The state of our society – 1921 New England Yearly Meeting Newport, RI

At one time (and still, among Ohio Conservative Friends) New England Yearly Meeting answered the queries in our book of discipline directly, in order to demonstrate our current condition.  I find these reports fascinating, and of great encouragement to me when I see some of the same Joys and challenges we have today.

Full 1921 minutes can be found here:

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

At New England Yearly Meeting of Friends held at Westerly, Rhode Island, with Public Meetings for Worship on First Day the 5th of Sixth Month, 1921, and on Second Day the 6th with those for Discipline.


Ans. 1. All our religious meetings for Worship and Discipline have been held, with the exception of three. One report states that the hour for gathering could be better observed with profit to the meeting. The conduct of members has been satisfactory, except a few instances of sleep, and a reverent attitude has been maintained.

Ans. 2. Love and unity are well maintained, detraction is guarded against, and there are no differences of which we have knowledge.

Ans. 3. Friends show an increasing concern to uphold our testimony to a waiting, spiritual worship and to a free gospel ministry, exercised under the immediate authority and anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Ans. 4. Friends are concerned to bring up those under their direction in ‘simplicity of speech, deportment and apparel, to restrain them from pernicious reading and harmful influences of worldly associations. They are generally exemplary in these respects themselves.

The Holy Scriptures are frequently read in most families.

Ans. 5. The manufacture, sale and use of all intoxicating liquors are avoided. Friends desire to abstain from all harmful diversions and to keep in true simplicity at the time of marriages and on all other occasions.,

Ans. 6. There are no Friends in need of pecuniary aid. Friends endeavor to keep their children under the care and influence of Friends.

Ans. 7. We believe Friends maintain a faithful testimony against the several parts of this query, but a more vital testimony for peace and disarmament however would be in accordance with our tradition and contribute to the spirit of love which the world most needs at the present time.

Ans. 8. As far as we know Friends are careful to live within the bounds of their circumstances, to keep to moderation in their business, to be punctual to their promises, just in the payment of their debts, and honest in all their dealings.

Ans. 9. The instruction of the youth in the principles of the Truth as professed by us as well as discouraging unsuitable marriages is a concern that deeply exercises us.

Marriages, births, deaths and burials are duly recorded. There has been one removal without a certificate.

Ans. 10. We believe a care rests with Friends to deal with offenders as the Discipline requires, but we feel the need of true spiritual discernment in such cases. “That first of all supplications, prayers and intercessions” be made for all, “for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the Truth.” There has been no placing of judgment since our last account.

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