Quakers (or Friends) were members of a group of religious movements, which was known as the Religious Society of Friends in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and parts of North America; and known as the Friends Church in Africa, Asia, South America and parts of the USA. The movements were originally, and are still predominantly, Christian in basis. Members of the movements profess the priesthood of all believers, a doctrine derived from 1 Peter 2:9. They include those with evangelical, holiness, liberal, and traditional Quaker understandings of Christianity. To differing extents, the different movements that make up the Religious Society of Friends/Friends Church avoid creeds and hierarchical structures. Prior to Skydark, there was over 300,000 adult Quakers.
The first Quakers lived in mid-17th century England. The movement arose from the Legatine-Arians and other dissenting Protestant groups, breaking away from the established Church of England. The Quakers, especially the ones known as the Valiant Sixty, attempted to convert others to their understanding of Christianity, travelling both throughout Great Britain and overseas, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some of these early Quaker ministers were women. They based their message on the religious belief that "Christ has come to teach his people himself", stressing the importance of a direct relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and a direct religious belief in the universal priesthood of all believers. They emphasized a personal and direct religious experience of Christ, acquired through both direct religious experience and the reading and studying of the Bible. Quakers focused their private life on developing behaviour and speech reflecting emotional purity and the light of God.
In the past, Quakers were known for their use of thou as an ordinary pronoun, refusal to participate in war, plain dress, refusal to swear oaths, opposition to slavery, and teetotalism. Some Quakers founded banks and financial institutions, including Barclays, Lloyds, and Friends Provident; manufacturing companies including Clarks, Cadbury, Rowntree, and Fry's; and philanthropic efforts, including abolition of slavery, prison reform, and social justice projects.