Quaker Guiding Principles at Pennswood Village
Equality * Integrity * Stewardship * Simplicity * Peace and Non-Violence * and Community.
Here at Pennswood Village our Quaker Guiding Principles inform how we live together in community and how we manage our community. Pennswood Village was founded on these philosophies, and they continue to guide us in all that we do.
Those who are not familiar with the Quakers, or Religious Society of Friends, frequently ask us about Quaker philosophies, what they mean, and how they make Pennswood a welcoming, caring, and peaceful place to retire. We feel that these principles make us a hospitable, inclusive place for everyone. Although you may not share our Quaker beliefs (and that’s okay – we welcome people of all faiths and belief systems!), it’s important for us to share them with you because they are the foundation of our community.
The official name of the Quaker religion is the Religious Society of Friends. While Quakers call one another Friends, the term “Quaker” is a nickname for those who belong to the church. Quakerism is rooted in the Christian religion, so many of the principles are the same, but as you’ll find, it has some variations.
It’s hard to clearly define the Religious Society of Friends, because like many other religions, there are multiple meetings, with many individuals who hold different interpretations. However, there are several unifying philosophies in the Friends community that define it.
The Quakerism Committee
At Pennswood, the Quakerism Committee, a committee made up of residents, emphasizes several important Quaker ideals, which can be expressed in the acronym, S.P.I.C.E.S: simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship. It’s also important to note that in the Quaker tradition, the spirit of God resides in each individual. “At Pennswood Village, we embrace these ideas to create an inclusive community that is open and welcoming to everyone,” said Jennifer Doone, Marketing Director at Pennswood Village. “The majority of our residents are not Quaker, but appreciate these values that we all share. The dignity of each individual throughout our continuum of care is always top of mind.”
“One of the ways Quakerism impacts Pennswood is the commitment to community. Everyone is included, and the equality aspect means that there is the opportunity for love and service regardless of age, ability, or physical circumstances,” says Marguerite Chandler, resident and chairperson of the Quakerism Committee at Pennswood.
The committee, which has about 17 members, meets monthly to plan, discuss, and implement Quaker traditions at Pennswood. For example, they recently hosted a meeting for residents to gather and discuss their interpretation of simplicity. With more than 30 residents joining the discussion, many interpretations were observed. The next gathering will be focused on the peace testimony in a violent world.
A Unique Style of Worship
Quakers are known for their unique style of worship. There are two types of worship in the Religious Society of Friends, called “unprogrammed worship” and “programmed worship.” Unprogrammed worship is when the community gathers for silent worship, usually for about an hour, for self-reflection, and to cultivate a personal connection with God. If an individual feels compelled to share a message given to them by God during this silent worship, they are welcome to do so. On the other hand, a programmed worship is similar to any other church service, and includes a planned service. These services sometimes contain a shorter period of silent worship, either 5 or 10 minutes.
Unprogrammed worships are one ritual that emphasizes the importance of inward knowledge of God. While Quakers don’t have priests or pastors, an elder, or someone in the community who has special responsibility to help others, acts as a guide in both types of worship.
Quakerism as Community
While there are many interpretations of Quakerism, we all agree that a strong sense of community is significant in anyone’s life. Many Friends agree that being a Quaker isn’t defined by your beliefs but rather your dedication to your community. Each resident and staff member’s dedication to the Pennswood community results in a strong community, reliable support system, and welcoming home to all.
“At Pennswood, it’s about embracing the gifts of aging like wisdom, being able to see possibilities, and the ability to mentor and support one another,” says Marguerite. “And, it’s not just all about the residents, but the staff and the board too. There is no hierarchy. Instead, it’s more like a circle.”