Newberg Friends Church emerged from the historic Quaker tradition, dating from an English reformer named George Fox 350 years ago. Central was Jesus Christ who, Fox discovered, “can speak to thy condition” and bring the life-changing presence of the biblical Jesus who taught love, peace, and human concern. Quakers have divided over the centuries, but Newberg Friends’s emphasis remains on Jesus. The originators of Newberg Friends Church migrated west in the late 1870s, following a call by Iowa Quaker William Hobson to come to “the grubby end of the Chehalem Valley,” establish a Friends community, and make it “a garden of the Lord.” He recorded in his journal that he stood at the top of Chehalem Mountain near Bald Peak and envisioned a valley with “prosperous homes, connected with the outside world by railroad and telegraph.” His vision included a “flourishing town with a Friends college, and with all, a strong Christian community.” Hobson lived here for 16 years and saw his dream come true, as many Friends answered his call.
These Friends first held meetings in homes, then in a 32 x 48 feet building at the north end of what is now Friends Cemetery. They established Friends Pacific Academy in 1885 and Pacific College (now named George Fox University) in 1891, at what was then the south end of College Street. Shortly after they built the present church structure there, Friends moved the college and academy to their current location east of North Meridian Street. The academy was discontinued in 1929.
Newberg Friends Church is joined by Second Street Community Church, West Chehalem Friends, and Sherwood Friends, as part of Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends Church, which is home to about 55 churches and more than 6,000 members in Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. Actively spreading Jesus’ message, NWYM is part of Evangelical Friends International, home to about 160,000 Quakers throughout the world.