This glossary was based on one prepared for young UK Friends which was published on the Under-19s website, but it has been edited and many terms and acronyms have been added. Many of the latter are from the ‘documents in advance’ for Britain Yearly Meeting, some terms are from 'The Quakers: A Very Short Introduction' by Ben Pink Dandelion. This page was last updated in June 2010 from Documents in Advance for Britain Yearly Meeting 2010. If you wish to suggest further changes or additions, please email email@example.com.
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ACTS Action of Churches Together in Scotland
Advices and Queries Is included in ‘Quaker Faith and Practice’ (QF&P) as the first chapter. ‘Advices and Queries’ is also published as a separate booklet, and is frequently used in meetings for worship as a means of reminding Quakers to reflect on their spiritual lives and ethical responsibilities.
Affirm Taking an oath implies a double standard of truth; to affirm is a claim to integrity which is recognised in law for Quakers.
AFSC American Friends Service Council
Afterword Some local meetings have a period of about ten minutes following meeting but before any general conversation and refreshments, in which to share anything which seems important but not suitable for a spoken contribution during meeting for worship.
AGLI Friends' African Great Lakes Initiative. A project created by the United States Friends' Peace Teams - see F below.
Allowed Meeting see Recognised Meeting
Area meeting (previously Monthly Meeting) In the UK, the regular business meeting of a group of Local Meetings. All members and attenders in the area are welcome to attend, as well as appointed representatives. In the business structure the Area Meetings report to Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM)
ASG Accessibility Support Group, a YM Agenda sub-group
Attender Anyone who regularly attends a meeting for worship, but hasn’t yet become a member of the Religious Society of Friends.
AVP Alternative to Violence
Base Group, see Home Group
Becoming Friends: Living & learning with Quakers Support for those new to Quakers, available either in print or as an online course
Bible Two books usually bound as one. The Old Testament tells the story of the people of Israel (the Jews), their journey to find a home land and their struggle to find God. The New Testament focuses almost solely on one such Jew, Jesus of Nazareth. The books are collections of stories, poetry, history, letters and argument written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, and in English translation. Quakers consider them inspirational books, but do not accept them as literally true. See also QF&P.
Birthright Friend (Quaker) See also Convincement. People born to Quaker parents used automatically to be members from birth (this is still the case in some countries). This is still possible, but most people join nowadays after reflecting on membership for themselves. You can join at any age.
Business meeting A meeting for worship established for the conduct of church affairs.
BYM (Britain Yearly Meeting)
a) The whole body of Quakers in Britain
b) The biggest and most authoritative gathering of Friends in Britain, held annually. Some monthly meetings and general meetings send representatives, but anyone can attend (you have to ask permission first if you’re not a member). There is an active programme every year for under-19 Quakers. BYM meetings usually offer young Friends a chance to talk about their spiritual journeys, and membership if wished, from about 16 years of age. Normally but not always held at Friends House. See also Meeting for Sufferings (MfS)
BYMT Britain Yearly Meeting Trustees
CAF Charities Aid Foundation
CAS Churches Agency for Safeguarding
CC Central Committee – any central committee)
CCJG Crime and Community Justice Group – of QPSW
Central Nominations Committee Is responsible for bringing forward the names of Friends to serve for most of the appointments made by Yearly Meeting & Meeting for Sufferings
Centring down The process by which individual Quakers deepen their worship experience
CEO Committee on Eldership and Oversight
Children & Young People’s Committee (CYPC) A group of Quakers aged over 16 who meet several times a year to help support the work with under-19 Quakers
Children & Young People’s Section (CYPS) A section within the Quaker Life department at Friends House, whose staff work on behalf of CYPC.
Children of the Light A name which early Friends gave themselves
Christocentric, as compared with Universalist Having Christ at the centre.
Churches Agency for Safeguarding (CAS) An ecumenical organistations which assists in making recuritment decisions through the CRB.
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
CIR Quaker Committee for Christian & Interfaith Relations
Clearness, meetings for A search to determine whether a proposed course of action is right.
Clerk Quakers do not reach decisions by voting. The clerk, the servant of the meeting, helps the meeting find a common voice, and records decisions in the minutes. Or, as 3.07 of QFP has it: “The meeting places upon its clerk a responsibility for spiritual discernment so that he or she may watch the growth of the meeting towards unity........” There are often assistant clerks, and – rarely – co-clerks with different but complementary abilities.
