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Quaker Terms and Acronyms

Brief descriptions of commonly used Quaker terms and acronyms which visitors and new Friends often ask about.

If you do not see the term/s you seek, additional sources include:

Peace Candle

Attender

A person who worships regularly with Quakers but has not joined the Religious Society of Friends.

Centering

Focusing on the Inner Light during worship.

Clearness Committee

Friends may ask for a clearness committee to help them discern major life decisions, such as joining the meeting, getting wed, changing a career, and so on.

Clerk

Quaker meetings and churches use clerks to oversee the inner workings of the meeting.

Convincement

A discovery of Truth, as in "Quaker by convincement."  It is used to describe anybody who joins the Society as opposed to being born into a Quaker family.

Faith and Practice

Although Quakers do not have a creed, Faith and Practices are adopted by yearly meetings to explain the workings of the Spirit as experienced by Quakers and explain practice for membership, marriage, death. Raleigh Friends Meeting uses the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting's Faith and Practice.

First Day

Sunday.  Early Quaker refrained from using the pagan-based names for the days of the week and months.  Overall, most Friends have stopped using these terms except within the meeting.

Friends General Conference (FGC)

Umbrella organization of mostly unprogrammed Quaker yearly meetings and individual meetings throughout the United States. Visit their website

Leading

A prompting thought to be received from the Spirit.

Meeting

This term is used in diverse contexts and so confusing. It can refer to the actual worship service or a gathering of Friends for business and administrative matters .

Ministry

The term for the Divinely inspired words a person gives when they speak during meeting for worship.

Piedmont Friends Fellowship (PFF)

Piedmont Friends Fellowship was formed when several NC-based Quaker meetings wanted to gather in response to the Vietnam War.  PFF meetings come from FUM, FGC, and unaffiliated meetings.  RFM and a few other meetings formed a new yearly meeting with the name Piedmont Friends Yearly Meeting (PFYM) which works together with PFF.

Plain

Early Quakers adopted Plain Speech and Plain Dress to indicate their belief in equality and integrity.  Although both are still in use, neither are commonly used.  Plain Speech included thees and thous because in the 17th century, "you" was only used in its plural form or as a way to denote the speaker was socially inferior to the listener. Plain Speech also refers to speakly without flourish as was also commonplace in earlier centuries.  Plain Dress refers to the gray clothing and lack of embellishment common among 17th to 19th century Quakers. See Quaker Jane for a thorough discussion of one woman's decision to be Plain as well as how to adopt a Plain wardrobe yourself.

Programmed

The descriptive term for a meeting or church with an order of service and led by a pastor. Most of these churches belong to Friends United Meeting.  Two thirds of Friends world-wide belong to yearly meetings that hold programmed meetings. Raleigh Friends Meeting is unprogrammed.

Queries

Prompting questions to help Quakers to evolve spiritually. It forms part of the Faith and Practice.

Second Hour

Raleigh Friends Meeting's weekly forum or adult education which starts at approximately 11:20 am on First Day.

Unprogrammed

Quakers originally eschewed ministers as interfering with direct experience of the Divine.  Raleigh Friends Meeting is unprogrammed.

Yearly Meeting (YM)

An organization of monthly meetings often regionally close together.  A yearly meeting is comparable to a diocese, except without as much structure or doctrine.