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Are Quakers Amish?

Updated: Mar 8

Many people think of the Amish when they hear the word "Quaker" and look for horses and buggies being driven by men with beards and straw hats. They look around and don't see that image on the street and wonder, "Where are they?"

When I tell someone who doesn’t know me that I am a Quaker most reply that they don’t know anything about Quakers and they think they are like the Amish. Of course, they really don’t know anything about the Amish either!

It’s true that the Quakers and the Amish trace their roots back to about the same period of history. The Amish church began in 1693 because of a schism led by Jakob Ammann in Switzerland within a group of Swiss and Alsatian Mennonite Anabaptists. Those who followed Jakob Ammann became known as the Amish. The Quakers, however, started a few years earlier, and in England.

Many new Christian groups arose during and after the English Civil War (1642–1651), including the Seekers, the Ranters, and others. George Fox, at the time around nineteen years old, was disillusioned with the teachings of the Church of England. He saw much hypocrisy in the churches of his time. In 1652 he had a vision on Pendle Hill in Lancashire, England. He received a revelation that "there is one, even Christ Jesus, who can speak to thy condition.” He was convinced that it was possible to have a direct experience of Christ without the intervention of ordained clergy. "The Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered," and so he travelled throughout England, the Netherlands and Barbados preaching, teaching and converting new adherents to his faith. The central theme of his Gospel message was that Christ has come to teach his people himself. Fox considered himself to be restoring a true, "pure" Christian church. It was called The Religious Society of Friends, and the name “Quakers” was attached to them by people making fun of them and using the term as a slur. They embraced the term, however, co-opting it and making it their own.

One of the hallmarks of both the Amish and the Quakers is their devotion to non-violence, and they are both considered a “Peace Church.” This is about the only thing they have in common. Modern day Quakers live in the modern world. They do not drive around in buggies pulled by horses and live on the farm wearing straw hats.

So where are they? Where are those Quakers today? They are everywhere. There are Quaker Meetings (churches) and organizations throughout the world. They are holding onto the values which define them: Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community and Equality; and are greatly concerned with the Stewardship of the Earth.

The Palm Beach Quaker Meeting invites you to share Silent Worship with us in a Spirit-filled space that has welcomed worshippers since 1958, regardless of race, gender identity, or nationality.


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