Quakers are not a term that you may hear very often. Quakers, often called friends, are a subject of Christianity. It started as a religious movement and branched off from Protestantism in the 19th century in England. Since then, it has spread throughout the world - specifically in North America, Central America, Australia, and Africa. The first Quakers settled in Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1656. Quakers had come to North America when it was still in its colonial area to spread their beliefs to the new British colonists. Some Quakers were sent here or had escaped, in order to avoid religious persecution. Upon arrival, many more Quakers would find themselves settling in Rhode Island due to its policy of religious freedom.
Ann Austin and Mary Fisher were the first recorded and known Quakers to set foot in America, which was called the New World. They had traveled from England to Barbados and then went on to settle in the Massachusetts Bay Colony to spread their beliefs amongst the other colonists. The women were accused of committing vile acts and were persecuted and imprisoned. A prominent figure named Nicholas Upsall was kind during their imprisonment and spread the belief throughout the colony. It was at this time that they packed up and went to Rhode Island to form the first Quaker Colony.
As the Quaker religion began to take shape, many of their first friends settled along the Delaware river and formed the settlement of Salem in 1675. In 1681, King Charles the Second would allow William Penn, a famous Quaker, a charter for the area which was to eventually become Pennsylvania (his namesake). William had guaranteed the settlers of his colony the freedom to practice any religion they saw fit. He would advertise this policy throughout Europe so that Quakers and other people who were persecuted because of their beliefs would have a safe haven in Pennsylvania.
Iowa, Ohio, and North Carolina
Currently, Quakers in North America have diverse beliefs and practices but are still found all over the world. The states of Iowa, Ohio, and North Carolina have small groups of Conservative Friends which are an organization that believes in the Inward Light and the Bible as sources of both guidance and inspiration. The group practices unprogrammed worship, which means that the gathering places are open at any time of day to find inner peace and reflection. Many people within the congregation adhere to standards of plainness in dressing and speech, which is a fundamental tenet within the religion. Keeping to simplicity makes it so that you are not distracted by anything outside of your control, and you are not tempted.
Another section of the Quaker faith is the Pastoral Friends, which is primarily focused on the Bible as the source of guidance and teachings. Pastoral Friends are more akin to other sects of Christianity, meaning that their worship is led by ordained clergy. The pastoral friends practice frequent evangelism.