Sunday, 6 May 2007

the sausage factory takes over the blog! (again)

The Joys of Quaker Business sessions

I'm Pip I'm 14 and today I've had my first experience of a proper Quaker business meeting. I can only say that it is an entirely new experience like no other I have ever had. We dealt with the issue of changing "Monthly meetings" to "area meetings" I personally dislike this idea because it removes a familiar term that is part of my everyday life but I do recognise the need to make Quakers a more accessible community to outsiders.

One thing that surprised me was that I have never experienced the Quaker method of decision making first hand, it has become apparent that while not exactly the quickest method of solving a problem it is very good at getting a well considered decision.

It was extremely interesting for me an atheist to find out how much the wider Quaker community directly refers to 'God', but this is just widening my horizons and perspectives. All in all i would say that Quaker business is a very interesting method of reaching a much better decision. Because it allows the minority to overthrow a majority if the level of conviction affects the 'Feeling of the Meeting.

1 comment:

Peckham Mum said...

Last night, Peckham Friends met for our usual Meeting for Worship. We're a South East London meeting who meet in my house once a month, and always follow meeting with a simple supper and a good chat. We're, in old parlance, a recognised meeting, with very little administration to keep us going. Some of us had been at BYM this year, and some were thinking of going. At least 3 of us in the room were expressing difficulty with sitting in BYM sessions and doing the business method well, though for very different reasons.

We talked about the two spiritual practices of Friends: meeting for worship, and meeting for worship for business. We were reflecting on whether it was important to practice the latter on small things so that when you came to discussing a big thing (like, in the 1990's, whether a meeting should celebrate a gay partnership with a formal meeting for worship), you were well practised at being open to will of God.

One insight we had last night which I found particularly inspiring was about Meeting for Worship for Business and how it's not just a process but a goal. So often Quakers get hung up on aspects of the process. For example, what to do if one person disagrees, and whether you can be in union with the decision but not support it - or indeed whether you can stand aside from the decision but not support it. Whether it is consensus building or theocratic, etc. But Paul said last night, that's not the whole point of our business method. It's also about what we get out of it - that through it we are in community with each other, and the wrestling with each other's views and coming to the will of God is a way of building a spiritual community together. Maybe it's obvious but we felt it wasn't often mentioned.

We have never had a business meeting at Peckham meeting but we thought we might go for one later in the year, once our Hearts and Minds group has finished, to consider how to strengthen the spiritual life of Peckham meeting. Thanks to BYM for stimulating our thinking.