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What Is the Passing of the Light?

If you're a Guilford College student or alumni, you may have experienced this traditional, moving ceremony when you arrived on campus. But what is the Passing of the Light? The Passing of the Light is inclusion into Guilford's living, historic community, where we seek to understand and live 
in the world in a different way.

Wess Daniels, Guilford's William R. Rogers Director of the Friends Center, shares that early Quakers, like George Fox and Margaret Fell, believed that all people have direct access to an inward light, based on their reading of the Gospel of John. It's about living out one’s convictions in the world, he says. As Caroline Fox once said, "Live up to the light thou hast, and more will be granted thee." If you listen carefully you can heed this Inward Light, Wess says. It will grow inside of you and help you lead a good life.

Wess asks, "Have you ever been in a situation where everyone else was going in a different direction, but because of something inward you took a stand and went against the crowd? I like to think of these as instances when we’re wrestling with our own egos and the Inward Light." It's his hope that while students are at Guilford they'll not only learn to heed the Inward Light in terms of guidance and growth, but also in terms of community, love, and friendship. 

It doesn't mean we'll always succeed, he says. But if we're faithful to following the guidance of the light, we'll remain on this journey. And he hopes we can offer forgiveness and grace to one another as fellow Friends, seeking to be faithful to that Inward Light.

To learn more about the Quakers and their connection to Guilford, visit the Friends Center. To learn more about becoming a Guilford College student and attending a Passing of the Light ceremony, schedule your personalized visit to campus or contact the Office of Admission at 336.316.2100 or

Sep 29, 2021