An Anabaptist asks questions on faith and practice
(The Anabaptists are a Christian group that originated in what is now
Switzerland and Germany. They are a "believer's church," where
church membership is considered to be an adult decision. They
were were persecuted in Europe, and emigrated en masse to William
Penn's American colony upon the invitation of the Quakers. Modern
Anabaptists are the Mennonites, Amish, Brethren, and Hutterites.
More conservative groups maintain a plain, non-electric
lifestyle. More liberal groups are similar to the dominant
Because Quakers believe in an experiential religion (that is, a
religion based on one's own personal experience of the Divine), our
answers may differ in details.... but the fundamental principle that
Christ has come to teach His people Himself is the same.
Q: Do the conservative
Friends rely on the scriptures to guide them in everyday life and in
A: Yes and No. Conservative Friends rely on the Holy Spirit of
Christ to guide them. We are grateful that God has provided the
scriptures for us, as an outward test of His inward leadings. We
know that we can rely on the scriptures to provide guidance when we
need it, because we know from experience that we can rely on God.
But the first Guide is our Inward Teacher.
Q: Do conservative Friends baptize, observe love feast or foot washing?
A: We do not observe the outward ceremonies. The outward ceremonies
are only symbols of inward Truths. We observe the baptism by the
Holy Spirit, when our Lord cleanses us and makes us new
creatures. We observe communion, or love feast, when we gather
together as believers to worship as a community of believers. We
observe foot washing when we find ways to serve each other. Q: Do women teach in church? Are women allowed to testify during meeting?
A: Yes. The Religious Society of Friends has believed in the
equality of men and women in the ministry since its beginning over 350
years ago. We believe that the Holy Spirit can call both men and
women to the task of teaching, prophesying, public prayer, and other
ministerial duties. We believe that this is a biblical
position.... among other things, Paul very clearly wrote that there was
neither male nor female in Christ. Only those in Christ should
speak during meeting, whether male or female.
Q: Do the members dress plain? Do the women cover their heads and wear dresses only?
A: Some members of OYM dress plain. Some women cover their heads and
wear dresses only. This is not a requirement for conservative
Friends. The plain witness is one that God calls some people to,
and does not call other people to. We encourage all individuals
to follow their conscience regarding their manner of dress, because we
feel that God knows best what is important for an individual's
spiritual growth.... we feel that a blanket prescription for a
certain type of clothing would not be as useful as individually
listening to our Guide. All members of OYM are encouraged
to dress simply and modestly.
Q: Do members meet at other times during the week in addition to first day meeting?
A: Yes. At Stillwater, we have mid-week meeting on Wednesday.
Other OYM meetings have mid-week meetings on other days. We also
meet in small groups on a more informal basis for prayers and such at
other times of the week......
Q: Are meetings ever held in members homes?
A: We get together for informal meetings in each other's homes at
Stillwater. Other OYM meetings have their regular meetings in
members' homes. A Quaker meeting for worship can be held anywhere
that two or three are gathered together.
Q: Do members vote in government elections?
A: Some do. Some don't. We trust that each person has listened
to their Guide, and that each person will be faithful to the call that
the Lord has placed on their heart. Some are called to
participate actively in politics, some are called to stay away. Q: Do any members choose to live without electricity/cars/worldly entertainment?
A: All members of OYM are encouraged to live simply. There are no
firm rules about what that means. Some of us choose to have no
television, or not to listen to the radio, for example. I do not
know of any OYM members who have chosen to forgo a car and electricity,
but there are conservative Friends who are not members of OYM who have
chosen to do without a car and electricity.
I hope that these answers are helpful. I hope that you think of
even more questions as you read my answers, because my answers are in
no way comprehensive! In all things, we try to put ourselves
under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.... and we trust that He will
tell us what we should do and also provide us with the ability and the
means to do it.... correspondingly, we trust that Christ also
guides others, and that Christ knows better than we do what their
particular spiritual needs are at the moment. As a result, we
encourage each other to follow guidelines and principles for a proper
Christian life, but we do not provide detailed rules.