Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

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September 26, 2013

Moving toward acceptance: 19th and 20th century Quakers

(Continued)

In 1895, a Meeting House was established for Quaker worship on Avon Street in Lawrence. Many Quakers from Andover attended meetings there when they were young.

Anne Avery and Jane Griswold established a Quaker meeting in Andover in 1979. They did so from the desire to raise their children in the Quaker faith. As with all Quaker meetings since the 17th century, worship began at the home of a member.

During the mid-1980s, the Andover meeting moved to the Graham House at Phillips Academy, where First Day School (similar to Sunday school) was offered for children and pot luck dinners were organized.

By the turn of the century, Lawrence and Andover combined to become one meeting, which gathers weekly in Methuen and remains an active center of Quaker worship today.

Quakers have no clergy. They meet in silence and wait for the voice of God. George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, believed that God “appears to us through a divine inner voice, an inner light shared by all.” If a person feels moved to speak during meeting, then he or she may do so. All are equal at Quaker meeting and all are welcome.

In “A Quaker Book of Wisdom,” Robert Lawrence Smith states: “The basic humanistic Quaker precepts of valuing racial and gender equality, promoting social justice (and) nonviolence ... seem to me so modern, so relevant to today’s society ....“ And as he notes, these are ideas that began with Fox in the 17th century, yet they continue to have resonance today.

The Lawrence-Andover Quaker Meeting currently worships on Sundays at 2 p.m. at Forest Street Union Church in Methuen. For more information, visit www.lawrence-andover-quakers.org.

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