Friends meetings are spiritual communities of people who gather for worship, business and friendship. These meetings are the center of Quaker community life and also the foundation of the structure of the Religious Society of Friends. The Friends meeting holds meetings for worship weekly or more often and supports the spiritual, social, educational and material needs of its members. Through active engagement in their meeting, Friends find both a caring and safe environment and the challenge of spiritual growth. A Friends meeting offers members a place to test leadings and convictions based on a shared appreciation of individual and corporate spiritual direction. A commitment to undertake action, often expressed in a “minute of concern,” can result when Friends labor together to discern God’s way toward witness in the world.
The Friends meeting may own and manage property, engage in significant social action, and operate schools or other institutions. It has sole authority to enroll or release members and to oversee marriages. The meeting may undertake any action or assume any function consistent with the principles and practices of the Religious Society of Friends.
At monthly meetings for business, the meeting attends to its entire range of activities and committee work. On occasion, and with reasonable notice, the clerk may schedule an extra “called” meeting for business. Meetings for business provide opportunities for members to share information and worship together as well as make decisions. Such decisions could involve the conduct of worship, the care of members, religious education, the management of property and financial assets, membership applications, or a commitment to undertake social action or public witness. While day-to-day functions of the meeting may be delegated to committees or designated officers, the members of the meeting as a body, acting through the meeting for business, are responsible for all activities undertaken by the monthly meeting or on its behalf. The meeting may authorize the clerk or a group of appointed Friends to implement a decision, in which case they would report back to the meeting for business. When good order requires, delegated responsibilities or functions may be recalled and exercised directly by the meeting.