The terms “Quaker” and “Friend” mean the same thing. We are a group of people who were originally instigated by George Fox in England in the middle of the 17th century. There was one key moment in his, and now our, history when young George at age 19 had his world turned upside down. Attempting to live a life worthy of Christ, yet constantly facing temptation and grief, he began to seek the advice of priests and protestant clergymen. Some of the advice he was given included blood-letting and taking up tobacco! Then one day, in his own private wilderness, Fox had a tremendous experience:
“But as I had forsaken the priests, so I left the Separate preachers also, and those called the most experienced people; for I saw there was none among them all that could speak to my condition. And when all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could I tell what to do; then, oh! then I heard a voice which said, ‘There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition’: and when I heard it, my heart did leap for joy.”
That was just the beginning of what would become a rich heritage of faith that for those of us called Friends or Quakers helps to define who we are. We are a relatively humble people marked by plain dress, but back in the day Quaker men would measure their “Quakerness” by how wide the brim on their hats were. In that same spirit we intend to help Quakers everywhere to flaunt what makes us unique. Did you know that we have historically been known as “a peculiar people”? We hope to help you keep it up!
Quaker Gear began when one of QG owner Mark Winner’s seminary professors, who is a Lutheran, showed off his Martin Luther bobble-head doll and told us about a website filled with stuff Lutherans would like to have. Being excited about his Quaker heritage, and not willing to be bested by Lutherans, he was motivated to make this happen! ”My hope is that Quakers from everywhere will be able to shine the light of Christ by wearing and using our great gear!” -Mark Winner
OUTFITTING THE STRONG SILENT TYPE SINCE 1643
Why 1643? George Fox, at the age of 19 and discontented with the religious world around him, set off on his own to eventually find Christ and the vision for what would become the Religious Society of Friends. While there are certainly greater moments in Friends history, we at Quaker Gear can relate to a young man who rebelled against a sinful and selfish society to strike out on his own. For us, the moment Fox left his hometown to seek the Lord was the most pivotal moment in our history.
Read Fox’s own account from George Fox: An Autobiography, by George Fox and edited by Rufus M. Jones:
When I came towards nineteen years of age, being upon business at a fair, one of my cousins, whose name was Bradford, having another professor with him, came and asked me to drink part of a jug of beer with them. I, being thirsty, went in with them, for I loved any who had a sense of good, or that sought after the Lord.
When we had drunk a glass apiece, they began to drink healths, and called for more drink, agreeing together that he that would not drink should pay all. I was grieved that any who made profession of religion should offer to do so. They grieved me very much, having never had such a thing put to me before by any sort of people. Wherefore I rose up, and, putting my hand in my pocket, took out a groat, and laid it upon the table before them, saying, “If it be so, I will leave you.”
So I went away; and when I had done my business returned home; but did not go to bed that night, nor could I sleep, but sometimes walked up and down, and sometimes prayed and cried to the Lord, who said unto me: “Thou seest how young people go together into vanity, and old people into the earth; thou must forsake all, young and old, keep out of all, and be as a stranger unto all.”
WHO IS QUAKER GEAR?
The founder and owner of Quaker Gear is Mark Winner who has been a recorded minister in the Evangelical Friends Church – Eastern Regionsince 2001. He currently serves as the senior pastor of Cornerstone Friends Church in Madison, Ohio. He began his ministry there in 1999 as the youth and children’s pastor and has played a number of roles throughout the years including leadership of young adult, multi-media, and administrative ministries. Prior to his call to Madison, Ohio Mark served as youth pastor to West Park Friends Church in Cleveland, Ohio for two years.
Mark Graduated from Malone University in Canton, Ohio in 2001 with a BA in Christian Ministry and George Fox Evangelical Seminary in Portland, Oregon in 2013 with a MA in Ministry Leadership. He has also served on a number of committees and projects for the EFC-ER beginning at age 17 and has a rapidly growing passion for local and foreign missions. He has served on short-term mission opportunities in Louisiana, Jamaica and India. Mark is deeply committed to the Evangelical Friends Church as well as the historic vision which has fueled the flame of ministry for all sorts of Quakers regardless of individual theological and practical perspectives.
Mark was married to Jennifer Winner in 1997. Their family is rounded out by two passionate and talented daughters, Sydney and Lily. Jennifer is very active in worship ministry as well as teaching in the church and volunteering in the girls’ school. Sydney and Lily share a love for all things musical and artistic. In their spare time this family likes to make videos, mostly rap videos, many of which have become YouTube sensations. You may take a look at them HERE if you wish. Mark has dabbled in web design, graphic design and video production over the years.
“My ultimate goal with QG is to see people become more aware of our unique spiritual heritage as Friends and get excited about sharing this rich tradition with our peers. My own personal style is slightly sarcastic yet sincere. I hope you can see that when you check out the gear we have available. This venture has not been incredibly profitable from a financial standpoint yet, but the conversations I’ve been allowed to participate in as a result of QG have been more rewarding than I could ever have imagined! I hope you find something you like here!” -Mark