From the beginning Friends believed that they could have direct and immediate communication with “that of God within” which would enable them to collectively discern right ethical choices. But they soon experienced certain common (widely shared) leadings of the Spirit which became formalized into testimonies. These testimonies served as common principles and standards of behavior and action which they believed the consistency of the Spirit’s leading required of them.
-Wilmer Cooper, 1991 (from NPYM Faith & Practice)
Testimonies are adopted by each of the Quaker Yearly Meetings, and although this leads to some variation across the greater Quaker community, particularly in their elaboration, a core set of agreement surrounds these. The collection of widely-shared Friends testimonies is sometimes referred to by the acronym “SPICES”:
Each of these terms takes on greater meaning in Friends contemplations on the testimonies, described in the documents below.
To be clear, membership or participation in the Society of Friends does not require personal ascription to any dogma or creed, but rather a willingness to participate in the spiritual life of the community, with the conviction that we are all privy to that “still, small voice of God” within, and can best attend to this in our collective practice.
Extended discussion on the Testimonies, from North Pacific Yearly Meeting Faith & Practice; viewable online & downloadable in .pdf format:
(Mouse over to find the Fullscreen or Download icon in the menu bar at bottom).4-FriendsTestimonies
An Introduction to Quaker Testimonies from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC):
(Mouse over to find the Fullscreen or Download icon in the menu bar at bottom).AFSC_Testimonies_Booklet