Although Quakers generally do not document beliefs, we have recorded what are called “Queries and Advices”. These represent understandings that the community has collectivity agreed to. However, they are not intended to define who is a Quaker and who is not. Rather, they are used in assisting the seeker AND the community to confirm their relationship with God.
At some level, the Queries and Advices define what we understand to be appropriate Christian behavior. It is not the responsibility of the community to guarantee this behavior of their members. The responsibility is for each member to read and honestly consider their conduct. If it falls short, an attempt to “correct” a behavior is discouraged. Instead, the member (or community) is advised to renew their relationship with God. Living as the Queries and Advices (and the commandments in Scripture) ask can be difficult or even seem impossible, but with God, all things are possible.
One of the following Queries is and read, pondered, and answered in each of our Monthly Business Meetings,
1st Query. Are meetings for worship well and punctually attended? Is our behavior therein conducive to meditation and communion with God? Do we maintain a waiting spiritual worship and a free gospel ministry? Do we welcome others to share this fellowship with us?
2nd Query. Do we cherish a forgiving spirit, and strive to “walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us”? Is each one of us careful for the reputation of others? Are we ever mindful to love our neighbor as ourselves? If differences threaten to disrupt the Christian harmony between the members, is prompt action taken?
3rd Query. Are our homes places of peace, joy, and contentment? Are they an influence for good in the neighborhood, community, and country? Do we set a good Christian example for our children to follow? Are Friends careful that their children realize that our loving Savior will faithfully guide them through life, as they are willing to accept and obey Him? Do we help our children to read and appreciate the Bible?
4th Query. Believing our bodies to be the temple of God, are we concerned to attain a high level of physical and mental health? To this end are our lives examples of temperance in all things? Do we avoid and discourage the use and handling of intoxicants, tobacco, and improper use of drugs?
5th Query. Are we sensitive to the needs of those around us who may be in less fortunate circumstances? Do we prayerfully consider how we can share one another’s burdens when the need arises? Do we counsel lovingly and prayerfully with those members whose actions in any phase of life give us grounds for concern?
6th Query. Do we live in the life and power which takes away the occasion of all wars? Do we, on Christian principles, refuse to participate in or to cooperate with the military effort? Do we work actively for peace and the removal of the causes of war? Do we endeavor to cultivate good will, mutual understanding, and equal opportunities for all people?
7th Query. Do we observe simplicity in our manner of living, sincerity in speech, and modesty in apparel? Do we guard against involving ourselves in temporal affairs to the hindrance of spiritual growth? Are we just in our dealings and careful to fulfill our promises? Do we seek to make our Christian faith a part of our daily work?
8th Query. Are we faithful to Christ’s command to avoid swearing oaths? Are we watchful for and faithful to Christ’s promptings to share with others our testimony against the use of oaths? Do we avoid gambling and speculation based on the principles of chance?
9th Query. Are we sensitive to the problems of family living? Do we offer counseling to couples both before and after marriage? How are we helping individuals, married couples and family units to strengthen and enrich their lives?
We believe the custom of regularly reading aloud well-chosen advices has been of value to our members in stimulating their spiritual life. An advice is gennerally read toward the end of our Meeting for Worship.
1. Use vigilant care, dear Friends, not to overlook those promptings of love and truth which you may feel in your hearts; for these are the tender leadings of the Spirit of God. Nor should any of us resist God’s workings within us, for it is His redemptive love which strives to show us our darkness, and to lead us to true repentance, and to His marvelous light. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20).
2. Be faithful in maintaining your testimony against all war as inconsistent with the Spirit and teaching of Christ. Live in the Life and Power that takes away the occasions of all wars and strife. Seek to take your part in the ministry of reconciliation between individuals, groups, and nations. Let the law of kindness know no limits. Show a loving consideration for all people.
3. Regard the taking of oaths as contrary to the teachings of Christ, and setting up a double standard of truthfulness; whereas sincerity and truth should be practiced in all walks of life.
4. In your meetings for worship be earnestly concerned to enter reverently into communion with God. Come with minds and hearts prepared. Yield yourselves up to the influence of the Divine Presence so that you may find the evil in your weakening and the good raised up. God calls each one to the service of the meeting. Be obedient and faithful, whether by word or silent prayerful waiting; and be ready to receive the message of others in a tender spirit.
5. Be on your guard, dear Friends, lest the love of pleasure take too strong a hold upon you. Choose such recreations as are pure and healthful. Let them be in harmony with your service to God and man; and in that service, be ready at any time to lay them aside when called upon.
6. Endeavor to make your home an abiding place of joy and peace where the Presence of God is known and felt. Seek to know an inward retirement, even amid the activities of daily life. Make a quiet place in your daily life, wherein you may learn the full meaning of prayer, and the gladness of communion with your Heavenly Father.
7. Avoid and discourage any kind of betting or gambling, as well as commercial speculation of a gambling character. Remember how widespread are the temptations to grow rich at the expense of others, and how apparently harmless indulgence leads often by degrees to ruin and crime.
