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Historical Notes

Religious Society Of Friends

The Society of Friends (Quakers) originated in Britain during the early 1600's through an experience of George Fox. He was led to believe that an inner voice which he called the "Inner Light" was a true witness of Christ to all believers through the Holy Spirit. In 1647, he began preaching about this inner witness to a politically troubled England. As is true of so many religious movements, the appellation Quaker was a term of derision. It originated as an insult from a British judge when Fox told him that he should "tremble at the Word of the Lord." The judge then called Fox a quaker (one who trembles).

William Penn became a Quaker and set about establishing a Christian State in his newly acquired land of Pennsylvania as a haven for his own native Quakers plus all religiously oppressed groups, especially the industrious German Pietists and Mennonites. Penn made numerous trips into Europe in order to generate enthusiasim for his Christian experiment, and Fox accompanied him frequently. Both were successful in convincing many people, weary of constant warfare, to emigrate to America. It is unknown if Penn or Fox had direct contact with any Brethren groups, but the first Brethren led by Peter Becker arrived in Philadelphia in 1719, and the Alexander Mack party came in 1729.

Quakers have many beliefs that are similar to the Church of the Brethren such as opposition to war, racial equality, prison reform, service projects, and an emphasis on higher education.

Additional Resources

Written by Ronald J. Gordon as extended information for other major articles

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