This [document] is intended to give members of the Sidwell Friends School community insight into the core values of Sidwell Friends as a Quaker institution. These testimonies may serve as a basis for continuing discussion and discernment about the Quaker character of Sidwell Friends School. The testimonies speak to the nature of the values and commitments to which the Sidwell Friends School community aspires.
The choice of Testimonies as the name for the [document] reflects the Quaker heritage of Sidwell Friends School. Testimonies have important standing and meaning within the Religious Society of Friends:
Testimony is different from a secular value. The word testimony is used by Quakers to describe a witness to the living truth within the human heart as it is acted out in everyday life. . . Testimony is a way of living not a creed. Its is not a form of words but a mode of life based on the realisation that there is that of God in everybody, that all human beings are equal, that all life is interconnected. — Jonathan Dale Faith Into Action: Quaker Social Testimony, 2000
The [document] uses queries to illuminate and explore these testimonies. Since the late 1600s, Friends have used queries to reflect upon and assess their faith and practice.
Rooted in the history of Friends, the queries reflect the Quaker way of life, reminding Friends of the ideals we seek to attain . . . Friends approach queries as a guide to self-examination, using them not as an outward set of rules, but as a framework within which we assess our convictions and examine, clarify, and consider . . . the direction of our lives and the life of the community. . . the queries have been marked by consistency of convictions and concerns within Friends testimonies -- simplicity, peace, integrity, stewardship, equality and community -- as well as by strength derived from worship, ministry, and social conscience. — Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice, 1997
These testimonies are presented, not as rules, but as guidance in the manner of Friends. The spirit of such Friendly guidance has long standing in the Religious Society of Friends:
Dearly beloved Friends, these things we do not lay upon you as a rule or form to walk by, but that all, with the measure of light which is pure and holy, may be guided: and so in the light walking and abiding, these may be fulfilled in the Spirit, not in the letter, for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. — Letter from the Meeting of Elders at Balby, 1656
The Sidwell Friends Testimonies Committee prepared this [document] over a two-year period, with the advice and participation of constituencies throughout the school community. The Sidwell Friends School Board of Trustees authorized and approved its purpose, process and content. The pamphlet sets forth nine testimonies, consistent with Friends' conviction that there is "that of God" in everyone. In addition, the pamphlet illustrates the central role and influence of the meeting for worship in the life of Sidwell Friends School. These testimonies comprise a living document which can serve as a basis for continuing exploration and discussion of the values, commitments and practices of the Sidwell Friends community.
Sidwell Friends Testimonies Committee