Extracts from minutes and
epistles of early Friends intended to supply guidance, caution and
counsel to monthly meetings and their members on various aspects of
Affirmation: A legal declaration provided for Friends and others
who conscientiously refuse to take or swear judicial oaths.
Birthright Friend: An individual whose parents were both members
of a Friends Meeting. Early on, the child automatically became a member,
but today the parent or parents decide on the membership status of their
Book of Discipline: A book describing a yearly meeting's history,
structures, and procedures, including advices, queries, and often
quotations, or extracts, from the experience of Friends. Faith and
Practice is such a book.
Breaking Meeting: When a designated person brings a meeting to a
close by shaking hands with his or her neighbor.
Called Session: A meeting of the monthly, quarterly, or yearly
meeting specially called by its clerk to address some concern or item of
Centering: The initial stage of worship when Friends clear their
minds and settle down to achieve a spiritual focus.
Clearness: Confidence that an action is consistent with the
Clerk: The person responsible for the administration of a Friends
body and sensitive to the guidance of the Spirit in the conduct of the
business of that body.
Concern: A quickening sense of the need to do something about a
situation or issue in response to what is felt to be a direct intimation
of God's will.
Conscientious Objection: A principled refusal to participate in
certain social or political practices, such as the refusal to undertake
military service or pay war taxes.
Continuing Revelation: A central Quaker belief that the
revelation of God's will is an ongoing process.
Convinced Friend: A person who, after deciding that the Religious
Society of Friends provides the most promising home for spiritual
enlightenment and growth, becomes a member of a monthly meeting.
Elder: Friends use the verb to elder to support and encourage
members or attenders in their ministry or to question or discourage an
individual whose behavior is deemed inappropriate.
Facing Benches: In older Friends meeting houses, rising tiers of
benches facing the meeting, traditionally occupied by older persons and
First Day School: Friends' designation for the Sunday school
program provided by a monthly meeting for children and adults.
Friends General Conference (FGC): An association of unprogrammed
yearly meetings in North America, whose purpose is to nurture its
members by developing and providing resources and opportunities for
Gathered Meeting: A meeting for worship or for business in
which those present feel deeply united in the divine presence.
Hold in the Light: To desire that divine guidance and healing
will be present to an individual who is in distress or faces a difficult
situation; also, to give prayerful consideration to an idea.
Inner Light/The Light Within: Terms which represent for Friends
the direct, unmediated experience of the Divine.
Integrity: One of the basic testimonies of Friends, involving
both a wholeness and harmony of the various parts of a personís life
and truthfulness in whatever that person says and does. Friends commonly
link this principle with the testimony of simplicity.
Interim Meeting: In Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, a broadly
representative body meeting to conduct the business of the yearly
meeting between its annual sessions.
Laying Down: A decision to discontinue a committee when its work
Laying Over: To postpone the discussion of an issue or the
presentation of a report from one meeting for business to another.
Leading: A sense of being called by God to undertake a specific
course of action. A leading often arises from a concern.
Lift Up: To emphasize or make explicit a particular point or
Meeting for Worship: A gathering of individuals in quiet waiting
upon the enlightening and empowering presence of the Divine.
Meeting for Worship for Business: A meeting for worship, often
referred to as meeting for business, during which the meeting conducts
its organizational business.
Mind the Light: An admonition to attend to the Light Within for
guidance in a person's life. It means both active obedience to divine leadings
and careful nurturing of a person's openness to the Light.
Ministry: Sharing or acting upon one's gifts, whether in service
to individuals, to the meeting, or to the larger community.
Minute: The record of a corporate decision reached during a
meeting for worship for business, or the account of a single transaction
in the written record of a meeting for business or committee.
Monthly Meeting: A congregation of Friends who meet regularly for
worship and to conduct corporate business, as well as a monthly
gathering of such a body the same.
Opening: A termn used by early Friends to designate a
spiritual opportunity or leading.
Overseers: Meeting appoints members to give pastoral care and
nurture to all members and attenders.
Pacifist: A person who renounces war and any use of violence and
seeks to resolve conflicts peacefully.
