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Faith and Practice

Pacific Yearly Meeting

of the

Religious Society of Friends

a guide to quaker discipline in the experience of pacific yearly meeting of the religious society of friends.
published 2001

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iii: testimony and experience of friends

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Corporate Search and Practice

pym in context
quaker faith & spiritual practice
testimony & experience of friends
organization of the society
activities & organization of the YM
sources of quotations
index of sources
subject index

We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of Friends who have permitted us to use material for this Faith and Practice.


meeting for business

130 Keep your meetings in the power of God. … And when Friends have finished their business, sit down and wait a while quietly and wait upon the Lord to feel him. And go not beyond the Power, but keep in the Power by which God almighty may be felt among you. … For the power of the Lord will work through all, if … you follow it.

george fox, 1658

131 Not in the way of the world, as a worldly assembly of men, by hot contests, by seeking to outspeak and overreach one another in discourse… not deciding affairs by the greater vote,… but in the wisdom, love, and fellowship of God, in gravity, patience, in unity and concord, submitting one to another in lowness of heart, and in the holy spirit of Truth and righteousness, all things [are] to be carried on.

edward burrough, 1662

132 I had occasion to consider that it is a weighty thing to speak much in large meetings for business. First, except our minds are rightly prepared and we clearly understand the case we speak to, instead of corporate search and practice testimony and experience forwarding, we hinder business and make more labour for those on whom the burden of work is laid. If selfish views or a partial spirit have any room in our minds, we are unfit for the Lord’s work. If we have a clear prospect of the business and proper weight on our minds to speak, it behooves us to avoid useless apologies and repetitions.Where people are gathered from far, and adjourning a meeting of business attended with great difficulty, it behooves all to be cautious how they detain a meeting, especially when they have sat six or seven hours and a good way to ride home. In three hundred minutes are five hours, and he that improperly detains three hundred people one minute, besides other evils that attend it, does an injury like that of imprisoning one man five hours without cause.

john woolman, 1758

133 The gift of the Clerk is to call forth the clerk in each of us.

author unknown

134 Fellowship in a common faith has often brought a religious society into being before it was in any way organized into an institution. It was so with the primitive Church and with the Society of Friends. Organization is a good servant but a bad master; the living fellowship within the Church must remain free to mould organization into the fresh forms demanded by its own growth and the changing needs of the time. Where there is not this freedom the Church has its life cramped by ill-assorted clothes, and its service for the world becomes dwarfed or paralysed.

anna l.b. thomas and e.b. emmett, 1905

135 The spirit of worship is essential to that type of business meeting in which the group endeavors to act as a unit. … To discover what we really want as compared with what at first we think we want, we must go below the surface of self-centered desires. … To will what God wills is … to will what we ourselves really want.

howard brinton, 1952

136 I have not mentioned community in all of this because I really do not believe community can be sought after directly, at least in the Meeting for Business. I believe it is discovered. When we sit together in silence, in humility, in common obedience, listening for that of God in each of us, and in patience, a bond of love grows among us that knits us together inextricably. This, I think, is the Good Order of Friends. Once more I want to turn to ancient Latin origins for a phrase of St.Augustine which helps me to understand what this is. He wrote “Ordo est Amorix,”Order is Love. In a way this sums up all we might say about the spiritual basis for the Meeting for Business.

ellie foster, 1986

137 It is sometimes assumed that unity can be found only by the submission of a minority to the decision of a majority. This is not so but neither should it be assumed that positive steps cannot be taken without unanimity. A minority should not seek to dominate by imposing a veto on action which the general body of Friends feels to be right. Throughout our history as a Society we have found that continuing search to know the will of God, a different a unity is opened to us.

london yearly meeting, to lima with love, 1987

138 My appetite is whetted for more experiences in business meetings because they often provide the stimuli for spiritual growth and for rejoicing in the affirmation of a practical, working faith.

david o. stanfield

139 Through the process by which Quakers attain the sense of the meeting, transformation occurs. We are changed. We feel, in a literal way, the loving Presence which hovers over us. It manifests in the love we have for one another.We form invisible bonds among ourselves which transcend the petty and make the next sense of the meeting more desirable and more readily attainable. We are participants in each other’s well being. Later we may stop to wonder whose idea evolved into the sense of the meeting. But we can’t remember. Often the person through whom the idea came cannot remember.We sense that the sense of the meeting came through us and for us, but not from us.We are amazed that it works — exactly as it’s supposed to. Over and over we are amazed; it is appropriate that awe and transformation coexist.

barry morley, 1993