Vocabulary - Terms that may be peculiar to Friends

Meeting for worship

John 4:23 "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."

Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

When Friends come together to worship God, they do so in obedience to these passages. To a newcomer, the meeting may seem "silent" but in reality it is an experience of intense listening. We gather, in a meeting house, in a private home, in a park, to strengthen each other and to wait, as did the disciples on the day of Pentecost. The Word of God, Christ, is there among us and speaks to us by his spirit, in our hearts. Sometimes no audible word is said, but we are together refreshed and washed clean by the fountain of living waters. Sometimes one Friend may deliver an inspiring sermon. Sometimes several Friends, as the Spirit leads each one, will give a series of brief messages which joined by God's plan from a complete revelation. Sometimes a Friend will be compelled by the Spirit to speak something that seems to make no sense, only to learn later that it was a divine answer to some one else's need.


A witness testifies, or gives a "testimony" - a true and complete accound - of what he or she has seen. It is not hear-say. It is not conjecture. Biblical law required the concurring testimony of two witnesses to establish truth. There are two witnesses for Jesus Christ:

John 15:25-26 But when the comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

To Friends, the Spirit of Truth has revealed certain commands for those who would live in the Kingdom. To these we stand witnesses and give testimony. Our testimony is corroborated by the witness of scripture.

Date Names

The common names of days of the week and months of the year,such as "Sunday" and "January", were adopted in honor of pagan deities.  Friends have traditionally rejected such vocabulary and have called the days of the week and the months of the year by their numbers, as they are called in scripture, thus:

First Day (sunday)                                First Month (january)                            Seventh Month (july)
Second Day (monday)                          Second Month (february)                      Eighth Month (august)
Third Day (tuesday)                              Third Month (march)                             Ninth Month (september)
Fourth Day (wednesday)                       Fourth Month (april)                             Tenth Month (october)
Fifth Day (thursday)                               Fifth Month (may)                                Eleventh Month (november)
Sixth Day (friday)                                  Sixth Month (june)                                Twelfth Month (december)
Seventh Day (saturday)

It is interesting that, earlier in this century, Friends began accepting use of the common date names, feeling that any pagan meaning has been forgotten, while as the 20th comes to a close, most of us write (or type) dates using their number designations.   Perhaps the Quaker usage will catch on in common speech as well.

Conscientious Objector

John 18:36 My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight...

Luke 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good...

Any man may claim to be a conscientious objector. (Women don't have the opportunity because they are not subject to the draft.) Membership in any particular religion is not necessary nor sufficient to qualify. What is required is for the man to state religious beliefs that categorically forbid war/killing, and to provide evidence that these beliefs are sincere. During the Vietnam war, it was even established that the process of training for war/killing, in a man already in the armed forces, could awaken, or make apparent to someone who had not pondered the issue before, such beliefs. Christian churches which have from their origins obeyed Christ's command that we love our enemies have included Quakers, Church of the Brethren, and Amish/Mennonites. The right for consientious objection, in this country, has been won over the centuries by countless young men of these churches who have refused to "serve" in the armed forces even when the consequeces were severe - jail, ostracism, etc. By their patient, loving Christ-like obedience to God's law, even to the point of suffering, these men won the respect of their persecutors and laws have been changed to recognize that freedom of religion includes conscientious objection to war.