A. QUAKER HISTORY
THE ROOTS OF QUAKERISM
The Religious Society of Friends had its beginnings in mid-Seventeenth Century England. The movement grew out of the confusion and uncertainty which prevailed during the closing years of the Puritan Revolution and which culminated in the overthrow of the English monarchy. During the long Medieval period, the English Church, like other national churches throughout western Europe, had been subject to the authority of the Pope and the Church of Rome. However, throughout the later Middle Ages dissident groups such as the Lollards in Fourteenth Century England questioned the teaching and authority of the Roman Church. All of northern and western Europe was profoundly affected by the Protestant Reformation. Its particular origin may be traced to about 1519 when Martin Luther began his protest in Germany. While Lutheranism supplanted Roman Catholic control in much of north central Europe, another Protestant movement led by John Calvin became dominant in the Netherlands, in Scotland, and among the Huguenots in France. The Anabaptists constituted still another Protestant element. In England, however, the Protestant movement had a somewhat different history. About 1534 King Henry VIII broke with the Roman church, with the immediate personal purpose of dissolving his first marriage and entering into another. As a result of this break with Rome, the numerous abbeys throughout England were closed and plundered and their extensive land holdings were distributed among the king's favorites. The Catholic church enjoyed a period of reascendancy during the reign of Queen Mary, only to be replaced as the established church by the Church of England during the long reign of Queen Elizabeth I. This situation continued during the reign of King James I and during the early years of the reign of King Charles I, although Calvinist influence was growing both within and outside the Church of England. Other independent groups such as the Baptists were also forming at this time. With the triumph of the Puritan cause and the overthrow and execution in 1649 of King Charles I, Oliver Cromwell became Protector. For a time relative religious freedom prevailed in England. The first leader of the Quaker movement was George Fox. He was born in Leicestershire, in the English Midlands, in 1642. His family's religious tradition may have extended back to the suppressed Lollard movement, for he observes in his Journal that his mother was "of the stock of the martyrs." As a young man, George Fox earnestly sought to live a life of purity and love. While searching in vain for spiritual support and guidance from the established religious groups, an inward transformation experience opened to him the knowledge that the love and power of god were available to all people without the help of priests, ministers, or outward sacraments. Fox's Journal tells that that revelaton came to him through the words "There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition." Fox began to draw together little bands of people committed to the same beliefs and practices. George Fox and others who shared his new faith believed their religion was more than direct communion with God. They believed it also meant power to live according to the principles they had accepted as the teaching of God. Though they fully accepted as indispensible the basic Christian principles of grace and forgiveness of sins, they also asserted unequivocally their conviction that they were called to live by the highest of moral principles. The Sermon on the Mount and the rest of the teachings of Jesus, as well as the openings they felt God gave them in their own lives, were to be obeyed completely. Their principles were to govern not only their acts, but their attitudes as well. Hence the classic statement of George Fox when he was asked to accept an appointment in the Army: "I told them I knew whence all wars arose, even from the lusts, according to James's doctrine, and that I lived in the virtue of that life and power that took away the occasion of all wars." Though Fox and his early followers did not see immediately the full implications of these teachings , they soon began to see the revolutionary directions their lives would have to take. Abandonment of war and violence; the practice of absolute integrity; the refusal to give false honor to anyone; simplicity of life; respect for the equality of all people before
God: these practices and convictions gradually became the hallmark of the new movement. Geore Fox began his public ministry in the English Midlands in 1647. The first results of his efforts were not spectacular, but during the next five years he found a number of individuals who were to help him proclaim the Quaker message. These included Elizabeth Hooton, James Nayler , William Dewsbury, Richard Farnsworth, and Thomas Aldham.
