More on understanding Quaker business meeting

(On second thought, I’m posting this separately from the note on Progressive Friends.)

A followup to the last post about better understanding what goes on in meeting for business will probably take more than a few weeks, but it’s on the way. I feel like I need to do more reading before I do more writing. Really appreciating Howard Brinton’s Friends for 300 years, even if I don’t agree with everything he says. Chapter 6 on business meeting (”Reaching Decisions”) is available for free download (PDF) from Pendle Hill.

Participation in meeting for business as a function of meeting sizeI’m also really appreciating an article by a New England YM young adult named Ethan Mitchell, who may or may not identify as a Friend; I met him probably in 2003 at NEYM, and bought a CD of his sister’s music from him, but haven’t heard tell of him since then. The article is called “Participation in Unanimous Decision-Making: The New England Monthly Meetings of Friends”. On the one hand, he and I are wanting to do very similar things — understand Quaker meeting for business better, not necessarily on traditional Quaker terms:

I want to invoke the anthropologist’s privilege to dutifully note, and then respectfully ignore, a group’s self-analysis. However we relate to the spiritual aspects of Quaker unity, it is manifested in a social process that we can observe, and in this case even quantify, to good purpose.

On the other hand, I don’t think he actually succeeds in capturing all the subtleties of good Quaker business process, starting with the title. More on that later perhaps. I still appreciate a lot of the article though, both the quantitative analysis and the commentary.

2 Responses to “More on understanding Quaker business meeting”


  1. 1 Liz Jul 15th, 2007

    Hey Zach, I posted a comment on this blog, but apparently a cyber hippo ate it…I can’t remember what I wrote, but looking at your comment…I think it was something along the lines of…

    I am not sure if we met at Burlington either. So many people there! Thank you for your insights on suspicions towards programmed Friends. I do feel like in my programmed worship there is waiting, persay. For me (I feel like I have adult ADD) all the music and the sermon usually help me center down and I have had some of my deepest worship times within that space, even though it may not be as lengthy. Music deeply connects me to God and our pastor often ends with a question or a very good food for thought, that draws me closer to God. I just think I have found a good fit for me, I still love unprogrammed and consider that part of my life, but at the present the programmed church fits me better.

  1. 1 at The Seed Lifting Up Pingback on Aug 26th, 2007
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  • So his initial message was always the same: give up your dependence on doctrines, rituals, preachers and everything else that is external to you, and find the light within you because that will teach you all you need to know. And you already know what the light is, because it's that that makes you uncomfortable about the things you do wrong. So take note of those uncomfortable feelings, and let 'the light in your conscience' show you what they're all about it. If you allow it to, the light will show you the whole truth of your life, and if you then accept that truth, it will set you free – free from guilt and shame, but also free from the powerful desires that made you act wrongly in the first place.

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