Establishing a Monthly Meeting

This text is Appendix 3 of Faith & Practice, the book that provides guidance for Friends in New England Yearly Meeting.

3A. Process for Recognition as a Monthly Meeting

(See NEYM Faith and Practice 1985, p. 219.)

In the context of this appendix, the term “preparative meeting” refers to a group preparing to become a monthly meeting. (See 1985, p. 218, for the two definitions of this term in NEYM.)

  1. A group meeting regularly for worship asks to become a worship group under the care of an established monthly meeting. At some point the worship group and the monthly meeting may decide to change the status of the worship group to preparative meeting.
  2. When the monthly meeting feels the preparative meeting is ready for monthly meeting status, it so indicates to the quarterly meeting.
  3. Quarterly meeting sends a visiting committee to the preparative meeting. That committee then presents a recommendation to the quarterly meeting. If the quarter establishes a new meeting, the action is reported to the yearly meeting.

3B. Questions for a Worship Group or Preparative Meeting Wishing to Become a Monthly Meeting

  1. What draws your worship group to become a monthly meeting of the Religious Society of Friends? How and in what ways do you feel ready to do so?
  2. How long has your worship group been meeting? How often do you meet for worship? Where do you meet? Is it in a private home or in rented space? How easy are you to find? How many adults attend? How many children attend? How many of you are Friends? What geographical area does your group include?
  3. Do you have a sense of God’s presence in your meetings for worship? How will you continue to nurture the worship? How will you nurture spiritual growth in your members and attenders?
  4. What experience do you have with the Religious Society of Friends outside your worship group—with other monthly meetings, quarterly meetings, yearly meetings?
  5. How familiar are you with New England Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice? Are there other Disciplines (Faith and Practice) with which you are familiar? Which do you rely on for guidance?
  6. Do you understand the Quaker business process, especially the search for a sense of unity? Do you hold meetings for business? Are they held in a spirit of worship? Do you participate in the meetings for business of the monthly meeting whose care you have been under? 
  7. Do you have sufficient knowledge of Quaker history and Quaker thought to be comfortable testing leadings within the meeting?
  8. Does your group embrace traditional Quaker testimonies such as  integrity, equality, simplicity, and peace?
  9. Is your group aware of the spiritual diversity within the various branches of the Religious Society of Friends and within New England Yearly Meeting?
  10. Would the monthly meeting have a stable enough membership that it may be expected to continue to exist for a substantial period of time?
  11. Do you have enough members to fulfill the functions of clerk, recording clerk, and major committees? If you do not, as long as you have a clerk you may function as a committee of the whole. Are there enough members with sufficient skill and experience that these responsibilities can be rotated, so that no Friend carries too much of the burden? How will you choose Friends to perform these functions?
  12. Are you familiar with the process of seeking clearness for membership and for marriage under the care of the Meeting? Once you become a monthly meeting, what will be your guidelines and procedures for those seeking membership and for those seeking to marry under the care of your Meeting?
  13. Are you familiar with Quaker weddings and Quaker memorial meetings and how they are conducted?
  14. Are you ready to undertake the financial obligations of a Monthly Meeting? Have you developed a budget?
  15. Do you understand the process for record-keeping? (See Appendix 1A.) How will you keep monthly meeting minutes and membership records? 
  16. What is your understanding of pastoral care? How will the responsibilities of such care be met?