8. Watch with Christian tenderness over the opening minds of your children. Help them to understand the teachings of Jesus. Seek to awaken in them the love of Christ, and through example and training in self-control, to bring them to obedience to the law of God in their own hearts, that they may be joyful and willing in his service.
9. In consideration of marriage, remember that happiness depends on a deep and understanding love. Seek to be joined in a common discipleship of Jesus Christ. Ask guidance of God, desiring above all temporal considerations, that your union may be owned and blest of Him. Consider the precious responsibilities of parenthood, and do not forget the help you may draw from the loving counsel of your own parents.
10. Carefully maintain truthfulness and sincerity in your conduct, and encourage the same in your families. In your style of living, in your dress, and in the furniture of your houses, choose what is simple, useful, and good.
11. In view of the evils arising from the use of tobacco and intoxicating drinks, we urge all to abstain from using them, from offering them to others, and from having any part in their production, manufacture, or sale. Do not let the claims of “good fellowship” or the fear of seeming peculiar prevent you from standing by principles which you have conscientiously adopted.
12. Members are affectionately reminded of the importance of keeping correct and clear accounts pertaining to all outward affairs. It is important to make wills, or revisions of them, while still in health of mind and body, and free from any feeling of resentment. Delay, or neglect to secure competent legal advice, may cause some unexpected hindrance in the proper execution of one’s bequests.
13. Make it your aim to promote the cause of truth and righteousness, and to spread the Kingdom of God at home and abroad. Be ready to take your part fearlessly in declaring His message and in witnessing to His power.
14. Live in love, as Christian brethren, ready to be helpful one to another. Rejoice together in the blessings of life; sympathize with each other in its trials. Know one another as fellow-workers in the things that endure. Watch over one another for good, praying that each may be a living member of the Church of Christ, and may grow in the knowledge of the love of God.
15. Remember the special opportunities for refreshment of spirit and for service which the first day of the week affords; use them faithfully, as befits the Friends of the Master.
16. Be diligent in the reading of the Bible and other spiritually helpful writings. Gather daily in your families for worship. Such times have a special value in bringing little children especially into the experience of united worship, and so preparing them for the larger meeting for worship, as they learn in the silence to bow to the power of God.
17. Be mindful for yourselves and for your children that you value the beauty and power of good friendships. Also, by example and precept, encourage your children to appreciate the best in literature and the arts, which is consistent with our Christian faith. By this, all your lives may be enriched and the youth with tastes thus early formed may henceforth instinctively choose the beautiful and good.
18. Seek for your children that full development of God’s gifts which true education can bring about. Remember that the service to which we are called needs healthy bodies, trained minds, high ideals, and an understanding of the laws and purposes of God. Give of your best to the study of the Bible, and the understanding of the Christian faith. Be open-minded, ready constantly to receive new light.
19. Be zealous that education shall be continued throughout life. Willingness to be used in mind as well as in body, and to be equipped in both, is a needful part of Christian character. Our service to God is incomplete without the contribution of the intellect.
20. Follow steadfastly after all that is pure and lovely and of good report. Be prayerful. Be watchful. Be humble. Let no failure discourage you. When temptation comes, make it an opportunity to gain new strength by standing fast, that you may enter into that life of gladness and victory to which all are called.
21. A punctual attendance at the hour appointed for Meeting for Worship is a matter of no small importance. If we hurry from outward occupation, we are in danger of two things: our thoughts may still be with that in which we have been engaged, and our late arrival may interrupt that holy silence which should prevail; however, let us welcome with open hearts all who join us no matter when they arrive.
22. We would urge Friends, when away from home, to attend a Meeting for Worship if such is within reach. Such attendance may well strengthen the meeting, and may bring Friends who were hitherto strangers into fellowship with one another.
23. Those who visit our meetings for worship should be given a friendly welcome and be encouraged to continue to join us in worship. Particular assistance and loving attention should be accorded new members.
24. When we gather together in worship, let us remember that there is committed to us, as disciples of Christ, a share in the priesthood. We should help one another, whether in silence, or through spoken word, or prayer. Let none of us assume that vocal ministry is never to be our part. If the call comes, there should be no quenching of the Spirit. The sense of our own unworthiness must not exempt us from this service, nor must the fear of being unable to find the right words, “for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak” (Matt. 10:19).
25. We should recognize the importance of finding occasion for some united worship during the week, either at the meetinghouse, or in a private home. Such may be of great assistance, not only to the individual, but also to the life of the whole group.
26. Let your whole conduct and conversation be worthy of disciples of Christ. “Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).
27. Remember that our spiritual life will not be complete unless we have experienced an inward baptism and transformation. Growth in inward purity and outward Christian effectiveness should follow this experience; but such growth can come only if we persist in seeking to know and follow the commands of Christ.
28. In their senior years, and before debilitating infirmities prevail, Friends are affectionately admonished prayerfully to seek Divine Guidance and counsel from their families and friends regarding plans to continue to live in their own homes, enter a retirement home, or to make other living arrangements appropriate for their financial capabilities in their last years.