About Quakers

Who are we?

Friends in a lively discussionWe're a group of people who are serious about religion and making a better world. We have no clergy- we are all ministers. Most of us have taken inspiration from the teachings of Jesus, as well as many others. Most of us see ourselves as on a “spiritual journey” which is an active exploration with an unknown path ahead. We're simple, but also radical.

What are we called?

Quakers, or the Religious Society of Friends. Our official name is Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). We refer to individuals as Quakers or Friends.

What do we believe?

Quakers believe that everyone may have direct experience of the Light (which some see as God), and that there is "that of God" (some might say good) in everyone. Most of us think that religion is primarily about the way you live your life, not about a set of beliefs. We therefore have no creed. We try to live simply, with a view to others (now and future generations) and the environment. In our daily life we try to respect the integrity of others and to be honest. Of course we are human and don't always succeed.
Since our early days we have believed in the equality and dignity of all human beings, and in finding alternatives to violence between people and between nations. Because of these beliefs Quakers have been known for their concern for education, social work and prison welfare, and for relief work with refugees and in times of war.

What do we do?

Quakers on a 'Stop the War' marchLots of things! We worship together in silence, and we're involved in a variety of projects, charities and campaigns - sometimes individually and sometimes as a group. Many Friends are activists in one field or another, and find our Meeting a supportive home base and a stimulating group in which to check bright ideas which when shared we may realise to be impracticable or misguided. Other valued members of our community want nothing more for now than a quiet place to think and build their spiritual life. As Quaker young people build their independence they network across the area & country & beyond.

How many of us are there?

About 240,000 worldwide and 18,000 in Britain and Ireland. There are also around 8,000 attenders in the UK and Eire. An attender is someone who goes to meeting and gets involved in Quaker activities but is not officially a member.

How long have you been going?

Since 1652. Quakers were active locally soon after that- in Reading for example since 1656, and in Henley since 1658.

What are your services like?

We don't have services, we have what we call 'meetings for worship'. Click here to find out more about Quaker worship, or you can go here to find out more about meetings in Mid-Thames.

Who can attend a meeting for worship?

Quakers during MeetingAnyone. Most Quakers today were not born Quaker. For most of us there was a first Quaker meeting, and for many before that a time of worrying whether it would be appropriate to go along to a Meeting House on a Sunday morning. People who come vary widely in belief (or lack of belief) and background. Many afterwards report a feeling of “coming home”. We hope you will feel welcome as you are, whoever you are. All our meeting houses have disabled access and provision for children. Call us on 0118 950 7736 if you have any questions, or email:

Reading Email Enquiry

I need to know more

There are several ways you can find out more. You can come to a meeting for worship - click here to find out where the meetings are in Mid-Thames. You can also contact us if you have a specific question or would just like to try talking to a local Quaker. You'd be welcome to come to one of our events. And to find out more from Quakers nationally, visit www.quaker.org.uk. You may like to browse the book in which we collect our advice to ourselves (from how we conduct marriages to our thoughts about social responsibility) at  www.quakerweb.org.uk/qfp/. We look forward to meeting you.