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The History of Chatham Summit Meeting

In the early twentieth century there were many Quaker meetings in southern New Jersey, but there were no active Quaker meetings north of Plainfield. In 1925 Quakers in the area were invited to a gathering at the YWCA in Newark, and from that gathering the Montclair meeting was started. However, when World War II began and gas rationing was imposed in 1942, there was a strong incentive for members who lived in the Madison, Chatham and Summit area to find a meeting place closer to home. They were glad to accept an invitation to meet at the Summit YWCA.

During World War II and after, Friends took on many activities related to international affairs and displaced persons. Meeting members hosted international students, became active in establishing an international house, and took part in the Hiroshima Girls project that brought twenty Hiroshima survivors to the NYC area for plastic surgery, offering housing for two of the young women. In subsequent years, members engaged in draft counseling during the Vietnam era and became involved with the hospitality program for homeless in the area and local food pantries and shelters.

During its eighty years as a faith community, Chatham Summit Quakers have remained a community that seeks to nurture both spiritual searching and an active concern for the world. With gratitude for three generations of Friends who set the tone and example, we continue to joyfully welcome new members and attenders.

Though they felt at home during their years at the Summit Y, the group had a long-held dream of having their own building and a building fund was started in 1943. In 1965 a lovely property was located on Southern Boulevard in Chatham. The meeting engaged noted Quaker architect H. Matthew Lippincott to design a meetinghouse that would reflect the values of simplicity and serenity. That building was completed in 1970. In 2007, to meet the needs of a growing meeting, the building was modestly renovated and was made ADA compliant.

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