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PRESENT TENDENCIES IN THE SOCIETY OF 
FRIENDS IN AMERICA 



ALLEN C. THOMAS 
Haverford College, Pennsylvania 



The Society of Friends, more generally known as Quakers, 1 
is one of the few Protestant English-speaking religious organiza- 
tions whose history goes back to the middle of the seventeenth 
century. Only the Episcopalians, Baptists, Congregationalists, 
and Presbyterians antedate them. Though George Fox, 
the founder, had been preaching for some years, the year 
1652 is commonly taken as the beginning of the organization, 
and the year 1656 marks their entrance into America. Neither 
Fox nor his immediate associates at first had any thought of 
setting up a new denomination. They believed their message 
was for all men. That it was incompatible with existing 
church polity and practice was forced upon them, and, almost 
in spite of themselves, a new religious body sprang up. Within 
the lifetime of Fox, and largely his own work, a democratic 
organization was instituted which, with but slight alteration 
in details, has lasted till the present day. 

During the more than two and one-half centuries of its 
existence the society has passed through several trying periods, 
the most serious of which was a separation in 1827-28, 
which for a time threatened to wreck it. The causes of 
this division were many, but the most obvious were matters 
of organization and of doctrine. Though the basis of the 
church polity is a pure democracy, a supplementary organi- 
zation known as the Meeting of Ministers and Elders, in 
later times the Meeting on Ministry and Oversight, claimed 
and exercised far greater powers than had been customary 

1 As the Orthodox comprise about four-fifths of all calling themselves Friends, 
reference will be to them, unless otherwise stated. 

3° 



THE SOCIETY OF FRIENDS IN AMERICA 31 

in earlier days. This body was subordinate to the Yearly 
Meeting, and at no time have its members been considered 
a separate class. The minister or elder in the conduct of 
church affairs in no respect differs from the other members. 
Notwithstanding this well-known fact, the elders in particular 
often made decisions which to many in the rank and file 
seemed arbitrary and intolerant. In addition, and in con- 
nection with this, doctrines claimed to be unscriptural and at 
variance with the accepted doctrines of the Society were set 
forth by certain ministers. The doctrines resembled those of 
the Unitarians, and in some instances were distinctly rational- 
istic. The result was a divided body, and weakness in the 
promulgation of those teachings held in common. Later 
a further but much smaller separation took place relating 
rather to matters of practice than of doctrine. Thus, at the 
middle of the nineteenth century, there were three bodies 
— Orthodox, Hicksite, and Conservative 1 — each claiming the 
name of Friends or Quakers. The Orthodox in essentials 
agreed with the evangelical bodies; the Conservatives differed 
from the Orthodox chiefly in practice; and the Hicksites or 
Liberals, as they like to be called, laid no stress whatever on 
doctrine. The Orthodox in 1828 were somewhat larger in 
numbers than the Hicksites, and the Conservatives much 
smaller than either. For some years all bodies showed a 
steady decline in membership, the greatest being among the 
Hicksites, a decline which has continued to the present time. 
The Orthodox body, on the other hand, not only ceased to 
decline, but began to grow, in some years making large acces- 
sions to its numbers. 2 With slight exception these three 
bodies had no official intercourse, and for many years there 
was much antagonistic feeling. But with the passing away 
of the leaders who had been active in the period of disruption, 

1 Hicksite, so called from Elias Hicks, the most prominent leader among them; 
Conservative, long called Wilburite, after John Wilbur, a prominent leader. 

3 In 1918 the official statistics were: Orthodox, 97,275; Hicksites, 18,218; Con- 
servatives (partly estimated), 3,648. 



32 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

the bitterness gradually disappeared, and a feeling of friend- 
liness has largely taken its place, especially in recent years. 

