Evangelical Friends Church - Eastern Region
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The Evangelical Friends Church - Eastern Region is an American Quaker organization, based in Canton, Ohio. It is composed of over 90 churches and church plants, and is part of The Evangelical Friends Church International.
The current headquarters for the Evangelical Friends Church is the World Outreach Center, located in Canton, not far from the campus of Malone University where yearly meeting sessions are held each summer.
The Ohio Yearly Meeting of the Friends Church (OYM) was established on October 12, 1812 by the Baltimore Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. At the time the Ohio Yearly Meeting included most of the Friends meetings West of the Allegheny Mountains. The first OYM yearly meeting was on August 14, 1813 in Short Creek (Ohio) with Horton Howard presiding. The first Yearly Meeting House was erected in 1814 in Mt. Pleasant, Ohio. Many new local “meeting houses” followed.
During the 1800s the Friends movement experienced a separation over theology that would today be characterized as a debate between Unitarian/Universalism and Orthodoxy (Hicksites & Orthodox Meetings). Later the Society of Friends again wrestled over traditional Friends practices and Evangelicalism (Wilburite and Gurneyite Meetings). These separations resulted in multiple groups using the name "Ohio Yearly Meeting".
In 1917 the evangelicals (Gurneyites) moved their headquarters to Damascus, Ohio and became known as the Ohio Yearly Meeting (Damascus). The Yearly Meeting House in Damascus was used from 1866 until a few years before it was razed in the 1970s. Later, they relocated again, this time to Canton, Ohio. In 1965 the Ohio Yearly Meeting (Damascus) joined the Evangelical Friends Alliance. In 1971 Ohio Yearly Meeting (Damascus) became Evangelical Friends Church - Eastern Region (EFC-ER).
Baptism and communion
By the 1870s, a leader named David B. Updegraff was a noted evanglist. His support and endorsement of baptism and communion became almost scandalous among Friends and resulted in some Yearly Meetings throughout the world to agree to freedom of conscience in those practices. He largely solidified the EFC-ER's participation in the wider evangelical-holiness camp.
The Evanglical Friends Church - Eastern Region was heavily influenced by the leadership of J. Walter and Emma Malone. In 1892, they founded the Cleveland Bible Training Institute — now Malone University in Canton — to train pastors and missionaries. Walter became the first General Superintendent in 1889, although the title was not formalized until 1891. The first missionaries to come out of the school were Esther Baird and Delia Fistler, who served in India. In fact, the school (either officially or through its graduates) helped to sponsor eight other schools of higher education around the country and around the world.
Into the twentieth century, EFC-ER expanded its churches, missions, leaders and prominence amongst evangelicals worldwide. Leaders and members of note include Everett L. Cattell (pastor, mission-ary, author, and college president), Walter Williams (pastor, missionary, and superintendent), Cliff Robinson (missionary, one time song leader for Billy Graham and founder of the Presidential Prayer Breakfasts), and Charles DeVol (renowned botanist and missionary).
- General Superintendent: Dr. Wayne Evans
- Associate Superintendent: Chris Jackson
- Associate Superintendent: Frank Carter
- Associate Superintendent: Fred Kinsler
- Communications: Donna Neff