Statement on Authority (2008)

Friends know that spiritual authority is derived from the inward work of God's Spirit. We do not recognize authority based upon title or rank. This non-hierarchical view of authority is reflected in Quaker worship and in the Quaker method of doing business. In these practices, anyone may speak. The value of what is shared is not determined by a higher human authority, but by the group itself, recognizing the presence or absence of Christ in what has been said.

Friends regard someone's idea as authoritative, not because of their position, but because we recognize that their words do indeed reflect the Light of Christ's Spirit. If we do not hear that Light reflected in their words, then what they say is without authority no matter what title they may use among us. Among Friends, a leader has authority when he or she is delivering God's message.

West Hills Friends does not judge a person's ministry and leadership on the basis of any incidental characteristic. It is our experience and testimony that God works through people without regard for race, age, gender or sexual orientation.


Are there ways in which you label yourself (e.g. young, old, inexperienced) that prevent you from speaking when God so directs?

When you listen for God speaking through others, what "incidental characteristics" tend to have positive connotations for you? Which tend to have negative connotations for you? How do you look beyond the surface to listen for the Spirit of God?

Are you mindful to give God inward authority over your own desires and preferences?