Although the annual meeting of area Quakers (Religious Society of Friends) was initiated in 1892, the Quaker presence in Clinton County dates back to the first decade of the 19th century.
At one time Quakers numbered several thousand, but that is clearly less than one-thousand today. The advent of the mass media (especially television), the emergence of alternative churches and activities have taken their toll. It is also clear that Friends’ focus on education resulted in members leaving the local area to seek employment.
The founding of Wilmington College by local Friends in 1870 is an indication of this focus. As the photos indicate, there have been many changes at these annual meetings.
Although there is a short session this Thursday evening, the bulk of Yearly Meeting activities begin on Friday morning, July 29 at Cuba Friends, 5801 Cuba Road, Blanchester. Each day will include Bible study and a variety of workshops on outreach and business.
On Friday evening the United Society of Friends Women will present a program on Friends in Cuba (local Quakers were instrumental in initiating outreach on this island over 100 years ago). Currently local members have been visiting and working with these churches for nearly two decades.
At one Cuban church there is a school named Colegio Wilmington (Wilmington School) and one church structure has the fingerprints of a Clinton County barn!
Saturday’s Yearly Meeting events will take place primarily at Leesburg Friends Church, 149 South St., Leesburg. There will be worship and Bible study, followed by official business sessions and committee meetings.
A special reception at Wilmington College’s Quaker Heritage Center celebrates the current exhibit, “Boycott!: the Art of Economic Activism,” from 3-5 p.m.
In the evening, there will be a talk at Leesburg Friends by Tom Hamm, Professor of History at Earlham College, who will give the Peace Banquet Lecture. His talk will focus on the history of the Quaker Peace Testimony.
Friends, along with Mennonites and the Church of the Brethren, are part of the Historic Peace Churches and generally refuse to participate in war. Dinner begins at 5:30 p.m., with the Peace Lecture to follow.
Sunday morning will conclude with a worship session at the Wilmington Friends Meeting in downtown Wilmington at 10 a.m., followed by lunch at Quaker Knoll Camp.
Sessions are open to all and visitors are welcome. Further information is available at the Yearly Meeting office from 10 a.m. to 4 .pm. at 937-382-2491.