From the "Friends Bulletin" for July 1995: Meeting for Business by Robert S. Vogel, Orange Grove Meeting "Is the Meeting for Business held in a spirit of a Meeting for Worship in which we seek divine guidance for our actions?" -Pacific Yearly Meeting query Although the meeting for business is different from the meeting for worship in that the former has a definite agenda, still Friends are advised to conduct their business in a spirit of worship. My recent experience in England might offer another perspective on how English Friends conduct their meetings for business. These observations are based on several monthly meetings, the Meeting for Sufferings, and the Woodbrooke Council. The meeting for business begins when the clerk and assistant clerk sit down at the table. There is a period of about fifteen minutes of silent worship, after which the clerk rises and takes up the agenda, copies of which are either on a notice board or distributed to members. Items come to the meeting from preparative meetings or committees in the form of reports and recommendations for action. After the item has been presented, the clerk says, "The matter is before the meeting," and sits down. Silence. One person stands, and, after being recognized by the clerk, states his or her views and sits down. More silence. Other persons stand, address the clerk, and sit down. When the clerk feels she has the sense of the meeting, she stops recognizing standing Friends and, with the help of the assistant clerk, begins to write the minute. This may take up to five minutes during which time Friends are in a silent worshipful mode. After writing the minute, the clerk stands and reads what she has written. She will recognize Friends who are standing who then speak to the minute and possibly propose some changes. The minute may be revised and again presented to the meeting for approval. At this point I was expecting a chorus of "Approve," but I never did hear that word. After the meeting I asked the clerk how she knew she had approval. She said she looked at Friends who either nodded, smiled, or said, "Hope so." What impressed me was both the worshipful atmosphere that pervaded the meeting and the efficiency of the operation. If there was apparently no unity, the matter was either referred back to the committee meeting or simply laid aside. No meeting, except the Meeting for Sufferings which met all day, lasted more than two hours, and minutes were written and approved as they arose. This may or may not be a model for meetings for business in North America, but we still need to respond to the query that asks if our meetings for business are held in a spirit of worship.
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