“Take heed, dear Friends, to the promptings of love and truth in your hearts. Seek to live in affection as true Friends in your Meetings, in your families, in all your dealings with others, and in your relationship with outward society. The power of God is not used to compel us to Truth; therefore, let us renounce for ourselves the power of any person over any other and, compelling no one, seek to lead others to Truth through love. Let us teach by being ourselves teachable.”
-Advices paraphrased from materials in the Epistles of the Yearly Meeting of Pennsylvania and the Jerseys, 1694 and 1695, Faith and Practice, PYM.
Learn More About PYM Governance:
Role of the Individual
By virtue of membership in a monthly meeting, Friends also become members of a regional gathering and the yearly meeting. All members have the privilege and the responsibility to participate in decision-making within each body. Monthly meetings often designate certain members to attend annual or called sessions and Interim Meeting, although all members are welcome and encouraged to attend.
Role of the Meeting
Role of the Meeting: Historically, Friends have avoided hierarchies, believing that the path to the Divine is inward for each individual and worshiping group. Decision making authority is kept within the group that gathers in Spirit-led Meeting for Worship for Business. Although monthly meetings are encouraged to send Friends to Quarterly, Interim or Yearly Meeting Sessions, within its own area of responsibility, each body is autonomous. Friends do not attend regional meetings and yearly meeting as delegates to represent a certain view from their monthly meetings. Rather, they join others in worship, open to the moving of the Spirit in their discernment.
Role of the Clerk
The Clerk is the person who facilitates the business of a meeting or committee in a spiritually sensitive manner. He or she is both a servant and a leader, thoughtfully preparing for the meeting, maintaining a worshipful tone during the meeting, setting a helpful pace, discerning a sense of the meeting when it is present, and expressing it clearly or identifying those who can.
Presiding Clerk: The term presiding clerk is often used at the Yearly Meeting level. At the quarterly meeting and monthly meeting level, it is often the case that “clerk” alone is used although the functions are the same.
Role of Minutes
Minutes: A Minute is “a summary statement of the Meeting’s understanding of the divine will in relation to a matter brought before the Meeting for Business.” (Swarthmore Glossary of Quaker Terms). The term also applies to a written statement addressing a concern or proposal that is brought to a meeting for consideration. A monthly meeting may forward a minute that arose through an individual or committee of their meeting, or may adopt and forward a minute expressing unity on issues coming before a regional meeting, Interim Meeting, or yearly meeting.
Discernment of the minute occurs in Meeting for Worship for Business or sometimes in a called session. The clerk of the assembled Meeting offers the draft minute for consideration and if unity is reached, the exact wording that was united upon is recorded. The body assembled is free to adopt alternate courses from those who brought the minute forward.
A process of broad prior consideration of concerns or proposals, or seasoning, in monthly, regional meetings or committees helps the gathered body achieve a rightly-ordered sense of the meeting in considering a minute.
Faith and Practice is the written record of the collective sense of the Spirit of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Quakers. For advices on procedures within the faith, membership, current practice for conducting meeting business and numerous quotations from Friends on belief, worship, concerns, leadings, and testimonies, visit Faith and Practice online.