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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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Friends Process for Making Decisions

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.


minute-taking in the monthly meeting

 Minutes should be correct, accessible records of what occurred during a Meeting. Because Friends believe every offering in a Meeting for Business comes from God, the idea is recorded but not the names of the persons who speak. Items may be attributed to “one Friend” or “some Friends.” Names of persons appear only when necessary — such as to identify who presented a report or who was charged with a task.

 In the Monthly Meeting for Business, the recording clerk and the Presiding Clerk act as a team in preparing the two types of minutes: minutes of action and of exercise (see below). Narrative passages are helpful as well in recording how a decision was reached. <See Appendix 1c for useful practices for preparing Meeting minutes.>

Minutes of Action – Numbered Minutes: When the Meeting arrives at a decision, it needs to be clearly and correctly recorded in a“ minute of action.” Such a minute should be read aloud, modified if necessary, and approved at that Meeting. Once approved, it should not be changed other than for authorized editorial modifications that do not alter the meaning. When finding the precise wording appears both difficult and important, the Presiding Clerk should name a few Friends to retire and work out language to present for approval later in the Meeting. Describing the issues that were considered, and how they were resolved, can contribute to later understanding of how the decision was reached.

Minutes of Exercise: When discussion of a matter produces important considerations, but no decision, it may be useful to record salient points in a minute of exercise, capturing the sense or recording the process of the session. What is the Meeting’s dilemma? How was it addressed? What were the conclusions? Even matters such as whether a committee should be laid down or if the Meeting is to support a Friend’s leading may require time at more than one Meeting for Business. A minute of exercise is especially useful to avoid unnecessary repetition and strengthen the basis for further discussion. It is the prerogative of the clerk to discern why the Meeting could not unite.