ADVICES AND QUERIES
From Faith and Practice, The Book of Discipline of the New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
It is recommended that the following advices and queries be read at a meeting at least twice during the calendar year. The reading of them should remind us that all aspects of our lives are regarded as under divine guidance.
1. From the beginnings of our Society, we have considered it necessary to assemble frequently for the purpose of public worship held in expectant waiting for divine guidance, thereby manifesting our belief in and dependence upon our creator. Meeting for worship is fundamental for us, and we should be diligent and punctual in our attendance. We seek, through communion with God, the strengthening influence of the Holy Spirit to enable us to discharge with fidelity the services we owe to God, to each other, and to all people.
2. Friends are advised to read frequently the Scriptures and such other books as will inspire and instruct, and to encourage the practice by their families and others.
3. Friends are advised to be mindful of their conduct and conversation and to observe the testimonies of simplicity and moderation.
4. Friends are advised to observe our Christian testimony for a faithful ministry of the gospel under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Members are reminded that all have a responsibility in ministry.
5. Remembering the tenderness of Jesus for children, we recommend that parents and those who have the important charge of educating youth exercise a loving and watchful care over them. Meetings are urged to help parents and children share religious experiences at home and in the meeting for worship and to give them an understanding of the principles and practices of Friends.
6. Parents and older Friends are advised to be sensitive to the insights of younger people and to keep a close and sympathetic contact with them. Children are urged to love and respect their parents that all may be led together to the Light Within.
7. Friends are advised to work toward removing the causes of misery and suffering. They are urged to support efforts to overcome racial, social, economic, and educational discrimination; to bear testimony against all forms of oppression; to exert influence for such treatment of prisoners as may help reconstruct their lives; and to work for the abolition of the death penalty.
8. Friends are earnestly advised to refrain from practices that are detrimental to the body or the mind, for example, the use of intoxicants and tobacco, and the misuse of drugs.
9. Care should be taken that all of our members avoid participation in lotteries, gambling, and betting, including such schemes of chance that appeal as benevolences. Friends should refrain from hazardous speculation and are cautioned against engaging in business that may be questionable. They are responsible for the manner of acquiring, using, and disposing of their possessions.
10. Friends are advised to observe integrity in their living and to inspect frequently the state of their temporal affairs. In their dealings with everyone they should endeavor to maintain a truly Christian character, ever bearing in mind the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
11. In the contemplation of marriage, Friends should seek divine guidance. Marriage is a life-long union of spiritual as well as temporal concerns and presents considerations of vital importance. When two persons are united in their religious faith, they are likely to find not only a firmer bond of union but also greater strength in fulfilling all of life's undertakings. Therefore, Friends contemplating marriage should early acquaint their families and meetings with their intentions, seeking their approval, that they may avoid the far-reaching consequences of hasty and ill-considered action. It is tenderly recommended that Friends keep to the simple and solemn form of our marriage ceremony.
12. The attention of Friends is called to the propriety of conducting funerals and memorial meetings in a sincere spirit of worship. They are advised to avoid the display of floral decorations and the wearing of mourning and to adhere to our simple ceremony.
13. It is recommended that Friends take the opportunity, on occasions when special statements or oaths are required, to advance the cause of truth by simple affirmation, thus emphasizing that their statement is only a part of their usual integrity of speech.
14. Friends are earnestly cautioned against the taking of arms against any person, since "all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons" are contrary to our Christian testimony. Friends should beware of supporting preparations for war even indirectly, and should examine in this light such matters as non-combatant military service, cooperation with conscription, employment or investment in war industries, and voluntary payment of war taxes. When their actions are carefully considered, Friends must be prepared to accept the consequences of their convictions. Friends are advised to maintain our testimony against war by endeavoring to exert an influence in favor of peaceful principles and the settlement of all differences by peaceful methods. They should lend support to all that strengthens international friendship and understanding and give active help to movements that substitute cooperation and justice for force and intimidation.
15. All are especially cautioned against any harshness of tone or manner when administering counsel or reproof, either privately or in meetings. Friends should speak truth with love, remembering that if they would do God's work, they must abide in God's love. Even a seeming harshness may check the beginnings of true repentance, and a lack of sympathy may cause harm where only good was intended.
16. Friends' business meetings are meetings for worship with a concern for business. When there seems to be disagreement, a free expression of all opinions should be encouraged. Those who speak in meetings for business are advised not to be unduly persistent in advocacy or opposition, but, after having fully expressed their views, to recognize the generally expressed sense of the meeting. A deep and seeking silence can help to reconcile seemingly opposing points of view. Meetings should be conducted in the spirit of wisdom, forbearance, and love.
1. Are meetings for worship and business held in expectant waiting for divine guidance? Are we regular and punctual in attendance? Are we willing and faithful in the service of our meeting and in financial support of its activities?
2. Do we make opportunity in our daily lives for communion with God and the opening of our hearts to an awareness of the Christ Within? Are we thankful for each day as an opportunity for a new adventure of life with God?
3. Are we careful that our ministry is under the leading of the Holy Spirit? Are we concerned to take time for the study of Scripture and other writings of spiritual value? Are we concerned for the spiritual growth of one another?
4. Are love and unity fostered among us? If differences arise, do we endeavor to reconcile them in a spirit of love and truth? Are we careful not to manipulate and exploit one another? Do we avoid talebearing, and are we careful of the reputation of others?
5. Do we keep to moderation and simplicity in our daily lives? Have we allowed the acquisition of possessions to interfere with God's purpose for us? Are our homes places where the presence of God is felt by those who live there and those who visit there? Do we choose such recreations as are wholesome and consistent with Christian character? Are we careful in our choice of ways to use our time and energy?
6. Do our children receive the loving care of the meeting? Does the influence of the meeting promote their religious life and give them an understanding of the principles and practices of Friends? Do we offer our young people opportunities for fellowship, for service, for religious instruction, and for participation in the life of the meeting?
7. Do our vocations provide constructive and beneficial service? Do we observe integrity in our business transactions? Do we avoid involving ourselves beyond our ability to manage? Are we careful to conduct our affairs punctually, justly, and honorably? Do we avoid participation in lotteries, betting, and gambling?
8. Have we confronted our own decisions about our use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, and do we encourage others to do likewise? Have we considered the cost in human suffering that might result from such use?
9. Do we participate actively and intelligently in the political life of our country? Are we conscientious in fulfilling all obligations of state and society that are not contrary to the leading of God? Do we do all in our power to secure civil rights for all? Do we emphasize the single standard of truth, and are we free from the use of oaths?
10. Do we support measures to avoid pollution of air and water? Do we support measures to establish the conservation and right use of natural resources?
11. Do we foster reverence for life? Do we strive to find, to understand, and to remove causes of misery and suffering? Do we, in loving concern, extend assistance to those who require it?
12. Do we acknowledge the oneness of humanity and foster a loving spirit toward all people? Do we honor Friends' traditional testimony that men and women are equal? How do we work to make these ideals a reality?
13. Do we maintain Friends' testimony against war? Do we "live in the virtue of that life and power which takes away the occasion of all wars"? Are we exerting our influence in favor of settlement of all differences by truly nonviolent methods? Do we strive to transmit to everyone an understanding of the basis of our peace testimony?
14. Do we make ourselves available in a tender and caring way when we sense a need for assistance in time of trouble? Do we trust each other enough to make our needs known to someone in our meeting?
15. Do we partake of the joy of the love of God and make our lives a celebration of the sharing of this love? Do our daily lives so demonstrate Friends' testimonies as to commend them to others?