Priesthood of All Believers

The Priesthood of All Believers describes how everyone has the power to speak during a Quaker Meeting for Worship.

Anyone and Everyone Is Able To Speak

Without a clergy and no set words spoken during an unprogrammed Meeting for Worship (MfW), anyone and everyone is able to speak if so moved by the Spirit. Therefore, in effect, all Friends become ‘Priests’ when they speak during a MfW and their speech is known as ministry.

It is in this equality of every Friend’s voice holding no more or less weight than any other which is known as the Priesthood of All Believers. Therefore, because of all voices being equal, the term has become synonymous with the basic human right of religious freedom.

The term Priesthood of All Believers comes from the Reformation and the creation of the Protestant faith. Martin Luther (1483 – 1546), a founder of Protestantism, describes it as follows:

“There is no true, basic difference between laymen and priests, princes and bishops, between religious and secular, except for the state of office and work, but not for the sake of status. They are all of the spiritual estate, all are truly priests, bishops, and popes. … they are all of one body of Christ the Head, and all members of one another. Christ does not have two different bodies, one temporal, the other spiritual. There is but one Head and one body.”

Martin Luther,

Everyone Takes Responsibility

A wider consequence of having a faith that uses the Priesthood of All Believers is that, without any clergy in charge, it means every Friend takes on a responsibility for the general care of the Quaker Meeting they are a part of.

From making the tea to greeting people at the door, everyone is encouraged to contribute in some way. It is this group effort of pulling together that knits the Quaker community together.

We are all a part of the Priesthood of All Believers.

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