Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business
“[Meeting for Business is] about looking for Truth as a body, rather than about our individual sense of the truth. We need to enter worshipfully into our meetings for business. We need to wrestle with the issues, to share our glimpses of the Truth as we see it, and then we need to let go and listen deeply until all those glimpses give us a sense of the Truth as a whole. This takes time, patience, and surrender.”
– Michael Wajda, 2007
Meeting for Business, sometimes called a Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business, is central to the practice of Friends in discerning the movement of the Spirit in the Meeting. At Goose Creek, we hold our monthly Meeting for Business on the first First Day (Sunday) of each month at the rise of Meeting for Worship. It is facilitated by the Clerk of the Meeting whose role is not to be the “chair person” of the meeting, but to assemble the agenda and listen carefully to those at the meeting so that he or she can reflect back the “sense of the meeting” with regard to each item on the agenda.
A Meeting for Business that is well grounded in worship will feel very different from the type of secular process in which individuals are arguing in order to ensure their view prevails. Friends approach decisions in Meeting for Business in a spirit of searching and listening rather than a determination to be heard as an individual voice. In each decision, we are seeking to be guided by the Light. This causes us to listen to each other as we do in Meeting for Worship, knowing that each of us may be given a measure of the Light that will help us see our way forward. We further believe that as Truth emerges we will have substantial unity in recognizing it, for Truth is undivided and that of God within each person responds to its presence.
While some business that comes before the Meeting may require prayerful searching, there are also times where the task is simply to hear a report lovingly and attentively. It is well to remember that we are called to be faithful in small, routine things as well as large ones. Regardless of the perceived importance of each business item, we strive to remain open to the leadings of the Spirit and to experience its gifts of trust, humility, compassion, and courage.
When the Clerk senses that there is general unity in the Meeting on a matter that requires a decision, the Clerk states what appears to the sense of the Meeting. The unity which underlies sense of the Meeting is not synonymous with consensus. Consensus is a valuable secular process characterized by a search for general agreement largely though rational discussion and compromise. The Quaker Meeting for Business depends on a spiritual process characterized by listening for and trusting in the Divine.
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