the last First Day of each month we gather to conduct our Meeting for
Business—formally known as Meeting for Worship for Business—under
the guidance of our clerk. Friends from County Cork in Ireland held the
first Meeting for Business in 1670 while being held in prison for their
Quaker beliefs. Today, our Meeting for Business begins and ends with a
period of silent worship in order to seek divine guidance in decisions.
The search to know the will of God which guides us in Meeting for
Worship also guides our Meetings for Business.
Our clerk presides over reports from committees and other business or
concerns laid before the Meeting. Our clerk makes no decisions, but
states the "sense" of the Meeting after discussion on a
matter. If the Meeting approves of the clerk’s summation, the
recording clerk includes the decision in the minutes. If there exists a
serious difference of opinion, the issue may be sent back to the
reporting committee or is set aside until the next Meeting for Business.
All in attendance hope that prayerful consideration during the month and
perhaps additional information at the following Business Meeting will
result in a decision. The opinion of all those in attendance is
important to the process of reaching a consensus.
At our Meetings for Business members and attenders make decisions by
seeking the sense of the meeting on agenda items including, among other
things, finances, membership requests, committee activities, and our
participation in the wider Quaker community and our neighborhood. We
welcome visitors to these meetings. Attending Meeting for Business is a
good way to learn more about issues of concern to our Meeting, and what
happens to keep our Meeting going.
Monthly Meetings–as each individual Meeting is known–are the
heart of the organizational structure of the Religious Society of
Friends. Several of them in a particular geographical region make up a
Quarterly Meeting which convenes four times a year. We belong to the
Caln Quarterly Meeting. All the Monthly Meetings belonging to
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting hold a yearly meeting and conference in
March and July of each year.