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Friends, Society of.

1. Commonly called Quakers; religious body founded ca. 1652 in Eng. by G. Fox.* Followers first called themselves Children of Truth. or Children of Light; finally adopted the name Religious Society of Friends. Their number grew rapidly, including many of the higher classes, ministers, army officers, justices. Converts included W. Penn* and R. Barclay.* During the first decades Friends suffered much persecution, largely because they held pub. meetings (other nonconformists met in secret); they also disparaged clergy, sacraments, and chs., interrupted services, and refused to take oaths, pay tithes, and take off hats as a show of deference. By 1656 Quakerism reached New Eng., where it encountered persecution esp. by Puritans* in Massachusetts, who hanged 4 Quakers in Boston. Pennsylvania offered Quakers an asylum where they prospered and became known for their kind treatment of Indians and their efforts toward abolition of slavery.

2. The Soc. of Friends as a whole recognizes the hist. value of the ecumenical creeds but does not regard them as binding; some declarations of faith have been issued (e.g., those of 1658, 1663, 1671, 1693, and 1887) in self-defense or for the information of non-Quakers. The declaration adopted 1879 in Ohio ran counter to conservative Quaker teaching in holding that God saves through preaching. Barclay and his followers acknowledged the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but Quakers often moved in thought-patterns of dynamic monarchianism (see Monarchianism, A) and anti-Trinitarianism. Other teachings result from the “inner light” theory. This theory, not agreed on in detail by all Quakers, holds in gen. that God communicates with man, that He does not leave Himself without witness in man's heart, and that the measure of light thus given grows by obedience. The redemption of Christ is not sufficient, but gives man the power to complete it; an inward redemption must follow, accomplished when the capacity for justification becomes active. Justification is not a declaratory act, but a moral change enabling the believer to acquire righteousness by works. God gives His Spirit also without the means of His Word; it is possible to be saved without knowledge of the hist. Christ. All who are illumined by the “inner light” and are obedient to it are mems. of the ch. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are regarded as mere rites without intrinsic value. Services are completely nonliturgical. Assembled worshipers sit silently until someone is called by the “inner light” to speak. If no one is so moved the meeting ends in silence. God did not institute a special ministry. But ministers are employed, though not ordained; most of them do not receive salary.

3. Quakers believe that the dignity and essential worth of the individual rest on the measure of the Spirit that he possesses. They believe in the brotherhood of man and respect for human rights. They advocate broad humanitarianism and are active in many phases of philanthropy. They are opposed in principle to participation in war, capital punishment, and litigation. Ch. organization is simple, including Monthly, Quarterly, and Yearly Meetings.

4. Friends United Meeting (formerly Five Years Meeting of Friends. present name adopted 1965). Organized 1902; largest Friends body in US; composed of 14 Yearly Meetings, including 3 outside the US; belongs to NCC

5. Oregon Yearly Meeting of Friends Church. Withdrew from Five Years Meeting 1926.

6. Religious Society of Friends, Kansas Yearly Meeting. Withdrew from Five Years Meeting 1937.

7. Religious Society of Friends (Conservative). “Wilburites”; founded 1845 by John Wilbur (1774–1856) of Rhode Island; separated from main body of Friends to maintain primitive teachings.

8. Religious Society of Friends (General Conference). “Hicksites” followers of Elias Hicks (1748–1830), who led the most liberal elements of Friends into separation 1827–28; composed of 8 Yearly Meetings and 1 Quarterly Meeting. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends is a mem. of the NCC

9. Central Yearly Meeting of Friends. Ev. and fundamental group with chs. in Ohio, Arkansas, Michigan, Indiana, and missions in Bolivia.

10. Ohio Yearly Meeting of Friends Church (Evangelical Friends Alliance). Name changed 1971 to Ev. Friends Ch., Eastern Region. Cen. office in Damascus, Ohio.

11. Pacific Yearly Meeting of Friends. Est. 1947 at Palo Alto, California.

See also Evangelical Friends Alliance; Friends General Conference; Keith, George; Perfectionism, 3; Scotland, Reformation in, 5; Shakers.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
All rights reserved.

Content Reproduced with Permission

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