Quaker foundations still impacting students

 

Malone was founded as a place of higher education and on the beliefs of the Evangelical Friends Church. While students may know that Malone is affiliated with the Friends denomination, how much do they know about the institution’s original purpose and the denomination of Friends, or “Quakers”?

Dr. Jacci Welling teaches a class on Quaker history.

Eell’s Mansion became the Administration Building for Cleveland Bible College in 1937. (Photo provided by Amy Yuncker)

“I ask my students to reflect on why they practice their Christian faith in the way that they do. Even though we’re learning about deeply committed, thoughtful, weighty Friends, [I ask] that they do that about their own denomination or faith walk,” she said.

Welling said that founders Walter and Emma Malone never intended the college to be specifically Friends. They wanted it to be a place where Christians of all denominations could receive a faith-based education. That is certainly true today. Welling said only about 6-10 percent of students are self-identified as Friends. Those numbers are very similar to what they were when she was a student.

Malone began not as a Christian liberal arts college as it is today, but as a training school, with the intention of graduating future leaders in the church and the foreign mission field. Welling said, “They [Walter and Emma Malone] did not want students to just sit in the classroom. It was required that students would get out in the field and serve and evangelize.”

Welling also said that while Malone has become a liberal arts college, “We still emphasize the integration of faith and learning and service.”

Into the Streets is a staple to every freshman’s orientation week, several service-learning trips are offered each year, some community service is required for a general education class, and Student Senate began a service day tradition this spring. These are just a few examples of how the student body is dedicated to service in the community and the world.

Some of the things stressed by the Malones are uniquely Friends.

“In some ways I think Malone is more Quaker than the denomination. What I appreciate about Malone is the importance of discernment; that we come together in community and pray about issues at the faculty and administrative levels,” Welling said.

“We see ourselves as part of this community with our students. There’s not a divide,” Welling said. “In traditional Friends schools, I would not be referred to as ‘Dr.’ or ‘Ms.’ or ‘Mrs.’ but just by my first name because there is a sense that we are all a part of the larger body of Christ.”

Some things are very different from what the original Evangelical Friends denomination practiced.

“Quakers were perhaps the first Pentecostals; they shook when they spoke,” Welling said.

The brick building in the back was the main classroom building, designed and built specifically to hold the Cleveland Bible Institute school (1896). The building on the right is Cleveland First Friends Church, where the Malones were both pastors. CBI and the church shared everything from administrators to auditorium and classroom space to carpets, coal, and musicians. (Photo provided by Amy Yuncker)

Welling said, “We’re no longer a tiny school in the middle of Cleveland. We embrace much more than the Malones would have imagined. We’ve moved beyond the traditional Quaker worship service.”

Senior Bible and theology major Gabe Lopez said, “I grew up in the Evangelical Friends denomination. Coming to Malone, I was hoping to get that Evangelical background, conservative for the most part.

“In the Quaker class I have learned that there is, as Walter William puts it, rich history of Quakerism. They emphasize virtues such as simplicity and honesty and just waiting on God.”

Lopez said he has found that Malone is true to its Quaker heritage in its emphasis on holiness and community. “Holiness is something they strive for at the school, a life worthy of God, a pure life. I definitely see Malone emphasizing that part of Quakerism with community and unity as well,” he said.

There are also some things about Malone which have strayed from its original Quaker intent.

“Quakers were founded on simplicity and silence, waiting on inner light,” Lopez said.

“I don’t think Malone tries to distinguish itself as a Friends school. Maybe students should be required to take a class on Evangelical Friends, so they at least know the history of the school,” he said.

One opportunity for learning about the Quaker faith is being offered this summer. Because of its Evangelical Friends roots, Malone was picked to host the Friends Association of Higher Education (FAHE) conference this year. Welling serves as the coordinator for the event.

“In the 19th century the Friends began to divide into different groups. Some are more theologically and socially liberal and some are more conservative and yet we all have this shared heritage,” Welling said.

The FAHE was founded around 1980 to bring together Friends from different areas and backgrounds. “We share either our scholarship or something about our faith,” Welling said. Welling has attended many of these meetings in the past, including the one in the Quaker Studies Center in England.

Walter and Emma Malone hard at work in an office of Cleveland Bible Institute. (Photo provided by Amy Yuncker)

Suzie Thomas is the acting public relations person involved in the event which will take place June 20-23. “The FAHE has an annual meeting and they meet at a different university [each year]. We haven’t held it on our campus for some time, for at least 23 years,” Thomas said.

There will be several speakers at the event, including several faculty and staff. Dr. Jay Case will be giving the opening speech on the first day titled Students Are Not Simply Thinking Beings:  Cultivating Desires for Quaker Principles.

The focus of the speakers will be on higher education, specifically how the Quaker religious practices can be implemented in higher education. The speakers will address academic planning and management, classroom instructional methods, spiritual and experiential learning, women’s studies, Quaker literature, religion and the sciences, and philosophy and theology.

A complete topic list and registration information will be made available in a press release in the weeks to come. Information will also be made available on websites such as the Canton Repository, Chamber of Commerce, American Towns, and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

Students are encouraged to attend the meeting. “It’s for professors who teach at Quaker or Friends colleges, professors who are Quaker or Friends and teach at any institution, and anyone who’s interested in the Quaker or Friends faith,” Thomas said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed a FAHE conference speech.

Kaitlyn Stump is a staff writer for The Aviso AVW.

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