CMW Centrally Managed Work
CNC Central Nominations Committee
Committee on Clerks Nominates the clerks of Yearly Meeting, Yearly Meeting Gathering, Meeting for Sufferings and Britain Yearly Meeting Trustees
Concern When a Quaker feels a religious compulsion to act in a certain way based on a ‘leading of the Spirit’ it is described as ‘having a concern’. Concerns are task-related, not life-long, and when the task is completed the concern is laid down.
Conservative Quakers Quakers with Christ-centred theology who use the traditional 'unprogrammed' form of worship.
Convincement The process by which an attender becomes convinced that he or she wishes to become a Quaker – a full member of the Religious Society of Friends.
CRB Criminal Records Bureau. An executive agency of the Home Office. It vets applications from people who want to work with children or vulnerable people. There is an online service which claims to make registration quicker and easier.
CTBI Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.
CYPC Children & Young People’s Committee, as above.
CYPS Children & Young People’s Section, as above.
DDA Disability Discrimination Act
DfID Department for International Development
Discernment An attempt at an understanding of God’s will.
EAPPI Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme for Palestine and Israel. Aims to help both Palestinians and Israelis; was started by and is administered by QPSW.
ECHR European Convention on Human Rights
Early Friends The name given to Quakers during the first 50 years, when they were energetically evangelical, see also Quietism.
ECCR Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility
Elder A member of a meeting appointed by the monthly meeting, entrusted with ensuring the spiritual well-being and proper conduct of the meeting. ‘Eldership’ means caring for the spiritual life of each person in the meeting.
EMES Europe and Middle East Section of FWCC (qv)
EMEYF European and Middle East Young Friends
Enquirer Someone new to Friends, a seeker after truth
Evangelical Quakers A form of Christianity focussed on scriptural authority, with mainly programmed services - representing 80% of all Quakers worlwide.
FEF (Friends Educational Funds)
FFH (Friends Fellowship of Healing)
FGC See Friends General Conference.
Framework for action 2009-2014
The strategy produced by the membership of Britain Yearly Meeting, working through Meeting for Sufferings
Formal name for a Quaker. The Society’s full name is the Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain. Always capitalised, and not to be confused with ‘friend’. See also Quaker, and Children of the Light.
Friends General Conference (FGC) A North American organisation of unprogrammed Quaker Meetings.
Central offices of BYM. A large building in Euston Road, London,near Euston Station. The building was recently renovated, and the idea of moving elsewhere in Britain was dropped.
Friends House Hospitality (London) Ltd
Provides facilities management, office services, and conferencing, room lettings and catering business at Friends House
Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC)
The umbrella organisation for 400,000+ Friends around the world. It encourages communication and fellowship between all the branches of the Religious Society of Friends, and includes the Europe and Middle East Section.
Friends' Peace Teams An American Quaker initiative, working around the world. AGLI is an example.
Friends Trusts Limited
Acts as the custodian trustee or nominee for meetings and other bodies within Britain Yearly Meeting
FUM (Friends United Meeting) An international organisatio of programmed Quaker Meetings
FSSE Friends Summer School Events for young Friends from age 11 to 25
FWCC (Friends World Committee for Consultation, see above)
A meeting for a large area, or section of Friends. It consists of representatives of monthly meetings. Scotland has its own general meeting, as do young Friends. GMs now deal less with business, and more with issues of concern to Quakers.
GPF (Ghandi Peace Foundation)
Meeting for Sufferings is divided into ‘Home Groups’ or ‘Base Groups’ of about 15 people each, because of its size.
I Hope So
Life isn’t full of certainties, so when Quakers come to a decision during a business meeting we know that’s only our best feeling on the matter. So we say ‘I hope so’ rather than ‘yes’ or ‘aye’.
IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)
JYM (Junior Yearly Meeting)
The annual meeting for Friends aged 16-18. A fun event, an opportunity to learn more about Quakerism and have a good time.
The leadings of God, the promptings of Love and Truth in our hearts.
The Quaker Youth Theatre
Meetings are unprogrammed and belief is varied. Personal experience, values and way of life come before belief or theology. In this tradition it is possible to be both (say) a Hindu and a Quaker. Liberal Quakers describe themselves as 'rooted in Christianity'.
An established local meeting for worship, authorised by minute of the monthly meeting, and conducting its own regular business meeting, usually called a Preparative Meeting.
Management Meeting (MtM)
The most senior staff committee within BYM.
Someone who has formally joined Britain Yearly Meeting (or another yearly meeting) of the Religious Society of Friends. An application for membership usually leads to a visit from two members, followed by a monthly meeting decision, to ensure as far as possible that the applicant is a Quaker at heart.
a) A regular meeting for worship, when Friends gather in silence and sometimes offer vocal ministry;
b) The members and attenders who go to that meeting, or
c) The gathering of any committee.
