The Quakers were founded during the mid-17th century as “The Religious Society of Friends”, an outgrowth of the ministry of George Fox and others. "Quaker", originally a derisive label (these Christian radicals shook in the presence of Christ), the term was transformed into a label of integrity due to these Christian’s concerns with social justice and fair-handed business dealings.
The Friends (or Quakers) are a Christian denomination with a reputation for earnestly seeking guidance from God and actively serving their fellow human beings. From their beginnings, Quakers have been distinctive for seeking a personal relationship with Jesus Christ - - in which all individuals, regardless of position in life, can hear the Spirit of God speaking to them. For further details of "What Friends Believe" follow to the Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends website.
Throughout the last 350 years, Quakers have advanced numerous social reforms, including care for the mentally ill, the imprisoned, and the impoverished. For many years Friends wore only gray clothing, reducing distinguishing characteristics between rich and poor. In America, more than 60 years before the Civil War, not a single American Quaker was known to own a slave, and Quakers helped direct the now famous Underground Railroad to assist African Americans escaping slavery.
Quakers are also well known for peacemaking. The Friends Church has consistently taken Jesus’ command to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” as a call to oppose violence. As a result, the Friends Church has supported non-violent means of conflict resolution, and has taken public stands against such things as abortion, war and the death penalty.
The designation “Friends” comes from a passage in the Bible, where Jesus tells his followers: "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father." John 15:13-15 NRSV
Today some who call themselves Quakers dispute the deity of Jesus, while still emphasizing social reform. However, the majority of Quakers - - including those who call themselves Evangelical Friends (those at Quaker Cove) - -see social action as a means to serve Jesus Christ, whom they worship as Lord, Savior and “Friend.”