The Quaker movement did not achieve significant momentum until Fox journeyed into the northwest Lake Country of England in the early summer of 1652. He established a base in Lancashire at Swarthmore Hall through the hospitality of Margaret Fell and her husband, Justice Thomas Fell. From Swarthmore Hall, the Quaker message was quickly carried throughout England and Wales and to a lesser extent into Scotland. Under the leadership of William Edmundson there was a widespread convincement among English settlers in Ireland. Other messengers gained adherents in the Netherlands and in the low country of northern Germany. By 1655 and 1656 the first Publishers of Truth had reached Barbados in the West Indies. About the same time some had come to New England, to the Chesapeake Bay area of Maryland, and to the Tidewater area of lower Virginia. A few years later the Quakers had become established in New Amsterdam (now New York). By 1668 there were Quakers living in eastern North Carolina. From the beginning, the new religious movement faced a great deal of persecution. George Fox himself was jailed many times. Local priests and magistrates were often hostile to Quakers in their parishes and jurisdictions. Friends' refusal to pay church tithes often resulted in severe economic losses. Persecution tended to be even more severe in New England. Four Friends died as martyrs, hanged on Boston Common for the crime of preaching Quakerism in Puritan Massachusetts. In Italy, at least one of the Publishers of Truth was put to death by the inquisition, and others suffered long imprisonment. Within Cromwell's England, however, there was no widely enforced national policy of persecution of religious dissenters. Only following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 did severe persecution begin on a national scale. It is estimated that between 1662 and 1688 about 450 Friends died in prison and another 15,000 suffered imprisonment, severe fines, or both. Not until 1666, following release from a long imprisonment, did George Fox begin a serious campaign for the establishment of Friends meetings for business and discipline. Before this time, Friends had met only sporadically to establish church policy. Many English and Irish meetings have records which date from 1666-1667. The Meeting for Sufferings in Britain Yearly Meeting came into being about 1675 as a kind of executive committee to provide relief for Friends and their families suffering from persecution and to publicize information concerning acts of injustice and cruelty. The first queries were questionnaires circulated to ascertain the status and needs of persecuted Friends; only much later did the queries begin to inquire into matters of faith and discipline.
QUAKER SETTLEMENT IN NORTH AMERICA
Friends were settling in the Jerseys during the 1670s, and as early as 1672 Friends were granted positions of authority in the governments of East and West Jersey. Migration of Friends from the British Isles to America grew to significant levels only after 1681, however, when William Penn received a grant of a large portion of land from the British Crown. The grant encompassed much of present-day Pennsylvania and Delaware. A large Quaker community developed in the Delaware Valley area, centered around the new city of Philadelphia. A haven from persecution for Friends, Pennsylvania became a "Holy Experiment" in practicing the Quaker faith. During the colonial period, Friends were a controlling force politically and numerically in parts of New England , especially in Rhode Island. Early in the colonial period they also exercised political influence in North Carolina. Friends in Virginia often struggled with an unfriendly provincial government. The influx of new Quaker settlers from Pennsylvania served to strengthen the Society of Friends in Virginia. At the time of the American Revolution, there was significant Quaker movement into Ontario in Canada. In the succeeding years of the American colonial period, from about 1725 to 1780, the great tide of Quaker migration extended southward from Pennsylvania through western Maryland to northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley, into the Piedmont area of North Carolina, and into the back country of South Carolina and Georgia. In the years following the American Revolution, Quaker settlers found their way into eastern Tennessee and southwestern Pennsylvania. Early in the Nineteenth Century, Friends joined the great migration to the area known as the Northwest Territory. The first significant Quaker settlements there were established shortly after 1800 in the vicinity of Belmont County in eastern Ohio and in the Miami River Valley in southwestern Ohio. Some of these Friends came from Pennsylvania, New York, and New England, but the majority seem to have moved from Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia. The Friends from the Southern states, most of whom had freed their slaves by 1780, were finding it increasingly difficult to protect these former slaves and to make a living in an economy based on slave labor. By 1810, the Quaker settlements were spreading into Indiana, and by 1825 they had reached the Illinois border. After the first half-century of rapid growth, the Quaker movement became more stable in numbers and began to draw into close-knit communities insulated as far as possible from the rest of the world. This resulted in an early emphasis on Quaker schools. Acceptance of non-Quakers through marriage was discouraged, and requirements for membership became increasingly rigid and legalistic. As a consequence, the Society disowned thousands of members for infractions of Friends discipline, and uncounted others withdrew voluntarily in search of greater freedom and opportunity to express their faith. The Revolutionary War and the Civil War presented difficult challenges for Friends, and the peace testimony of the Society was not consistently maintained.
