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Quaker Decision Making
Most Quaker (Society of Friends) organizations endorse the belief that group decisions are the most effective. In other words, those involved with making the decisions are more involved in seeing those decisions work. We consider the following points when attempting to understand Quaker process.
What is a Meeting for Business in a Friends School?
All meetings of the Society of Friends are considered meetings for worship. Meetings for business always open and close with worshipful silence. Periods of worship may be called for in the midst of business matters, particularly if it becomes evident that more heat than Light is being generated by the discussion. Friends school meetings have day-to-day and time-sensitive agendas and generally do not strictly follow the Society of Friends format. It is understood that there is equality among meeting members, all voices are heard, a sense of the meeting or consensus is desired, and that the tone of proceedings is respectful and intending to seek Truth.
What is the Responsibility of Meeting Attenders?
There is an old Quaker saying that the best way to ruin a Meeting for Worship is to come prepared to speak or to come without being willing to speak. Quakers wait in silence for spiritual leading and speak out of that silence only after careful reflection. A gathering of Friends is committed to making a meeting powerful without controlling or withholding participating in its direction. This applies to school business meetings, regardless of importance or frequency. Members are encouraged to participate and yet not turn a meeting into a debate or confrontation. A clerk must frequently phrase his or her sense of the meeting, first this way and then that way, to test the reactions of the entire group. A clerk may act as a traffic director; halting too much traffic in one direction in order that traffic from another can also proceed so that all present are represented in decisions. Finally, when a satisfactory minute is framed, it is recorded as the “sense of the meeting.”