- Friends United Meeting
- The Friends United Meeting, based in the United States, is the largest Friends (Quakers) association in the world.The Friends movement in North America began in the colonial era, when William Penn (1644-1718) created Pennsylvania as a haven for persecuted groups, including his own Quaker fellowship. The Friends accepted the basic beliefs of Christianity concerning God as Father, the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and salvation by faith, but were distinguished by their radical separation from the state and their commitment to a life of nonviolence and pacifism.As the movement in the United States grew, two dissenting groups emerged. One, led by Elias Hicks (1748-1830), emphasized the work of the Inner Light and tended to reject all external authority in worship. Another, led by Joseph John Gurney (1788-1847), became attracted to the Wesleyan Holiness movement. These two branches eventually separated from the main body of Quakers to form what is now known as the Friends General Conference (Hicksite) and Evangelical Friends International (Holiness). Efforts to form a national organization for the remaining Friends began in the 1880s, resulting in the Five Years Meeting in 1902, known since 1965 as the Friends United Meeting.in the 19th century, Friends began evangelistic work in other countries, with notable success in Cuba,Jamaica,Mexico, Israel, and Africa. Today, 100,000 of the 150,000 members of the Friends United Meeting reside outside of the United states, of which more than 60,000 are in Kenya. The Friends United Meeting actively cooperates with the Friends World Committee for Consultation.Further reading:■ Francis B. Hall, ed. Friends in the Americas (Philadelphia: Friends World Committee, section of the Americas, 1976)■ Quakers Around the World (London: Friends World Committee for Consultation, 1994).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.