DIVISIONS AMONG FRIENDS
The tendency to withdraw from the world had weakened Quakers in some ways and made them vulnerable to revolutionary forces in the larger society. Increased internal rigidity expressed itself in doctrinal disputes and in disagreements about the proper pattern of life. Whereas early Friends had found unity in their experience of a living divine presence in their worship and in commitment to lives based on obedience to God and love of neighbors, by 1800 dissension and disunity began to break the bonds of love and fellowship. In the United States the first great division came in 1827 in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, followed by similar divisions in four other Yearly Meetings in 1828. The general cause was a theological difference between the followers of Elias Hicks, a minister whose message had a Unitarian emphasis, and the orthodox leadership of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, who adhered to the Trinitarian teachings of the time. There were three specific points of contention:
(1) A difference between the authoritarianism of the prevailing Yearly Meeting establishment and the greater emphasis by Hicks and his associates on more democratic church government;
(2) The aversion of the rural followers of Hicks to the more affluent lifestyle of the city Quakers; and
(3) The increasing insistence by urban Friends upon correct evangelical doctrine as opposed to the more open mysticism of the much more numerous rural Quakers who were oriented toward a non-creedal faith, seeking immediate guidance of the Light Within. A second division was the Gurney-Wilbur separation occasioned by differences in the responses of American Quakers of the Orthodox meetings to teachings of Joseph John Gurney of England, who spent much time in Friends Meetings in this country beginning in 1837. Gurney's theological and evangelical interpretation of Quakerism departed from the established faith and practice of Friends. In response to Gurney's teachings, some groups of Friends under the leadership of John Wilbur of New England took a strong stand in favor of the traditional testimonies and principles. The first phase of this separation began in New England in 1845 and spread to Ohio in 1854. A later phase of this separation began in Iowa and Western yearly meetings in 1877. Kansas Yearly Meeting followed in 1879, and Canada Yearly Meeting (centered in Ontario) separated soon thereafter. North Carolina Yearly Meeting separated in 1904. The seven Wilburite and Conservative Yearly Meetings were bound together by an exchange of epistles and intervisitation. Although sympathy for the Wilburites was strong in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (Orthodox), there was a minority who supported the Gurneyites. In order to avoid another separation in Philadelphia, that Yearly Meeting suspended correspondence with other Yearly Meetings for many years. As the ninetheenth century drew to a close, many Gurneyite meetings adopted a programmed form of worship with paid pastoral leadership and participated in the prevailing Protestant church culture. In 1887 they joined together in an association known as the Five Years Meeting and later as the Friends United Meeting. The Gurneyite Friends were active in the mission movement and established mission fields in such places as Jamaica, Cuba, Palestine, and very successfully in Kenya. Gurneyite Friends in the Philadelphia area supported mission work in Japan. The history of the Hicksite yearly meetings was rather uneventful in the latter part of the nineteenth century. They co-operated with other Friends in the concern for the welfare of American Indians and also assisted with education and relief for the liberated slaves following the Civil War. However, the membership of the Hicksite Meetings tended to decline as the century came to a close. In 1902 the Friends General Conference was organized as a means of mutual support and encouragement, especially for Friends residing in remote situations.
FRIENDS IN IOWA
The movement of Friends into the Northwest Territory brought about the establishment of Ohio Yearly Meeting by Baltimore Yearly Meeting in 1813. In 1821 Indiana Yearly Meeting was set off from Ohio Yearly Meeting. The first Quaker settlement in Iowa began in 1835 when the Isaac Pidgeon family came to Henry County in southeastern Iowa. The settlement grew rapidly, and soon Salem Preparative Meeting was set up by Vermilion Monthly Meeting in Illinois. Salem Monthly Meeting was recognized in 1838 by Western Quarterly Meeting of Indiana Yearly Meeting. As Quaker settlements formed in surrounding areas to the north and west of Salem, Pleasant Plain Indulged Meeting became Pleasant Plain Monthly Meeting in 1842. Six years later Pleasant Plain Quarterly Meeting was set off from Western Quarterly Meeting of Indiana. The earliest period of Iowa Quaker history was not without its tensions. Beginning about 1840, a conflict arose in Indiana Yearly Meeting concerning how closely Friends should be involved in the abolitionist movement of the time. The leadership of Indiana Yearly Meeting was inclined to discourage close collaboration with the abolitionist effort, and even sought to maintain cordial relations with national leaders such as Henry Clay who countenanced slavery. This attitude caused fervent abolitionists to withdraw from Indiana Yearly Meeting in 1843 and form the Indiana Yearly Meeting of Abolitionist Friends. A small Abolitionist Friends Meeting was established at Salem, Iowa, which continued for a number of years. Eventually the increasing popular sentiment against slavery led a number of the Abolitionist Friends to feel comfortable in rejoining the larger body of Friends. A number of Friends at Salem were quite active in the Underground Railroad, assisting fugitive slaves from Missouri to flee to the northern states and to Canada. As the Quaker migration spread to northern and western Iowa, Quaker settlers' cabins became havens of refuge for many fugitive slaves in the years leading up to the Civil War. Among the Meetings established as Quaker settlement proceeded across Iowa were Spring Creek Monthly Meeting near Oskaloosa in 1851; Three Rivers Monthly Meeting centered at Ackworth in 1852; Red Cedar Monthly Meeting near Springdale in 1853; Winneshiek Monthly Meeting in northeastern Iowa in 1855; and Bear Creek Monthly Meeting in west central Iowa in 1856. By 1860 there were five quarterly meetings in Iowa consisting of 45 local meetings in 18 different counties.
