Who We Are

What To Expect on Sunday

We are a church that emphasizes experience over rules and rituals.

Or put more simply: Jesus + nothing. Have questions about your faith? You’ll fit right in. Looking for a church that will not judge you? You’ve found it.

Some things you need to know about our gatherings:

  • We’re not cool, but we are relevant. So sorry, no smoke machines here.
  • Wear what makes you comfortable. The pastor usually wears jeans and a nicer hoodie. Some come in full suits.
  • Childcare is provided (0-2 years) & kids are dismissed during the service for age-appropriate fun
  • We have a no judging policy.
  • Experiencing Divine Love is the goal of our gatherings.
  • We have about 10 minutes of silent reflection, meditation and prayer at each service.

Our services start at 10:30AM and last about 75 minutes.
Sunday school is provided for all age groups and starts at 9:30AM.
Absolutely everyone is welcome!

Chicken and Noodle Dinners

The Chicken & Noodle Dinner is one of our Outreach Programs which is held periodically throughout the year. It is a night of fellowship with both members and the public. Proceeds go to various projects, organizations, and to the Meeting. Pickup and carryout options are available. All are welcome. If you are interested in helping out, please contact the office.

Missions

The Quaker Men group and other members have gone on mission trips to Cuba, Belize, and Kenya. In the past, members have helped with building houses and ministry. Please contact the office if you are interested in joining a mission.

Jingle Sunday

Jingle Sunday is on the 5th Sunday of the Month. This is when loose change is collected for a specific need such as, helping children in Africa, Quaker Haven Camp, & Belize.

Friends Disaster Relief

The FDS was founded in 1974, after a tornado destroyed much of the town of Xenia in Ohio. Eight Friends’ Churches from Eastern Region of the USA sent work crews to the area to work with the Mennonite Disaster Service on rebuilding the town.

Following this experience, they began to respond to floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes, as well as smaller local projects. Other regions have followed suit and there are now branches of the FDS in regions across America. They have no paid staff members and rely entirely on donations to fund their work. Contact the office if you would like to help on a work project.

Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse. First Friends participants in this ministry by filling shoe boxes with gifts for children in other countries. These are usually the first gifts these children receive. We usually fill and send around 40 boxes each year. These gift boxes were delivered to children in different parts of the world.

Kokomo Urban Outreach

We have actively participated in many of Kokomo Urban Outreach’s programs over the years from filling Buddy Bags to making soap. Currently we support ManUP and StepUP as a way to impact our community in practical, hands-on ways.

Our Staff





Jonathan Newton, Pastor

Jon started at First Friends in 2017. Jon and his wife, Jessica, (a newborn photographer and birth photographer) are parents to 3 boys and enjoy going to the park, utilizing Kokomo’s walking trails, and camping. Jon’s mission is to improve the community by spreading agape love to everyone he meets… and encouraging others to do the same.






Carrie Lupini, Secretary

Carrie has been the secretary at First Friends since 2014. She and her husband have 6 children and have lived in Kokomo since 1989. Carrie has worked in both the secretarial and banquet business for many years and enjoys gardening, cooking, and reading. The main source of Carrie’s joy is her Christian faith and spending time with her family.






Beth Morris, Music and Choir Director

Beth Morris is a lifetime resident of Kokomo. With her family’s beginnings in the Quaker Church, she has played the piano in numerous church denominations before finding her way to First Friends Meeting 15 years ago with her husband of 32 years and 3 children. She graduated from Taylor High School, Indiana University of Kokomo and Ivy Tech Community College. She has taught piano and worked with adult and youth choirs for more than 30 years.






Polly Simmons, Organist

Playing the organ is my retirement job and I really enjoy it. I taught music in elementary schools for many years, retiring from Northwestern Elementary.

My husband, Tom, and I graduated from Butler and we like to watch Butler basketball games. He goes to Hinkle fieldhouse and I watch from home. I enjoy reading, doing crossword puzzles and playing cribbage. Our daughters live in Indianapolis and Chicago and we have three grandchildren.


Our History

First Friends Meeting orginated as Union Street Meeting of Friends in 1865. Mary Ann Rich, a minister, appealed to Honey Creek Monthly Meeting for a meetinghouse to be in Kokomo. Before this, the nearest location was the New London Meetinghouse, which was a ten mile trip by horseback. Because of this, they decided to hold meetings for worship in their own homes, rotating from one to the other. It was in the home of Richard Nixon, northeast corner of Taylor and Market Streets, March 5, 1865, this group became an organized meeting. They decided to hold meetings of worship on the first and fourth days of the week first at the home of Robert Coate on West Sycamore Street (the present-day Eagles Home) and then later held in a building on the northeast corner of Sycamore and Market Streets. The small Quaker meeting was held without a ritual or a minister. Kokomo Monthly Meeting of Friends was established October 19, 1867. Sunday School at the meeting was started in July 1868. On Christmas Day, 1868, land was purchased, and after construction became the Union Street Meeting of Friends.

