Quarterly meetings are gatherings of members and attenders of monthly meetings that are geographically close to one another. These meetings include worship, fellowship and business and are usually held four times each year, thus the name “Quarterly Meeting”.
Groups of neighboring monthly meetings within Philadelphia Yearly Meeting have always felt strengthened by joining to form quarterly meetings. These bodies traditionally have met two to four times a year as occasions for Friends to encourage and strengthen one another through worship, and to deal with matters of regional concern. Members of each regional meeting decide how often they will gather for worship, business, and mutual support.
Quarterly meetings are composed of all the members of its constituent monthly meetings. Sessions of a quarterly meeting, thoughtfully planned, provide religious fellowship, spiritual enrichment for Friends, and a forum for cooperation and exchange of information and ideas among the members of the constituent monthly meetings. Those gathered may develop plans to deal regionally with broader issues and special concerns and may also test concerns that a monthly meeting wishes to bring before the yearly meeting.
Some Quarters are more formally organized with committees and in some cases have a part-time or full-time coordinator. Other Quarters gather simply for worship and fellowship. In both cases the emphasis is on participating in worship and fellowship together as part of the larger Quaker faith community.
Quarterly meetings maintain a structure of administrative officers and committees. These include at a minimum a clerk, a recording clerk, and, when financial matters are addressed, a treasurer. There may be committees to assist the clerks, to plan gatherings, to conduct routine business between sessions, to prepare the annual budget, and to provide sensitive oversight of staff.
Some quarterly meetings within Philadelphia Yearly Meeting have substantial institutions under their care, are custodians of property, employ paid staff, and have active programs in matters of ministry and worship, peace and social concerns, and youth. These activities are usually overseen by committees whose members are nominated by constituent monthly meetings.