B . IOWA YEARLY MEETING HISTORY
In response to continued requests from Friends in Iowa, Indiana Yearly Meeting authorized the establishment of Iowa Yearly Meeting, "to be held in the vicinity of Oskaloosa in Mahaska County on Fifth Day preceding the second First Day in the Ninth Month, 1863." Accordingly, the first Iowa Yearly Meeting sessions were held at the appointed time at Spring Creek Meeting about two miles northeast of the present Oskaloosa city limits. Beginning in 1851, a settlement of Friends began to form in eastern Linn County, Iowa, extending into western Jones County. These Friends came primarily from eastern Ohio, where they had been intimately involved in the Gurneyite-Wilburite controversy and were generally sympathetic with the Wilburite element. They soon organized Linn Preparative Meeting under the direction of Red Cedar Monthly Meeting centered near Springdale in Cedar County, Iowa. In 1853 Caleb Gregg, a recognized minister of some ability, moved with his family to the Linn County settlement. When his Wilburite views became known to the Friends at Red Cedar, overseers of Red Cedar Monthly Meeting drew up a complaint against Gregg and asked Linn Preparative Meeting to deal with him. When Linn Preparative Meeting declined to discipline Gregg, the overseers persuaded the Monthly Meeting to treat with Gregg and to visit Linn Preparative Meeting. This situation led to the disowning of Caleb Gregg in Tenth Month 1854 and the laying down of Linn Preparative Meeting by Red Cedar Monthly Meeting. At about the same time, on Ninth Month 5, 1854, Ohio Yearly Meeting
(Orthodox) separated into Gurneyite and Wilburite branches. Ohio Wilburite Friends moving westward were encouraged to leave their membership certificates with Ohio (Wilburite) Monthly Meetings, particularly with Stillwater Monthly Meeting. This evidently caused some dissatisfaction among Wilburite Friends already settled in Iowa. There seems to have been some attempt, probably led by Caleb Gregg, to organize a separate Iowa Yearly Meeting (Wilburite), but this attempt was not successful. On Fifth Month 21, 1862, Hickory Grove Monthly Meeting was organized. It had been set off from Stillwater Monthly Meeting, Ohio Yearly Meeting (Wilburite), on Second Month 2, 1862. The Monthly Meeting consisted of Hickory Grove Preparative Meeting, located 2-1/2 miles southeast of West Branch, Iowa, and Springville Preparative Meeting in Linn County, Iowa. On Eleventh Month 18, 1865, Springville Monthly Meeting was set off from Hickory Grove Monthly Meeting. Springville Monthly Meeting came to consist of the older Hopewell Meeting located east of Viola and south of Stone City, and Whittier Meeting northwest of the town of Springville. Hopewell Meeting, which had been organized as a Preparative Meeting on First Month 9, 1867, was laid down in 1908. In 1912 the Hopewell meetinghouse was dismantled and shipped by rail to Paullina, Iowa, where it was reassembled to serve the Paullina Meeting at Mapleside. Whittier Meeting continued and became quite large in membership in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The name of Springville Monthly Meeting was changed to Whittier Monthly Meeting in 1958. Coal Creek Monthly Meeting, located about nine miles south of What Cheer in Keokuk County, Iowa, was organized as a preparative meeting under Pennsville Monthly Meeting, Ohio. Coal Creek was granted monthly meeting status under Pennsville Quarterly Meeting, Ohio, in 1864. In its earlier years, Coal Creek also had a substantial membership. In 1868 the Hickory Grove, Springville, and Coal Creek monthly meetings were organized into Hickory Grove Quarterly Meeting under Ohio Yearly Meeting (Wilburite). Friends who had migrated from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Iowa began meeting in Quaker homes in Pasadena, California, in 1886. In 1893 these Friends built a meetinghouse. Hickory Grove Quarterly Meeting (then still a part of Ohio Yearly Meeting) established Pasadena Monthly Meeting in 1894. A large committee from the Hickory Grove meetings in Iowa went to California to attend the official opening of Pasadena Monthly Meeting. As early as 1870 there was interest in establishing a boarding school for the youth of the Hickory Grove Quarter, and in 1875 twelve acres of land were purchased adjacent to the Hickory Grove meetinghouse as a site for such a school. However, way did not open for the construction of Scattergood Friends School until 1890. Friends of Kansas Yearly Meeting (Conservative) seem to have supported Scattergood in some measure during its early years.
