The Quest for an Authentic French Quakerism: A Conversation with Jeanne-Henriette Louis

                   Chuck Fager

[Note: This conversation was conducted at the Friends International Center in Paris, in Twelfth Month (December) 2010.]

Chuck Fager[CF]:  Jeanne-Henriette [JH], I’m interested in your academic career, but I want to know a little bit about you. You say you are from Bordeaux, where did you grow up? Why did you become an academic instead of a doctor or lawyer or politician? Other than the fact that you were from France and spoke French, why were you teaching French? Why did you decide to go to American Studies?

JH: I was born in Bordeaux in a Protestant family in the [French] Reformed Church. That’s the religious education that I received from my family and when I was 24 years old, I was no longer interested, I didn’t stay with the Church. I found it was a very good place and very reliable, trustworthy, and so on, plenty of qualities. But it had become a little boring for me. They were too good. So when I left Bordeaux and came to Paris for my studies, studying English to become a professor of English, I did not register with any Protestant parish in Paris, so I went just unnoticed. I was a bit up in the air, but only toward Church, still doing some exploration, I was a seeker. I didn’t know Quakers at all at that time, but I enjoyed following a lot of talks, lectures, and so on. I experienced freedom, so I liked it much more than when I was with the Protestant parish.

At that time I was studying in order to get a diploma to teach English in a Grammar School. I was given the diploma and then I decided that I should go to the United States for a while, because when I taught English, my students were much interested by the American classes. Part of the curriculum was the British Isles and the other part was the United States and I could tell the difference in the interest of my students. They really liked best classes about American civilization, that’s what we called it. But after two years, I thought, well, I’ve never been to this country it’s a little difficult to give classes, it was a little abstract, so I applied for a position in the United States, for a grad position in an American college and I was offered a position in Wake Forest University [1968-69].  

It was comparatively quiet in Wake Forest University, but now I remember much of the arguments about ROTC, so the student’s protest was about ROTC. They talked about the Vietnam War. So it was not completely quiet. But meanwhile we heard news from California, from Berkeley and this was the beginning of the protests, the visible protests in Berkeley. And I found that Wake Forest was a little too provincial for me. I wished to have one more year in the United States, and I happened to learn that there was a position in Berkeley for a French citizen and I applied. I thought it must be terribly difficult to obtain, but why not try? And it worked. I was surprised. And very happy, because California was going to be a good contrast to North Carolina, so I would know two sides of American Civilization. In Berkeley, I taught French again, French language. [1970]

CF: That was not a quiet year in Berkeley.

JH: No, not at all. But most interesting. At the end of the 1970 academic year, I decided to go back to France since I had two years, and I wanted to get a position in a French University, which I got in Orléans, not too bad. I wanted to be in Paris or near Paris and I got near Paris, but anyway I often went to Paris. And I started teaching American Civilization to freshmen in the University of Orléans, and this time I really enjoyed it because I had two years experience in the United States, so it was more concrete.

Then I was told of course, that I must write a PhD. dissertation, which I did not look forward to. I thought perhaps I would have to spend all my vacation doing that. And I found that it was rather sad, and I didn’t know what topic to chose. I liked the teaching very much, but the research side, not too much. But I had to find a topic, and a director.

And the topic I chose was the period of the 2nd World War, which was the period when I was a child. I was born in 1938, and I had some memories of the time of the 2nd World War. That period was a mystery to me and I really wanted to explore it more, to try to understand what this war was all about. And it was about psychological warfare within the United States from 1939 until the end of the 2nd World War.

JeanneHenriette Louis

CF: Can you say a little more about World War Two, your memories of it, and the mysteries that you felt you needed to explore?

JH: Yes, yes, actually, at this time my family did not live in Bordeaux. We lived in France, in the Pyrenees, because my father had his position there.

[Parts of southern] France [were not] occupied by the German army after 1942, so we were in a free space for longer than Paris for instance. But we didn’t suffer too much from the occupation in the war. Still, those years were not good years to have one’s childhood, but we were comparatively fortunate. My father was not called back to the army when the war started, because he already had several children so he was exempted. And he was a pacifist at heart, so he liked not being drafted.

