The Beginning of Friends
Friends, also known as Quakers, had their origin in seventeenth-century England. As a young man, George Fox longed for a genuine faith which he did not find in the cold, legalistic church of his time. He looked in vain for human help and studied the Bible so thoroughly that he learned much of it by memory. After four years of searching, he found inner peace through trusting Jesus Christ as his Savior. Soon he began to tell others about the Gospel of Christ as God’s way to free people from sin. As Fox shared the reality he had found, others responded and joined him in spreading the good news of salvation. Thus, a movement of Christian renewal was born in 1647, which was to become known in time as the Friends Church, or Society of Friends (because, at the time, forming a competitive church to the Church of England was against the law). A rapid period of growth began in June 1652 in northern England, which saw more than 60,000 people join the movement over a 12-year period. Friends and many other groups came under severe persecution in England and were jailed for their expression of faith. This motivated a large migration of Friends to the Americas. The first governors of New Jersey, Rhode Island, and the Carolinas, as well as the founder of Pennsylvania were all members of the Society of Friends.