In the spring of 1968 some Guilford College students and professors began to meet together for worship in the manner of Friends. They had in common a desire to worship in the traditional way based in silent waiting out of which ministry arises in response to the movement of the spirit.
It is interesting to note the historical context out of which the establishment of Friendship Meeting occurred. While there had been discussion for some months among college faculty, students and others to experiment with a new unprogrammed meeting for worship no definite action had been taken. In the spring of 1968 Young Friends of North America were holding meetings at Guilford and New Garden Friends Meeting . While their gathering was taking place
Martin Luther King was assassinated. In the ensuing upheaval around the nation and in Greensboro YFNA were caught in the events of the day. The Greensboro community, especially the black community and students at A and T University, was thrown into emotional turmoil. Protests and the threat of violence on city streets forced the city to establish a nighttime curfew on all citizens. This resulted in Young Friends unable to leave the Guilford campus. The group spent long hours in discussion wondering what kind of response could come from the college and the Quaker community. Several Young Friends knew of the interest in an unprogrammed meeting and interested Friends were sought out for consultation. ‘Why”, Young Friends asked, “wasn’t there an unprogrammed meeting on campus“? Out of this challenge students and faculty met over the spring months to test the leadings for worship based on the traditions of silent waiting. The group disbanded for the summer but agreed to start meeting again, along with others, in the fall. With renewed interest in an unprogrammed meeting, worship was resumed in the fall of 1968.
With concern for an unprogrammed meeting clearly established, Guilford College offered space in the Mary Pemberton Moon Room in Dana auditorium (a room furnished as a traditional Friends meeting room). In October 1968, the first Monthly Meeting for Business was held. The name Friendship Meeting was chosen to recognize the meeting’s location in Friendship Township.
At about the same time several unprogrammed meetings in central North Carolina, including Friendship Meeting, organized the Piedmont Friends Fellowship. PFF met and continues to meet twice yearly for worship, discussion, fellowship and fun. It is loosely organized and is affiliated with Friends General Conference.
Friendship Meeting continued to meet in the Moon Room for nineteen years. In 1987 the meeting purchased the house at 1103 New Garden Road and converted it into a meeting house. In 2004, after extensive planning, the meetinghouse underwent an additional renovation to meet the growing needs of the meeting family.
In 1980 Friendship Meeting joined North Carolina Yearly Meeting-Conservative. NCYM-C comprises eight monthly meetings in North Carolina and one in Virginia at the present time. Our Yearly Meeting - organized in 1903 by former members of North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Five Years Meeting, now Friends United Meeting) which maintains the traditional form of silent worship and is a source of much spiritual nurture for those who participate in its annual gatherings and other activities. NCYM-C also links us to many other Quaker organizations such as Friends World Committee for Consultation, American Friends Service Committee and Friends Committee on National Legislation. It supports four Friends schools as well as Quaker House in Fayetteville, NC which provides education about alternatives to military service as well as support for military personnel who seek to be released from service on grounds of conscientious objection; or who have other problems in connection with their relationship with the military.
During the Vietnam War, the meeting supported the weekly peace vigil in downtown Greensboro. The vigil was resumed during the Persian Gulf War and again many members of the meeting participated. In 1987 the meeting became a Sanctuary Meeting and soon two Guatemalan refugee families were received into the care of the meeting. One of these families has since joined the meeting. Several other refugees have also been helped for short periods of time.
Since 1975 the meeting has maintained an explicit testimony of acceptance of any who wish to worship with us and participate in the life of the meeting regardless of sexual orientation. In 1993 the meeting expanded on the earlier minute of acceptance, stating in a minute its willingness to have oversight of same-sex unions for members under the same conditions and in the same manner as traditional heterosexual marriages.
Friendship Meeting is a diverse meeting. Its dual affiliation with Friends General Conference (through PFF) and North Carolina Yearly Meeting-Conservative indicates its theological diversity with many Friends in both groups whose spiritual lives are centered in Christ, and others who have a more universalist outlook. This diversity creates tension at times and is also appreciated by many. It seems to be an inevitable outcome of our commitment to faith grounded in experience and subject to change and growth. The meeting is not divided along the lines of affiliation to FGC or NCYM-C, for many would gladly participate in both if time permitted.
Some of us come from a tradition of Friends that have not for most of this century named ministers and elders out of concern that none be elevated over any others in meeting. Others of us have come from a tradition that has maintained the practice of acknowledging formally those who have specific gifts in vocal ministry or in spiritual nurture of the meeting, as a way of claiming the gifts and of supporting and holding accountable those who have particular gifts. This difference has caused tension in the meeting as we struggled with whether to record as a minister a member who functions in that role for many Friends and others beyond the monthly meeting. In 1998, after seeking unity through Quaker process, that member was recorded in recognition of her ministry. The meeting continues to be sensitive to issues regarding titling.
The meeting is an active partner in Greensboro’s People of Faith against the Death Penalty. Individual members of meeting are also active participants in National Quaker Organizations such as American Friends Service Committee, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Friends World Committee for Consultation, and Pendle Hill.
Since Friendship Friends Monthly Meeting became an owner of property, our meeting’s members approved of the adoption of a “Friendship Friends Meeting, Inc.” to serve as our legal instrument for dealing with any matters of legal consequences involving city, county or state law. It serves us as a legal instrument for resolving any legal problems the Meeting confronts. The "purpose and object" of Friendship Friends Meeting Inc. is stated as, "a non-profit organization of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) to engage in religious, eleemosynary, and other service activities as determined by its Board of Directors and to exercise all powers necessary or convenient or incident thereto."
Under the laws of the State of North Carolina, Friendship Friends Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends is incorporated as a “charitable or religious corporation as defined in NC.O.S. section 55A1-40(4)” The original By-Laws is on file in the meetinghouse office, with the Membership/Statistics Recorder, but copies are available on request.
In December of 2004, the meeting took the Winston-Salem Worship Group under its care as a concern for outreach and nurture for unprogrammed Friends. This group decided on the name "Salem Meeting" and became an independent monthly meeting in fifth month, 2010.