And then I remembered when prisoners, French prisoners came back from Germany, by this time, I think we did live in Bordeaux. So it was, of course, Germans who were enemies for us. Although, my father, being a very peaceful man, 4enever insisted too much about that.  And he said we should not hate our enemies, so I had good preparation for Quaker philosophy. Although, I don’t think he knew Quakers, or did I. My brothers and sisters, we were both in a good context, I think. We were encouraged more to love our enemies than to hate them. My father had become a Protestant, he was Catholic before, and we were brought up in the spirit of evangelical love or brotherhood. He quoted the Bible very often.

CF: What were some of his favorite verses or quotes that you can recall?

JH: The New Testament. He particularly likes St. John chapter 3, in French Car Dieu a tant aimé le monde qu`il a donné son Fils unique, afin que quiconque croit en lui ne périsse point, mais qu`il ait la vie éternelle. So did you follow that?

CF: Is that verse 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

JH: Yes, I believe that was it.  And he loved these quotes so much that we had it hung in the dining room. I think it was in red; it was embroidered I think. So he read the Bible to us. He was really a deep believer, actually. Until I started at the University, I went to school normally, that was nothing extraordinary. I chose English. Already, at the age of 10, I wanted to be a teacher of English.

CF: What was your father’s profession? Did you say that?

JH: No, I didn’t. My father was an agricultural engineer. He had studied at the Institut National Agronomique in Paris. He was very close to nature, and he was given a high position. But he was more or less stuck in the career of which he was French director.   He was responsible for Agriculture in the South west of France. It was a good position, but when the war ended, he was dismayed because he was asked to do things he was not ready to do in terms of philosophy. He was asked to encourage Industrial Agriculture, and he could not accept this. This was a conscientious objection of its own, so he was very unhappy. Then we went to Angoulême, and in 1948, this is where he was asked to encourage Industrial Agriculture, and he just could not do it. It was against his conscience. And he already had several children to raise, so my mother was very worried about the whole situation. And then he tried to find something he could do for a living. He could not keep his profession.

And fortunately, he found an alternative position, which was teaching in an agricultural school. And one was found near Bordeaux, and he taught mainly arboriculture, how to take care of trees; and he was very, very good at this. He could cure trees that were ill. And vines, and Bordeaux is a country of wine, of course. He became a specialist of wine growing, and he taught these to his pupils. He was already a dissident, but he was not ejected from his job. He taught his pupils: I am asked to teach you things which are wrong. Some of his pupils remember that now. We got in touch with some of them, and they tell us, my brothers and sisters and me:  “Your father was right, he was so right!”

CF: Rebels and pioneers.

JH: Yes, so he remained a dissident . . . .Then I registered for my PhD. dissertation and the subject was psychological warfare. And everyone knew that I was working on that, working on war, studying war. I wanted to clarify, even for myself what an enemy was, I remember, of course, Germans were our enemies, but I had to clarify this more. So I taught American Civilization in Orléans for seven years. After these years, I thought that I must go back to the United States because I didn’t have enough documents for my dissertation. I applied for a Fulbright grant, and then I had 1 year for full-time research. This was going to be good. But, at the same time, I was uncomfortable about my topic. And I thought, how could I choose such a bad topic for myself?

CF: Why was it such a bad topic for you? I ask because psychological warfare was a very real thing and certainly worth studying and understanding. It didn’t make you feel you were becoming a militarist, did it?

JH: No, no, it did not. But working on that was very dark. It put me in a warlike atmosphere. I went, I studied at the National Archives in Washington, D.C, and the place was so unpleasant, the offices were very dingy looking, it was very sad, so my morale was affected by that. Plus working on warlike, wartime documents, the whole thing made my search painful, dark. Of course I learned things, I have documents for that. But, I thought, when I went back home, Bordeaux, I told my brothers and sisters, why did I choose this topic? And I chose it, so I don’t have to blame anyone for it, no, I chose it.

And meanwhile, I could tell that the Green Movement, for organic agriculture, was developing in the United States. This was recent. And when I returned to the U.S. in 1977, I realized that the organic agriculture movement was rising. Whereas, when I chose my topic a few years before, it was not really visible, particularly from France, so in these years 1976-77, I thought, Oh dear, I chose the wrong topic, I should have chosen the Green Movement, because I would have felt much more at home with the education I had received through my father.

So what was extraordinary, what happened afterwards when I found out about peace movements and Quakers, this was in nearly 1980, after I had come home with a lot of documents from the military department of the archives, very sad stuff that I had collected.

I wrote something, which was a kind of draft for the dissertation, I gave it to my supervisor, and he said, it’s not bad, but it’s a little dry. And I couldn’t do much about the style at this time. And then when I found out about Friends in 1980, and the idea of non-violence, Quakers, Mennonites, William Penn, founding of Pennsylvania, Oh I said, but half of American History has been missed out.

