For decades, evangelical Friends/Quakers fought to keep themselves separate from non-evangelical Friends/Quakers. This was particularly true of the EFC-ER (Evangelical Friends Church-Eastern Region – previously known as Ohio Yearly Meeting). Tragically, this has changed, and in a big way. The EFCI (of which the EFC-ER is part) has become more and more open to associating with non-evangelical Quaker denominations.
When was the tragic turning point? What was the year of infamy when the evangelical Friends turned from Quaker separation to Quaker ecumenicalism? It was 1970, at the St. Louis Conference on the Future of Friends.
Rather than collating the various bits of info at this time, I am presenting them verbatim. I have emphasized certain points by bolding and [bracketing]:
1) [The 1970 St. Louis Conference on the Future of Friends] “brought together the various groups [evangelical Quakers and non-evangelical Quakers] under one roof for the first time since the 1920s.” [The article goes on to discuss Dr. Everett Cattell’s contributions to the conference; I intend to include more excerpts on Dr. Cattell from this article shortly.]
Note: I have always had great admiration and respect for Dr. Cattell, viewing him as a great man of God. So it was with much shock and dismay that I learned about his ecumenical endeavors. I believe that, by endorsing ecumenism, Dr. Cattell hurt the doctrinal integrity of evangelical Friends, perhaps irreparably.
2) “All yearly meetings but three in the USA are represented at the  St. Louis Conference on The Future of Friends [it would be interesting to see what three yearly meetings were not represented], responding to the call ‘to seek, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, a workable, challenging and cooperative means whereby the Friends Church can be an active, enthusiastic, Christ-centered and Spirit-directed force…’ There is a sense of a new dawn of ecumenical conversation within the Religious Society of Friends. At the close of the conference, Evangelical Friend Everett Cattell suggests that FWCC’s American Section should administer the follow-up to the conference. The Section publishes the report What Future for Friends? Superintendents and Secretaries of yearly meetings at their annual meeting in St Louis propose a broadly representative follow-up body to be called the Faith and Life Planning Group, and suggest that each yearly meeting appoint two persons to a Faith and Life Planning Committee, with FWCC American Section providing the staff service.”
3) “Cattell was a leading figure in the holiness movement within the Evangelical Friends Church and helped to create openness among a variety of Friends branches. Through his interactions with a number of different missions organizations while in India he became good at working ecumenically among those within his own tradition. Quaker scholar David Johns writes,
“Cattell’s influence in the Society of Friends has been unparalleled with respect to the conceptualization of the nature of Christian missions and in establishing a model of sorts of an evangelical ecumenicism…” (Johns, 1992:5).
Cattell was not only good at ecumenicism but also worked hard as a renewal leader within the Friends Church. At the age of 16 he gave a lecture at yearly meeting on “How Can Ohio Yearly Meeting Take A Forward Step” (Johns, 6). In the late 1960′s he helped organize a conference in St. Louis, which took place in 1970 and was focused on the theme “The Future of Friends” (a theme I am particularly interested in). There he gave one of three keynote addresses; his was titled “A New Approach for Friends” (Also see his essay “The Future of Friends” in Quaker Religious Thought 1966 Vol. VIII No. 2 p.10-14).”
4) “At the conclusion of the 1970 conference, when it was clear that Friends were still divided over the issue of Christian identification, the late Everett Cattell, the Conference Chairman … surveyed these differences and the process in which they had been discussed and concluded, “Let the conversation continue.” [The article further discusses Dr. Cattell’s contributions to the conference; I intend to include more excerpts on Dr. Cattell from this article shortly.]
Non-evangelical Quakers lauded Cattell’s statements as “bold” and “courageous.” Concerned evangelical Quakers, on the other hand, lamented the same statements as a huge step backwards for evangelical Friends.
Now look where we are, over 40 years later: Richard Foster, Dan Kimball, Leonard Sweet, etc. – all Emerging/Emergent leaders with ties to the Evangelical Friends denomination. Convergent, Emerging and Emergent Church teachings being propogated in various Evangelical Friends churches. Perhaps Evangelical Friends would be more biblically sound today, had they not accepted Quaker ecumenism back in 1970.
By the way, I am intrigued by the Evangelical Friends who opposed Quaker ecumenicalism at the 1970 St. Louis conference. I’d like to locate them, if they are still in the EFCI and they are still living (a 30-year old at the conference would now be 71). I wonder how many evangelical Friends today have the “boldness” and “courage” to oppose Quakerism ecumenism.
Finally, regarding ecumenism, I believe we are called to fellowship separately from unbelievers. (Yup, I believe anyone who does not accept the doctrine of being born again as per John Chapter 3 is not a Christian, but an unbeliever.) I believe the following passage applies here:
14) Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15) And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16) And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17} Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. 18) And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (II Cor. 6:14-18, KJV)
FOR FURTHER READING
Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friends_World_Committee_for_Consultation
Following are just a few of the ungodly groups the Evangelical Friends are associating with today ala the Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC), sponsors of the 1970 St. Louis Conference:
Postmodern (Emerging/Emergent) Quakers: This would include many Evangelical Friends as well as many if not most non-evangelical Friends.
LGBT Quakers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_and_Quakerism
Christian universalist Quakers: http://universalistfriends.org/
Buddhist Quakers: http://thebuddhistquaker.blogspot.com/
Pagan/New Age Quakers:
Atheist Quakers (aka nontheist Quakers): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nontheist_Quakers