Founded in 1652 by George Fox, Quakers (The Religious Society of Friends) spread from England to America, Europe, and every continent in the world. The Friends’ way of life emphasises simplicity and humility. Though the roots of Quakerism are in the Christian tradition, Friends have long recognised that many different paths lead to a common goal. Friends have no professional priests or ministers; we come together as a community of equals before God.

Friends’ deep spirituality has been, and still is, a source of profound social activism. Over the centuries this activism has included early equality for women and active opposition to slavery, along with concerns for religious freedom and avoidance of war. These and similar concerns continue today, with Friends still actively promoting peace and social equality.

For those seeking an overview of Quaker faith and practice, and those wanting to discover the lives of Friends, there are extensive resources on the Internet. On this page you will find a brief history of Quakers in Hong Kong. You can also explore our Resources section.

To attend a local meeting in Hong Kong visit our Worship page.


1662 - 1839

Friends in this part of the world go back to the 17th century. The first Friends set out for China in 1662 as evangelists in search of Prester John, reputed to be a Christian King of the Mongols, a myth founded on historical reality as there were Christian Mongol tribes. In the second half of the 18th Century, Friends began a continuous presence that continues today. Early Friends came to China as merchants trading with China from Britain and the American colonies, or in the employ of the East India Company.

Friends played a significant role in the development of the China trade and earned the respect of China’s government by vigorous opposition to the Opium Trade. As a result, Quaker merchants were permitted to trade with China at times when all other merchants were barred from doing so, which goes to show that ethics can make for good business. Friends also played an important role in promoting East-West relations in Britain and the American colonies, and later the USA.

1841 - present

Individual Friends played an important role in the founding and development of Hong Kong, in both government and commerce, a tradition that continues to this day.

During and immediately after the Second World War, the Friends Ambulance Unit provided a unique and much needed humanitarian support and transport network across China. This work was reflected in the 1947 Nobel Prize awarded to Friends for our then-300 years' work for peace. The Japanese also interned Friends, such as the Sewell family, at Stanley Prisoner of War Camp on the South Side of Hong Kong Island for the duration of hostilities.

Following the war Friends played an active role in the reconstruction and re- establishment of Hong Kong, often working closely with the redoubtable Anglican Bishop Hall of whom it is said “under every good thing in Hong Kong you will find Bishop Hall’s name.” The close connection between Friends and Anglicans – and other faiths – goes back generations. One noted Anglican Bishop of Hong Kong, Bishop Hoare, was from a Friends family and his family reverted to Friends after his untimely drowning in a typhoon in 1903.

Starting in the late 1940s Friends founded “rooftop schools” (not always on rooftops) for children of migrants from mainland China and later also provided relief services for refugees from Vietnam. In 1979 Hong Kong Friends Meeting founded Oxfam Hong Kong to gather relief for Cambodia. Oxfam Hong Kong is now independent of Friends and has grown into one of the biggest Oxfams in the world.

Our numbers have never been large, but we have also rarely hidden our light under a bushel.

Our Beliefs

We believe that “there is that of God in everyone.” Everyone can know God directly, without the need for a formal minister or hierarchy.

We don’t have any fixed creeds, because we believe that the continuing search for truth can lead to new discoveries as well as confirm existing values. Generally, most Quakers share beliefs in five “testimonies”: equality, peace, truth, justice, and simplicity. You can read more about each of these testimonies at the Quakers in Britain website and learn more about Quakers in the Resources section of our site.

Quakerism originated in the Christian tradition, and the example of Jesus continues to inform our understanding of God. A majority of Quakers consider themselves Christians, but some do not. In addition to the Bible and Christian tradition, many Quakers draw spiritual inspiration from other religious traditions including Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and smaller religious movements. This doesn’t mean that Quakers simply believe anything they like. Community—turning to each other for help in our spiritual journeys—is an essential aspect of our spiritual practice.

Our meetings for worship are based on coming together in silent waiting, where we expect to come into the presence of God. During silent worship, anyone may feel inspired to “speak out of the silence.” After the person delivers their message, the silence resumes. Attendees might speak out of the silence several times during a meeting, or the entire period of worship might be silent.

We welcome and embrace people of diverse backgrounds in our community. There are Quakers of all ages, religious backgrounds, races and ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, and classes. All are welcome.


Eldership involves responsibility for fostering the meeting's spiritual life, oversight ensures the pastoral care of individuals and the community. Friends who are ill or distressed might like to ensure that they remain in contact with other Friends, choosing, perhaps one or two other Friends specifically to be in contact with. Friends may always contact other Friends through the Clerk's email address if needed.

The Hive Sheung Wan33-35 Hillier Street, Sheung WanHong Kongclerk@hkquakers.org