- Introduction – prophecy as a foreign concept
George Fox – whom many consider to be the founder of the Religious Society of Friends – had a very specific goal in mind for the movement he spearheaded according to Quaker author Lewis Benson. “Fox’s mission,” he says, “was to restore prophecy to the central place in the life of the Church.” While some might point to active prophetic voices within the Society of Friends today, it seems unlikely that many would describe prophecy as holding the central place in the life of this religious body. If Benson was indeed correct regarding Fox’s intent, then how is it possible to reconcile this original purpose with the present day reality?
Admittedly, such reconciliation may prove impossible. Certain aspects of early Friends simply do not translate into modern contexts. Prophecy, however, is not such an aspect. Other Christian traditions continue to hold a place for prophecy in some form, and most Friends today would likely agree to a similar position. So again we are left with the question of centrality. Are there any Quakers who grant prophecy a central place in their lives?
As it turns out, there is at least one. In late summer 1996, Quaker Heritage Press editor Licia Kuenning received a prophecy that Christ’s New Jerusalem would arrive soon in the small town of Farmington, Maine. Since that time, she has moved from Pennsylvania to Farmington, published her prophecy in a variety of print and online outlets, published a novel based on the prophecy, and discussed the prophecy widely among internet discussion groups.
While few, if any (including Licia herself), would argue against the point that this is an unusual prophecy, its broad dissemination and discussion has led Friends to examine and clarify their understanding of prophecy more generally. As such, the Farmington prophecy offers a unique opportunity for study and reflection. The purpose of this paper, then, is to 1) provide an overview of prophecy and understandings of prophecy among Friends historically, 2) explain the background of the Farmington prophecy and examine its contents, and 3) consider the implications of this prophecy for Friends today.