Why such a different form of worship?
17th Century Seekers
One group of “seekers” turned away from all external forms of religion. They would come together in silence on the basis of one central thought: “Christ has come to teach his people himself.” Every person has a spark of God in their soul and therefore the potential to hear God’s message. It wasn’t necessary to have studied theology. In worship there would be no preaching based on previously written words, but only on the basis of what God’s Spirit would make clear at that moment in the silence of worship.
The people who would meet together in this way on Sundays called themselves, “Children of the Light.” Being obedient to the God-given Light was the most important thing in their lives. There was a danger, of course, that someone might hold their own thoughts or wishes to be those from God. But it was understood that the group, the Meeting, was prepared to know the difference between what was from God and what was merely human. The Bible was a big help in this regard. God would not contradict himself.
Their silent meetings produced the following insights, insights that are still followed by Quakers today:
The Quaker movement from the 17th century began to see itself as a church and not just as a reform movement. It was a woman, Margaret Fell, who had the most important role in organizing this church, into what is called “The Religious Society of Friends.”
Today, Quakerism has both a mystical and a practical foundation. Friends take seriously the words of Jesus about being the “salt and light of the world.” They support each other in discovering one’s personal calling.