While the Orthodox in essentials agree with the evangelical 
bodies, there are certain great differences. The Friends from 
the very first, and this is true of all Friends, have held that 
there is a living, independent, personal relation to God — a 
direct revelation of Himself to the individual — a light from 
Himself " shining in the heart and conscience. " This doctrine 
of the "inner light" or "inward light" was no new teaching, 
but it had been, to a very great extent, obscured or lost sight 
of. It meant that in every man there is that which answers 
to God's message or call, and which, if followed, will lead to 
Christ. This, the cardinal teaching of the Friends, calls for 
a system of worship which will afford opportunity for indi- 
vidual communion with God as well as for the exercise of 
individual gifts. Hence the necessity for meeting in silence. 
There also flowed from it the belief that if the soul has direct 
communion with God, an outward communion is not only 
unnecessary but will be likely to draw attention to the symbol 
rather than to a personal spiritual experience. Again, as no 
outward baptism can cleanse the soul, such is needless and 
may be hurtful. 1 The teaching further implied that anyone, 
man or woman, might be called of God to exercise the gift 
of the ministry independently of scholastic training. Minis- 
ters were to be recognized, not ordained. So there is no 
ordination among the Friends to this day. There is no divi- 
sion of clergy and laity— all members are upon the same plane. 

It might naturally be supposed that this doctrine of the 
"inward lighl " would lead to extravagances and error, and 
the Friends have always recognized this danger. 2 But if 
this is the light of Christ, as claimed, it will not lead to that 

1 General William Booth, more than two centuries later, on practically the same 
grounds, disused the ordinances in the Salvation Army. 

3 This danger was realized very soon in the case of Nayler and of Perrot. The 
former acknowledged his error and repented and was reinstated; the latter severed 
his connection with the body. 



THE SOCIETY OF FRIENDS IN AMERICA 33 

which is at variance or inconsistent with his teachings. Here 
is the test to which the Friends have never hesitated to submit. 

Another historic position, and the one most prominent in 
the near past, is the attitude toward war. War to George Fox 
and the early Quakers was absolutely incompatible with the 
type of Christianity which they professed. Fox said to one 
who wished him to enter the army, "I told him I lived in the 
virtue of that life and power that took away the occasion for 
all war. " And an official document of 1660 says: 

We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with 

outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretence whatever 

The spirit of Christ .... will never lead us to fight and war against 
any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, 
nor for the kingdoms of this world. 

This statement is based on the belief that the Spirit of Christ 
is a spirit of love, not one of hate and destruction. All official 
declarations of the Society from that time to the present have 
never varied from this position; it is the historic position of 
the body. 

It was held from the first that the outward life must conform 
to the inward spiritual life; so there must be truth and justice 
in all dealings with others. This requires that all statements 
must be truthful, hence no oath is needful, and is contrary 
to the words of Christ. Moreover, the use of an oath sets 
up two standards. Justice in trade led to the establishment 
of fixed prices for perhaps the first time in economic history. 

Though the theory has always been that women were 
exactly on an equality with men, and it has been carried out in 
regard to the ministry, in church administration it was not 
completely so till the nineteenth century. 

For the first half-century the Friends were an active 
missionary body, and their missionaries visited all parts of 
Europe, America, the West Indies, and even Turkey. Large 
sums for that age were raised to support this work, which 
was carried on with enthusiasm and almost regardless of 
difficulties, hardships, and sufferings. That results were not 



34 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

permanent is chiefly, because these efforts were not systemati- 
cally followed up, and partly because of the kind of govern- 
ments existing on the Continent, which, based on force and 
carried on under a system of militarism, were fatal to the exist- 
ence of a body whose principles were based on love and whose' 
adherents lived according to the principles of a Prince of Peace. 

During the latter half of the eighteenth century the Society 
sank into a condition of quietism, occupying itself in preserving 
its "testimonies" rather than reaching out and continuing 
the missionary efforts of earlier years. 

But if the Friends were lacking in religious missionary 
zeal, it was not so in practical matters, such as penal reform, 
wise treatment of the insane, and just treatment of the Ameri- 
can Indian, all of which claimed their close attention. Even 
more than these was their attitude toward slavery. In 1688 
some German Friends of Germantown, Pennsylvania, made 
a protest against holding men in bondage, so far as known 
the first official protest of any religious body on this subject. 
About the middle of the eighteenth century John Woolman 
became the apostle of freedom, and through his efforts and 
those of others the conscience of Friends was so aroused 
that by the close of the century slavery was driven out of 
the Society, and thereafter no Friend could own a slave. 
This action had far-reaching effects, for it led to the whole- 
sale emigration of the Quakers from the slave states of Vir- 
ginia and the Carolinas to the free soil of Ohio, Indiana, and 
the Northwest, not only furnishing sturdy, independent, and 
industrious citizens to these states, but exerting no small 
influence on the Quaker body itself. 

