Abbreviations used in Quaker indices.
[Note: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting is referred to as PYM.].
Acknowledgement : A formal, written statement of apology by an offending member to the meeting for having acted in a manner contrary to the rules of discipline.
Birthright member : A person whose parents are both members of the Society of Friends, thus making the person a Friend from birth.
Certificate of Removal : see under Removal.
Congregational Friend : see under Progressive Friend.
Conservative Friend : see under Wilburite.
Convinced Friend : A person who is not a birthright Friend who joins the Society.
Discipline : A book compiling rules of behavior for Friends bearing on all matters of church government such as qualification, description and transfer of membership; duties of ministers; methods of filing appeals; and attitudes toward marriage. The book of discipline is currently called Faith and Practice.
Disownment : The involuntary termination of membership in a meeting, when a member of a meeting acts contrary to established discipline. Reasons for disownment have changed over time, often reflecting contemporary societal mores. Today, very few people are disowned.
Elders : A small group of men and women appointed to assist and also oversee the ministers. There were monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings of ministers and elders to oversee the spiritual life of the Society of Friends.
Free Quakers : In 1781 some Quaker supporters of the Revolution, following their disownment, established an independent body called the Free Quakers. One of them, Samuel Wetherill (1786 - 1816), a Quaker minister, insisted that an individual Quaker could interpret truth in his own way and thus reject the peace testimony. The Free Quakers ceased to exist in 1836, partly because they could not define a common religious belief. Their meetinghouse, built in 1783 at the corner of Fifth and Arch Streets, still stands. Original minutes of the Free Quakers are at the American Philosophical Society; microfilm copies of the minutes as well as a collection of original correspondence are available at Friends Historical Library.
Gurneyite Friends (also called "Evangelical Friends") : Following the teachings of English Quaker minister and reformer, John Joseph Gurney (1788 - 1847), Gurneyites were evangelical Quakers believing in the direct and immediate work of the Holy Spirit based on systematic study of the Scriptures and in the centrality to Christianity of the doctrine of atonement. See also Wilburite Friends.
Half-Yearly Meeting : A meeting held twice a year, composed of monthly meetings within a convenient geographical area, and with the responsibilities of a quarterly meeting. See: Quarterly Meeting. These meetings are under the jurisdiction of a yearly meeting. Half-Yearly Meetings were established where distance between meetings made more frequent gathering difficult.
Hicksite Friends : The Friends called "Hicksite," resulting from the Separation of 1827, placed special emphasis on the Inward Light, a divine spark within each person. They objected to creedal tests and to the authority of ministers and elders. Originally inspired by New York minister Elias Hicks (1748 - 1830), these Friends became increasingly liberal in theology, social practices and church organization over the decades.
Independent meeting : A meeting for worship that has no formal tie with any established meeting, generally as a result of distance from another meeting.
Indulged meeting : A newly formed meeting for worship which requests and is granted the care and oversight of a local monthly meeting.
Joint meetings : Beginning at the end of the 19th century, men and women ceased to hold separate business meetings, meeting instead in joint session. There are a very few cases, mostly in small or remote meetings, of joint meetings for business of men and women Friends before the 1870s. Beginning in the 1870s, men and women began holding joint meetings for business. By the 1920s, the practice of separate meetings for men and women had ended throughout the Society of Friends.
Keithian Quakers : George Keith (1638 - 1716), a prominent Quaker leader and schoolmaster in Philadelphia, was an early opponent of slavery and criticized the close relationship of the leaders of PYM and the provincial authorities in Pennsylvania. He and his followers, sometimes called Christian Quakers, accused Philadelphia Quaker leaders of spiritualizing religion, making anything physical or fleshly nonessential. Keithians considered the bodily resurrection of Jesus to be a crucial aspect of Christian doctrine, while the majority within PYM considered the resurrection to be purely spiritual. Keithian Quakers ceased to meet early in the 18th century.
Laid down : Term used to denote the official discontinuance of a meeting.
Marriage certificate : A document containing the marriage vows, signed by the couple and by all in attendance. Marriage occurs during the meeting for worship after approval is obtained from the meetings of which the two people are members. Approval is based on a statement of good character and clearness from any other engagements. The clerk usually records a copy of the marriage certificate in the meeting's records.
Meeting for Sufferings : A committee first appointed in 1756 by PYM (New York in 1757, Baltimore in 1778) to raise and administer relief to Friends who suffered distress as a result of Indian conflicts or governmental persecution. Later, similar committees were appointed by quarterly and monthly meetings to assist Friends who encountered hardships due to their opposition to war and slavery. The Meeting for Sufferings also maintained contact with its counterpart in London which had been organized in 1676. The Meeting for Sufferings acted for the Yearly Meeting between sessions and later developed into Representative Meeting of the Yearly Meeting.
