Quakers and Development Work

Who are the Quakers?


Quaker Service Australia - Silent Vigil

The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) has been involved in work for peace, social justice and the alleviation of poverty since the society formed in 1652. The founder was a young man named George Fox, who preached a message of That of God in everyone on Pendle Hill, in Lancashire, England.

Australian Quakers regard all life as sacramental, and respect all persons equally, and think of religion as inseparable from everyday living. This leads to an emphasis on taking responsibility for our actions, whether this means having a positive, loving attitude to people, or working for social justice or peace (from About Quakers, something of our ideas and practices, AYM 2004). Quakers do not proselytise, but rather let their lives speak to others about their beliefs. Find out more about Quakers in Australia here.

Photo: Australian Quakers at a vigil for peace, January 2006

Mark Deasey

Quakers and Service

I think for most of us, the concept of 'service', of work done to meet others material needs and to pursue a more just order of things in this world, is an inextricable part of how we see ourselves as Quakers... Mark Deasey, in the Backhouse Lecture 2002 entitled 'To do Justly and Love Mercy - Learning from Quaker Service'.

A Quaker concept of service has been present since the society began in 1652. As the notion of longer term development aid grew out of direct emergency relief, a number of Quaker Service agencies started up around the world. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1947 jointly to the American Friends Service Committee and the Friends Service Council in London to commemorate the united witness and service of Friends in times of war.

Photo: Mark Deasey, Credit - Harjono Djoyobisono
Quaker star

The Quaker Star

The Quaker star shown on the banner of our website, a red and black double star, is an internationally recognised symbol for the concern and action of Friends (Quaker) service committees around the world.

The star first appeared in use on supplies during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-73). London Yearly Meeting set up a fund to help the suffering people in the battle areas. Many Friends felt unable to subscribe to the Sick and Wounded Fund which was being raised to help the wounded soldiers only with no assistance to others also caught up in the war. The star, which represented support for all people regardless of status, religion or ethnicity, has continued to be used as a symbol of succour and hope from the 19th Century to the present day.

(From information obtained in an article by Kathleen Hertzberg, Clerk of Canadian Friends Service Committee from 1963 - 1971)