It was not till about thirty years or more after the troubles 
of 1828 that the decline in membership was arrested in the 
Orthodox body. In the country west of the Alleghanies the 
Friends began to grow not only by the emigration just men- 
tioned and by that from other eastern states, but by accessions 
through request. The Society had again become an aggressive 



THE SOCIETY OF FRIENDS IN AMERICA 35 

body. It was not long before the traditional dress of the 
eighteenth century and the language began to be laid aside, 
and the discipline considerably relaxed. The quietism of 
the previous century had become an evangelistic spirit. This 
led to some important changes in polity and practice. 
Methods similar to those used in the revivals of other religious 
bodies were employed, and in various ways new ideas and 
practices came into being. Territories where Friends were 
unknown were entered, and converts were made who had no 
knowledge of Quaker doctrine or history. After conversion 
these needed religious instruction. To meet this need, men 
and women were appointed whose work closely resembled 
that of the Methodist pastor, and in many places congregations 
worshiped which could scarcely be distinguished from those 
of other denominations. In fact, the chief difference was the 
omission of the Lord's Supper and baptism. 1 Thus sprang up 
what is known among the Friends as the "pastoral system." 
It was quite evident to thoughtful Friends that a centri- 
fugal force was at work, which, if not checked, would be disas- 
trous to the body. After some preliminary effort, a general 
conference representing all the Yearly Meetings 2 in America 
but one, and those in Great Britain and Ireland, met at 
Richmond, Indiana, in 1887. It was a conference for dis- 
cussion only and was without power, but it was of great 
value in bringing Friends, together. Its main visible work 
was the preparation and issuing of a long and rather verbose 
"Declaration of Faith." Another conference was held in 
1892, at which the representation was in proportion to mem- 
bership. The evident value of these conferences led to a 
continuance in 1897, at which time the advantages of a closer 
union were discussed, and means adopted to bring a tentative 

1 It is not surprising that at one period a few Friends advocated the use of these. 

2 A Yearly Meeting somewhat resembles a Methodist Conference. It is com- 
posed of a number of subordinate meetings. A representative gathering which is the 
legislative body for the group and also a final court of appeal meets annually. The 
bounds of a Yearly Meeting are mainly on geographical lines, though not wholly so. 



36 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

plan of union before a conference in 1902. To this conference 
a plan of union with a constitution and practically uniform 
discipline was presented with the indorsement of a large 
majority of the Yearly Meetings of America. Through this 
action the Five Years' Meeting of the Friends in America 
came into being, and it has held quinquennial sessions since 
1902. There can be little doubt that this is the most important 
event in the history of American Quakerism, for through it 
what had been practically a congregational union became an 
organized church. 1 

The plan of the Five Years' Meeting is that of a federal 
union, which in principle closely resembles the Articles of 
Confederation of the United States which preceded the 
Constitution. Under it each Yearly Meeting is practically 
independent as to local interests but unites, by means of a 
quinquennial proportional representative body and various 
standing boards, with the other members of the union in 
matters of common interest, such as evangelistic work, foreign 
and home missions, Bible schools, peace, education, young 
people's activities, legislation, publication, and the like. This 
union has worked fully as well as was expected by most of its 
advocates, and, while during the eighteen years of its existence 
there has been some friction, and two Yearly Meetings remain 
outside, there can be no doubt that it has brought Friends 
closer together, 2 and that by united action church activities 
have been better organized and better work has been done. 3 
This is particularly true of the foreign-mission work, which 

1 It was not the first time such an effort had been made, for the records show that 
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in 1683, probably at the suggestion of William Penn, 
proposed to hold a general meeting of Friends from New England to Carolina. 
It was probably owing to geographical conditions and difficulties of transportation 
that the scheme was not carried out. 

2 Ohio Yearly Meeting remains apart chiefly on the ground of doctrine, claiming 
that the doctrines upheld are too liberal; and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting chiefly 
on the ground of preserving full, independent action. 

J The Yearly Meetings composing the Five Years' Meeting are New England, 
New York, Baltimore, North Carolina, Wilmington (Ohio), Indiana, Western (Indiana), 
Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, California, Oregon, and Canada. 



