Plain in the city

A plain Quaker folk singer with a Juris Doctorate in his back pocket, salt in his blood, and a set of currach oars in the closet, Ulleann Pipes under his arm, guitar on his back, Anglo Irish baggage, wandering through New York City ... in constant amaze. Statement of Faithfulness. As a member of the Quaker Bloggers Ad Hoc Committee I affirm that I will be faithful to the Book of Discipline of my Meeting 15th Street Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Procedures Good and Bad

Quakerism: a view from the back benches
Copyright 1966 The Back Benches

Procedures Good and Bad

The methods by which Friends conduct business are an integral part of our religious profession. We use the sense of the Meeting” because common search in a spirit of worship gives direct, unifying guidance. The procedure of a clerk presenting minutes for approval after complete and open discussion is an historical survival, but serves well as a simple and accurate method of recording action approved or opinion expressed. The clerk is only a servant of the business session recording its collective will, not an officer exercising authority over other Friends. Each session of a meeting possesses plenary power because a belief in the consistency of the leadings of truth.

However, Friends inevitably carry into meeting for business their experiences of other procedures used in corporations, government, politics or other organizations. With such background, when time, efficiency or the end sought obsess Friends, they may resort to Roberts’ Rules of Order rather than Faith and Practice. But the session is a meeting for worship with a concern for business. The methods used must reflect that fact.

Our procedure requires much of our members, for all should exhibit much knowledge, forbearance, and honesty and should be diligent with their “homework” prior to meetings. Businesslike sessions will result if all Friends are familiar with the Meeting’s methods and routines, with the various committees’ and their responsibilities and with other Friends’ capabilities concerns and personal pressures. If Friends require explanation of each step during business, ramble over committees’ duties, and assign inappropriate service to individuals, confusion will become endemic. Procedure and forms should be guides and ground rules to allow a smooth flow of serious business; they should not be matters for constant debate or devices used to avoid open discussion of issues. If Friends know, accept and habitually use our procedures to conduct all business, and to explore new areas of concern, the meeting can deal with business on its merits and with dispatch.

(to be continued)


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