CF: Now let’s stop a little bit. You said, “when you found out about Friends.” Say a little bit about how and when you found out, if you remember.

JH: Yes, yes, I remember, because this was a crucial turning point. Some of my research in these years I did at the British Library in London, a very good library, they even have a lot of American documents, and one day, in order to finish the dissertation, I had to check a few things, and this saved me from traveling to the United States, so I spent several weeks there. And by chance, if I may say so, at the British Library, I came across a Quaker text.

CF: What Quaker text?

JH: The first one I found was an American one, by Richard Gregg, have you met him, do you know about him?

CF: I know his work. Was it The Power of Non-Violence?

JH: Yes, yes. And this was in the Journal of  Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) an article by Richard Gregg, I came across it, but I was drawn, attracted by the title, “Should we Kill Hitler?” or “Would Killing Hitler Solve Anything?” A rather provocative title. I had never seen the like of it. I read it and felt, Ahh, this man is right. And then I realized I had missed out on so much.

CF: Now wait a second. The question of his title was, “Would Killing Hitler Solve Anything?” And his answer in the article was–?

JH: He said it would not.

CF: Because?

JH: Because humanity carries war in itself. And if we do not do work on ourselves, by ourselves, killing an enemy doesn’t help. So killing itself was not the solution. So it was very much Quaker philosophy that I was discovering, and I said, Oh, yes, that’s right.

So at the British Library, I took this opportunity to learn more about Friends, and I read about Gandhi, and Tolstoy, and William Penn. I read all that I could. So, I was much disturbed by that, but at the same time very happy. Because a whole space was opening before me, and I could tell it had been very little studied. I had taught American Civilization in Orléans for several years, without meeting Quakers, so I thought teachers, university teachers, do not know about Quakers, so their students do not know about them, and so on. So this was very good news. And then I thought, I should have written my dissertation on American Quakers.

When I came home, in Paris, I talked to my supervisor. My poor supervisor was really at a loss with me, because the first time I told him, I should have worked on organic agriculture–no, no, no, too late, too late; and then I said, Oh, I should have written my dissertation on Quakers, and I was supposed to finish the dissertation within 1 year. So I said I’m not going to change the topic itself, but I’m going to change the way, my interpretation of the documents, the way I look at these events.

I didn’t change the topic and my supervisor said, “Oh, if you were going to write about peace studies, you could do that, but you should have given this as title. But I could not have written about something I did not know. It was a surprise. It came mainly because of the hard work I had done and which had enabled me to reach more peace in this context.

And I said, “Okay, I’m not going to change topic because I did a lot of work on psychological warfare, I have documents, I find they are very sad and depressing, but, since I have them I’m going to expose them too, yes, write about them, but with a different comment and comparing the warlike and the peace interpretations”

So for peace, I had no time in one year to get enough documents. I just took a few Quaker documents. I kept it in the background and I thought, I shall deal with this as a post-dissertation work, in French we call it post-doc. So it reconciled me with the dissertation that I had taken, but, sometimes in the dissertation, I talk about peace, and for the time of the 2nd World War I could reference Quakers like Richard Gregg, but not too much, I didn’t have much time for that.

And when I defended my dissertation, this was in 1983, I said, Now I was going to change the century I work on, I had started with the 20th century, and I said, Oh, but what is more important is the 17th, 18th centuries, so I said, That’s what I’ll do after as post-doctorate work, and I said we should start with the founding of Pennsylvania and something which did not last very long, the Holy Experiment, but we can follow on from there. And this is what I did. And the panel, they were very nice, very kind.

CF: I recall there was someone who has been quite meaningful in my own development on your panel. Or, at least I thought you had told me there was.

JH: That there was?

CF: Yes, on your panel, a scholar who has been very influential in my own development.

JH: Jacques Ellul. [Jacques Ellul, 1912-1994, was a Professor of Sociology and law at the University of Bordeaux. His writings on the growth of technology and its domination of modern society have been seen by many as prophetic. He was also a lay theologian based in the French Reformed Church, whose many religious works have also been widely influential. He espoused a kind of Christian anarchism.]

CF: Yes.

JH: Yes, yes, and I knew him because he was Protestant, the same church as my family.

CF: So now we have to stop here and talk about Jacques Ellul and


JH: He was a friend of my father’s.