The meetings for worship originally were conducted quietly and without the aid of musical instruments, or a pastor. Long periods of waiting were sometimes broken by members singing hymns softly with praise. There was Scripture reading, prayer, as well as members who would speak as they felt led. It was the custom of Friends to appoint someone to serve as the “timer” of the meeting: when he shook hands of the one next to him when he felt all minds were free, signaling the end of the service. Later, the meeting became more of a “programmed” type with a paid ministry. The last “timer” ended his position in October 1940. In 1875, Robert W. Douglas of Wilmington Ohio was the first paid Quaker pastor in the history of the denomination in either America or Europe. Through the years, even with a paid ministry, we have continued the Friends custom of “open worship” as a portion of each meeting for worship.

During the years of 1891 and 1892, the first organ was brought into the meetinghouse. At the same time, the first choir was organized. At this time, the organ was only used for Bible School and Sunday evening services, but not for morning meeting. In December 1930, a pipe organ was installed into the meetinghouse. In June 1945, a grand piano was placed in the sanctuary. In addition, 300 new hymnals were added. Thus music in now a part of every service held in the meetinghouse.

In 1982, the decision to relocate to the current building on Zartman Road was decided. This was the fourth time the meetinghouse was moved. Parking was inaccessible on weekdays and downtown Kokomo was beginning to become very commercial. In July 1983, First Friends Meeting was the new name given to the meetinghouse. First Friends Meeting (of Kokomo) was chosen because it was the first Quaker meeting in Kokomo.

A Brief History of the Quakers

The Quaker Movement arose in mid-seventeenth Century England, a time of great social, political, and religious ferment. Followers of George Fox, the gifted leader of the movement, called themselves ‘Friends of Truth.’ ‘Quaker’ was a derisive nickname used by others, but Friends adopted the term and today ‘Friend’ and ‘Quaker’ mean the same and are used interchangeably. The formal title is ‘Religious Society of Friends.’ After some years of spiritual searching, Fox gathered about him a large and impressive following of persons who, like Fox, were searching for a vitality in their faith. Among them were William Penn, a founder of Pennsylvania, and Robert Barclay, scholar and theologian. Weary with the hollow formalism and strong emphasis on outward forms and ceremony, as if these were the essence of spirituality, Friends, seeking reality in their faith, found that they could experience God directly in their lives without the benefit of priest, symbol, liturgy and ritual. George Fox and his companions were, therefore, primarily concerned to free themselves and others from the forms and systems which had accumulated through the centuries and to revive as far as possible the simplicity and power of the primitive, early church. With emphasis on life and a direct experience of God, Quakerism is an attempt to express faith in life.

Beliefs

Generally, we believe rules tend to suck the life out of everything (if given enough time). Rigid doctrines are the same. That being said, here is what we believe:

Worship Style
Our gatherings are setup to allow for the Spirit to heal, inspire and guide us. We follow a familiar format, but if we feel the Spirit is leading us to do something different, we will follow.

Symbols and Simplicity
Symbols can be helpful but are not necessary to be a good Christian or to have an intimate experience with Christ. We also like to keep things simple to help remind us it is not about the building, the carpeting, the gold crosses, or any other thing; it’s all about relational experience with God.

Sacraments
Intimacy with the divine can come at any time and at any place. Therefore sacraments, such as holy communion and even baptism, are not necessary. Those things can often become ritualistic and obligatory, which misses the point of inward transformation. Because they are not necessary, we tend to not to take part in sacraments.

Stillness
Each week we set aside some time in our gatherings for stillness and silence. For some, this is a time of reflection and meditation, for others, this is a time for experiencing Divine Love in new ways. This time is often referred to as ‘open worship’. During this time, attendees may feel like the Spirit is prompting them to share words with the rest of the gathering and will stand up and speak. Some of the most beautiful words of inspiration and wisdom come from this special time.

Our Mission
We exist to invite people into a living faith in God through Jesus Christ, to transform us into mature disciples by the work of the Holy Spirit, and to send us into the world as witnesses of Christ Jesus.

Yes, we are Quaker (or Friends). If you want to learn more, visit a gathering!
If you prefer to read a more formal doctrinal statement, you can do that here: Faith and Practice