Every 5 years, Friends World Committee for Consultation publishes a map of Quakers worldwide. So how many Quakers are there in the world? The answer might surprise you.
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- Did you already know how many Quakers there are in the world? What are your thoughts, knowing that there are 400,000?
- Were there any surprises in this video for you? What did you learn?
There are 400,000 Quakers in the world, about half of those live in the Africa section. So we’re a very small communion, and yet we’re across the world; you know there are Quakers in most countries you can find a group of Quakers, and I think that surprises most people when they first see the map.
How Many Quakers Are There in the World? (And Where Are They?)
I’m Gretchen Castle, I work for Friends World Committee for Consultation. I’m the general secretary. Friends World Committee for Consultation is an organization that helps bring Friends together around the world.
A Map of Friends Around the World
So, Friends World Committee publishes a map of where Friends live and worship. Understanding where Friends are in the world is really really useful, and this map gives us a visual, helps build Friends’ understanding of where Friends are.
How Many Quakers Are There in the World?
There are approximately 400,000 Friends around the world, and Friends World Committee for Consultation thinks about it and divides it into four sections of the world. The section of the Americas has about 140,000 Friends and that includes all of North America and Central and South America. Europe and Middle-East section has approximately 25,000 Friends, and then the Africa section has about 200,000 Friends; it’s the largest section. Then there’s the Asia/West Pacific section which has about 25,000 Friends from many countries. So, Friends are all over the world, literally.
Each section is unique and has all kinds of Friends in it, so our variety of ways of worship exists within each of those four sections.
Which Countries Have the Most Quakers?
It’s often surprising for people to notice on the map, and to learn, that the most Quakers, the country with the most Quakers, is Kenya. After that comes the United States, following that would be Burundi, Bolivia, and Guatemala, and then—rather surprising—is the UK would come after that, and then Taiwan and Nepal. So, I think it’s often surprising to people where the most Quakers are located.
Do Quakers From All Over the World Ever Gather?
Throughout all of Quakerism really, there’s always been intervisitation. There’s always been Friends who have really made a difference when they were worshiping in other parts of the world. And, since 1937, and before that, really, there have always been conferences, world conferences, bringing people together, so that has had a big impact on our help, to help us build understanding and to understand how we are in various parts of the world.
I felt in this last conference that that there was quite a lot of understanding about our diversity and that that was just accepted. There was a lot of love and a lot of sense of: we are just together, and isn’t this just remarkable? For me, this is the hope of the world. If we can love our Quaker family, if we can love others in our family who look very different than we do, who worship very differently than we do, then we can learn to bring love to the world.
Celebrating World Quaker Day
World Quaker Day is an event that Friends World Committee created. It’s a way of appreciating that as the sun comes up over New Zealand, Friends are worshiping there. Then it goes across Australia; Friends are worshiping there. And all around the world, just in that one Sunday, that one day, we’re all worshiping in our own places, our own locations. World Quaker Day is always the first Sunday in October. And so, it’s a way of not only appreciating that, but then sharing with each other what we do on that day. We have a website where people can send to the world office. So I’m very moved by what people share, what they do on World Quaker Day. And it’s a marvelous way to appreciate how we’re all worshiping God on the same day.
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.