CF: I’m not a bit surprised.

JH: Yes, I read several of his books and really appreciated them very much and when I came to build a panel, I was given some freedom for that and I told my supervisor, I would like to have Jacques Ellul and he agreed, he invited him, yeah.

CF: So you defended your dissertation, and it was successful, I presume.

JH: Yes, yes, the defense went very well because I felt comfortable with this new version, it was no longer dry. You know the first version was dry, I was told, and I didn’t know how to make it more attractive, but afterward, I wrote in a natural way, my style had much improved, because I agreed with myself. So, yes, it went very well and afterward, I started in my post-doc work, starting with the 17th century, and I’m still working on it now.

CF: Okay, then let’s leave that for a moment, but I want to go back, you first learned about Quakers at the library in London. But then did you learn more about it mainly by reading or did you seek out a Meeting, or in terms of actual contacts or association?

JH: Yes, so I looked for Quakers in France, there were about the same number as now.

CF: Or more.

JH: Yes, there was more. A friend knew the Quaker Center and when I told him I had found out about the Quakers, he told me, “I can take you there one Sunday”, so he took me here.

CF: Okay. Do you remember what year that might have been?

JH: 1981. The end of 1981, I was still working on my dissertation but it was almost the end. And I found when I met [an American Quaker living in Paris] Gretchen Ellis at this time, she had come here before me, and said, is this Quaker Center going to last or not, because they were not numerous, and particularly, they were quite old and depressed because we thought maybe they would have to close this place. They were very seriously talking about closing it. And Gretchen and I and a few other ones, we decided to apply for membership. We had mixed feelings about that because it was a big responsibility, it was not a thriving meeting at all, but we thought, well, we can’t just let it die and watch it dying. We couldn’t do that. So we applied for membership, and the age average dropped.

CF: Okay, so you were attending that, and being active with the center while you were finishing your dissertation and then continued in the 1980’s. Can we move to the development of your concern for Quakers in France, I assume there are connections there.

JH: There are. I found out about Congénies, [the Quaker settlement in the south of France, now a Quaker conference center] which at the time had not been restored, later on it was restored. Now it is beautiful, you saw it. But I read a textbook about French Quakers, by Henry Van Etten. He had a Dutch origin, but he lived in France and he was Secretary for France’s Yearly Meeting for several decades, and his book is a summary of the history of French Friends. And we had it re-published this year, because it was sold out. And I found it illuminating. Now I had the story as a whole. And I thought, Oh, France Yearly Meeting is in a bad condition because it has been too much influenced by English-speaking Friends, particularly the British and it was a little stifled, it could not find its identity freely, so I found it rather sad, and I thought I might help French Friends to find their identity.

CF: Now, let me interrupt for a minute because this book by Henry Van Etten, can you identify 2 or 3 high points in the history that he covered? How far back does it go?

JH: It goes back to the history of French Protestants, 16th century and 17th and so on. And this is how, after my analysis, I say this should be emphasized: the history of French Protestants is the history of persecution, it’s little known. Well, Protestants know about it, but non-Protestants do not know much. French who wanted to learn about Quakers studied mainly British Quaker history, and their head was full with Quaker history, and persecution in Britain.

They knew about Quakers at the time of George Fox and even after, but did not know much about the persecution of French Protestants, so they had adopted the history of Quakers given by Quakers, British Quakers, which is normal for British Quakers. I think it’s normal, there may be a little regret on my part [about that British emphasis], but it can be understood. But for French Quakers, if the whole space is taken by the history of British Quakers and there’s no space left for the persecution of French Protestants, then the basis [for French Quaker history] is wrong.

CF: So French Protestants were persecuted. Do I remember you saying there was a small group in France of Protestants who, a long time ago, announced that they were identifying with Friends? Can you say a little bit about that?

JH: Yes. Well, the first French Quakers were spiritual descendants of French Protestants, and so they were mainly in the south of France, near Nîmes. Yes, they were spiritual descendants of Camisards, who had refused to fight during the Camisard war, beginning of the 18th century.

CF: What is that, Camisard?

JH: It was a war among Protestants and Catholics, where Protestants were persecuted. In the mountains [of the Cévennes region] they had to hide in order to hold their meetings. And the Camisard war [a revolt against the repressive Catholic monarchy] broke out in about 1702, and some of the persecuted Protestants, fought valiantly, but some of them would not fight, even to defend themselves and these were the spiritual forefathers of Quakers to be, future Quakers. And the meeting between pacifist Protestants and British Quakers took place in 1785, when, what would be a long story.

