Friends General Conference

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Meeting for Business

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Meeting for Worship for the Conduct of Business

The Monthly Meeting for Worship for the Conduct of Business, held on the second Sunday of each month at noon, is the basic working unit of the Religious Society of Friends, attending to any business or concern presented to it by Meeting Committees or the Clerk. We transact business not by majority rule, but rather by seeking the “sense of the Meeting” of the will of God concerning the issues that are brought before us. In this process, arising from a worshipful silence, we strive toward a full understanding of and unity on decisions by all present. All are welcome to participate, whether members or attenders. We believe that the decisions made by a group are enriched when all members commit themselves to regular attendance.

Friends conduct business together in the faith that there is one Divine Spirit, which is accessible to all persons. When Friends wait upon, heed, and follow the Light of Truth within them, its spirit will lead to unity. This faith is the foundation for any corporate decision. Friends strive to observe a discipline of plain speaking, using simple and direct language. This discipline extends to not interrupting or interjecting remarks. The occasional, “That Friend speaks my mind,” shows support for a viewpoint.

Friends maintain order and ensure full participation by waiting to be recognized by the Clerk and addressing all comments to the Clerk and not to one another. Having once expressed a view, a Friend is expected to refrain from pressing it unduly, at length, or repeatedly. Friends do not resort to a vote to settle an issue. Friends expect to find unity. This unity transcends both consensus, which retains only the views common to all present, and compromise, which affirms none of the positions presented. In Quaker experience, it is possible for all to unite in a decision, even when some have reservations. A united Meeting is not necessarily of one mind but it is all of one heart.

Conduct of Meeting for Business

The Clerk will preside at Meeting for Business; in the absence of the Clerk, the Assistant Clerk or the Clerk of Ministry and Worship may preside. The Clerk's primary responsibilities are to see that the Meeting for Business is conducted in good order and to identify the "sense the meeting" with respect to decisions.

Friends participating in Meeting for Business should be mindful that this meeting is a Meeting for Worship. Care should be taken to leave some space between speakers.

The Recording Clerk takes minutes of the Meeting for Business. The Recording Clerk will not mention names of Friends associated with statements made during the Meeting for Business unless they are speaking in an official capacity, for example, when reporting for a committee. The minutes should capture the range of opinion which was expressed in the discussion of a topic, along with the approved decision. Minutes of decision should be read back and approved either at the next Meeting for Business or during the current Meeting for Business to ensure that they accurately express the sense of the meeting.

Preparation of Business

As much as possible, business matters coming before Meeting for Business should be carefully "prepared" and "seasoned" in advance. Prior to bringing the matter to the community for consideration, the individual(s) or committee(s) preparing the business should fully consider the matter and its implications for the meeting community, be familiar with past decisions or practice related to the matter, be prepared to recommend or suggest a clear course of action, and involve the Clerk and other officers, individuals and/or committees in advance as appropriate.

Meeting for Business should consider the business in a spirit of worship, fully honoring the effort undertaken in advance to prepare the matter. At the same time, individuals and committees bringing prepared business to Meeting for Business should be prepared to "step back," remaining open to the movement of the Spirit in the Meeting, and confident that the Meeting's consideration will produce an outcome consistent with Divine leading.