodbrooke - the Quaker study centre in Birmingham.
Worship - see meeting for worship.
ADD YOUR OWN JARGON TO THIS SECTION:-