- Monthly Meeting
- Business Meeting
- Meeting Committees
- Officers of the Meeting
- The Monthly, Quarterly, and Yearly Meeting
- The Quarterly Meeting
- The Yearly Meeting
The Monthly Meeting consists of a group of Friends who meet together at regular intervals to wait upon God in Meetings for Worship and who meet monthly on the occasion of business. In corporate fellowship, Friends experience the most profound realities of life: birth and death, marriage and family, community of spirit, and concern for other people. A true Meeting in the Quaker sense is a gathering of people that is also an encounter with God. When this divine-human interaction takes place, there is order, unity, and power. If and when this connection fails, Friends wait and pray that “the way may open” once more. The good order of Friends is based on this conception of a “Meeting.”
A Monthly Meeting has many functions. It receives, records and terminates memberships. It provides spiritual and material aid to those in its fellowship. It oversees marriages, gives care at the time of death, and counsels with members in troubled circumstances. It collects and administers funds for its maintenance and work. Meetings hold titles to property, witness to Friends’ testimonies, and relate to other bodies of Friends and to other organizations with common concerns.
Being orderly come together… proceed in the wisdom of God, not in the way of the world… not deciding affairs by the greater vote… [but by] assenting together as one man in the spirit of truth and equity, and by the authority thereofEdward Burrough, 1662
Britain Yearly Meeting
Quaker Faith & Practice, 1995, §2.87
. . . a Friends Meeting for Business is a Meeting for Worship in which business is conducted by seeking God’s will in the decisions that are to be made. The silent worship with which the Meeting for Business both opens and closes connects individuals to the Spirit. It prompts them to be sensitive to and grounded in the Love that binds the Meeting.
. . . Friends do not vote or act on the will of the majority. In Quaker experience, it is possible for all to unite in a decision, even when some have reservations. A united Meeting is not necessarily of one mind but it is all of one heart.
. . . Decisions made in unity are not victories or defeats when Friends remain faithful, preserving the loving unity and higher purpose of the Meeting. Business conducted as a corporate endeavor in a Meeting for Worship enables Friends to move forward with confidence and joy.
Each Meeting decides which committees are necessary to carry out its business and concerns. Most Monthly Meetings find a Ministry and Oversight Committee and a Nominating Committee essential. Other standing committees often include Religious Education, Finance and Budget, Peace and Social Order, Property, and Hospitality . . .
Committees conduct business in the same manner as a Monthly Meeting, waiting on the Spirit to find direction in their operation and unity in their decisions. It is important that members of committees, and clerks especially, attend Meeting for Business regularly to assure smooth coordination between the committees and the Meeting.
Officers of the Meeting
Monthly Meetings appoint members [and attenders] to serve as its officers for definite terms of service… A good officer is one who, while assuming a particular responsibility, seeks to engage the resources of the Meeting in the task to be done.
The Clerk presides at the business sessions of the Meeting, prepares or bears responsibility for the minutes of its proceedings, and carries out the instructions of the Meeting to accomplish its business . . .
Most Meetings appoint a Recording Clerk who can make faithful, concise and accurate records of the minutes of action . . .
The Treasurer is responsible for maintaining and disbursing the Meeting’s funds, and giving regular reports to the Meeting . . .
The Recorder . . . keeps faithful and accurate membership records on forms provided by the Yearly Meeting . . .
The Monthly, Quarterly, and Yearly Meeting
The Monthly Meeting is the basic unit of organization of the Religious Society of Friends. Individuals hold membership in the Monthly Meeting, and that is where the responsibility resides for pastoral care, religious education, and worship.
The members of Monthly Meetings also constitute Yearly and Quarterly Meetings. A typical Yearly Meeting encompasses several Quarterly Meetings, each of which includes a number of Monthly Meetings. Pacific Yearly Meeting has two Quarterly Meetings: College Park Quarterly Meeting and Southern California Quarterly Meeting. It also includes several Monthly Meetings that are not part of a Quarterly Meeting.
The names of these assemblies reflect how often they meet, not a hierarchy of authority. The Monthly Meeting is at the core. Quarterly and Yearly Meetings are organized to explore and realize common purposes of Friends and the Monthly Meetings to which they belong. The work of the Yearly Meeting is done largely in its committees, and corporately at its annual gathering. Friends who attend the gathering do not participate as instructed delegates, but as a group of Friends whose views may well reflect the diverse views of the Yearly Meeting as a whole.
The Quarterly Meeting
The main purposes [of Quarterly meetings] are to strengthen the life and fellowship of Monthly Meetings . . . to offer increased opportunities for worshipping together, and to consider spiritual and worldly matters of local or broader concern.
Quarterly meetings generally meet quarterly except at the time of Yearly Meeting.
Orange County Friends Meeting is part of the Southern California Quarterly Meeting.
The Yearly Meeting
The Yearly Meeting comprises the members of its constituent Monthly Meetings who come together annually to explore and pursue their common purposes.
Orange County Friends Meeting is part of Pacific Yearly Meeting.