Friends Church History
The Friends Church began more than three hundred years ago in England under the leadership of George Fox, a man who experienced a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and spent his life sharing this experience with others. Those early Friends made great contributions to the spiritual and social needs of their country, taking the lead in securing prison reforms, religious liberty, Christian education, and care for the suffering.
Before long the Friends (also called Quakers) began coming to the New World among many other colonists, and soon there were thousands of Friends in America. In 1681 the colony of Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn, a prominent English Quaker, as a refuge from persecution for fellow Quakers.
As other Americans moved west, so did the Friends, taking their faith with them. Among the first priorities for these pioneers was the establishment of a group for worship and a meeting house in which to conduct such worship. By 1812 Friends in Ohio had united to form Ohio Yearly Meeting of Friends. They held their annual meetings in the Mt. Pleasant Yearly Meeting House for many years. Later Damascus became the headquarters and place of meeting. Since 1965 the church has held its annual session in Canton.
In 1971 the name, Ohio Yearly Meeting, was changed. Now known as the Evangelical Friends Church - Eastern Region (EFC-ER), it participates actively in a larger group of Friends worldwide, Evangelical Friends International-North America (EFI-NA).