THE SOCIETY OF FRIENDS IN AMERICA 37 

has been brought under the direction and oversight of the 
American Friends' Board of Foreign Missions, thus obviating 
duplication of officers, and greatly aiding in the assignment of 
missionaries and in the economic and "wise administration of 
the work. 1 

Another striking feature in the polity of the Friends since 
191 2 has been the Young Friends' Movement. This is an 
organized association of the younger members for the purpose of 
deepening their own spiritual life and supporting and extending 
the activities of the body at large. This is done by local 
associations, study-groups, country-wide conferences, and per- 
sonal efforts in such fields as seem to call for work. 

Besides the Boards, the Five Years' Meeting has a general 
secretary with an office at Richmond, Indiana, whose duties 
are the collection and dissemination of intelligence of value 
to the body, collection and tabulation of statistics, aiding 
in the meetings and work of the Boards and Committees, 
serving as a medium of communication between needy fields 
and available workers or committees, and in every way fur- 
thering the interests of the denomination. 

One important matter remains to be dwelt upon. With 
some notable exceptions, the meetings of the Friends have 
adopted, though not officially, some form of a pastoral system. 2 
It should be clearly understood, however, that this does not 
mean that every individual meeting has a pastor; very far 
from it, but the tendency has been toward such a condition, 
particularly in the West where there has been no Quaker 
background. 

1 The fields of labor of the Five Years' Meeting are Cuba, Mexico, Jamaica, 
Palestine, and British East Africa. The amounts collected were, in 1905, $6,953; 
in 1917-19 (six months) $150,155 (a special effort). Besides these missions Phila- 
delphia Friends maintain flourishing missions in Japan; Ohio Yearly Meeting missions 
in India and China; and California Yearly Meeting missions in Alaska and Central 
America. 

2 This includes all the Yearly Meetings of the Five Years' Meeting (except Balti- 
more Yearly Meeting), and Ohio Yearly Meeting; Philadelphia Yearly Meeting has 
had neither pastors nor pastoral system. 



38 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

Such in outline was the condition of the Friends in 1914 
and recent years. Without this survey the present position 
and outlook of the Quaker body could hardly be understood. 
To the thoughtful Friend and one to whom the continuance 
of the body on practically its old foundation was dear, it was 
evident that an essential point in the situation was the meeting 
for worship. If this was held according to a strict program, 
it would be impossible for individual spiritual communion to 
exist or for individual gifts in the ministry or exhortation or 
vocal prayer to be exercised, and there could not be that 
"liberty of prophesying" to gain which the early Friends had 
suffered so much. That some sort of a pastoral system was 
needed in many places few could gainsay. How could it be so 
modified as not to conflict with historic Quaker teachings. 
Though perhaps not put so bluntly as this, the problem was 
in the minds of many, though not always acknowledged. It 
was also evident that there was much dissatisfaction with 
existing conditions, but no way of improving them was seen. 
No definite plan of modification has yet been proposed, but 
there is no doubt that at present there is an increasing desire 
and effort to adjust the pastoral system to the fundamentals 
of historic Quakerism, and this is true particularly of the 
younger pastors. 1 The Friends had become alive to con- 
temporary problems and to the fact that a church, in order to 
continue, and to be effective, and to grow, must be aggressive. 
The association in the Five Years' Meeting not only had enabled 
better work to be done but also, and even more important, 
had brought the members East and West into that closer 
touch and better knowledge of each other without which it is 
altogether unlikely the subsequent united work would have 
been possible. 

1 In some places the pastor is not necessarily a minister, but resembles the Young 
Men's Christian Association Secretary, the effort being, especially in rural com- 
munities, to make the meeting a center, not only of conversion, instruction, and 
religious uplift, but also of social interests for the betterment of the neighbor- 
hood. 



