The Universal Community of Friends (UCF) originally formed in Pennsylvania in 1984 as a splinter group of the Religious Society of Friends (commonly known as Quakers, or simply “Friends”). The Universal Community of Friends is not officially affiliated with the Religious Society of Friends and is instead completely independent. The UCF is an incorporated PA state registered 501c3 religious organization.
George Fox, who founded the Religious Society of Friends in England in the 1600s, preached that “there is that of the divine in all people,” and therefore there was no need for a religious hierarchy, including priests, bishops, popes, and the like, since we all have a direct connection to divinity. This was a radical and blasphemous concept at that time and Fox was punished, imprisoned, and tortured for daring to deviate from the religious orthodoxy of the era.
The 21st century UCF has evolved Fox’s philosophy a step further to assert that “there is that of divinity in all things.” The “Supreme Being” therefore, or the personal form of the Ultimate Reality, is the Universe itself, not an imaginary, separate, human-like creator deity, as most religions aver.
Humans, as Fox understood, have a direct, spiritual connection to the Supreme Being. Human spiritual development is gained by developing an understanding of, and harmonious relationship to, our Universe. This starts by developing an understanding of our own selves, our own minds, and bodies, with a focus on our health, and an avoidance of those things that make our bodies and our minds unhealthy. We extend this understanding further by maintaining a spiritual balance with our families, our communities, and our planet. Therefore, health, education, community service, peace, justice, and environmental respect are all foundations of the Universal Community of Friends.
Humans cannot grasp the totality of the Universe so they could be considered agnostic to a large extent. The UCF does not recognize a creator-deity separate from the Universe and might be considered atheistic by those who believe there is a Being separate from, and greater than, the Universe itself. We do not know what the Universe is, and we do not know whether it is even subject to limits of time and space, as we humans are. The Universe may be unlimited by time and unlimited by space, may be alive throughout, and may be imbued with a Universal Consciousness that our individual consciousness is part of. Can we learn to link our consciousness to the Universal consciousness? Perhaps this is the basis of prayer.
One concept we can grasp is the utmost importance of the infinitesimally tiny speck of the Universe that is our home – planet Earth. As spiritual creatures, we humans must strive to live in harmony with our planet, and that which is upon it, which includes our bodies. Health is the greatest wealth.
Each individual understands divinity according to his or her own mental capabilities. No matter what religious creed or dogma one embraces, there remains no greater manifestation of Being than the Universe itself. Therefore, the UCF remains open to, and respectful of, supporters of any religion, creed, or belief system. It is truly a “Universal” organization.