George Fox (1624-1691) is recognized as the founder of the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakerism. Quakers rely upon group meetings called “Meeting for Worship,” in which individuals wait in silent expectation for clarity and wisdom. Quakers recognize in all people the existence of an “inner light,” an innate goodness that connects us all and nurtures awareness and responsibility.
Quakers have neither creed nor clergy. The Philadelphia Yearly Meeting – an annual gathering of Quakers from the Philadelphia region – provides this insight: “Most Quakers take the absence of a formal creed as an invitation and encouragement to exercise personal responsibility for developing, understanding, and articulating Quaker faith. Rather than rely on priests or professional theologians, each believer is encouraged to take seriously the personal disciplines associated with spiritual growth. Out of lives of reflection, prayer, faithfulness, and service flow our statements of belief in both word and deed.”
Quaker education is a natural outgrowth of the belief in the “inner light.” Quaker schools seek to nurture the best qualities of each child and believe that all children benefit from education. According to the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice, “Such benefit is more likely if education is spiritual in its nature and objectives, if it draws people ever nearer to a concern for others and strengthens their commitment to live in accordance with spiritual principles.”
Friends believe that their educational ministry should include the children of non-Friends and have expanded their student bodies to embrace wide experiences of diversity. Quaker tenets or “spices” – simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship – were important practices in the founding of Pennsylvania by William Penn and continue to be important to Friends today. Non-Quaker parents embrace these tenets and appreciate that Quaker education places great responsibility on students to do their personal best, develop strong moral convictions, and be truthful, active citizens.
At Goshen Friends, Lower School students, faculty, and administrators attend Meeting for Worship at the campus Meetinghouse once a week. Older Preschool children periodically attend. Parents and friends are always welcome to participate.