THE SOCIETY OF FRIENDS IN AMERICA 39 

When the United States entered the Great War in 191 7 
an unlooked-for condition presented itself to the Friends. 
Since the close of the Civil War in 1865, the armies of the 
United States had been composed wholly of volunteers. To 
the Friends the matter of compulsory military service had 
seemed a purely academic question, but now it loomed up as a 
certainty. Like the British Parliament, the American Con- 
gress recognized the existence of certain religious bodies 
among whose historic doctrines was a conscientious objection 
to war and military service, and, for the members of such, 
provision was made for noncombatant service. But, less 
liberal than the British Act, individuals not belonging to the 
designated bodies, were ignored. 1 

The drastic conscription laws which were enacted fell 
heavily upon the Friends and the few small denominations 
which shared their views regarding war. Whether the historic 
position of the Society would be upheld was a question of 
anxious interest. The individual answer was to be given by 
young men, most of whom had never anticipated such a trial 
of faith. Three classes were shown to exist: those who, 
having no convictions against war, accepted military service; 
those who refused military service but accepted some kind of 
alternative service; and those who refused any compulsory 
service whatever. This last class numbered very few; the 
majority belonged to the middle class, though there was much 
difference of opinion as to what kind of alternative service 
could be accepted. The number of those entering the army 
or navy was not large 2 . So far as the official attitude and 
statements were concerned, no meeting failed to maintain the 

1 The definition of "noncombatant" was left to the President, and decisions 
to exemption boards, whose decisions often conflicted and were far from uniform. 
The records of the treatment of the conscientious objectors by exemption boards, 
military courts, and above all in the military prisons make a sad page in American 
history. 

' The accredited number was greater from the fact that up to 1902 birthright 
membership was universal among the Friends, and, consequently, in 1017 there were 
many nominal members who, nevertheless, were reckoned as Friends. 



40 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

Friends' historic attitude against war, and in favor of peaceful 
methods in the settlement of differences international, national, 
and social. 

As soon as war was declared in 1914, the British Friends, 
as in the Franco-Prussian War, 1870-71, at once formed 
organizations for relief work. An ambulance unit for the 
rescue and care of the wounded; a reconstruction unit for the 
aid of devastated districts; a committee for helping innocent 
aliens, especially women and children; a war victims' relief 
committee, and others. While France was the chief field, 
Italy, Serbia, Russia, and other countries were also fields of 
work. This earnest, self-sacrificing, unpaid labor was often 
carried on under difficult and extremely dangerous condi- 
tions. 

American Friends contributed funds to help their British 
brethren, but when the United States entered the war in April, 
1917, it was felt that personal aid and service were called for. 
Accordingly late in April, 191 7, the American Friends' Service 
Committee was organized. All calling themselves Friends 
were invited to take part. The response was general, and 
members of all groups had place on the executive committee. 
For the first time since 1828 all those calling themselves 
Friends united harmoniously in a common service. When 
the Five Years' Meeting convened in the autumn of 191 7 the 
committee was officially recognized by the appointment of 
representatives on it. It was concluded to work with English 
Friends, and later, in addition, to be attached to the civilian 
branch of the American Red Cross. An appeal brought large 
funds and called forth earnest workers. As the work developed 
it naturally was divided into groups which it may be worth 
while to mention: emergency work, such as assisting persons 
out of the danger zones and providing for their needs; agri- 
cultural, providing labor, machinery, seeds, personal service; 
building — such as constructing temporary houses in devastated 
districts; miscellaneous — providing maternity and other hos- 



THE SOCIETY OF FRIENDS IN AMERICA 41 

pitals, and factories for making portable houses and furniture, 
establishing co-operative stores, etc. Except necessary office 
work and that connected with transportation, none of the 
workers received any pay except a simple maintenance and 
their necessary traveling expenses. It will give some idea of 
the extent of the work to state that in three years, to May 
31, 1920, the total number of American workers was 645, 
mostly men, and the total contributions $2,329,868. 19. 1 

This relief and reconstruction work received the approval 
of the United States War Department, the French govern- 
ment, and the American Red Cross, and is a complete answer 
to the charge frequently made during the war that pacifists 
must be unpatriotic and slackers. 

So far as known this is the only work of the kind by a 
religious organization begun during the war and carried on 
without interruption ever since. The work in France, with 
the exception of the erection of a maternity hospital, has just been 
discontinued (July, 1920), but has gone on in Central Europe, 
Poland, Serbia, and elsewhere. In January, 1920, Herbert C. 
Hoover turned over to the American Friends' Service 
Committee the work of distribution of relief for the needy 
women and children of Germany. 2 

The Friends have participated in the Interchurch Move- 
ment, and moreover, antedating this, have carried on a For- 
ward Movement of their own to sustain and extend the 
interests, spiritual and material, of their own denomination. 

