Quakerism [Religious Society of Friends] although having its origins in Christianity is not limited to that and Quakers often have a much wider spectrum of beliefs. We come and share together in the silence of Meeting for Worship. We listen for the leadings of the spirit and at times that produces ‘ministry’ [spoken word] by anyone present. Unlike most other religious groups we have no paid ministry and no formal creeds.
There is a great diversity within the Quaker concept of God and we use different kinds of language to describe the religious experience. Quaker faith is built on experience and Quakers would generally hold that it is the spiritual experience which is central to Quaker worship. Our unity is based on shared understanding and a shared practice of worship, however this does not always lead to total unity of belief.
Quakers cherish individual experience and integrity in spiritual belief. However out of this, over time, have grown corporate ‘testimonies’, recognizing the importance of simplicity, truth, equality, peace and sustainability. These are recurring themes that influence our daily lives, more detail being found in our Advices and Queries.
“Take heed, dear Friends, to the promptings of love and truth in your hearts. Trust them as the leadings of God whose Light shows us our darkness and brings us to new light.”
[Advices & Queries No. 1]
In 1652 George Fox climbed Pendle Hill in Lancashire and had a vision of “…a great people to be gathered…”. For years he had been disillusioned by those who called themselves Christians and did not live up to their Christians standards. He had been travelling, meeting and talking with people in search of the answers to no avail. After his vision he started to come across individuals and small groups in the north of England in sympathy with his views. Fox’s personal experience of an inward God, without the need of any intermediaries such as priests, was central to his faith. Out of this emerged the group we know today as the Religious Society of Friends or Quakers [originally a derogatory name for the early Friends who quaked when experiencing the spirit]. The movement grew at a tremendous pace, there being a hunger to escape the excesses of the established church and return to original Christianity.
Quakerism came into the Wooldale area at its very dawn in the early 1650’s. Many became convinced, holding meetings to start with in private houses. These meetings being illegal many Quakers suffered fines, confiscation of goods and imprisonment for their beliefs. The Jackson family of Meal Hill in Hepworth and Totties Hall were largely instrumental in establishing Wooldale Meeting. George Fox visited Meal Hill in 1669 and had “…a great meeting…”.
The exact original date of the Meeting House itself is unknown but it was probably in existence by the time of the Act of Toleration . The building was repaired and enlarged to its current size in 1783. It is now Grade II listed. The building with its simple, plain and historic atmosphere creates a welcoming place to those wishing to explore the Quaker way.