How do Quakers make decisions about their collective lives? If these decisions are all made communally, how do they ever get anything done? What’s the process? Is it consensus? What happens when there is disagreement?
“Business Meeting” is a short-form of “Meeting for Worship for Quaker Business”
As a short-form, it risks the loss of a keystone of Quaker decision-making – that it occurs in the context of worship. Our understanding is that as we unite in worship, we create an opportunity to wait together on developing a shared sense of a spirit-led way forward. The person at the front of the Meeting is neither President nor Chair, but a Clerk – listener, writer, servant of the meeting. There will be no motions or votes. The clerk will discern the sense of the meeting and formulate a draft minute. This minute will be offered to the group, who may accept it, or modify it. The Meeting will agree to the minute, and move on.
To further explore this process, you may like to consult:
Quaker Faith and Practice, Chapter 3, General counsel on church affairs
The Mind of Christ: Bill Taber on Meeting for Business
Michael Birkel, Editor. Pendle Hill Pamphlet 406
Synopsis (from Pendle Hill Bookshop)
When Quakers gather to make decisions, they do so with the hope of being called into unity by the loving Spirit who guides their steps in the practice that Friends call “meeting for worship with attention to business.” But too often that sense of unity and sure guidance are elusive, and instead Friends experience impatience and frustration. The late Bill Taber, a teacher and spiritual guide beloved to many Friends, addressed the rewards and challenges of Quaker business process in a number of presentations to Friends groups. Quaker scholar Michael Birkel has edited Bill’s notes for these talks into an inspiring and helpful essay on how Friends can carry into business meeting the practices and attitudes that open the way to Spirit-led decisions in our communities. Discussion questions included.
Beyond Consensus: Salvaging Sense of the Meeting
Barry Morley. Pendle Hill Pamphlet 307
Is it too late for Friends to recover a gift intended for them? That gift is a sense of meeting in meeting for Business. That gift is not consensus. Barry Morley discusses three essential components in discovering a sense of meeting: release, long focus, and transition to Light, all of which are nurtured by worship. Rich stories of life experience illustrate the process in a pamphlet that offers a true gift back to Friends