The Quaker Universalist Fellowship (QUF) was founded in 1983 by a group of concerned Quakers (members of the Religious Society of Friends) interested in the experience of the Quaker Universalist Group in Britain Yearly Meeting, and who wished to re-emphasize three revolutionary beliefs held by 17th century Friends (Quakers):
- There is “that of God” in every person (Quaker terminology: That of God is vernacular for the Inner Light, Light within, Christ within, Spirit, Teacher within, etc.).
- This is best explored with other seekers in meetings for worship.
- No other leadership is needed except the Divine Spirit within.
Thus, the early mission of The Quaker Universalist Fellowship was to support the 350-year tradition of meetings for worship in which attenders focus or “center” to seek spiritual guidance and unity.
Accomplishments and Activities
Initially to promote discussion, QUF developed a series of pamphlets on universalist themes and a newsletter. QUF compiled some of the pamphlets and articles into a book series, identified as the Quaker Universalist Readers.
QUF has sponsored speakers on universalist themes for Quaker organizations. Particularly notable are the Elizabeth Watson Lectures at Friends General Conference Gatherings. Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong delivered the initial lecture. Recent QUF lecturers include Phil Gulley of Indiana Yearly Meeting. QUF will continue to sponsor speakers on universalist themes for Quaker organizations.
QUF representatives frequently lead workshops and interest groups at Friends General Conference Gatherings. In 2010, QUF made a significant transition to the Internet in order to better engage and serve Quakers in exploring universalism themes. This transition brought all QUF pamphlets and other archive materials into an online QUF Library for free download, including a QUF bookstore for the efficient purchase of QUF books. The growth of the QUF Internet presence for Quaker universalist thought and writing includes a blog forum for responsive discussion on universalist themes and their impact of this discernment on Quaker practice; and the services of various social media, including Facebook and Twitter.
Some well-known former QUF Steering Committee Members include:
- Stephen Angell, Geraldine Leatherock Professor of Quaker Studies, Earlham School of Religion
- Rhoda R. Gilman, author
- Arthur Ernest Morgan
- Betsy Neale and Richard Mitchell, authors of Quakers and the Jesus of History
- Sally Hinshaw Rickerman
- Sallie King, author, professor
- Daniel Seeger
- Elizabeth G. Watson, author
- Patricia A. Williams, author
- Arthur Morgan