Their weekly gatherings are called meetings, where everyone is equal. They have no priests or ministers, no ceremonies or rituals, they sit quietly, often in a circle as no-one is superior. People may stand and provide brief comments on their thoughts, but this is not mandatory. They do elect elders to manage the business of the group, and have a more business related meeting once a month. In marriage, both partners are equal, not one superior to the other. This even applies to same-gender relationships which have been accepted in the movement for many years.
In Australia, there is a large group of Friends in Hobart. They established a school around 1886. This is the largest Quaker school in the world, spread across three campuses in Hobart. We were pleased to have another U3A member who had been a student at the school for 9 years, visit us for the session. She provided valuable information about the school and the movement, although she was not a member of the Society of Friends. The school is open to all, another example of the deep sense of equality in the movement.
Important Note: For all members of the Comparative Religion Group, there has been a change to the plans for our June session. The visit to a mosque in Shepparton will not take place until later in the year, so our June session will take place as usual on the first Wednesday of the month – 1 June. It will be a mixed bag of subjects which may include DVD's about the Sacred Sites of Britain and some study of the principles of Islam in preparation for a cultural/religious tour to Shepparton later in the year.