The westward movement of the churches has intrigued historians for several decades now, and new chapters in its history are still being written. Paralleling Frederick Jackson Turner’s general research into the development of the American frontier, church historians, among whom William Warren Sweet stands as dean, have traced the expansion and the influence of the major Christian bodies and have described their contributions to our national life.
It needs to be noted that the major denominations have in turn been significantly shaped by the westward trek of pioneering peoples. Only recently, also, have we come to realize the salutary contribution of even some of the more excessive and “irregular” types of religious expression to the general development of our nation. For the work of church historians in calling attention to this the Christian world is grateful.
In a doctoral dissertation Myron Dee Goldsmith traced the movement of Quakerism into the Pacific Northwest, Barry L. Callen in a master’s thesis traced the development and the idealism of the Church of God (Anderson). More recently, David C. LeShana, newly elected president of George Fox College in Newburg, Oregon, has published a detailed and well-documented account of the movement of the Society of Friends (Quakers) into California.
President LeShana’s volume, entitled Quakers in California (Barclay Press, 1969), traces the pilgrimage of Friends westward as a response to the revivalistic trend of the nineteenth century. His analysis of the basic dynamics of this movement guides his work as he traces the two groups of Friends that have come to exist in California.
LeShana points out that while economic opportunity was a factor in beckoning Friends westward, there had ...1
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