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THE CONFERENCE OF 1853.
The Pennsylvania Yearly Meeting Of Progressive Friends was organized by a Religious Conference, held in 1853. In compliance with a wish expressed by some friends, and in order that those hitherto unacquainted with the movement may see the catholic spirit and world-wide purposes in which it originated, the Call of that Conference is inserted here.
Call for a General Religious Conference, with a view to the establishment of a
The various religious denominations in the land are arrayed against the progressive spirit of the age, and by their very structure, assumptions and regulations, cannot occupy a co-operative position, because they impose fetters upon freedom of speech and of conscience, by requiring a slavish conformity in matters of abstract faith and sectarian discipline. This has led and is leading to extensive secessions from such organizations, in all parts of the country, leaving the seceders generally in a scattered and isolated condition, whose talents, influence and means might be profitably concentrated for the advancement of the world-embracing cause of Human Brotherhood, and who are yearning for some form of association at once simple, free and attractive.
The abuse of a good thing is not a reason for its utter rejection; and organization, in itself considered, is not only proper, but may be rendered powerfully efficacious as an instrument in the hand of Reform, without impairing the liberty, detracting from the independence, or limiting the conscience of any individual; though from the nature of tilings its perpetuation is not to be expected or desired, but it is at all times to be regarded as a means to an end, and to be discarded whenever it becomes an impediment to the progress of truth.
The Society of Friends has been a theatre of agitation for years, growing out of ecclesiastical domination on the one hand, and the demand for practical righteousness on the other; a domination entirely at variance with the spirit of primitive Quakerism, seeking to suppress free thought and to exclude from membership those whose lives are without blemish, whose example in word and deed is as a burning and shining light, and who are seeking to know and do the will of God at whatever sacrifice; a domination which has been deemed so intolerable, that in the States of New York, Ohio and Michigan, Yearly Meetings have been formed, two of which have taken the name of Congregational Friends, and two others that of ProgressIve Friends, and which invite to membership "all.those who look to God as a Universal Father, and who regard as one Brotherhood the whole family of man."
*- In view of facts like these, and telieving there is an extensive preparation of mind for such a movement, we cordially invite not only the members of the Society of Friends, but all those who feel the want of social and religious co-operation, and believe that a Society may be formed, recognizing the Progressive Element which will divorce Religion from Technical Theology, to meet with us in General Conference at Friends' meeting-house, at Old Kennett, in Chester County, Pennsylvania, on First day, the 22d of Fifth month, 1853, to deliberate upon such plan of organization as may commend itself to the judgment of those assembled, and to take action upon such other subjects pertaining to Human Duty and Welfare, as may appear to demand the attention of the assembly.
Yearly Meeting in Pennsylvania.