History of Morningside

An Historical Sketch

Morningside Monthly Meeting began as an informal worship group that met on the Columbia University campus in the winter of 1957-58, occasionally joined by a small worship group that met at Riverside Church. In 1958, this relationship was formalized and Friends gathered for worship in Earl Hall, the University’s center for religious activities. In 1960, under the care of the New York Quarterly Meeting Morningside was designated the Morningside Heights Preparatory Meeting, and in 1973 the Meeting became Morningside Monthly Meeting, one of several constituent meetings of the New York Quarterly Meeting (NYQM) and a member meeting of the New York Yearly Meeting (NYYM). In 2002, Morningside Meeting moved to Riverside Church, where it continues weekly worship.

Without a Meeting House, Morningside Friends hold mid-week meetings in one another’s homes. In recent years “committees of care,” originally established for members with AIDS, have now become a defining element of Morningside's identity. These support committees, which usually meet in individual homes, allow Friends to minister to one another on a deep and personal level.

In January, 1987, this diverse and caring community reached consensus on a minute to treat same-sex marriage the same as opposite-sex marriage. As a result, the first same-sex marriage under the care of Morningside Meeting occurred on May 30, 1987.

This care for one another has been mirrored in the way that Morningside Friends have engaged with the larger local, national, and international communities. The Meeting has always taken joy in that fact that a large portion of its revenue has gone to outreach in socially active programs. Social concerns are expressed in a variety of ways, as we work with organizations and individuals to witness in the world to Quaker testimonies. (See Faith and Practice. See also Organizations We Support.)

In 1995, Morningside Meeting began a local Friends’ Committee on Unity with Nature, which was soon joined by members of the 15th Street and Brooklyn Meetings. Originally established to help us become more aware of our role in creating the current environmental crisis and of our responsibility to hold the Earth in the same Light as we hold one another, the committee has evolved into Quaker Earthcare Witness, a nationwide network of Friends and other like-minded people who are taking Spirit-led action to address the ecological and social crises of the world from a spiritual perspective. (See www.quakerearthcare.org.).

Based on a history by Sarah Leuze