Where are the Quakers in the world? The World Office of the Friends World Committee for Consultation released a new map of worldwide Quaker population figures, its first such release since 2012. The figures released show a Quaker population worldwide of approximately 380,000. A map showing the 2017 Quaker figures can be downloaded from the FWCC World Office.
An earlier version of this Friends Journal article compared 2017 numbers with figures from FWCC’s 2012 map, which gave a misleading indication of growth and decline in various yearly meetings. FWCC wrote to us that the “numbers are so small that the kind of simplistic statistical analysis” won’t give accurate results. They explained:
We collect the data that is available from all kinds and sizes of monthly and yearly meetings who count Friends in many different ways. We gather the data with an appreciation for differing definitions and even levels of membership. In our non-hierarchical relationship with the Quaker family, we work with what we are given. It is far from being an exact process; rather, we offer the gift of helping us all see a visual representation of where Friends live and worship.
This inconsistency exists within each Section, including in North America, where meetings do not have a standard way to count their members, attenders, and children. FWCC has the task and the good fortune to be inclusive and appreciative of differences within and across Sections, and indeed around the world. We would invite a similar generosity of spirit among Friends.
In this iteration, we made some decisions in the collecting and reporting of data to reflect the fact that yearly meetings acknowledge who is part of their community in different ways. Even when there are reported statistics, they do not line up categorically making comparisons difficult. Therefore there was no intention to construct “trends” by producing this new map.