The Quaker meetinghouse in Congénies

We enjoyed staying in the Quaker meetinghouse in Congénies in southern France. This house and the Quaker meeting in France has an interesting history. One would wish that rich and influential people toady would use their resources this way. The world would look very different then.

Below from the Quaker center’s homepage.

During the American revolution of 1775-1783 the British monarchy encouraged British ships to attack any French vessels they could find because France was supporting the colonists. One British Quaker, Joseph Fox … co-owned three ships and unbeknownst to him his co-owners were gainfully attacking and raiding French ships on the Atlantic.

When he realised this state of affairs, Fox was appalled and in 1785 he took out a paid advertisement in the Gazette de France in which he categorically stated that Quakers did not indulge in piracy. He detailed the faith and practice of the Religious Society of Friends and offered to compensate all victims of his three ships, inviting people to write to him to state their claims.

The Gazette de France was read in Congénies, and 5 of the “inspired ones” wrote a letter to Fox explaining that they were not claiming any booty but they were impressed by Quakers ideas, which they fully shared, and would like to meet him. They sent Jean de Marsillac to visit Friends in London and in 1788 founded the first Quaker meeting in France.

The Meeting House was built in 1822 with the help of funds supplied by both American and English Friends. The Meeting, which through the 19th century numbered some 200 large families over a wide area, died out following emigration of the pacifist young men to avoid compulsory military service.

Foto Y. Rancken-Lutz

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