Education has always been highly valued, and schools, 
when they have been needed, have been maintained since an 
early date. But for a long period higher education was viewed 

1 Seventy-five workers were Mennonite conscientious objectors, turned over by 
the United States War Department for noncombatant service. Of the contributions 
$276,115.86 were contributed by the Mennonite Board of Missions; almost all the 
rest by Friends. 

"At last accounts (July, 1920) 632,300 children are given one meal per day in 
eighty-eight cities in Germany. It is expected this feeding must be continued another 
year, though perhaps not on so extensive a scale. 



42 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

with distrust. The feeling, however, has long passed away, 
and at present the Society maintains seven colleges, one in 
the East, four in the Middle West, and two on the Pacific 
Coast. Haverford, Pennsylvania, though not officially con- 
nected with the Society, is owned and controlled by members. 
All the institutions, elementary, secondary, and higher, rank 
well in the classes to which they belong. Their interests 
are fostered by the General Board of Education of the Five 
Years' Meeting. 

As is well known, Friends have always been in the van 
in the cause of temperance, and have been active in the anti- 
saloon and prohibition movements. 

The harmonious co-operation of the different groups in the 
European relief work has frequently suggested the question 
whether it will not bring about a closer union. It may be 
said in reply that, so far as can be seen, it is very unlikely, 
for too great differences in doctrine still exist to make a church 
union desirable. But it has taught many that kindly feeling 
and much co-operation are quite possible even when there is 
great difference of opinion on important matters. 

Passing for a moment to the Hicksite and Conservative 
groups, it may be said of the former that the members have 
been active in philanthropic and social work. Great atten- 
tion has been paid to education. Their excellent schools and 
Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, a co-educational institution, 
have received hearty support. By means of biennial confer- 
ences, representing the whole group, the membership has been 
kept in touch with all movements of interest to the body and 
enabled to share more fully in whatever efforts may be made. 
There has been a constant tendency to greater freedom in 
doctrine and practice. Within the past few years recording 
of ministers and appointment of elders have practically ceased, 
and the tendency is toward the greatest possible democracy 
in the church organization. Notwithstanding these and other 
efforts and the institution of an active Young Friends' 



THE SOCIETY OF FRIENDS IN AMERICA 43 

Movement the decrease in membership has not yet been 
arrested. 1 

The Conservatives have kept the even tenor of their way 
repeating very nearly the quietism of the eighteenth century, 
and showing little missionary interest. Their membership, 
as nearly as can be ascertained, also shows a decline. Both 
groups have joined heartily in the relief and reconstruction 
work, and have representation on the executive committee 
of the American Friends' Service Committee. 

A conference representing all, the world over, who call 
themselves Friends, was held in London, England, in 
August, 1920. The object of this gathering was to discuss 
matters of common interest, especially means for furthering 
the cause of peace, international, national, social, and economic, 
and to consider what part the Friends should take in the effort. 
Notwithstanding the diverse elements, and different nationali- 
ties represented, the conference was harmonious. Several 
addresses were issued and the general effect has been to 
bring all Friends into closer fellowship. 

Such is a brief review of the history of Quakerism. What 
can be said of its present condition and tendencies ? Let us 
return to the consideration of the Orthodox body with which 
we are especially concerned. Problems of peculiar difficulty 
ace a small denomination spread over a wide expanse of 
country. Differences of environment, education, outlook, 
far more than in a large denomination, have an influence 
antagonistic to a close union. It is emphatically so with the 
Friends. That they have held together as closely as they 
have, is more remarkable than that there should be, here and 
there, disintegrating influences at work. Some members in 
the Middle West and more on the Pacific Coast view with 
concern the greater liberality in matters of doctrine, and the 

1 This may be partly due to the concentration of the membership, as more than 
half belongs to Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (Hicksite), and about three-fourths to 
Philadelphia and Baltimore Yearly Meetings (Hicksite). 



