The Quaker Meeting for Business.

An exchange of views on Quaker-B

On Sun, 15 Jun 2003 09:20:09 +0100, Ramona Silipo

>To function well in meeting for business, to be able to discuss
>conflicting opinions and compromise effectively, we need to have a
>foundation of mutual respect and understanding. We need to know the
>others in meeting outside that one hour of worship and quick cup of
>coffee afterward.


My Response: My experience of Quaker business meetings leads me to believe that this is true in so far as it goes, but I would have avoided the word 'compromise' and it seems to me that rather than 'respect' one needs 'love'.

When as is often the case a Friend expresses a view that seems (no, IS!) utterly mistaken, off the wall, up a gum tree, seriously dangerous in its implications, then for our method (Method?) to work one must simply love the erroneous Friend and trust the Spirit.

One has actively to practice love and restraint. It's an effort. One tries to think of how much it will matter in 100 years. Pray that the Clerk will see through the error. It's an active process and one is very tempted to speak again, forcefully, (which I have done, often, and usually regretted it) but with hindsight I have realised that our method works.

When the Clerk minutes the option one considers mistaken one may doubt the method. The pain is worse when it is one's own proposal that has been rejected. I have experienced this often, but usually I have later either realised I was wrong or that I was ahead of the others - better informed, perhaps, but not thereby more spirit-led.

The only time our method fails badly is when the other has insufficient understanding or respect for it. No real acceptance that the Spirit can indeed gather us, if we let it. A person who cares more about results than about process. But in time they get replaced - thanks to our system of appointments. And a few months or years later, the Meeting and our method have survived, and (s)he who failed to understand them has gone. This is what's kept us together, and extraordinarily effective, for 350 years.

I'm not convinced that community, or knowing the other personally, has a lot to do with it. (It works in YM where we usually do not know the others.) It's a matter of heeding the promptings of love and truth.

Stephen Petter

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