Quakers have been on the vanguard of positive change throughout our history, fostering the rights of many who were not treated with respect and equality. This has included women, prisoners, and slaves in the past, and those discriminated against now due to race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation.Friends are also known for our pro-peace and pro-environmental stance, because we seek to demonstrate our values in our own lives and in the wider world.
With this as background, Friends who lived in this part of Montgomery County generally worshiped at a Meeting on I Street, NW, from 1828 to the 1930s. In 1930, Friends Meeting of Washington erected a new Meeting house on Florida Avenue to serve as a place of worship for the Quaker President, Herbert Hoover.
In the early 1960s, Bethesda Friends began meeting for worship once a month in a private home. The earliest minutes from a Meeting for Business are dated August 17, 1962. In the fall of 1962, weekly worship and First Day School (religious education for children) were held in the Lynbrook Elementary School. During this time, Bethesda Friends was held "under the care of" Friends Meeting of Washington.
In 1964, the Sidwell Friends School (located on Wisconsin Avenue, in Washington DC) purchased the Longfellow School on Edgemoor Lane as a campus for its Lower School and encouraged Bethesda Friends to hold Meetings for Worship at the school. From 1964 to 1975, Bethesda Friends met in the multipurpose room of the Groome Building. In 1972, Friends Meeting of Washington recognized Bethesda Friends as a Monthly Meeting, rather than as a Meeting under the care of Friends Meeting of Washington. In 1975, the former carriage house of the property was converted from classroom use for the youngest children to a meeting room reserved for spiritual purposes. Also reserved for Meeting use was a small office, kitchen, and a library.
Copies of BFM’s history can be found in our library and copies of our newsletters are on file. Our meeting archivist can also answer any historical questions.