The Spiritual Crossroads at the Farmington Meeting House,
One of the many places of Prayer in Upstate NY.
The Quaker Meeting House in the town of Farmington (30 miles southeast of Rochester, NY)sits at a spiritual crossroads of what has been and what could be great about America again. The Farmington Meeting house was at the symbolic crossroads between humanity and the divine at a time when America’s heart and soul was truly embodied, in what was has since been called the “psychic highway in Upstate NY.” The church and its congregants played a vital role in bringing peace, healing and justice to America through its work with Native Americans, the women’s movement and the abolitionist movement. That divinity and guiding spirit that inspired the Farmington Quakers to greatness is still there.
A Rich Struggle for the Prophetic Spirit
Quakers first settled in the Farmington area in 1789. The first meetinghouse was built in 1804, near the marker on the lawn in front of the current Friends Church. By 1816, Quakers were so numerous that they built a larger meetinghouse across the road, 47 feet x 60 feet, one of the largest buildings, if not the largest, in western New York before the Erie Canal. When Quakers split into Orthodox and Hicksite branches in 1828, the Hicksites took the 1816 meetinghouse and the Orthodox moved into the 1804 building. In 1875, the 1804 building burned, and Friends constructed the meetinghouse still in use. In 1927, they sold the 1816 meetinghouse, and the new owner moved it 325 feet north of its original position, where it became a storage barn.
Oswego county historian Judith Wellman noted the important role that Farmington Quakers played in serving God and shaping our country in her nomination brief requesting national historic status for the Farmington meeting house;
“[I]ndividuals who came to Farmington, worshipped here, and in many cases were buried at this crossroads influenced national policy completely out of proportion to their numbers through leadership roles in three nationally important reform movements: the movement to protect Native American sovereignty, the movement for woman’s rights, and abolitionism and the Underground Railroad.
Farmington Quakers were extraordinarily influential because Farmington was a both a geographic and an intellectual and spiritual crossroads, located along what folklorist Carl Carmer called the “psychic highway” of upstate New York. Contemporaries called it the “burned over district” because it was so thoroughly swept by the fires of religious revivalism and reform. Between the Revolution and the Civil War, Quakers converged on Farmington from New England, eastern New York, and Pennsylvania, spreading out from Farmington into Ontario, Michigan, and the west. Spiritually attuned to ideals of equality, Farmington Quakers made this district a center for Quakers and reformers (both African Americans and European Americans) throughout the northeastern U.S. and Canada. This created a crucible for debates about freedom for Native Americans, African Americans, and women, and was a microcosm of national ferment that led eventually to the Civil War.
When Philadelphia Quakers arrived to support the great Canandaigua Treaty between the U.S. and the Haudenosaunee in 1794, the natives stayed with Farmington Friends. In 1838, after the Senate ratified the fraudulent Treaty of Buffalo Creek, Seneca leaders appealed to the Friends at the Farmington meeting house in 1816. Quakers successfully helped arrange a compromise treaty by which the Seneca kept the Allegany and Cattaraugus homelands, preventing a “Trail of Tears” like the one that occurred later that year when thousands of Cherokee were displaced to Oklahoma.
In 1848, people associated with the Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse District helped organize the country’s first woman’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York. Without these Quakers, there would have been no Seneca Falls convention. As early as 1838, Quakers at Farmington had agreed that men’s and women’s meetings would be recognized as equal, instead of women’s meetings being deferring to men’s meetings. In 1847 Farmington was the center of a new antislavery political party called the Liberty League. For the first time known in history, women voted and also received votes to become presidential nominees.
Farmington Quakers operated a major Underground Railroad node, which sheltered nationally known freedom seekers such as Austin Steward, William Wells Brown, and Mary and Emily Edmondson. They worked closely with Underground Railroad activist William Chaplin in Washington, D.C. Farmington Quakers helped organize the antislavery Liberty League Party, which nominated Gerrit Smith for President in 1847 and William R. Smith of Farmington for Governor of New York State in 1852. They were core leaders of the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society…”
The area of the Farmington meeting house is a tranquil place with a powerful presence. There is a strong sense that much attention has been focused on the divine there. All that focus on the divine connection has left a very powerful samskara encouraging more connection. It has all the associations that you would expect with a sacred site—spirit lines (lines of consciousness, ley lines), lots of energy and an underground water in the form of a water dome.
The area sits on what I call of field of consciousness. It is my belief that the greater CNY area is the home to Gaia’s soul and when we look to places within the area where spiritual foment and the struggle for social justice was strong, we also find fields of consciousness nearby. In other words, the area encouraged communities and individuals to greatness. These fields emanate the spirit of God and in particular, North Star consciousness, which deals with travel and communications and helps one transcend the physical realm. It is not surprising that they would be drawn to such a special place, given the Quakers focus on spiritual connection.
One of the better places for prayer outside can be found in the area next to the church towards the cemetery and in the driveway area. I believe that the original church was in that area.
If you go
Farmington Meeting House is located at the intersection of route 8 and Sheldon and Allen-Padgham Roads, Farmington, NY.
Services are on Sunday mornings at 11 AM. All ARE WELCOME.