Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

Power Tools – Business / Structure / How We Work Together: Resources for Purchase

Meeting Resource
Brent Bill | 2/06/14

“Power Tools” are more in-depth explorations/explanations of a wide variety of topics that may be of use to Friends’ meetings, large and small, new and old.  Their purpose is not just to provide “how to” guidance, but to make explicit the spiritual Truth underlying all that we do within the Quaker way.  Reaffirming and intentionally trying to live into this underlying spiritual reality is the strength and attraction of the Religious Society of Friends.

“Power Tools” are more in-depth explorations/explanations of a wide variety of topics that may be of use to Friends’ meetings, large and small, new and old.  Their purpose is not just to provide “how to” guidance, but to make explicit the spiritual Truth underlying all that we do within the Quaker way.  Reaffirming and intentionally trying to live into this underlying spiritual reality is the strength and attraction of the Religious Society of Friends.

The resources in this section are primarily about how we do the business parts of our life together with each other and God.  The New Meetings Project, with editing and annotations by Deborah Haines, compiled it.

Most of these resources are available at Quaker Books of FGC.  They are also a good source of second hand copies of these materials, if new ones are not available.

Before Business Begins: Notes for Friends Meeting Recording Clerks and Recorders by William Watson (NEYM, 1996) – is a compilation of spiritual and practical lessons distilled from many years of service as a Recording Clerk in New England Yearly Meeting.  Included are sample minutes addressing routine business matters, and a description of required membership records.  Gentle and insightful, this is a useful guide for experts as well as beginners.

Beyond Consensus: Salvaging the Sense of the Meeting by Barry Morley (Pendle Hill Pamphlet 307, 1993) – is a plea for Friends to share with the world their radical concept of decision making grounded in worship.  Illustrated with stories from the Baltimore Yearly Meeting camping program, it explains “sense of the meeting” in simple accessible language, and shows how it can transform lives and build community.  32 pages.  Can be used for small group or adult religious education studies.

Friendly Audits: Guidance for those Asked to Review Quaker Accounts and for Those Who Keep Them by Elizabeth Muench (Quaker Press of FGC, 1990) – is an invaluable guide for those trying to manage the finances of a small to moderate-sized meeting.  It consists largely of a series of very specific questions a treasurer or auditor could ask to determine whether a meeting’s finances are in order.  Real property and endowments are beyond the scope of this pamphlet.  The topics addressed are: record-keeping, receipts, expenditures, and bank accounts.  7 pages. 

Guide to Quaker Practice by Howard Brinton (Pendle Hill Pamphlet 20, 1955) – is a classic introduction to the Quaker way, and a useful and reliable guide more than fifty years after it was originally published.  It describes the how’s and why’s of meeting for worship, meeting organization, meeting for business, and meeting responsibilities.  It also explores the role of queries, social testimonies, and the “ministry of teaching” in shaping the Quaker way.  95 pages.  Can be used for small discussion groups or religious education.

Listening Spirituality, v. II: Corporate Spiritual Practice Among Friends by Patricia Loring (Opening Press, 1999) – is the companion volume to Personal Spiritual Practices Among Friends, and is probably the best single source on how Friends meetings function as faith communities.  Chapter titles are: “Listening for—and Hearing—the Spirit among Us in the Meeting for Worship”, “Listening for the Spirit among Us as It Shapes Our Human Relationships in Community”, “Discernment: the Heart of Listening Spirituality”, “Listening for Spiritual Gifts and for Divine Guidance into Service in the Meeting”, “Listening for—and Hearing—the Spirit among Us in Organization and Processes”, “A Listening Relationship with God as the Patterning Principle of Wider Quaker Service”, “Coming Together for Mutual Support as a Listening Community”, and Listening for and Naming Your Experience in Tradition”. 300 pages, including a bibliography.  Each section includes a few queries to spark thoughtful discussions in groups, adult religious education classes, etc.

Mind the Onenes: The Foundation of Good Quaker Business Method by Robert Halliday (Quaker Home Service, 1991, reprinted by Quaker Books, Friends House, London, 2010) – is an exploration of Quaker business practice, written by a young Friend who served at the time on the committee revising the book of discipline for Britain Yearly Meeting.  Lively and fresh, it contains a wonderful explanation of the historical and spiritual roots of Quaker process, as well as ideas for enlivening committee work and supporting individual spiritual growth.  American readers will discover that British practices differ in some respects from American, and are not systematically explained.  85 pages

Quaker Process for Friends on the Benches by Mathilda Navias (Friends Publishing Corporation, 2012) – is a comprehensive survey and discussion of how Friends in a range of yearly meetings handle their affairs, based on an impressive amount of research.  Chapter titles are: “A Brief History of Quaker Process and Organization”, “Officers and Committees”, “Meetings”, “Using Technology”, “The Meeting Community”, “Concerns and Leadings”, “The Role of the Community in Leadings, Concerns, Gifts, and Ministry”, “Meeting for Business”, “The Nominating Process”, and “Membership and Marriage.”  Largely descriptive rather than prescriptive, but with careful attention to spiritual context, this is a valuable resource.  323 pages, including glossary and bibliography.  Indexed.

The Quaker Meeting for Business by Douglas Steere (SEYM, Walton Lecture, 1982, reprinted 1995) – is a warm and wise reflection on the dynamics of Quaker business process, and the unexpected places it can lead.  22 pages.  Good for small group or adult religious education studies.