General Secretary’s Message for October 2018
In his October Vital Friends message, General Secretary Barry Crossno discusses Quaker decision making, and lifts up resources to help Friends refresh their understanding of classic Quaker decision-making, and invite them to perhaps explore new techniques.
This article was written for FGC’s Vital Friends October 2018 newsletter.
Being Fall, FGC’s annual governance meeting (Central Committee) will soon be here. At this meeting, Friends from FGC’s affiliated Yearly and Monthly Meetings come together to discuss the programs, priorities and budget of FGC, discerning a way forward in service to Friends across the United States and Canada. This year, we’re prayerfully anticipating the results and recommendations of the Institutional Assessment on Racism. We’ll also be reflecting on the impact of FGC’s programming and setting the foundation for future efforts. This four-day meeting will involve more than one hundred twenty people. As you would expect of a Quaker organization, all of our decisions will be made via Quaker practice, through expectant waiting.
A Friend once commented that the Quaker decision making process is one of the most important “technologies” that he had ever experienced. A number of other Friends have told me that it’s our process of doing business that helped them know this was the right Spiritual path for them. With that said, other Friends have shared that sometimes decision making among Friends can be frustrating for a variety of reasons. At one time or another, I imagine most of us as Friends have both experienced the sublime reality of Spirit led decision making and its challenges.
As Friends, I think it’s important for us all to study and practice ways to be in better relationship with one another and Spirit. As part of this, many Friends within and beyond FGC have been looking at how we can strengthen our practices of decision making. For some, this means deepening our classic practices as Friends. For others, it’s meant doing that and exploring alternative frameworks and techniques for decision making such as Sociocracy (AKA Dynamic Governance). So this fall, as part of your shared spiritual journey with Friends, consider refreshing and deepening your understanding of traditional Quaker decision making and perhaps explore some new techniques that, Spirit willing, might aid us as we seek to respond to that of God in one another.
Below are some helpful links.
Quaker Decision Making
- Beyond Consensus: Salvaging Sense of the Meeting, by Barry Morley (Pendle Hill Pamphlet #307)
- Practicing Discernment Together
- QuakerSpeak: How Quakers Make Decisions
- QuakerSpeak: The Quaker Practice of Discernment
- QuakerSpeak: How to Clerk a Quaker Meeting
- Decision Making and Spiritual Discernment