CF: Please say more about the meeting?

JH: Yes, a British Quaker shipowner named Joseph Fox had some ships [of which he was part owner] seized by the French. The ships had been involved in [the American Revolution] they worked against the French on the British side. So some of his ships that were ships were seized by French authorities.

CF: This was a British Quaker in France?

JH: Well, he was a British Quaker, and he learned after this war, the American war of independence, he learned that his ships had been involved in looting old French ships.

Because he was co-owner of the ships, so he was very sorry about that and he went to the co-owners that were not Friends, who wanted to give him a share of the money they got from selling the goods looted from French ships. First Joseph Fox refused it, then he accepted, and he put it in a bank or something in order to give it back to the victims. And he sent his son, Edward to France, in order to find the victims. And the son published an ad, somehow, in the Gazette of France, saying they wanted to find those who had lost property because of his ships, and compensate them, and this became known to the people in [the village of] Congénies [in the south of France]. 

Now in Congénies, a group had started. They were not Quakers, but they were Protestant pacifists, and they had a lot of philosophy that was not very different from British Quakers. And one of them, I think it was Jean de Marsillac, who wrote a biography of William Penn, he was French, he had become a French Couflaïre, as they called them. [The Couflaïre were French Protestants who held views similar to Quakers. “Couflaïre” in French means “inspired ones.”]

And when de Marsillac saw the letter of Edward Fox, he said we must get in touch with him, and so they wrote him, the group wrote to Edward Fox, and they told him, we don’t know anything about the looting of ships, but we think we are brethren, we are much impressed by your Quaker philosophy. So maybe we should meet. And Edward answered, and in the following years, contacts were made, letters were written and Jean de Marsillac was invited to London to the British Friends, and three years later, the Couflaïres became Quakers because they had said that they would like to be part of the Religious Society of Friends, and this was done in 1788, when Friends from Britain and Nantucket in America came to Congénies. And they had a ceremony and they had a meeting for worship. So that’s the beginning of French Quakerism.

CF: You’re keeping me in suspense. The Friends from Congénies were not connected to the case of the looted ships. Did Edward Fox ever find people from the ships, to give money back to?

JH: Yes, he did. He did give them the money. It was completed, yes, in the following years. The father and the son were called Fox, but they are not from George Fox’s family. [In fact, it had been a compensation payment made to a boat owner in Sète, a coastal town not far from Congénies, that alerted the Couflaïres to the existence of Quakers.–Ed.]

CF: Okay, so we’ve got French Quakers started in Congénies in 1788, an unknown story even in France. Are there other high points between then and when you come along, that we ought to know?

JH: There is the building of the meetinghouse in Congénies in 1822. With British Quaker money and American Quaker money.

CF: With, you say, British and American Quaker money that meetinghouse was built in 1822. When I first visited with you, you showed me an album of very old photographs of Quakers who spent time there. It showed that Congénies became kind of a summer place for Quakers who could afford to go to the south of France.

JH: Yes, it was a missionary grounds, missionary for Quakers. And Congénies was the main place where one could find Friends, or in the next villages, but it was much limited, it never went beyond maybe 300-400 people, but the majority of the people in Congénies had become Friends.

CF: But it sounded like that meeting died out at some point. About when was that?

JH: At the end of the 19th century. One reason was that in the United States it was easier to be considered a conscientious objector than in France. So, some men chose to immigrate to the United States. And the other reason was marriage. There were a lot of Protestants in the area so some men or women married Protestants.

CF: “Married out” is what we formerly called it in the States. In the States they were disowned when they did that.

JH: Yes. I don’t think they were disowned then. But anyway, the meeting dwindled until it ended at the beginning of the 20th century.

[The last meeting was held in April, 1905, and the building was sold in 1907. – Ed.]

CF: And when was it revived?

JH: Well, it was supposed to be revived at the end of the 1st World War. And this was done by British and American Friends. The first Quaker Center in France was opened in 1920 at Hôtel britannique , Avenue Victoria. 

CF: So there was a Paris Quaker Center established at some point, and Congénies was revived eventually, and it’s operating now.