44 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

willingness to join in relief and other work with those they do 
not consider evangelical. They also lay great stress on 
written statements of religious doctrine, and fail to see that 
Friends in placing emphasis on life rather than on creed are 
simply maintaining their historic attitude, and taking their 
place alongside of those increasing numbers in other denomi- 
nations who, while holding fast the essentials of Christian 
faith, believe that a life of Christian service is more important 
than subscription to a formal creed or a written statement of 
faith. Such dissident members are few in comparison with 
the membership at large and are scarcely likely to increase 
greatly in number. It is, however, recognized that there is a 
serious danger that, in devoting thought and effort to external 
service, the spiritual may not receive that close attention 
which is essential to all work professed to be carried out on a 
Christian basis. It is a fundamental of the Quaker faith that 
nothing can take the place of a personal spiritual experience. 
In common with other denominations, the problem of the 
ministry is a serious one. That there is need for an intelligent, 
educated service is unquestionable; zeal, earnest exhortation, 
or both combined are not sufficient. How can the need be met 
without conflicting with the historic position of the body as to 
the necessity of a divine call, sometimes immediate, and 
"the priesthood of all believers" ? Is it practicable, amid the 
legitimate demands of modern life, for members to devote the 
necessary time to ministerial and pastoral work? Can any 
considerable number of men and women of ability be expected 
to devote their lives or a great part of them to a work in which 
but a meager income for years and small prospect for the future 
is all that can be looked for ? Various efforts have been made 
to meet certain phases of the question. Some Friends, a 
number of years ago, instituted a Bible Training School for 
ministers and Christian workers; but it cannot be said that 
the results have been satisfactory to the body at large, for 
the tendency has been toward the creation of a ministerial 



THE SOCIETY OF FRIENDS IN AMERICA 45 

class, inelastic methods, and a narrow outlook. A School for 
Social and Religious Education, much less formal, intended 
rather for Christian workers, has also been in operation for 
a few years. Another method has been to introduce into the 
college curriculum, for those who feel called to the ministry or 
Christian work, courses on the Bible, church history, sociology, 
psychology, and practical ways of church service. Still more 
recently, a well-endowed graduate school has been opened, 
offering instruction in "biblical literature, philosophy, sociol- 
ogy, history, and kindred subjects. " Whether these later ef- 
forts will bring about adequate results remains to be seen, 
but it cannot be questioned that the last three methods are 
more in accord with fundamental Quakerism than the first. 

Notwithstanding the local differences mentioned above, 
the Friends have never been more closely united than at 
present; their foreign-mission work has never been more 
extensive or better organized; nor has greater practical interest 
been taken in education, more interest in social and neighbor- 
hood betterment, more extended or deeper spiritual interest 
among the younger members; and, while the old revivalist 
methods have fallen largely into disuse, there is a genuine 
evangelistic spirit of outreaching and upbuilding very general 
throughout the body. To these must be added the extensive 
relief and reconstruction work or "service of love," as it has 
been called, in which all the Friends have been engaged since 
191 7. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of this 
service. Taken up originally with the simple desire to aid 
those suffering from the war, and to show that pacifists were 
not necessarily shirkers of service, this self-sacrificing, volun- 
tary labor has developed and extended into an almost inter- 
national work. Great trust and responsibility have been 
placed, unasked, upon the Friends, and their name has become 
known far and wide in this connection. There is also a 
prospect of the continuance of this or similar work both at 
home and abroad. 



46 THE JOURNAL OF RELIGION 

That the reaction of recent movements within the Society 
has already been great is evident; what it will be in the future 
it is too soon to predict. One effect of the war and the relief 
service has been to lead many not only to examine more fully 
into the grounds of their religious belief, an examination to 
which the Young Friends' Movement has contributed in no 
small degree, but also to see what part the Friends should take 
in the effort to strengthen Christian faith and rebuild society 
on a Christian basis. Moreover, national and world con- 
ditions seem to call, as never before, from the Friends for a 
greater service, not only in definitely religious work, but also 
in the fields of labor adjustment and social betterment and 
uplift, a service for which their democratic Christian organi- 
zation, their emphasis on positive good-will, and their simple 
religious faith would seem peculiarly to fit them. 

The Friends, like the other churches, are thus facing serious 
problems both internal and external, the solution of which is 
still unknown and in the future; but to adopt the words of 
another, 1 "They look forward with courage and confidence, 
believing that the good hand of God which has been over them 
in blessing in the past is still guiding them and will continue to 
lead them into larger service for him who is the Master of us 
all." 

1 Professor Williston Walker regarding the Congregationalists in the American 
Journal of Theology, XXIV, 18.