Sunday, August 3, 2008

Taking Care of Business

I'm not sure when it happened, but I realized today that I have come to enjoy business meeting. Maybe I am just some special kind of masochist, but I don't think so. I used to dread or avoid business meetings. They seemed to take forever and all I could think about was what I needed to do after the meeting was over. Now I really appreciate Quaker process, though I do sometimes wish the meetings were a little shorter!

For my non-Quaker friends, a little background. Quaker meetings hold meetings for worship for business once a month. Anyone who wants to attend may participate. The business of the meeting is conducted in a spirit of worship. The clerk guides the meeting and calls on individuals who wish to address a particular issue. The goal is corporate discernment and unity. This does not necessarily mean consensus, but a clear sense of what the meeting is led to do.

This morning, I was looking forward to business meeting, and not just because I needed to get some knitting done on a baby hat. University Friends Meeting has a new clerk and this was the first time I was going to see her in action (she did a great job). I had also made a raspberry buckle with some of the berries I picked yesterday and I was looking forward to seeing how it turned out (a little dry, but not too bad for a first attempt).

One of the first items on the agenda was a report from the treasurer and I am thrilled to say that University Friends Meeting exceeded its contribution goal for the year. I think the letter the Finance Committee sent out really reminded members that the meeting needs their help.

We also had a deep discussion about the wording of a declaration against torture. Although everyone was clear that Quakers oppose all torture, the meeting initially was not in unity about the wording of a Declaration of Principles for an Executive Order on Torture. It was lovely to see Friends speak from their convictions, listen to each other, pray together, and find unity.

I felt led to join an ad hoc committee to welcome Junior Friends. My friend Asia was wagging her finger at me when she saw me raise my hand, saying that I am already doing too much. I keep saying that I am not going to take on any more, but then I do anyway. I think this is important, though, and I really felt like the committee needed someone who is closer in age to the Junior Friends.

I also volunteered to read and review God's Troublemakers: How Women of Faith Are Changing the World, by Katharine Rhodes Henderson. That project seems more like fun than work, though. I read the first chapter out in the sun this afternoon and I am looking forward to learning all the women's stories. Hopefully saying yes to these two things will help renew my commitment to saying no!

During the final worship in business meeting, I felt led to speak. All through the opening worship, the lines from a song I sang as a child were going through my head. By the end of the meeting, those lines had become a prayer for the meeting and for all of us: may we have peace like a river, joy like a fountain, and love like an ocean.


  1. I'm so glad to hear another YAF likes business meetings!! I don't think I always 'like' them, but over the past many years I have really felt led to be part of them. You learn so much more about the state of your meeting and what is going on in the wider quaker world at these meetings.

    Since you're joining a group to welcome junior friends, I thought I'd pass on a recommendation. I just picked up this little booklet that I think every quaker meeting/church should get. It's called Coming into Friendship as a Gift: The Journey of a Young Adult Friend.
    I have to say the title doesn't do anything for me and may even be misleading. But basically she talks about the things she found were helpful in becoming part of a Quaker meeting. After describing her journey, she has a list of queries for meetings and young adults and then "helpful practices to enfold younger Friends and/or newcomers."
    It's great stuff - and all in about 20 pages! =)

  2. Thanks for the booklet recommendation, Aimee. The committee is just getting started on what to do to encourage Junior Friends to be involved. Something to read seems like a really good idea at this stage.

    I am glad to hear that you feel led to go to business meetings too. I think they are really important, but I was noticing yesterday how drained I was afterward. And I was just attending! I can't imagine the amount of energy it must take to clerk.

  3. Ashley,
    The exhaustion factor is why I try not to plan anything after a business meeting, and certainly nothing with a lot of people involved.

    For me, I have always been sensitive to others and to the Spirit (and have had many
    wonderful teachers along the way); for me it requires a goodly amount of tender self-care.

    I think it is great to hear a pair of YAF's that don't think biz meeting is a curse-- and have an appreciation for the process.

    We don't reach the same levels of
    harmony with the Spirit every time, but we do try. It takes a lot of energy to shut off our "normal", default settings of
    thinking, processing, worrying, wondering, etc, etc, that happen when we try to center down. It is darn hard work! We should be a bit tired after business meeting-- from LISTENING!

    Ashley, let me know what you think of the book Aimee recommended. FFC may need to read it too.

  4. Off topic, but related to the pamphlet that Aimee recommended: I'm planning to send a copy of it to a high school Friend with whom I have a sort of mentoring relationship.

    And I agree with Aimee: Meetings for Worship for Business sometimes help make clear some of our implicit practices and understandings as Quakers.

    Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

  5. Hi Alivia and Liz,

    Thanks for the comments. I have ordered "Coming into Friendship as a Gift," and I will be sure to post my reactions after reading it.



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.