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Finding Friends

Ohio Yearly Meeting is a fellowship of eleven local congregations (we call them “Meetings”) spread across the eastern United States. While the majority of our Meetings are located in the state of Ohio, in recent years we have seen dramatic growth beyond the historical bounds of the Yearly Meeting. At this time, we have Meetings in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Georgia. In addition, there are a number of new worship groups that are emerging across the US and abroad that are connected, both formally and informally, with Ohio Yearly Meeting.

There is a great deal of diversity within OYM. Our older Meetings – all of them in southeastern Ohio – have a distinct flavor that is different from that of the newer Meetings that have emerged in recent years. These Ohio Meetings are the old stock of our fellowship. They trace their roots back for centuries, to the beginnings of Quakers in Ohio in the early 19th century. Many of the families in these Meetings have been part of Ohio Yearly Meeting for generations, and in our interactions with these Friends we can feel the rich heritage of one of the most traditionalist portions of the Religious Society of Friends.

Our newer Meetings – all outside of the state of Ohio – represent a different, more innovative stream of the Friends community. Most Friends in these Meetings came to Quakerism as adults, and many were part of other Quaker groups before finally throwing their lot in with Ohio Yearly Meeting. For these newer Friends, Ohio Yearly Meeting fulfilled an unmet need for a Quaker faith rooted in explicit commitment to Christ Jesus in community. For many, membership in Ohio Yearly Meeting presented an opportunity to embrace an ancient heritage, a tradition that was on the verge of being lost. Some have gone so far as to adopt plain clothing and other traditional Quaker folkways. The deep tradition that Ohio Yearly Meeting has preserved over the years has been a source of strength for many of us.

Yet, in the very act of adopting the traditions embodied by Ohio Yearly Meeting, these newer Friends have inevitably introduced change into the community. Ohio Yearly Meeting is very different today than it was a generation ago. As our fellowship has grown and incorporated the lives and experiences of many new Friends, much has been gained, but there has also been loss. The Ohio Yearly Meeting that we experience today is a re-interpretation of traditional Quakerism; we are a hybrid of an isolated tradition rooted in an agricultural lifestyle and a rising generation that is increasingly urban and integrated into the wider culture. It is our prayer that these changes are serving to strengthen our community in the Lord, and to equip us for the work that Jesus has for us in this new century. We invite you to join us as we explore this new thing that God is doing in our midst!