George Fox would often rail against the Anglican Church's "hireling ministers". At the time, the job of minister was used as a political plum. Unqualified people were often appointed to be ministers by the king and parliament of Great Britain. On rare occasions, a minister would come to church and read the sermon falling down drunk. Quakers (Friends) often objected to being forced to pay tithes to the Anglican Church for the support of these men.

The Religious Society of Friends grew out of small circles of 17th century British farmers who worshipped and prayed with each other in their homes, without an appointed minister. This type of meeting became institutionalized as the peculiarly Quaker unprogrammed style of meeting for worship.

Unprogrammed Friends don't believe that we have no ministers, but rather that we are all ministers.

"You say, 'Christ saith this', and 'the apostles say that', but what canst thou say?" --George Fox

Pastoral Friends

In the 19th century, American Friends homesteading on the frontier became intermingled with families of many Protestant denominations. Many Friends' churches sprang up in the American frontier, with the Friends name but with ministers, hymnals and other Protestant customs. A split in the Religious Society of Friends came about between the pastoral Guerneyite Friends and the unprogrammed Hicksite Friends.

Guerneyite Friends sent missionaries to numbers of African and South American countries. These planted Quaker churches grew in size, often became more evangelical in nature than the American missionaries had originally planned, and now evangelical African and South American Friends greatly outnumber all varieties of Friends in the U.S. and in Europe. The U.S. has a number of evangelical American Friends churches, which often have large congregations but are relatively few in number.

In a number of American east coast geographical areas, numbers of unprogrammed and pastoral Friends meetings have reunited. Some of the local meetings in these reunited Yearly Meetings have pastors, and some don't. None of them have anything resembling bishops. Much of the growth in these east coast Yearly Meetings has been in the unprogrammed vein, and often growth has taken place near universities.

--Paul Klinkman

This is a rump article. What canst thou add? "Upload cheerfully over the earth, answering that of God in everyone." --after George Fox.