What follows is the text of Faith and Practice of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Book of Discipline). This version was adopted and published in 1986 by New England Yearly Meeting of Friends.
This book of Faith and Practice replaces earlier editions, which are now out of print. For eleven years, a Faith and Practice Review Committee under the leadership of Ruth F. Woodbridge had considered suggestions from monthly meetings for amendment of the 1966 edition and had recommended a number to the Yearly Meeting for approval. In 1979, the Yearly Meeting expanded the Faith and Practice Review Committee into a larger committee, more fully representative of the views of the various monthly meetings, with Gordon M. Browne, Jr. as clerk. This Faith and Practice Revision Committee has prepared the present edition.
Faith and Practice attempts to communicate to members and inquirers the historic and continuing faith of Friends and to outline procedures to be followed by meetings regarding membership, organization, the conduct of their affairs, and the concerns of the Society.
Quotations are identified in the text by author, title, and date of publication. Acknowledgements to publishers will be found on page 268.
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
It is not opinion, or speculation, or notions of what is true, or assent to or the subscription of articles or propositions, though never so soundly worded, that makes a man a true believer or true Christian. But it is a conformity of mind and practice to the will of God, in all holiness of conversation, according to the dictates of this Divine principle of Light of Life in the soul which denotes a person truly a child of God.
William Penn, A key, Section II