Meetings: general, monthly, local.
Under BYM, Quakers in Britain are organised into monthly meetings covering limited areas of the country, and below them local meetings. Representatives of monthly meetings take part in general meetings with limited powers, which cover larger areas.
Meeting for Sufferings (MfS)
Representatives from each area (monthly) meeting attend this large and regular meeting at Friends House. With the trustee body, established in January 2007, MfS looks after Quaker business and spiritual concerns at a national level between Yearly Meetings (see BYM).
Meeting for Sufferings Committee (MSC)
The committee provided support for MfS and oversaw Management Meeting. It ceased in May 2007, and most of its responsibilities were transferred to BYM Trustees from 1 January 2007
Meeting for Worship
The worship event held regularly - usually weekly - by all Local Meetings
MfS (Meeting for Sufferings, see above)
MFW (Meeting of Friends in Wales)
Anyone believed to have a gift of ministry, whether formally recognized or not
a) Participation in meetings for worship, whether vocal or not;
b) service to others.
A very important feature of Quaker business meetings. They must be read to the meeting (whether general, monthly or preparative) before they can be adopted.
Monthly meeting (now known as Area Meeting)
The regular business meeting of a group of preparative and recognised meetings (sometimes called local meetings). All members and attenders are welcome to attend, as well as appointed representatives
MSC (Meeting for Sufferings Committee, see above)
MtM Management Meeting, see above
NBG Non Bene Gratus, i.e. not guaranteed to be universally acceptable.
NCVO The National Council for Voluntary Organisations
Nominations Committee A committee (at any level) for the nomination of officers
Notified Meeting, see also Recognized Meeting, Preparative Meeting.
A meeting which in some way does not meet the requirements for a recognised meeting, but which is nevertheless notified by the monthly meeting to the Recording Clerk.
The process of making information available to enquirers for their own decision, not to be confused with proselytising or converting, a practice foreign to Friends
Members appointed by a monthly meeting to ensure the care of individuals in local meetings, including newcomers. Whereas eldership involves responsibility for fostering the meeting’s spiritual life, oversight ensures the pastoral care of individuals and the community.
The best known of the Quaker testimonies: the shared view that there is ‘that of God’ in everyone leads Quakers to witness against war and killing, and to work positively to remove the causes of conflict and injustice.
PG (Placement Group – of QPSW)
Plain speech or plain speaking
Originally the Quaker refusal to use the polite form 'you' to social superiors, now used to descibe telling it as it is.
Preparative meeting, see also recognised meeting, notified meeting (All these are now called Local Meetings)
a) An established local meeting for worship, authorised by minute of the monthly meeting, and conducting its own regular business meeting. b) the business meeting held in order to prepare for the next Area Meeting, to which its representatives are sent.
Programmed Meetings Quaker Meetings which have a service with a set programme, and a pastor.
Q-CAT (Quaker Concern for the Abolition of Torture)
QAAD (Quaker Action on Alcohol and Drugs)
QAN (Quaker Arts Network)
QC (Quaker Communications, see below)
QCA (Quaker Concern for Animals)
QCCIR (Quaker Committee on Christian & Interfaith Relations)
QCD (Quaker Communications Department)
QCCC (Quaker Communications Central Committee)
QCCIR (Quaker Committee on Christian & Interfaith Relations)
QCEA (Quaker Council for European Affairs)
QES (Quaker Employment and Service)
QF&P (Quaker Faith and Practice, see below)
QF&PCC (Quaker Finance & Property Central Committee)
QHT (Quaker Housing Trust)
QICJ (Quakers in Criminal Justice)
QITW (Quakers in the World - a website database)
QL (Quaker Life, see below)
QLCC (Quaker Life Central Committee)
QPM (Quaker Prison Ministry – of QPSW)
QPSW (Quaker Peace and Social Witness, see below)
QPSWCC (Quaker Peace and Social Witness Central Committee)
QSC (Quaker Stewardship Committee, see below)
Quaker, see also Children of the Light, and Friend.
Informal name for a member of the Religious Society of Friends. It comes from a quote from a magistrate called Justice Bennett in Derby, who ‘first called us Quaker’ in 1650 ‘because we bid them tremble at the word of God’. Originally intended to put down Quakers, it stuck, and we learned to like it.
Quaker Action on Alcohol and Drugs. See QAAD
The visitors' rooms at Friends House London, consisting of cafe, bookhop and quiet room
Quaker Committee on Christian & Interfaith Relations (QCCIR)
A department of Friends House concerned with communications of all kinds.
