Simplicity Testimony

What is the Simplicity Testimony?

According to Friend Frances Taber, early Quakers did not have a testimony for simplicity. As explained on the introduction page, the Testimonies developed out of the Quaker spiritual  practice.

Taber explained in 1985: “they “came upon a faith which cut to the root of the way they saw life, radically reorienting it. They saw that all they did must flow directly from what they experienced as true…to keep the knowledge clear and the doing true, they stripped away anything which seemed to get in the way…and it is this radical process of stripping for clear-seeing which we now term simplicity.”

-Frances Irene Taber, Finding the Taproot of Simplicity

What does this mean in today’s world?  This page looks at the ways Quakers have aligned with this testimony, the ways we define it today and how we live simply.  

“Living simply so that others may simply live.”

How Quakers Align with Simplicity

In trying to build God’s beloved community here on earth, Friends have sought the essential, knowing that excessive material possessions divide people from each other and from a spiritual life. A simple life is one that can focus on what is truly important. 

We tend to have fewer possessions than the average family and less attachment to things or wealth. However, like other Quaker ways, we have no strict rules and try not to judge others.

Simplicity is Trending!

“Tidying” is the latest rage in the United States as Marie Kondo has become a household name. She helps people get organized and live more simply, keeping only the things that bring you joy. She teaches that “if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again.” Her work is based on the principles of Shintoism which is not a religion, but rather a way of viewing and being in the world.

“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life.” – Marie Kondo

Plain and Simple Worship Space 

Some religions have ornate houses of worship. A Quaker Meetinghouse is at the other end of the spectrum, with simple pews, plain walls, and no religious symbols.

The simplicity of our meeting space aligns well with the simplicity of our worship. We have almost no ritual. We sit together in silence waiting on the presence of the Living Spirit. Connection to the Divine is a very personal experience and is different for each Friend. 

Ways Quakers “Keep it Simple”

Friends don’t follow any strict rules for simplicity, and the interpretation of the concept is a personal one.

Gone are the days when Quakers wore gray and only owned three outfits.

A life of simplicity may include:

  • Home cooking & simple meals
  • Local activities
  • Furniture with more function than style 
  • Low-level consumerism

Sunday-Go-to-Meeting Clothes

We don’t dress like this anymore but do enjoy putting on our Sunday best for the Amesbury Holiday Parade! 

We do tend to still “keep it simple” with our wardrobes.

This is mostly because we like “practical and functional” but also because we don’t need to impress each other. 

Few Expenses

As an unprogrammed meeting, we do not have a Pastor. That means we don’t have the financial expense of paying a minister’s salary.

We also don’t have any employees and run on volunteer love and energy. This element of “necessity” aligns well with our spiritual practice of simplicity.   

As a note of interest, some Quaker meetings, however, do have a pastor – those are called “programmed” meetings.

Doing Good 

As we mention on our Peace Testimony page and on our Equality Testimony page, many Friends are involved in social justice activism. And many of us feel called to “do good” in the world.

This can show up in many ways. We are a close community and we take care of each other. Read more about our Community Testimony and its importance to us. We don’t pretend to be saints. It’s just the way we view the world.

Our awareness of those who have less than we do helps us keep things in perspective and fits with living simply. Because of our commitment to our community, we do spend more time closer to home than others might.

That doesn’t mean we don’t travel – many of us do and often we travel as part of our social justice work. And we are conscious of our travel as part of monitoring our carbon footprint as we keep in mind our Environmental Sustainability Testimony.

That’s four Testimonies mentioned in this section alone! Did you notice? Yep, they align with and support each other…

“Let Your Life Speak”


We Don’t Live a Monochrome Existence 🙂

After everything described above we want you to know that we don’t live a dull life.  


We Don’t Live a Monochrome Existence 🙂

After everything described above we want you to know that we don’t live a dull life.  

 We’ve Got Color!


We love to laugh and we’re not as serious as we may seem. To some, we might be boring but even though we keep it simple…

Through community, we enjoy life to the fullest and are grateful to have each other and all we’ve been given!