The Society of Friends suffered a series of schisms in the early 19th Century. The first divided " Hicksite" Quakers, who believed the inward light was more important than scriptural authority, from "Orthodox" Quakers, who emphasized Biblical sources. The second divided the Orthodox branch into "Wilburite" or conservative Friends, who preferred a quietist approach and disavowed Biblical inerrancy, from "Gurneyite" Friends, whose approach was deeply influenced by evangelical movements in other Protestant denominations, especially the ideas of John Wesley. These Gurneyite Friends formed Five Years Meeting (renamed Friends United Meeting in 1965) as an association of yearly meetings following the adoption of the Richmond Declaration in 1877.
After World War I, growing desire for a more fundamentalist approach among some Friends began to split Five Years Meeting. in 1926, Northwest Yearly Meeting withdrew from the organization, leading several other yearly meetings and scattered monthly meetings. In 1947, the Association of Evangelical Friends was formed, with triennial meetings which lasted until 1970. This led in turn to the 1965 formation of the Evangelical Friends Association, a precursor to today's Evangelical Friends International, formed in 1989.
Evangelical Friends International spreads its form of Quakerism through the Evangelical Friends Mission, which recruits and sends missionaries to various parts of the world to teach people the beliefs of Evangelical Friends and to start new Friends 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).