The Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, began in England in the mid-1600's as the result of the conversion and ministry of George Fox. After earnestly seeking to know the reality of a relationship with God, he experienced God's gracious revelation to his heart in the words, "There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition." George says in his Journal, "When I heard it, my heart did leap for joy." This message of the reality of knowing God through Jesus Christ became the central message of early Quakers. Appealing to the spiritual hunger of their times, within just a few years Quakers grew to become the largest religious group in England apart from the state church.
Friends organization was congregational in form. An entire group of Friends was called a Yearly Meeting that met, in fact, once a year to conduct group business. The local congregations were called Monthly Meetings which met regularly for worship and monthy for local business. This form of organization has prevailed largely to this time among many Friends.
Over time, Quakers came to America. Ill-treated at first, they came to be highly regarded as a people of integrity, spirituality, and peace. They always maintained equitable relations with the Indians. Gradually, Quakers went through various transitions and divisions. The spread of Quakers across America, as well as differences of emphases and beliefs, called for the establishment of new Yearly Meetings. Hicksite Friends were a group who separated themselves to adhere to more modernist beliefs. Wilburite, or Conservative, Friends withdrew in order to retain the original methods and manners of early Friends. Orthodox Friends, of which we are a part, sought to retain the message of the living, indwelling Christ while making useful changes in methods and manners.
Central Yearly Meeting came into existence in 1926 as a result of dissatisfaction with tendencies in other Yearly Meetings. The original spiritual emphasis of Friends maintained in various parts of America had inclined them to accept the Holiness message of the Wesleyan Movement. Indeed, the Journal of Fox indicates his own clear experience of Holiness subsequent to his conversion, while he and other early Quakers preached a message of Holiness under the term Perfection. Central Yearly Meeting remains a part of the Holiness Movement.
We are committed to the spirit of early Quakerism that emphasized the essential spirituality of true religion and the reality of the indwelling presence of the living Christ. We believe that all may become children of God with sins forgiven through the experience of the new birth. We believe that all may likewise experience the reality of a pure heart and the fullness of the Spririt as a second work of grace. We teach and insist on an actual and scriptural elevation of life apart from the prevailing low and decadent culture of the world. We subscribe otherwise to all the fundamental doctrines of the Scriptures.