Quaker Communications Central Committee (QCCC)
Quaker Concern for the Abolition of Torture (Q-CAT)
Quaker Faith and Practice (or QF&P or The Red Book)
The inspirational collection of Quaker thoughts and words. It includes guidelines and instructions for Quaker institutions (such as meetings for worship or marriage ceremonies). Essential reading for every Quaker.
Quaker Finance and Property (QF&P)
A department of Friends House which deals with finance and looks after such matters as lettings, wardenship, maintenance, reception and cleaning.
Quaker Finance and Property Central Committee (QF&PCC)
Quaker Housing Trust
Quaker Life (QL)
A department of Friends House formed by an amalgamation of Quaker Home Service and Quaker Peace Service in 2001. Quaker Life is about supporting all the life of meetings.
Quaker Life Central Committee (QLCC)
Quaker Peace and Social Witness (QPSW)
The departments known as Quaker Peace and Service, and Quaker Social Responsibility and Education, were amalgamated, with some additions, to become Quaker Peace and Social Witness.
Quaker Peace and Social Witness Central Committee (QPSWCC)
Quaker Prison Chaplains (QPCs)
Quaker Stewardship Committee (QSC).
QSC deals with charity registrations etc. It has the responsibility to assist all parts of Britain Yearly Meeting in the stewardship of their resources
Quaker Voluntary Action (QVA)
Weekend, mid-week and week long retreats and voluntary work camps in GB and abroad, including Palestine.
Quaker World Relations Committee (QWRC)
Quakers in Criminal Justice (QICJ)
A network of Friends with an involvement or professional interest in the human side of the prison system.
A regional meeting for business comprising several monthly meetings (historical only).
The tendency which followed after the leaders of the Early Friends died at the end of the 17th C., when Quakers became inward-looking.
QUIP (Quakers United in Publishing)
A US Quaker organisation that produces various publications
QUNO (Quaker UN Office, Geneva or New York)
QVA (Quaker Voluntary Action)
QWRC (Quaker World Relations Committee)
RCO (Recording Clerk’s Office, see below)
A major study of the structure and organisation of the Religious Society of Friends, and how it might be changed for the better. Last considered in detail – but not implemented – at BYM 2005, in York.
Recognised meeting, see also preparative meeting, notified meeting
An established meeting authorised by minute of the monthly meeting, which holds a public meeting for worship at least once a month.
The Recording Clerk acts as secretary to Yearly Meeting and Meeting for Sufferings. S/he amongst many other roles is keeper and interpreter of the regulations in QF&P.
The Friend appointed by a monthly meeting, and recognised by the Home Office, to organise Quaker weddings and ensure that the marriage regulations (the legal requirements as well of those of the Society) are followed.
Early Friends were a community seeking ‘the hidden seed of God’, and there are many seekers still.
Sufferings, Meeting for. See Meeting for Sufferings.
Statistics about the membership of the Society
TC (Testimonies Committee – of QPSW)
a) In Quaker use, a way of expressing a belief through behaviour and actions. To have a testimony means to witness to something e.g. equality, simplicity, honesty and integrity, non-violence, and to be willing to stand up for a principle.
b) An epistle concerning a deceased Friend
A meeting at which a variety of opinions may be forcefully expressed in order to defuse a situation before a later business meeting takes place.
A minute provided by a monthly meeting or Meeting for Sufferings, and carried by a travelling Friend in order to carry out a specific task.
Friends who consider that spiritual awareness is accessible to everyone, of any religion or none, and that no one faith can claim to have a final revelation or monopoly of truth. There is a Quaker Universalist Group.
One whose opinion has considerable influence in the Meeting.
WSDEG (West Scotland Disability Equality Group)
Yearly Meeting (YM)
The ultimate business meeting. Most countries have their own yearly meeting to discuss Quaker business; in Britain we have Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM). A Junior Yearly Meeting is held for 16-18 year-olds.
Yearly Meeting Gathering
Yearly Meeting and Summer Gathering combined, lasting about a week
Yearly Meeting Nominating Group
Is appointed from names called out by members at Yearly Meeting, and nominates members of Central Nominations Committee and Committee on Clerks
Yearly Meeting Trustees
A body of experienced Trustees, first established by BYM in 2006, who are qualified to deal with the financial, legal and regulatory aspects of BYM’s affairs between meetings of BYM. All the members of it are also members of Meeting for Sufferings. BYM Trustees started work in January 2007.
YFGM (Young Friends General Meeting)
The general meeting for Friends aged 18 to 30. YFGM meets several times a year around Britain. Further details can be found at http://www.quaker.org/yfgm/.
Young Friends Those aged 18 - 30 who may attend YFGM.