Lesson on development of Quaker peace testimony

Recently I taught a Firstday School lesson that aimed to get the group of older elementary students to think about the origins of the Quaker peace testimony.

We specifically read quotes from George Fox ("I lived in the virtue of that life and power that took away the occasion of all wars"), James Nayler ("There is a spirit which I feel that delights to do no evil"), and the declaration to King Charles II in 1661 ("We utterly deny all outward wars...").

It helped that the week before the lesson had been a timeline from George Fox's first journeys through the north of England in the 1640s, through to Margaret Fell Fox's death in 1702. So they had a bit of the historical context.

I asked them to think about where the early Friends had developed this view, and where could we find it today. (I'm hoping to feed this into some preparation to being in meeting for worship for longer periods.) Then we went to change the window signs at our meetinghouse.

As grace would have it, the sign was the declaration of 1661! The children noticed it and made the connection right away. Through a modified business process, they reached unity on picking the sign for equality. It also gave them a chance to explore the meetinghouse basement, where the signs are stored, so that was a bonus for them. All in all, a pretty good lesson.

Here's my outline for the lesson:

Introductions and Check In:

· Tell us your name and about a time when you felt peaceful inside


· Learn about early Friends, the Inner Light and the testimonies in our window


1. Hear three passages from early Friends, including the peace testimony of 1661

2. Talk about where that sense of peace comes from

3. Discuss terms Inner Light, Inward Teacher, Christ Within, Seed, Spark

4. Review window signs from News Committee

5. Choose a new sign for October and replace it in the window


· Discussion happens

· New sign in window

Activity (this was filler, and we didn't have time for it):

Write what would you like to put on a sign in the window of the meetinghouse, your house, or your school


Shake hands, like at the end of meeting, and say, “Good morning.”

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