IOWA YEARLY MEETING OF FRIENDS (CONSERVATIVE)
The Iowa Yearly meeting of Friends continued to grow in membership and in geographic scope in the years following the Civil War. However, dissatisfaction with traditional Quaker discipline, accompanied by the attraction of an evangelical movement surging through the larger church groups of the Midwest, intensified in this time of post-war adjustment. Beginning about 1867, an evangelical emphasis began to dominate the Yearly Meeting, an emphasis which would tend to revolutionize Quaker faith and practice. The period saw the introduction of revival meetings characterized by great emotional fervor and the promotion of a theology at variance with traditional Friends teaching. Matters came to a climax in Bear Creek Quarter during an especially emotional General Meeting at the close of the regular early spring Quarterly
Meeting. At that time, a group of Friends concerned to maintain the
traditional Quaker way of life withdrew from the meeting. They took measures to set up separate "conservative" monthly meetings at Summit Grove near Stuart and at North Branch near Earlham, as well as a separate Bear Creek Quarterly Meeting. That autumn, when the Conservative Friends presented their credentials at the Iowa Yearly Meeting at Oskaloosa, their credentials were not accepted. The Conservative Friends then retired to a nearby Baptist Church and proceeded to organize a separate Conservative yearly meeting. Within the next year, a small group of Friends in the vicinity of Ackworth, in Warren County, withdrew from the larger body of Friends there and formed Salem Quarterly Meeting of Friends (Conservative). Two monthly meetings were established in the new quarter, Salem Monthly meeting in Henry County and Pilot Grove Monthly Meeting in Lee County. In the years leading up to 1883, a number of Friends in the vicinity of West Branch and Springdale withdrew from the larger body of Friends. By Eighth Month 11, 1883, they had organized a separate Springdale Monthly Meeting. These Friends found warm acceptance when they attended the next sessions of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). A meetinghouse of sufficient size to accommodate the Conservative Yearly Meeting sessions was soon constructed in West Branch. From 1881 to 1913, Yearly Meeting sessions were held alternately at West Branch and at North Branch near Earlham. Springdale Monthly Meeting changed its name to West Branch Monthly Meeting in 1888. The Friends of Stavanger Meeting in Marshall County also had been dissatisfied with membership in the larger body of Friends. After a congenial visit to Conservative Yearly Meeting sessions in the autumn of 1884, this group of Friends of Norwegian background were welcomed into the Yearly Meeting in 1885. In 1893. Stavanger Meeting established an Indulged Meeting at Norway, Iowa. In the autumn of 1885 a new Monthly Meeting was organized near Paullina in O 'Brien County in northwestern Iowa. A vigorous Friends community developed there. For a number of years, from 1886 to 1924, the Meeting supported an elementary school and an Academy where students could receive the early years of their high school education. Iowa Yearly Meeting first met at Paullina in 1913. In 1890, at the request of Stavanger Monthly Meeting, Stavanger School was founded by the Yearly Meeting. The building erected near the meetinghouse provided for boarding and day pupils, with special provision for helping Norwegian immigrants. By 1914, it seemed that this school had fulfilled its purpose, and it ceased operating. While there was growth in certain communities in these early decades of the Yearly Meeting, there was decline in others. In far southeastern Iowa, Pilot Grove Monthly Meeting was laid down in 1887 and Salem Monthly Meeting was laid down by 1892. The remaining members residing in the Salem Quarter area were transferred to West Branch Monthly Meeting. In Bear Creek Quarterly Meeting in west-central Iowa, Summit Grove Monthly Meeting near the town of Stuart was laid down in 1891 and its membership attached to North Branch Monthly Meeting at Earlham. In 1908, North Branch Monthly Meeting was laid down and its membership, including South River Indulged Meeting, was attached to Bear Creek Monthly Meeting.
