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About Friends

Friends Heritage

The Friends Church began more than three hundred years ago in England under the leadership of George Fox, a man who had a profound experience with Christ during a period of intentional spiritual seeking. Fox, and other early Friends, contributed greatly to the spiritual and social needs of their country, such as prison reforms, religious liberty, Christian education, and care for the suffering.  Early Friends were particularly sensitive to the leading of the Spirit, a mark of our movement as rich as any other!

Before long the Friends (also called Quakers) began coming to the New World among many other colonists, and soon there were thousands of Friends in America. In 1681 the colony of Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn, a prominent English Quaker, as a refuge from persecution for fellow Quakers.

As other Americans moved west, so did the Friends, taking their faith with them. Among the first priorities for these pioneers was the establishment of a group for worship and a meeting house in which to conduct such worship. By 1812 Friends in Ohio had united to form Ohio Yearly Meeting of Friends. They held their annual meetings in the Mt. Pleasant Yearly Meeting House for many years. Later Damascus became the headquarters and place of meeting. Since 1965 the church has held its annual session in Canton.

In 1971 the name, Ohio Yearly Meeting, was changed. Now known as the Evangelical Friends Church - Eastern Region (EFC-ER), it participates actively in a larger group of Friends worldwide, Evangelical Friends International-North America (EFI-NA).

In 2012, the EFC-ER commemorated this rich heritage in our bicentennial celebration, which took place over several days in conjunction with our Yearly Meeting (the annual "business gathering").  


George Fox

The name "Friends" comes from Jesus' words in John 15:12-15:

"You are my friends if you do whatever I command."

The name Quaker, originally an insult, became a symbol of integrity as Quakers were known for:

  • Support for religious and political freedom
  • Opposition to slavery
  • Honesty in business
  • Humane treatment of criminals & compassion for the mentally ill
  • Opposition to war, but aid to war victims and others in distress.