It is easy to forget that back in the day one of the most prominent faiths on the Eastern Shore during the 17th Century was the Society of Friends or Quakers. It is true that the Church of England, later known as the Episcopal Church, would later become the official religion of Maryland at the end of that century; the Society of Friends had already well established themselves in Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot Counties.
A case in point was the Chester River Meeting House, which formed in approximately 1668 and began to thrive after the famed English Quaker, George Fox, traveled to the Eastern Shore in early 1671 to promote this novel new faith. And over time, Chestertown and Easton became active Meeting Houses (churches) with large memberships with a significant influence on government and society.
So when the Spy learned recently that the Chester River Meeting had decided to leave its beloved building just off Philosophers Terrace in Chestertown, there was concern that this once great faith was facing a possible extinction after serving the region for almost four centuries.
Luckily, as we learned with our Spy interview with Nina Fleegle, the Chester River Friends Meeting clerk, that Quakers of Kent County remain alive and living well. While it is true that the Friends needed to find a more affordable location for their weekly gathering and were welcomed with open arms by the Presbyterian Church of Chestertown for that purpose, the Quaker tradition remains as strong as ever on the Eastern Shore.
In our chat, Nina gives us an interesting overview of the Friends history in the region and explains how the Quaker approach to faith and spirituality is again gaining traction as individuals seek out the ability to experience the light within or see “that of God in everyone.”