Today in Meeting for Worship we listened to people share. When people shared, it made me feel odd, tingly, but very holy inside.”
Westtown 3rd grader
Westtown School was established in 1799 by Philadelphia Quakers. The school has a long tradition of providing a rigorous college-preparatory education for young people, deriving its fundamental values from the Quaker faith.
Quakerism originated in mid-17th century England. George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends, and his followers were dissatisfied with the hierarchical nature of worship at that time. Fox and his fellow seekers believed there was that of God in each person – the Inner Light. This direct access to the Divine Spirit eliminated the need for clergy, elaborate buildings, or a prescribed religious service. Quakerism arose from within (although in protest against) the Church of England. Today the religion remains part of the Christian tradition and receives inspiration from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
The word “Quaker” was originally a derisive term, used to mock the believers because they “trembled and quaked with religious zeal”. Quakers eventually adopted this term thereby shedding it of its derisive nature. Friends were persecuted for their beliefs and many were forced to emigrate, including a large group led by William Penn which settled in southeastern Pennsylvania in 1681.
Quakers reject the idea of creeds but do agree on certain principles that guide the Society of Friends.
- There is that of God, or the ‘Inner Light’, in all people.
- Through this personal, direct relationship with God the Truth can be revealed
- Divine Truth cannot be confined by creed
- God’s creation must be respected and preserved; we are stewards of the earth
- Faith should be evident in daily actions – a way of life.
I'm not a Quaker, but I'm willing to commute every day to Westtown — an hour each day — because I wanted something more for my son and daughter. Children have such a glow, such an enthusiasm about life, and I needed a school committed to fostering that. I want my children's candles to remain lit."