Meeting for worship : Meetings for worship within PYM have always been organized on the principle of silent waiting, where each person may pray, meditate, or "listen to the Light of God" within himself or herself and within the group. Vocal ministry arises when a member feels inwardly led to offer a specific message, prayer, or song. It is not necessary to be a member to attend such a meeting.
Membership register : Volume in which the monthly meeting records its members, often including information about births, deaths, marriages, and removals. Such composite registers were unusual prior to the 1827 Separation but became common thereafter.
Memorials : On the death of a minister or other important member, the monthly meeting might prepare a brief biography testifying to the spiritual value of this life. The memorial was read at the monthly meeting and forwarded to the quarterly and/or yearly meeting. This practice is no longer generally followed. Yearly Meetings also periodically published printed books of memorials, particularly in the second half of the 19th century.
Men's meeting : Monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings for business were held by men and women in separate sessions until the late 1800's and early 1900's when men and women gradually began to meet in joint session.
Ministers : Historically, men and women who were recognized as being unusually inspired by the Spirit of God and provided most of the vocal messages in meeting for worship. Ministers were formally designated or "recorded" by the monthly meeting, and regular meetings of ministers and elders, called Preparative Meetings of Ministers and Elders or Select Meeting were held to consider the spiritual life of the meeting. The practice of "recording" ministers has for the most part been discontinued in PYM.
Ministry and Counsel Committee : Committee which had care of the spiritual welfare of the meeting, particularly the meeting for worship. Ministry and Counsel committees were established in 1918 by Hicksite meetings, which no longer designated members as ministers or elders. The predecessor of Ministry and Counsel was the Preparative Meeting of Ministers and Elders.
Minutes : Official records of proceedings kept for all Quaker business meetings (preparative, monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings), along with their committees.
Monthly meeting : The basic unit of Quaker administration, which holds regular monthly business meetings. Only Quakers could participate. It has responsibility for care of members, authorizes removals and marriages, maintains discipline, considers the queries, manages meeting property, fosters social concerns, and reports regularly to the quarterly meeting. Business meetings in theory are held in a spirit of worship, and so are in effect meetings for worship for conducting business.
Nicholites : Religious movement with many similarities to Quakers which formed under the leadership of Joseph Nichols (ca. 1730 - 1770). A farmer from Delaware, Nichols underwent a spiritual transformation which caused him to preach and gather followers in Delaware and the eastern shore of Maryland in the 1760's. Nicholites called themselves "Friends," held meetings for worship in silence, valued plainness and simplicity, rejected oaths, opposed priests, freed their slaves, were pacifists, and conducted religious business in the Quaker manner. Most Nicholites became Quakers around 1800.
Orthodox friends : Members of a branch of Quakers resulting from the Separation of 1827 who were evangelical and stressed the Jesus Christ of history and reliance on the Bible as the authoritative source of religious truth.
Overseer : A member of committee of overseers responsible for the welfare and discipline of members of the monthly meeting.
Particular meeting : A formally-established meeting for worship under the care of a monthly meeting.
Preparative meeting : A regularly-organized business meeting of a single congregation which prepared business to be presented to the monthly meeting. The scope of business as recorded in its minutes was normally limited to responses to queries and matters of property and school oversight. Most preparative meetings within PYM have become monthly meetings or have been discontinued.
Primitive Friends : Small group of Wilburites, sometimes called Conservative Friends, which separated from PYM (Orthodox) in 1860 to form the General Meeting of Men and Women Friends for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. This General Meeting of Primitive Friends was based in Fallsington, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and continued to meet until 1949, when it merged into Falls Monthly Meeting (United) of PYM. Primitive Friends wanted to restore what they considered the primitive simplicity and purity of the Christian Church as expressed through the writings of early Quakers. They considered PYM (Orthodox) to be too closely identified with the evangelical views of English Quaker minister Joseph John Gurney and complained about laxity in discipline and neglect of traditional Quaker testimonies of plainness, pacifism, and rejection of oaths. Original records are at Haverford; microfilm copies are available at Friends Historical Library.
