MEETING FOR WORSHIP FOR BUSINESS
Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business (also referred to as ‘Meeting for Business’ or ‘Business Meeting’) is held on the 3rd Sunday of each month at 9:00 a.m. in the Meetinghouse of Ann Arbor Friends Meeting, 1420 Hill Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104, with the exception of the months of August and December when there is no Business Meeting.
The monthly Meeting for Worship for Business is the central means for making decisions, translating concerns into action, and considering matters relating to the organization of the Meeting and its programs and activities as an ongoing religious group.
Friends assume that in the transaction of business the Meeting will be able to ‘act in unity‘. If unity cannot be achieved, the Meeting defers action. Friends do not reach decisions by voting, since we believe that voting may be a method of imposing the will of the majority on the minority; it may serve to divide rather than to unify a group. Instead of voting, the Meeting reaches decisions by ‘sense of the Meeting‘, by which is meant the Meeting’s sense of god’s will. The Meeting Clerk is not a conventional presiding officer; rather the clerk must listen, gather expressions of opinion, maintain a focus, and seek to recognize and articulate unity. According to the traditional practice of Friends, when the clerk believes that agreement has been reached on a particular subject, the proposed decision or action is stated by the clerk and is embodied in a written ‘minute‘. The Meeting Clerk or the Recording Clerk then reads the minute, which may be approved by informal expressions of agreement, or revised or modified on the basis of further suggestions. The minute, as finally adopted, is recorded as the official decision or action of the Meeting.
The Meeting Clerk has the role of deciding when the sense of the Meeting has been reached. If one or two persons are unconvinced, they may nevertheless remain silent or withdraw their stated objections (“stand aside”) in order that the item of business may be completed. If, however, they remain strongly convinced of the validity of their position and state that they are not able to withdraw the objection, the clerk will generally find that a sense of unity has not been reached. In determining the ‘sense of the Meeting’, the Clerk takes into account the verbal expressions of opinion, the wisdom and experience of Friends, and the level of opposition expressed. While all attenders at a Meeting for Business are welcome to contribute to the discussion, the role of non-members in reaching a decision, and in the recording of the decision, remains under consideration.
Worship & Silence
A Friends Meeting for Business should parallel the spirit of a Meeting for Worship. The Meeting for Business is preceded by a period of silent worship, and sometimes includes additional periods of silence if time is needed for collective meditation or if Friends feel moved, by the nature of matters before them, to express praise or seek guidance through worship. If discussion becomes heated, of if deep cleavages of opinion appear, the clerk or some other Friend may ask for a few moments of silence. Frequently, after such a period of worship, a new spirit is manifested in the discussion, and Friends find themselves able to attain unity.
In addition to Meeting for Business, other special business meetings may be held as required. Members and attenders are encouraged to participate. Childcare is available without pre-arrangement at Meeting for Worship for Business. Please arrive early enough to get your children settled ahead of time.