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The mission of the Evangelical Friends Church, International is "to help local Friends churches around the world meet the spiritual needs of their communities."
The Religious Society of Friends debated a number of issues in the early 19th Century that led the various Friends Meetings to develop separate fellowships.
The first major division dealt with Scriptural authority, among other issues. "Orthodox Quakers" emphasized Biblical sources while "Hicksite" and his followers believed the inward light was more important than scriptural authority.
The Evangelical Friends Church, International grew out of the Orthodox branch that held to the primacy of scriptural authority.
The next major controversy led to separation in the Orthodox branch.
"Wilburite" led a group known as "Wilburites" or "Conservative Friends", who preferred a quietist approach and disavowed Biblical inerrancy as understood by the evangelical group.
The "Gurneyite" group relocated to Damascus, OH in 1917, becoming Ohio Yearly Meeting (Damascus). Later, they relocated again, this time to Canton, OH. In 1965 the Ohio Yearly Meeting (Damascus) joined the Evangelical Friends Alliance. In 1971 Ohio Yearly Meeting (Damascus) became Evangelical Friends Church - Eastern Region.
After World War I, the modernist-fundamentalist debate began to divide the Five Years Meeting. In 1926, Oregon Yearly Meeting (now Northwest Yearly Meeting) withdrew from the organization. They were joined in their departure by several other yearly meetings and scattered monthly meetings in the coming years.
In 1947, the Association of Evangelical Friends was formed, with triennial meetings which lasted until 1970. In turn, this led to the formation of the Evangelical Friends Association (EFA) in 1965. In 1989 the EFA was superseded by the Evangelical Friends International (EFI), covering four geographic regions (Africa, Asia, Latin America, and North America). In 2007, Europe was added as a fifth region. In 2007-2008 the name was changed to the Evangelical Friends Church, International (EFCI).
Friends, especially in the United States, are divided today as a result of divisions that took place mostly in the 19th Century. The Evangelical branch is the one that is most similar to other evangelical Christian denominations and differs some from other branches of Quakerism.
Evangelical Friends may refer to a local congregation as a church, while some other Friends call it a monthly meeting.
EFCI holds programmed (i.e. planned) services, while many other Friends hold silent services in which people speak as they feel led by God. Programmed services will usually incorporate silent worship, but it is only one element in the larger service.
A key doctrinal issue that sets Evangelical Friends apart from other Quakers is their view of salvation. Evangelical Friends believe that all people are in need of salvation, and that salvation comes to a person by putting his faith in Jesus Christ. Other Friends have a wide range of views on salvation, up to and including beliefs such as religious pluralism. Evangelical Friends support their views on the necessity of salvation as being more in line with the meaning of the Bible.
Because of evangelical Friends' origins within the Gurneyite faction during the 19th century series of schisms that divided the Society, some Evangelical Friends rely relatively less on the authority of the Inner Light and more on their belief in the authority of a literal reading of the Scripture.
Similar to other branches of Friends, the Evangelical Friends Church affirms baptism and communion as spiritual realities. These realities are realized in Christ through the Holy Spirit. Unlike most of the other branches of Friends, several of the Yearly Meetings within the EFC do allow freedom of conscious in regards to participating in water baptism or in offering and receiving communion with in their churches.
The issue that sets Evangelical Friends apart from other evangelical Christians is that they consider themselves part of the larger Friends movement. They also feel that their particular beliefs are consistent with the beliefs of the earliest Friends, such as George Fox (other Friends assert the same about their own beliefs and practices). Evangelical Friends also generally adhere to most, if not all, of the testimonies (core beliefs and values) of Friends (see "Testimonies" under Religious Society of Friends).
The Evangelical Friends Church, International is divided into several geographical areas called "Regions". Each region has its own director. A region is composed of the various Yearly Meetings and mission fields within its bounds.
Evangelical Friends Church International shares the gospel of Jesus Christ through their mission agency, Evangelical Friends Mission (EFM). EFM recruits and sends missionaries to various parts of the world to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and to disciple those who believe and follow Jesus. Starting new EFC congregations is often a key part of their ministry.
Over 1,100 Evangelical Friends churches representing more than 140,000 Friends in 24 countries are currently[when?] associated with EFCI. Currently, the largest Friends church in the world is Friends Church (Yorba Linda), an evangelical Friends megachurch located in Orange County, California.
Evangelical Friends Church International of North America is part of the National Association of Evangelicals, a large body of Christian denominations and groups in the United States that share evangelical beliefs.