WHAT ARE FRIENDS/QUAKERS: The Religious Society of Friends (a.k.a. Quakers) grew out of the ministry of George Fox in England and America in the second half of the seventeenth century. A religion of inward experience rather than outward observance, it is rooted in Christianity. A basic tenet of the Society holds that everyone is possessed of an inward principle, or faculty, variously called the “Inner Light,” the “inward teacher,” the “seed,” or “that of God within,” which if followed and exercised will constantly open one’s mind to truth and one’s heart to love. From the very beginning, this tenet has called Friends to value each person for him or herself. Today Friends take joy in our diversity.
Since the beginning of Quakerism, our social testimony has been an integral expression of our faith. Faith is translated into action as Friends take constructive steps to foster peace, social justice, education, simplicity, and right sharing of resources.
In the course of its development the Society of Friends has undergone many changes and has branched into a number of forms. Major branches in the United States are pastoral groups, usually called Friends Churches and affiliated with the Friends United Meeting or the Evangelical Friends, and the nonpastoral or unprogrammed branch, affiliated with Friends General Conference or Conservative Yearly Meetings.
In Friends General Conference, of which our Meeting is a part, local congregations of Friends are organized as “Monthly Meetings.” Groups of Monthly Meetings constitute “Quarterly” and “Yearly” Meetings. The names refer to the traditional frequency with which Meetings for Business are held.
We as Friends believe that the chief end for each human being is to grow continuously in the knowledge and love of God, in integrity of life, and in pure love toward all God’s creatures. We believe that participation in a religious society, in worship and fellowship, is an essential means of promoting this divine growth. We practice a simple waiting worship, without outward sacraments, liturgy, program, priest, or professional minister. Out of the silence may come spoken ministry, which is a sharing of the Inner Light.
ROOTS: The Ann Arbor Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends began in 1935 as an informal worship group. It was formally organized as a local Monthly Meeting, with weekly Meetings for Worship, in 1937. Ann Arbor Meeting is part of the Green Pastures Quarterly Meeting and the Lake Erie Yearly Meeting, which in turn is a member of Friends General Conference. The Meeting unites a considerable variety of religious thought and experience in common work, worship, and love. We do not require creedal or doctrinal statements from our members, believing that truth cannot be confined in a set statement, however well phrased. Truth must be expressed in the life of the Meeting, and in the lives of its individual members.
The work of the Ann Arbor Meeting, and all of the responsibility for the ministry of word and of deed, is shared by the members and attenders. There is no paid minister. Men and women alike may fill any position; individual gifts and interests are the determining factors. All Meeting activities are open to attenders as well as members, and attenders may serve on most committees and hold many of the offices of the Meeting. The Meeting has a membership of 121 (as of July 2019). Typical attendance on a Sunday morning, counting both Meetings for Worship and First Day School, is about 80.
In 1955 the Meeting purchased a house at 1416 Hill Street, and in 1962 moved into the newly built Meetinghouse adjoining the original building. The property now includes the Meetinghouse, Quaker House, and the office of Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, collectively known as Friends Center. The Meeting feels a social responsibility, as well as financial necessity, to make productive use of its property. Individual rooms in the Meetinghouse and Quaker House are available on a regular or one-time basis to community groups whose activities are not incompatible with Quaker practice.