THE EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY: WARTIME CHALLENGES
During the years leading up to the first World War, the two quarterly meetings of Iowa Yearly Meeting served a vital function in uniting the scattered groups of Friends. Bear Creek Quarter, after 1908, consisted of Bear Creek Monthly Meeting, South River Indulged Meeting, and Paullina Monthly Meeting, which had been transferred from West Branch Quarterly Meeting in 1904. West Branch Quarterly Meeting included West Branch Monthly Meeting and Stavanger Monthly Meeting. The 1917 sessions of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative), held at Bear Creek, were momentous. It was at this time that the membership of Hickory Grove Quarter was transferred from Ohio Yearly Meeting to Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative), more than doubling the membership of the latter yearly meeting. Scattergood School also came under the care of Iowa Yearly Meeting at that time. Of even more immediate concern to the Yearly Meeting than the organizational changes was the challenge of a World War. Within the following year, a number of the young men of the Yearly Meeting took the position of conscientious objection. When they were drafted into the armed forces, their steadfast resistance to military service of any kind resulted in severe hardship and suffering in the military camps for a number of them. Shortly before the close of the war, several were furloughed for farm work in the United States. Others were furloughed to the American Friends Service Committee for reconstruction work in France. That experience opened new vistas for many concerning the Quaker mission and message in the modern world. Following World War I, the life of the Yearly Meeting continued on a fairly even course, but Friends faced new challenges with the onset of the Great Depression, beginning in 1929. In the years following, the elementary schools which had operated under the care of the Monthly Meetings were all closed. Scattergood School was closed in 1931, but the campus and buildings were preserved. In 1920, Hickory Grove Monthly Meeting merged into West Branch Monthly Meeting. In 1928, Kansas Yearly Meeting (Conservative) was laid down. Its one remaining Monthly Meeting, Spring River near Galena, in Cherokee County, Kansas, was attached to Bear Creek Quarterly Meeting. Spring River Meeting became inactive around 1960 and was laid down in 1967. World War II presented a new challenge to Friends who sought to uphold the peace testimony. During the years from 1941 to 1946, a number of young men associated with Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) participated in the Civilian Public Service program. In 1948, when confronted with registration under the new Selective Service and Training Act, some young Iowa Quakers declined to register and received 18-month sentences in Federal prisons. Most were paroled after six or eight months. From 1939 to 1943 the idle campuis of Scattergood School served as a hostel for war refugees from Europe who were relocating in the United States. The hostel grew out of a concern expressed by the Young Friends of Iowa Yearly Meeting at their 1939 gathering and was operated jointly by both Iowa yearly meetings and the American Friends Service Committee. In the autumn of 1944, and in response to another initiative from the Young Friends of the Yearly Meeting, Scattergood School was re-opened by Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) in co-operation with some Friends from Iowa Yearly Meeting (FUM). The service and personal sacrifice of many dedicated teachers, students, alumni, and Scattergood Committee members have enabled Scattergood Friends School to survive vicissitudes and difficulties. The school promises to continue as a vital educational community well into the Twenty-first Century.
