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Pendle Hill Beginnings

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Historical photograph of Main HousePendle Hill was established in 1930 as a Quaker study center designed to prepare its adult students for service both in the Religious Society of Friends and in the world. The founders envisioned a new Quaker School of Social and Religious Education which would be "a vital center of spiritual culture" and "a place for training leaders." [Rufus Jones, Preliminary Announcement, 1929] An ideal location for the new school was found in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, a dozen miles from Philadelphia, easy to reach by train and near Swarthmore College.

Pendle Hill was meant to be different from existing Quaker schools or colleges, which were mainly academic. Its mission was both educational and religious: Pendle Hill was to be a school, rooted in Quaker community life, where students and staff would live according to Quaker principles and practices and where learning would be experiential as well as intellectual.

No grades or academic credit would be given. It was to be an experiment in living and learning, grounded in work, worship and study. With the aim of preparing students to respond to injustice and violence in the world, education at Pendle Hill was seen as alternative and often counter-cultural. At the same time, Pendle Hill was to be a center for cultivation of inner spiritual life and discernment of vocation.



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