Progressive Friends : A reform movement which developed among Hicksite Friends in the 1840s, but also included many non-Quaker liberals and radicals. The largest group became formally organized as the Pennsylvania Yearly Meeting of Progressive Friends, which met at Longwood in Chester County, Pennsylvania, from 1853 to 1940. Progressive Friends advocated a religion of humanity which stressed the inherent goodness and perfectibility of humankind and promoted such reform causes as abolition of slavery, temperance, women's rights, opposition to capital punishment, prison reform, homestead legislation, pacifism, Indian rights, economic regulation, and practical and co-educational schooling. Proceedings of the annual meetings of the Pennsylvania Yearly Meetings of Progressive Friends were published from 1853 to 1905. Progressive Friends in Waterloo (New York) and Michigan also published Proceedings.
Quarterly meeting : Meetings for business held four times per year, attended by representatives of all monthly meetings in a county or region. It is an intermediary between the monthly and yearly meeting, serves as an appellate body for disciplinary matters, and considers problems too large for a local meeting to solve. A quarterly meeting holds the authority to establish or discontinue a monthly, preparative, or particular meeting for worship. It collects financial assessments from each monthly meeting in accordance with the quota established by PYM. Today, the business considered by the quarterly meeting has diminished, and the meetings mostly involve inspiration and fellowship.
Queries : A set of questions, revised periodically, which were to be answered in writing by preparative, monthly, and quarterly meetings and reported to the Yearly Meeting. The queries concern conduct of individuals and practices of the meetings and provide one means of assuring uniformity in discipline. Meetings of ministers and elders also responded to queries.
Representative meeting or committee : is appointed by and given administrative and executive authority to act for the Yearly Meeting between its annual sessions. Earlier names for this body were the Meeting for Sufferings and General Committee.
Removal : A certificate of removal is a document given to persons who are transferring their membership from one monthly meeting to another. Their removal testifies that they are members in good standing with the meetings they are leaving.
Separation of 1827/28 : As a result of a schism among Quakers in 1827-28. In Philadelphia, two Philadelphia Yearly Meetings were formed which were called informally Hicksite or "Race Street" and Orthodox or "Arch Street." In Baltimore, the bodies were distinguished as Stoney Run and Homewood. In New York Yearly Meeting they were informally called 15th Street and 20th Street.
Testimonies : Traditionally, Quakers developed a series of specific practices, often called testimonies which expressed ethical conduct of truthfulness, simplicity, equality, and peace. Testimonies include rejection of oaths, use of "thee" and "thou" in speech, plain dress, refusal to take off hats to social superiors, equality of men and women, opposition to slavery, and refusal to bear arms. Testimonies also can refer to official documents, frequently disownments and memorials, prepared by Quaker business meetings as part of what they considered witnessing to truth.
Traveling certificate or minute : A document issued by a meeting to a member in good standing (normally a recorded minister), allowing him or her to travel to other meetings to visit or preach.
United meeting : A monthly meeting affiliated with both Hicksite and Orthodox branches of the Society of Friends in the 20th century, before formal reunification of Yearly Meetings.
Wilburite Friends : Orthodox Quakers who identified with prominent Rhode Island Quaker minister John Wilbur (1774 - 1856) in his criticisms of English Quaker minister Joseph John Gurney (1788 - 1847). Wilburites, sometimes called Conservative Friends, emphasized the plain life, separation from the world, strict enforcement of the discipline, guidance by the Inward Light, and close adherence to writings of early Quakers. The differences led to major separations in New England and Ohio Yearly Meetings, and a minor separation in New York Yearly Meeting in the 1840s and 1850s. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (Orthodox) maintained a fragile unity, despite tensions between a Wilburite majority and a Gurneyite minority. A second series of splits for similar reasons occurred in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, resulting in Yearly Meetings of Conservative Friends.
Women's meeting : Separate business meetings for women alongside the men's meetings were held by preparative, monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings. Women appointed representatives, communicated with other women's meetings, granted or received certificates of removal, approved marriages for women members. The men's meeting rarely overruled the women's meetings on removals, marriages or questions regarding matters of discipline. Women usually had to work with much smaller funds than men's meetings. Gradually, beginning late in the 19th century, men and women met jointly to conduct business.
Worship and ministry : Name currently used for the committee responsible for the spiritual life of the meeting for worship and for the religious development of members of the meetings. Formerly the Meeting for Minister and Elders (or Ministry an Counsel committee in Hicksite meetings) had this responsibility.
Yearly meeting : A large autonomous body of Quakers, which meets for several days once a year. In theory, its decisions are binding on the monthly and quarterly meetings within its jurisdiction and on the committees and staff which carry out the work of the yearly meeting. It meets annually to conduct business, formulate the discipline, receive reports and concerns from its constituent meetings, review the state of the Society, and communicate with other yearly meetings and non-Quaker organizations.