THE LATER TWENTIETH CENTURY: REINVENTING THE YEARLY MEETING
In addition to the Scattergood Hostel, Friends saw a need for a relocation program for Japanese-Americans in the US internment program. Opposition in the West Branch community deterred AFSC from bringing Japanese-Americans to Scattergood, but prominent Friends in Des Moines from both Iowa yearly meetings joined forces toward that end. Their work was partly responsible for the establishment of a regional AFSC office in Des Moines. The office administers AFSC programs in Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas, and Wyoming. With the expansion of the regional program, an Iowa Program Committee was established in 1979 to oversee the AFSC generalist program in Iowa. Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) members continue to be prominent in this program. In 1998, the AFSC North Central Region was expanded to include Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, and the name was changed to the Central Region. In 1958, the Bear Creek and Hickory Grove-West Branch quarterly meetings began to meet at the same place for the spring Quarterly Meeting. They typically hald separate business sessions in the afternoon and a joint talk or discussion in the evening. Friends began to want a freer schedule and more time for fellowship, so in 1973 the gathering that came to be known as Midyear Meeting assumed its present format: worship on Seventh Day and First Day mornings with a program in the afternoon and evening of Seventh Day. No formal business session is scheduled, but the Yearly Meeting Peace and Social Concerns and Interim committees usually meet at Midyear Meeting. Since 1976 Midyear Meeting has been hosted by Bear Creek Monthly Meeting. The role of the regional quarterly meetings diminished as participation in Yearly Meeting sessions became more practical for Friends from around the state and as Midyear Meeting gained popularity. Bear Creek Quarterly Meeting was laid down in 1982, and Hickory Grove-West Branch Quarterly Meeting was laid down in 1988. Friends in the former Hickory Grove-West Branch Quarter continue to meet as the Eastern Iowa Friends Gathering for worship , fellowship, and a program each spring and fall. Iowa Yearly Meeting sessions were held at Paullina for the first time in 1913 and at Whittier for the first time in 1919. Beginning in 1921, sessions of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) rotated among three sites: Whittier, Paullina, and Scattergood Friends School near West Branch. Sessions were hosted by Pasadena Monthly Meeting in 1937 and by Bear Creek in in 1946. The 1970 sessions were held at the Interfaith Spiritual Center at Colfax, east of Des Moines. The Whittier and Paullina communities found it increasingly impractical to host Yearly Meeting sessions as their active local memberships dwindled. Whittier ceased hosting Yearly Meeting after the 1985 sessions. Paullina continued to host the sessions every third tear through 1995. Yearly Meeting sessions have been held at Scattergood every year since 1996. Iowa Yearly Meeting Friends (Conservative) was legally incorporated in 1973, and the Scattergood Friends School Foundation was incorporated in 1989. In 1982, the Yearly Meeting began to experiment with a shorter annual session and now meets from Third Day evening through the noon meal on First Day. The schedule also incorporates more programming and shorter business sessions. The Iowa Peace Education program was devolved from AFSC and in 1976 was reconstituted as the Iowa Peace Network. IPN is supported by Friends of both Iowa Yearly Meetings together with the Methodist Conference of Iowa, Iowa Mennonites, and the Church of the Brethren.
During the Vietnam conflict, Friends supported both registrants and non-registrants. The Yearly Meeting asked for numbers of COs in the various Monthly Meetings. That practice was discontinued in the mid-1970s. North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative) proposed a general conference of Conservative Friends in 1973. The Paullina Monthly Meeting hosted such a gathering in 1976, with 11 Friends from Ohio and six from North Carolina joining with Iowa Friends. This group continues to meet in Ohio, but few Iowa Friends participate. Since the 1970s, many Iowa Friends have attended the annual Gathering of Friends General Conference. Beginning in the mid-1990s the program of Iowa Yearly Meeting sessions has taken on a workshop format somewhat similar to that of the FGC Gathering. A number of Friends in Iowa Yearly Meeting have formed a singing froup, The Meadowlarks, that gathers four times a year at various locales to sing for an entire wekend and also gathers at Midyear and Yearly Meeting sessions. Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) experienced both decline and growth in the latter half of the Twentieth Century. Membership in most rural meetings followed the general decline in the rural population. Coal Creek Monthly Meeting near What Cheer was laid down in 1986 when its membership became too small to sustain a meeting. Monthly meetings existed briefly in Cedar Rapids from 1960 to 1976 and in Marshalltown from 1974 to 1978. Participation in the Pasadena, California, meeting dwindled to a single monthly meeting for worship in the 1980s, and interaction with the rest of the Yearly Meeting had also diminished. Pasadena withdrew from Iowa Yearly Meeting in 1985 because of theological differences with some members of the Yearly Meeting. The Pasadena meeting was laid down a few years later. Growth in the same period occurred primarily through the addition of new urban meetings, especially those associated with college campuses: Des Moines: In 1939, a few people began meeting for unprogrammed worship in the home of a Friends family in Des Moines. The group continued to meet informally for about ten years and grew with the coming of the AFSC office and the Japanese Hostel. By 1950, the group was meeting for worship and a joint Sunday School at First Friends Church. In December 1953 (though the relationship with First Friends Church remained harmonious), the group decided to move to the Jewish Community Center where they could meet at a more convenient hour and could conduct their own business meetings. In 1954 the Des Moines Friends Meeting (later Des Moines Valley Friends
Meeting) was recognized as a monthly meeting by the FWCC. The meeting moved to the Easter Seal Center in 1956 and met there until the present meetinghouse was completed in 1966. The meetinghouse is an integral part of Friends House, the headquarters of the Central Region of AFSC. The Des Moines Valley Monthly Meeting joined the Bear Creek Quarter in 1961.
