"Christian" and "Quaker" work fine, too.
But whatever you call us, we'll call you "Friend."
We are a loving, inclusive, joyous gathering of people, seeking to know Truth under the leadership of God’s Holy Spirit. We are people of all races, ages, cultural backgrounds, sexual orientations and identities, marital statuses, physical and mental abilities, family structures, and economic circumstances. We invite you to join us, and find a faith community unlike any other, where silent meditation is as important as the spoken word, where we emphasize the importance of one’s personal encounter with God, and where we seek to support one another as we discover Truth together.
What we emphasize:
- We find through the life, teachings, example, and spirit of Jesus an invigorating, inspirational and immediate experience of God.
- We value the practice of quiet and open worship before God as the reality of Christ present with us, a reality that comforts, guides, unites and leads us.
- We invite all people to participate in our community and worship life without insisting that they become like us in order to be acceptable. We have no litmus test for membership other than a sincere desire to embody and live faithfully in the spirit and teachings of Jesus.
- We know that the way we behave toward one another and toward other people is the truest expression of what we believe.
- We discover more grace in the search for understanding of the Spirit of Christ than we do in dogmatic demands. We find more value in the honest and open seeking of truth (and discovering truth) than in absolute decrees.
- We seek to form ourselves into a community of faith dedicated to equipping one another for the work we are called to do. This involves: worship, nurturing spiritual growth, striving for peace and justice among all people, living simply, caring for our earth and its inhabitants, emphasizing integrity, and restoring the awareness of God in all people.
- We recognize that following Jesus is costly and entails selfless love, conscientious resistance to evil, humility, and renunciation of privilege.
- We lovingly reach out to those for whom organized religion has proved ineffectual, irrelevant, or repressive, as well as to those who have given up on religion or are unacquainted with the spiritual life. We seek to be an open, loving and welcoming community of faith.
- We joyfully embrace faith, mystery, biblical study, literature, logic and science in the pursuit of truth.
- We promote the value of rest, recreation, prayer and reflection.
- We seek to support each other and be accountable to one another as we study, teach and practice the prophetic teachings of Jesus, captured in the Beatitudes, developed in the Sermon on the Mount, and exemplified in the life of Jesus.
- We seek to be understanding, receptive and respectful of other faiths and religious traditions while, at the same time, upholding those truths of our own Christian faith that honor God's love and intentions for goodness, grace, truth, justice, beauty, and light.
A brief history of Quakers:
The Quaker Movement arose in mid-seventeenth Century England, a time of great social, political, and religious ferment. Followers of George Fox, the gifted leader of the movement, called themselves ‘Friends of Truth.’ ‘Quaker’ was a derisive nickname used by others, but Friends adopted the term and today ‘Friend’ and ‘Quaker’ mean the same and are used interchangeably. The formal title is ‘Religious Society of Friends.’ After some years of spiritual searching, Fox gathered about him a large and impressive following of persons who, like Fox, were searching for a vitality in their faith. Among them were William Penn, a founder of Pennsylvania, and Robert Barclay, scholar and theologian. Weary with the hollow formalism and strong emphasis on outward forms and ceremony, as if these were the essence of spirituality, Friends, seeking reality in their faith, found that they could experience God directly in their lives without the benefit of priest, symbol, liturgy and ritual. George Fox and his companions were, therefore, primarily concerned to free themselves and others from the forms and systems which had accumulated through the centuries and to revive as far as possible the simplicity and power of the primitive, early church. With emphasis on life and a direct experience of God, Quakerism is an attempt to express faith in life.
A brief history of First Friends Meeting:
Although Friends families began to move into the village of Indianapolis in the 1820s, it was in 1834 that initiatives were taken to begin informal meetings for worship in family homes. An indulged (allowed) meeting was granted by Fairfield Meeting in 1836. In 1855, while Friends were meeting ‘in the house of the Lutherans,’ they requested that Fairfield Meeting allow the establishment of a Preparative Meeting. Indianapolis Preparative Meeting was placed under the care of Bridgeport Monthly Meeting in 1859 and was granted Monthly Meeting status by Bridgeport in 1865, with a total membership of 147. Our first meetinghouse was constructed in 1865 on the parcel of land bounded by Ft. Wayne, Delaware and St. Clair Streets. One story of the building served as a school for children and the other story as a house for worship. In 1895 the Meeting moved to its second home at 13th and Alabama, to which an educational unit and a larger dining room and kitchen were added in 1923.
The present Meetinghouse at 3030 East Kessler Boulevard was completed in December, 1956. An Orphan’s Home for white children was established by Marcia Willard, a member of the Meeting in the 1850s, and in 1868, Hannah Hadley initiated the construction of an Orphan’s Home for black children at 21st and Senate. After the turn of the century, when the need for the facility declined, the property was sold. The funds derived from the sale were placed together with other funds under the administration of Friends. To this day, the income from Friends Education Fund, administrated by an autonomous board consisting of members from First Friends, provides scholarships for black men and women in financing their college or university education. Bertha Ballard Home was constructed in 1890 and served for many years as a home for young women moving to the city. Sarah Smith, a member of First Friends, was appointed Superintendent of the Indiana Women’s Prison and Girl’s Reformatory when it opened in 1869. Elmira Johnson, also a Friend, had charge of the State Penal Department for many years. Barnabas Hobbs, who served as the first State Superintendent of Public Instruction (1868-1871) and the first President of Earlham, was an active member of First Friends. Sarah Morrison, the first female to be admitted to Indiana University in 1867 as a student, was appointed a few years later as the first female I.U. faculty member. She moved to Indianapolis, became a member of First Friends in 1875, and became actively engaged in the Women’s Suffrage Movement. Levi Rees was appointed as the first salaried pastor of Indianapolis Monthly Meeting in 1888 and 17 pastors have served the Meeting since the adoption of the pastoral arrangement.