[FT] Address by Irish Quaker Missionary Physician

William F Rushby wfrushby at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 26 07:48:39 PDT 2009

Thanks, Bill Samuel and Larry Ingle, for replying to my post!

My first encounter with Irish Friends occurred in the 1960s' when William Brien, a Friends' minister from Northern Ireland, made a religious visit to the US with the backing of the Friends World Committee.  Among other contacts, he came to the South Starksboro Meeting in Vermont, at that time a very small Gurneyite meeting under New York Yearly Meeting.  I attended South Starksboro while was at home in the Champlain Valley in the summer months.  William won us with his warm Christian faith and Irish charm and wit.

William Brien was orthodox in faith, the norm among Friends in northern Ireland; Doreen Dowd refers to them as the "Northern Friends."  I had not known that these Christian unprogrammed Friends even existed until that time.

It is strange to me that these orthodox Friends are located so close geographically to British Friends, many of whom seem to be rather outspokenly anti-Christian in outlook.

I know that some Northwest Yearly Meeting Friends relate to the Friends in northern Ireland.  Does anyone on FT know more about these contacts?  It must be a rather lonely experience for the Ulster Friends to be Christian in a part of the world where that is no longer common in the Society of Friends.

With Larry, I also wonder about the part played by the Evangelical Friends' mission efforts in Ireland.  Is it legitimate for one Quaker denomination to establish mission outposts on someone else's turf?  The Conservative Friends have faced this issue, and some criticism, for establishing meetings in areas where other groups enjoyed a monopoly in the past.

Bill Rushby

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