Welcome to New South Wales (NSW) Regional Meeting.
Quakers in NSW are a spiritual community of friends. In NSW we have 12 meeting venues (see locations at the bottom of this page) under the care of NSW Regional meeting, plus 3 other meetings in NSW (Wagga, Goulburn, and Bega) under the care of Canberra Regional Meeting. There is also the Silver Wattle Quaker Centre near Bungendore. See www.silverwattle.org.au
Our official title is the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) New South Wales Regional Meeting. We are commonly knows as ‘Quakers’ and often call ourselves ‘Friends’. People who worship with us but have not taken formal membership may be called ‘friends’ or ‘Attenders’. We are a religious society without creed, dogma or statement of belief. We seek to express principles of simplicity, peace, integrity, compassion, equality and earth care in our everyday lives, based on our experience of the spirit that dwells in every person.
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Australia, Friends House, 119 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010
The Meeting for Worship is central to the Quaker way of life. Quakers gather in silence, normally on a Sunday. The silence is an active listening for the spirit within, which has been practised by Friends for over 350 years. When moved by the Spirit, someone may give spoken ministry which emerges from silence and leads back into silence. Other special-purpose meetings such as meetings for marriages and funerals are also held in a spirit of silent worship.
Meeting for Worship is a wellspring which sustains and nurtures our commitment to action arising from deep concerns. We are strengthened to express our testimonies in action towards improvements. Anyone is welcome to join us in Meeting for Worship.
Each local meeting runs its own affairs with regular Business Meetings in which all Members and Attenders are encouraged to participate. New South Wales has regular Regional Meeting (usually alternate months in various locations) and we participate with Friends from around Australia in annual Yearly Meeting.
Australian Quakers do not ordain ministers or appoint pastors. Instead, the responsibility for the spiritual life of the Meeting and pastoral care is shared by the group.
To learn more about the Governace Committee set up in NSWRM in 2018, which meets online, vist our Governance page.
History of Quakers in NSW
Quakerism began in England over 350 years ago. The first persons connected with the Society of Friends in NSW were about 40 convicts, some of whom became members of the Society. The first Meeting for Worship on land in New South Wales was in the house of John and Mary Tawell on 4 January 1835 (Oats 1985).
John Tawell erected the earliest Friends’ Meeting House in Australia at 195 Macquarie Street, Sydney in 1835. This Meeting House was subsequently sold (Oats, 1985). For some years from 1839, Sydney Monthly Meeting was part of the Van Diemen’s Land Meeting. Membership dwindled until there was only one family left (Stevenson, 1973).
Sydney Meeting was revived in 1853, and the number of Friends in New South Wales increased during the 1850s, the gold rush decade. The British Government granted responsible government to five Australian colonies, and in the 1860s London Yearly Meeting formally recognised Meetings in Sydney.
Australia‘s first AdultSchool was commenced in Sydney in 1879. Revived in 1884 by William Cooper and William John Baker, it continued until the First World War. Friends had been very active in the AdultSchool movement in England, established to combat illiteracy amongst the working class. There were soon branches at Kogarah, Rockdale, Mortdale, Woolloomooloo, Pyrmont and Turramurra.
Education of their children was always an important concern of Friends. Quaker Sunday Schools were launched in Sydney in 1886 by Clara Hooper. The Young Friends movement began in Sydney in 1889, and the first Australian Young Friends Camp was held at Lawson NSW, in August 1909 and William Cooper of Sydney Meeting became Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Friends’ School in Hobart in 1923.
At the end of the Twentieth Century there were 3 Meeting Houses in NSW, 4 Local Meetings. In addition, 5 Recognised Meetings or Worshipping Groups belonged to NSW Regional Meeting and three in NSW were part of Canberra Regional Meeting.
William Nicolle Oats (1985) A Question of Survival, Quakers in Australia in the Nineteenth Century, St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press.
Handbook of Practice and Procedure (4th edn) 2005, Religous Society of Friends (Quakers) in Australia.
Charles Stevenson (1973) With Unhurried Pace, A brief history of Quakers in Australia, Religous Society of Friends (Quakers) in Australia.