While Friends often look to writings from the earliest days of the Quaker movement, much good, often profound, new material is being published in our own time. The Pendle Hill pamphlet series is a fine source of inspiration and practical direction from contemporary voices. Here’s the rack in the Dover Friends social room.
Representatives from neighboring Quaker congregations get together four times a year to check in on each other and events in their home meetings. The practice, called Quarterly Meeting, has its own clerks, treasurer, and other officers, as needed.
In the past, it was a big event. The smaller meetings, in fact, would not have their own worship that Sunday — everyone would be off to wherever the Quarter was gathering. I suspect much of it was a family reunion, one filled with a holiday spirit.
Nowadays is a different matter, especially as we struggle with finding a better fit between our Monthly Meetings (the local groups that worship each week but conduct business once a month) and our much larger Yearly Meetings — in our case, New England Yearly Meeting of Friends.
These photos are from a session of Dover Quarterly Meeting that took place in the newly renovated West Epping meetinghouse.
The Seabrook meetinghouse was moved to Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, where it became a private residence. The central chimney is a later addition.
Dover Meeting resulted from the turbulent visiting ministry of three women in 1662. Despite severe persecution and banishment, they nevertheless returned to the community — soon abetted by more vocal Quakers — and convinced about a third of the population to join with the Society of Friends in spite of the political and social consequences to themselves and their families.
For the first decades, the local Quakers worshiped in members’ homes and farms.
The first meetinghouse was built about 1680 on Dover Neck, just south of the present St. Thomas Aquinas high school and probably just north of the Pinkham family cemetery. The burial ground contains a number of Quaker-style gravestones, some in a thicket behind the maintained section.
A second meetinghouse was erected in 1712 near the present corner of Locust and Silver streets, and Dover Friends worshiped in both buildings as a matter of convenience until a third meetinghouse was constructed in 1768. That large structure was likely raised in a single day, the way Amish barns are today, and the two smaller houses were then sold. The first went to Eliot, Maine, where it continued use for Friends worship.