“Do we regularly attend our meetings for business, and are they held in a spirit of love, understanding, and forbearance? Do we seek the right course of action in humble submission to the Authority of Truth and in the patient search for a sense of unity under Divine guidance?”
—from the Faith & Practice of North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative), “Queries for Monthly Meetings”
Conducting business in the manner of Friends is a process unlike how businesses and other houses of worship might attend to their financial affairs and committee tasks. There is no individual or executive group that is responsible for decision-making. Decision-making is a responsibility that is shared among the worshipers of the Friends’ meeting or worship group. Neither do Friends abide by “majority rule.” There is no voting, and there is no pro-and-con debate such as in Roberts Rules of Order.
Rather, when we come together in a Meeting for Worship with attention to Business, we do so in order that we create a space to seek and discover the direction of the Holy Spirit. This intention and practice, to discover “the sense of the meeting,” requires us to listen for the Spirit and to listen for the Truth in whomever speaks, including in those Friends who may be voicing what appears to be a minority opinion or a less popular view.
Because a business session is an extension of Meeting for Worship, those who participate in Meeting for Worship with attention to Business “wait patiently upon the will of the Divine Spirit while conducting business. This assists our Meetings for Business in finding the loving unity that might never be achieved through discussion alone.” (Faith & Practice of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative), “Advices and Queries”)
When carried out well, Meeting for Worship with attention to Business is a worshipful and gathered experience, during which the focus of the worship is to address responsibilities and concerns that are under the care of the worship group or meeting. In addition, it is a time for us to lay aside our personal preferences and desires for certain outcomes and instead seek unity in understanding how we as a corporate body are being guided by the Spirit.
Usually, Laughing Waters Friends Preparative Meeting conducts business, presided over by the worship group’s clerk, on the third First Day (Sunday) of odd-numbered months.
When Laughing Waters Friends address business, we all gather for a period of waiting worship beginning at 4:00 before the children leave for childcare and we then gently shift gears and address business that impacts the life of the worship group. After our business, the adults and children join together for our potluck meal and for fellowship. All are welcome to join us.