History of Germantown Friends Meeting
The Religious Society of Friends originated as a movement of dissenting Christians amidst the political, social, and religious turmoil of 17th century England. One such seeker was George Fox, who, after years of emptiness, experienced the revelation of the immanence of God’s power that led to the birth of the Society of Friends. The Light Within, as described by Fox, was the fundamental and immediate experience for Friends. In the decades that followed, Quakers were cruelly persecuted for their departure from Anglican and Puritan orthodoxy, and many joined William Penn in Pennsylvania where they found in his Holy Experiment a haven of religious liberty.
While most of these early Quakers were English, a small group was from Germany and Holland where they had come to Quakerism from the Mennonite religion. In 1683 these Germans founded the town of Germantown and within a few years built a small meetinghouse of logs not far from our present meetinghouse, which was built in 1869. So Friends have worshiped here for more than 300 years. In 1688, members of our Meeting made history by writing one of America’s first public protests against slavery. For more information on this document, click here for a poster and click here for a 9 page introduction. Many Friends were leaders in the abolitionist movement, and later active in the struggle for equality and justice for all minorities – a concern that persists to the present day.