Ames: Iowa (FUM) Friends from the Bangor area established a church in Ames in the first decade of the Twentieth Century. This church was laid down, and groups of Friends met sporadically for unprogrammed worship. These meetings became more frequent beginning in 1937. In 1939, the group began to meet regularly in the Memorial Union on the Iowa State College campus and later at various other churches. During the later years of World War II, the meeting was strengthened by the attendance of some of the Civilian Public Service men stationed at the Iowa State Agronomy Farm. To enable the meeting to have closer cooperation with other Friends in Iowa, the Ames Meeting became a preparatory meeting in 1954 under the care of Des Moines Valley Meeting. The Ames Monthly Meeting joined the Bear Creek Quarter in 1963. Iowa City: Students and faculty at the University of Iowa met for worship in the 1940s and held their first monthly meeting for business in 1950. Affiliation with FWCC came in 1954. The Iowa Memorial Union on campus was the regular meeting place from 1950 until a meetinghouse was purchased in 1966. The membership has come from particularly diverse religious backgrounds through the years and includes foreign students and refugees. Iowa City Meeting united in membership with Hickory Grove-West Branch Quarter in 1965.
Lincoln: The first gathering of the present Lincoln (Nebraska) Meeting of Friends was in the fall of 1946 in the home of a Quaker family. It was formally established as an independent meeting under the care of FWCC in 1948. Lincoln Meeting was active in organizing the Missouri Valley Conference in 1955. After meeting at the YWCA and other locations, the group bought a meetinghouse in 1960. The meeting was accepted into Iowa Yearly Meeting through the Bear Creek Quarter in 1966. Penn Valley: The group that came to be known as Penn Valley Meeting first met in 1942. Emma Cadbury, a Philadelphia Quaker, came to Kansas City to meet with several persons who had expressed interest in starting a Friends meeting. The group was put under the care of 57th Street Meeting in Chicago. In 1949, Penn Valley became an independent meeting under FWCC. It also joined other meetings in organizing the Missouri Valley Conference in the 1950s. In the mid-70s, FWCC discontinued its practice of serving as caretaker of independent meetings. Because of common interests and proximity, Penn Valley Monthly Meeting applied to Bear Creek Quarter and was admitted in 1978. The group met initially at Linwood and Main in Kansas City and later in the Unitarian Church. In 1951, a member of the meeting offered the basement rooms of her apartment building as a meeting place. This served as Penn Valley's home until 1973. During the Vietnam War, the rooms also served as an AFSC office and as a meeting place for other groups opposed to the war. In 1973, Penn Valley purchased a meetinghouse. The meeting continues to share its meeting place with other community groups and with the AFSC's Kansas City office.
Omaha: William A. and Lois Mott of Council Bluffs, Iowa, were part of the Omaha-Council Bluffs Monthly Meeting of Friends, which held regular worship and business meetings in the 1950s and early 1960s. That group later discontinued monthly meetings but continued to worship in homes, and later in a religious center near the University of Nebraska at Omaha. The worship group became a preparative meeting under the care of Lincoln Monthly Meeting in 1991. Close ties to Lincoln Friends led the Omaha meeting to seek membership in Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative), which was granted in 1995.
Decorah: A Northeast Fellowship of Friends began meeting in Decorah in the early 1970s. Many of these Friends were active in Northern Yearly Meeting, and there was a certain amount of interaction with both that yearly meeting and Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). During the 1980s, they met (still for unprogrammed worship) as a preparatory meeting under the care of Hesper Meeting of Iowa Yearly Meeting (FUM). The Decorah meeting purchased a meetinghouse in 1995. Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) granted membership to Decorah Monthly Meeting in 1995. As of 1999, eleven monthly meetings comprise Iowa Yearly Meeting
(Conservative): Ames; Bear Creek, near Earlham; Decorah; Des Moines Valley, in Des Moines; Iowa City; Lincoln, Nebraska; Omaha, Nebraska; Paullina; Penn Valley, in Kansas City, Missouri; West Branch; and Whittier. Members of worship groups in Cedar Falls, Grinnell, Dubuque, and Marshalltown participate in some activities of the Yearly Meeting.