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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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iv: organization of the society

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Growth and Change

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.


worship groups

 A Worship Group is a gathering of persons who meet regularly for worship after the manner of Friends and who desire to be identified with the principles and practices of the Religious Society of Friends.

 Such a group may organize independently or it may be set up with the encouragement of a Monthly Meeting and other nearby interested persons. Meeting for Worship may be their only activity for an indefinite period of time. Some Worship Groups are large from the beginning or they grow rapidly, and undertake additional activities such as shared meals, reading, study or discussion groups, service projects, religious education, public witness or worshipsharing groups.

 Worship Groups need to be mindful of the danger of attempting too many things during their initial enthusiasm or of having a few individuals carry all the responsibility and thus risk exhaustion and disillusionment.Members of a Worship Group should be dedicated to the leadings of the Light and devoted to the growth of the Spirit.

 This goal will help them through discouraging times and setbacks that are bound to occur. There may be times when only one or two meet for worship at the appointed hour. It is worthwhile to persevere at these times, not only for those few in attendance but for those unable to attend, so that they may be upheld in the Light and all may come to know the comfort of an ongoing Meeting.

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

matthew 18:20 rsv

 As an independent Worship Group develops, it should seek the care and guidance of a nearby Monthly Meeting. In so doing, it establishes an official relationship with the Religious Society of Friends, providing an avenue for individual membership, which comes only through a Monthly Meeting. Monthly Meetings, in turn, should seek out, visit, and assist new Worship Groups.When no Monthly Meeting is able to take the Worship Group under its care, this relationship may be established through the appropriate Quarterly Meeting or through Pacific Yearly Meeting (when no Quarterly Meeting is available). Their Ministry and Oversight Committees will assume the duties normally performed by a Monthly Meeting.

 Each Worship Group need organize only to the degree that is right for it at a particular time. It should, however, organize sufficiently to nurture the interests and concerns of its participants, including children and to provide an avenue for contacts with other Friends groups and with the wider body of the Religious Society of Friends, both of which can enrich the life of a Worship Group. Usually a Correspondent serves as a convener of the group. Communications from Monthly and Quarterly Meetings and other Friends’ groups or organizations should be addressed to the Correspondent who is responsible for sharing them with the entire group.

 Applications for membership, requests for weddings, or other such formal actions must be taken to the Monthly Meeting to which the Worship Group is related. When a Worship Group feels it is ready to organize and conduct its own business in the manner of an established Meeting, it should consider requesting Preparative Meeting status.