Pulpit: Continuing revelation

By Rich Van Dellen

The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and Word was God." (John 1:1) A few verses later, John refers to the true light that enlightens everyone coming into the world.

Quakers believe that within each person is a measure of the Divine Spirit; also called the Inner Light, the Christ Within, the Word, the Seed, the Divine Companion, Great or Holy Spirit, "that of God" and other names.

All people are children of God. God gives to every human being a measure of this Divine Spirit as a living witness and a Light to be guided by. This Light is personal, universal, ineffable, pure, but also resistible.


We state with George Fox (1624-1691), one of our founders, "the Lord God is at work in this thick night." Thus we believe in continuing revelation.

Although our formal name is the Religious Society of Friends, we are usually called Quakers, initially a term of derision, or Friends. We call ourselves a Meeting, not a church.

Quakers are probably best known for their service work and peace testimony. For their relief of human suffering and feeding thousands of children and families in Europe after World War I and II, Quakers received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947.

From this basic belief of the Inner Light comes our form of worship, how we do our business, and our testimonies (peace, simplicity, community, integrity, equality, stewardship).

For worship, we gather in the silence of "waiting worship," listening for that voice of the Divine. Anyone can hear that voice and be given a message to be shared with the group. All are considered ministers.

The Rochester Friends Meeting has no paid pastor, although some branches of Quakerism do have paid clergy. For our corporate business we seek Divine guidance and make decisions by consensus without voting.

We leave worship with the words of William Penn (1644-1718), a Quaker and founder of Pennsylvania, Delaware and part of New Jersey: "Let us then try what love will do." True Godliness does not turn us out of the world but enables us to live better in it and excites our endeavors to mend it.

Rich Van Dellen is co-clerk of Rochester Friends Meeting. Pulpit runs on the Saturday faith pages and features reflections from area religious leaders. To contribute, contact Life Section Editor Marissa Block at 281-7427 or

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