The Society of Friends, generally called Quakers, arose in England about the middle of the seventeenth century. George Fox began his ministry in 1647. The position of the Friends was the logical conclusion of the Protestant Reformation, and marked the culmination in the development of doctrine which had been advancing by irregular stages for more than a century. They proclaimed the truth that man’s salvation is a personal matter between his own soul and God, and does not depend upon the intervention of the Church in any of its offices, or by any of its officers, in the administration of any rite, ordinance or ceremony whatever. They accepted the doctrines of the Apostolic Age of the Church and distinctively emphasized the truth that the Holy Spirit enlightens every soul to reveal its condition and makes that individual feel the need of a Savior. They emphasized the further truth that Christ’s promise to plant a new life in the soul and abide there to give it light, to feed it with the bread of life and to lead it into all truth, had become a practical reality, to be known and experienced by every true believer. They proclaimed that the true baptism is that of Christ Himself, who baptizes His people with the Holy Spirit, and that the true communion is the spiritual partaking of the body and blood of Jesus Christ by faith, and that there is no form or degree of sacerdotalism in the Christian Church.
This clear and vigorous message as to the freedom and the spirituality of the Gospel attracted multitudes of people. The name Friends was taken in accordance with the declaration of the master: “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
Adapted from Berkeley Friends Church’s Faith and Practice
Read more: the early history of our meeting