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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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Quarterly Meetings

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.


 Quarterly Meetings of the Religious Society of Friends are gatherings of neighboring Meetings. They can be as small as two nearby Meetings. Quarterly meetings foster intervisitation on a local level, especially with worship groups and preparative meetings. Quarterly meetings generally meet quarterly except at the time of Yearly Meeting. However, some call themselves Half-Yearly Meetings and meet less often. Such regional Meetings should ask for recognition by the Yearly Meeting.

 The Quarterly Meetings of Pacific Yearly Meeting have developed in a variety of ways. Their main purposes are to strengthen the life and fellowship of Monthly Meetings and other Friends groups in their area, to offer increased opportunities for worshiping together, and to consider spiritual and worldly matters of local or broader concern. They offer youth an opportunity to build closer relationships. An important aspect of Quarterly Meetings is to hear State of the Meeting reports <See Appendix 1b> from Monthly Meetings, Worship Groups and Preparative Meetings throughout the year.

 Responsibilities, functions and actions may be referred to Quarterly Meetings by their constituent Monthly Meetings and/or by the Yearly Meeting. These include, but are not limited to: recognizing and nurturing new Monthly Meetings; strengthening the spiritual life and fellowship of Meetings and individual Friends (including younger Friends); compiling and sharing State of the Meeting reports; considering and acting on concerns and forwarding those they have approved to Yearly Meeting. Quarterly Meetings may help with preparations for the annual sessions of Yearly Meeting in their areas. They prepare and endorse travel minutes and facilitate presentations by traveling Friends. They establish projects to further Friends’ concerns at the regional level and committees to administer them. They carry out such other functions as are appropriate to the Religious Society of Friends in their area.

 To carry out its responsibilities, a Quarterly Meeting should meet regularly as agreed during the year. It should appoint a Presiding Clerk and committees as needed, receive from Monthly Meetings the funds necessary for its operations, and proceed in general according to the practices of a Friends Meeting. An Interim or Continuing Committee may help plan for future sessions and act between sessions within agreed upon limits.

 Quarterly Meeting should appoint a Ministry and Oversight (or Counsel) Committee composed of experienced and spiritually sensitive Friends who reflect geographic diversity and who are able to serve as a working committee. The functions of this committee include care and counsel of Meetings and Worship Groups, and overseeing the good order and spiritual life of the Quarterly Meeting sessions. The Quarterly Meeting Ministry and Oversight Committee should be available to its constituent members (both Monthly Meetings and individuals), offering counsel with difficult problems or assistance in other ways.† This might include the process of laying down a meeting.

 Appropriate concerns should be brought to a Quarterly Meeting in much the same manner as to a Monthly Meeting. When one or more Monthly Meetings have labored with a concern, built up a foundation of essential background information and reached a clear conclusion embodied in a proposed minute, they should promptly forward the minute to the Clerk of Quarterly Meeting. The Clerk may send it to the appropriate committee for presentation to the Quarterly Meeting session. If it approves the minute, the Quarterly Meeting may forward it to the appropriate Yearly Meeting committee for consideration. Committees have the option of consolidating concerns and referring them back to Quarterly and Monthly Meetings for further seasoning, or, finding unity, developing them for presentation to the Yearly Meeting. Quarterly Meetings may initiate action which is specifically relevant to their geographical area.

 Quarterly Meetings also create institutions to serve the wider world of Friends and their communities. Southern California Quarterly Meeting was involved in the formation of both Pacific Ackworth School and Pacific Oaks College. SCQM and the Pacific Southwest Regional Office of AFSC created the Joint AFSC/SCQM Youth Service Project. College Park Quarterly Meeting was involved in establishing John Woolman School, Ben Lomond Quaker Center, and Friends House in Santa Rosa. <See Other Quaker Organizations p. 136>. These corporations make annual reports to the Quarterly Meeting.When a Quarterly Meeting sponsors corporations to carry out its concerns, it must take legal steps to minimize the financial liability of the Quarterly Meeting for such operations. It is important for Meetings to minute a clear understanding of their responsibility in such relationships.

† FGC Ministry and Nurture Committee’s The Wounded Meeting has relevance here. (See Bibliography)