Passing Meeting: Acceptance by a monthly meeting of a written
request, usually for membership or for marriage under its care.
Peace Testimony: The corporate commitment of Friends to pacifism
Preparative Meeting: An-organized group of members of an
established monthly meeting which ordinarily gathers for worship at
Proceed as the Way Opens: To undertake a service or course of action
without prior clarity about all the details but with confidence that divine
guidance will make these apparent and assure an appropriate outcome.
Quaker: Originally, a derogatory term applied to Friends who
expressed their excitement of spirit when led to speak in a meeting for
worship in a shaking or quaking motion. Today, it refers to an
alternative designation for a member of the Religious Society of
Quarterly Meeting: A regional gathering of members of constituent
monthly meetings, traditionally on four occasions each year.
Queries: A set of questions, based on Friends' practices and
testimonies, which are considered by Meetings and individuals as a way
of both guiding and examining individual and corporate lives and
actions. As such, they are a means of self examination. Queries to be
considered regularly are included in Faith and Practice; others may be
formulated by a committee or Meeting that seeks to clarify for itself an
issue it needs to address.
Recorder: The person appointed by a Meeting to maintain
statistics of the members and attenders of that Meeting.
Recording Clerk: The person appointed to take minutes at regular
and called meetings for business of a Meeting or other Friends body.
Released Friend: A Friend whose leading to carry out a particular
course of action has met with approval from a Meeting which then
promises to pro-vide such support as would enable the Friend to follow
Rightly Ordered: Those procedures for the conduct of Friends
business that encourage a meeting to carry out its corporate activities
under divine leading.
Sense of the Meeting: An expression of the unity of a meeting for
worship for business on some issue or concern. The general recognition,
articulated by the clerk or some other person, that a given decision is
in accordance with the divine will.
Simplicity: One of the traditional Quaker testimonies thatís
closely associated with integrity, equality, and stewardship.
Essentially, to limit the material circumstances of one's life in a way
that allows/enables one to follow divine leadings.
Speaking to a Friendís Condition: The conviction that a
message, whether directly from God or through the words or actions of
another, meets a Friendís deepest needs and purposes.
Standing Aside: An action taken by an individual who has genuine
reservations about a particular decision, but who also recognizes that
the weight of the meeting clearly supports of the Meeting. The action of
standing aside allows the Meeting to reach unity.
Stewardship: For Friends, stewardship is an element of integrity.
Good stewardship directs Friends' investment of time and money in
sustainable and renewable resources and in work that supports Quaker
values and beliefs.
Testimony: A guiding principle of conduct that bears witness to
the presence of God in the world and in our lives. Though there is no
official list of such testimonies, Friends have traditionally identified
peace and nonviolence, equality, simplicity, stewardship, community, and
integrity as their practical principles.
Threshing Session: A gathering of Friends to consider in depth a
controversial issue but in a way that is free from the necessity of
reaching a decision.
Truth: The revealed will of God, as experienced in communion with
the Inner Light or Inward Christ. Early Quakers called themselves the
Religious Society of Friends of the Truth.
Under the Care Of: Describes an activity, program, or event for
which a Meeting takes responsibility and to which it gives oversight,
for instance, a marriage, a preparative meeting, and a school might all be said
to be under the care of a monthly meeting.
Unity: The spiritual oneness and harmony whose realization is a
primary objective of a meeting for worship or a meeting for business.
Unprogrammed Meeting: A meeting for worship based on quiet
waiting for the presence of God revealed through spirit-led vocal
ministry and the gathered communion.
Vocal Ministry: The sharing of a message or prayer during a
meeting for worship.
Weighty Friend: An informal term for a Friend who is respected
for spiritual depth, wisdom, and long service to the Religious Society
Worship Sharing: A group practice in which participants share
personal and spiritual experiences, thoughts, and feelings, often in
response to a prearranged theme or questions, and in a manner that
acknowledges the presence of God.
Yearly Meeting: Those Friends from a geographically extended area
who gather in annual session to worship and conduct business together.
This term is also used to denote the total membership of the constituent
monthly meetings of a designated yearly meeting.