CHAPTER 38
THE PROBLEM OF UNITY IN THE SOCIETY OF FRIENDS

EARLY in the twentieth century there appeared signs of growing unity between the various divisions of the Society of Friends in America. The historic lines of division between Orthodox, Hicksite and Conservative Friends no longer corresponded to real differences in the Society. Wide-open doors for service appeared in the modern world, which Friends could enter effectively only as a united Society, and American Friends found it impossible to explain satisfactorily to new groups of Friends in Europe and other parts of the world why they remained divided. The First World War created common problems and common opportunities for service for all branches of the Society which greatly quickened the consciousness of unity. Changing conditions made the problem of unity easier. A hundred years after the separation of 1827 the process of reunion was well under way. Friends were influenced by the growing spirit of Christian unity in the church at large; and the issues which resulted in the separation of 1827- 1928 were dead issues. The struggle for democracy in the Society had been won. The elders, so far from oppressing anyone, had come to be mere figureheads in most meetings. In the "pastoral" yearly meetings the chief power had passed into the hands of the ministers. The young Friends no longer had a grievance and. in all but a few yearly meetings, country Friends predominated in the membership and had the controlling voice in the meeting, if they chose to exercise it. The theology of Elias Hicks was never en

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The History of Quakerism
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