JH: Yes, but much later, because it was revived here, in Paris, and in Congénies in the 20th century. In Congénies there was hardly anything left . . . and towards the end of the 20th century some Friends in France thought it would be good to buy the house back, they kept the memory about the history, and I was one of those who spoke in favor of buying the house back and when the Tomlins came [retired British Friends], and decided to live in Congénies, they were instrumental in the buying of the house and reviving the Congénies group. So the house in Congénies was bought by France Yearly Meeting in 2003, with the help of many British Friends. And then it was renovated; the renovation was really well done.

CF: I want to go back to your concern for taking this unknown French Quaker history, and somehow extending it, or making it the basis for shall we say, a renewed indigenous French Quakerism, and how evidently that has been a challenging thing to pursue.

JH: It is a challenging thing, something difficult, because it has been tried many times and it never worked. Beyond 300 Friends in Congénies it did not really spread, some in the Paris area, but we have a lot of pushing from the British Friends, American Friends, and though I tried to analyze that and it must be something very deep in people’s minds, in subconscious.

Because when you think about it, quite a number of French people share the Quaker philosophy, so why do they not choose to belong to Society of Friends? And one reason, I think, is it is very close precisely to the Reformed Church. Quite a lot of people have been in the Reformed Church, why should they go elsewhere? And actually, French Reformed and French Quakers hardly know each other, even now. The Reformed Church in France likes simplicity, like Friends, there are many values in common. So, somehow, it is a handicap for Quakerism, and then I asked myself, well, after all, if people are happy with the Reformed Church why not just stay?

CF: But what about the 90-plus per cent of French people, as I’ve read, that don’t go to any church?

JH: Yes. I think they don’t go to any church because they’re not sure that these churches can bring something that they do not have; and there is also the tradition of la laïcité in France, you know, separation between church, which was the Catholic Church at the time, and the state, and being an agnostic is very well accepted in France. Quakerism in France is possibly the nearest thing to, agnosticism, or, how do I explain that? We have a poster here somewhere, and I think it is very relevant now. [The poster reads: In English: “Do you aspire to a secular reli-gion without dogma or ritual? The Society of Friends (Quakers) may interest you.”] The poster has been there for a long time but now with all the changes that happen about la laïcité and all, I think this poster is relevant. And it’s the idea, at the time of the French Revolution there was a lot of interest for Quakers.

CF: Okay, of this let’s say 90+% of Parisians that don’t go to church, how many of them are going to see this poster that’s on that wall in there?  Could it be useful if it were seen somewhere else? Now walking from the Metro as we did to this building earlier today, we saw a lot of signs, posters, billboards, and I didn’t see any for Quakers, that said “Quaker Center this way.”

JH: No, but possibly, we could put it on our website.

CF: What this is raising for me is the question of what we would call in the States outreach. How are others here going to hear about Quakerism? I know that in the States, even though Quakers are better known than it sounds like they are in France there are still huge, huge portions of the population that have no idea. I still run into Americans who say, “What are Quakers?” And I say, “We’re a church, kind of like Baptists, or Methodists, only smaller.” So there’s still an awful lot of people we’ve missed. Outreach is a never-ending task, even for us. So. What do you think?

JH: God will provide.

CF: God will provide. Okay. I mean I don’t know what, posters on the busses…

JH: Do you know how much that costs?

CF: No, but… what about bumper stickers, they are cheap…

JH: I rely more on the awakening of teachers, even teachers of English, who do not know about Friends and who are discovering them now, because they discovered their role in the evolution of slavery and once they wake up, a lot of things will happen, I think. It’s just a beginning, because when teachers do not know about us, thousands of children are left in ignorance so I rely on that, because I know it’s beginning now.

CF: How do you get to teachers?

JH: They’re my colleagues. University teachers train grammar school teachers.

CF: So you’re pursuing an initiative to spread information among University teachers who we hope will be training lower grade teachers about Quakers

Is there anything else we need to know about your hopes and dreams and initiatives for French Quakerism? Let’s say I come back in 20 years and things go well, what would you hope that I would be able to see? Say my grandchildren come to visit.

JH: More spirituality in France, although I think there is a lot of spirituality already. There’s more signs of Quakerism in France now. I think the role of Quakers since the beginning of the movement was to awaken people. I’m convinced that we are in a very crucial time for humanity, when there should be a shift of spirit and matter being reconciled and spirituality growing.


Henry Van Etten, Chronique de la vie quaker francaise, 17451945: deux siecles de vie religieuse. Paris; Societe religeuse des Amis (Quakers), 1938. 2nd revised and enlarged edition, 1947.

Friends Meetinghouse and Center, Congénies France

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