West Richmond Friends Meeting was founded in 1909, as an outreach of the three Quaker congregations which existed at that time on the east side of town. It met at first in Lindley Hall at Earlham College.
In 1915, the meeting purchased the Harrison-Wright residence, at the corner of West Main and SW 7th Streets, to serve as a temporary home while a new, permanent structure was built. The new meetinghouse was dedicated at the end of 1916 as a memorial to Allen Jay (1831-1910). The Harrison-Wright house was remodeled and expanded in 1928 for use as a Sunday School and connected to the new meetinghouse by a covered archway; at that point it became known as the Community Building.
In 1964, the Charles Woodman addition to the meetinghouse was built to provide a library, a social hall, a nursery, office space, and extra classrooms for Sunday School and community activities.
In 1968, West Richmond joined with other area churches to sponsor the building of the Interfaith Apartments, a subsidized housing project for low-income senior citizens.
Our meeting was one of the founding partners of the Richmond Community Food Pantry. In 1994, the meeting became a covenant partner with Habitat for Humanity. Work crews from our meeting helped throughout the year with construction and painting. In 2009, we were one of the founding partners of Open Arms Ministries, a coalition of local churches which works to help people in need who have "fallen through the cracks".
Starting in 1994, the meeting began a major effort to make its building and activities more accessible to people with various physical abilities. We purchased wheel chairs, remodeled bathrooms, and installed a special hearing system. At last, in 2006, we installed an elevator which makes all levels of our building fully accessible. Together, with Richmond Friends School, we have modified and enhanced these facilities to accommodate a growing elementary school.
From the founding of the meeting, West Richmond Friends had from time to time found themselves at odds with others in Indiana Yearly Meeting who urged literal readings of the Bible and a fundamentalist approach to theology. These tensions came to a head in 2008, when West Richmond adopted a statement welcoming and affirming the roles of gay and lesbian people in the life of the meeting. As tensions grew in the yearly meeting over this and other related issues of authority, the difficult decision was made for a reconfiguration of the yearly meeting. West Richmond became one of fifteen monthly meetings set off to form the New Association of Friends in 2013. The New Association of Friends is a voluntary association of monthly meetings, churches and individuals that supports worship, ministry and service through the cultivation of Christian faith in the Quaker tradition.
In February 2016, West Richmond Friends approved the following statement that we will perform marriages regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identity of the participants:
West Richmond Friends Meeting will consider requests for marriage under the care of the Meeting by couples of any sexual orientation or gender identity, who are free to marry.
As the meeting enters its second century, we celebrate the work and vision of the many people who have been a part of our family!
In the spring of 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, West Richmond Friends Meeting began worshipping online.
In the fall of 1971, the Children's School of Richmond opened in the Community Building. It started with a small group of five-year-olds, and went on to add a grade a year in the early 1970's. Now known as Richmond Friends School, it is an accredited Quaker school with pre-K through 8th grade classes and an enrollment of 80.