C. Establishment of Meetings
In general, any proposal for establishment, subdivision, consolidation, or merger of a Friends’ meeting should be presented to an established meeting having responsibility as indicated in following paragraphs. The responsible meeting should make suitable examination of the proposal, usually by appointing a special committee for the purpose with instructions to report to a subsequent meeting. When Friends approve the proposal, the authorizing meeting for business should appoint a time and place to conduct the initial organization meeting, designate one or more Friends to have charge of this meeting, and report the action to its quarterly and the yearly meeting clerks. The initial meeting should include appointment of such officers or committees as may be needed at that time to conduct the business of the new meeting.
MONTHLY MEETINGS. A monthly meeting may be established upon the initiative of a quarterly or equivalent meeting, or by that body upon the request of a group of members desiring to organize a monthly meeting. In the case of a remotely located group of Friends or in the absence of an active quarterly meeting, corresponding procedures may be initiated by the Nurture Section of the yearly meeting and submitted for approval to the yearly meeting. Where the Nurture Section takes action, it should seek to involve experienced Friends in the area where the proposed meeting is located but in other respects takes responsibility for the functions normally assigned to the quarterly meeting. Continuing activity of the new meeting in association with other meetings of the area should be encouraged wherever practical.
If a monthly meeting deems it advisable to separate into two monthly meetings or to establish a new monthly meeting within its limits, the monthly meeting should bring the matter before its quarterly or equivalent meeting or the Nurture Section of the yearly meeting. If approved, the necessary organization meeting is arranged in accordance with the general procedure.
If a group of Friends, members of various monthly meetings, feel it is right to organize a new monthly meeting, they should bring their request before a nearby quarterly meeting or to the Nurture Section. When the new meeting becomes formally organized, the members involved should ask their monthly meetings to transfer their memberships to the new monthly meeting.
If a group of persons, not Friends, become interested in the principles of Friends and believe it would benefit their religious life to be organized as a Friends’ meeting, they are advised first to make application, as individuals, for membership in an established monthly meeting. When accepted into membership they may proceed as in the preceding paragraph.
PREPARATIVE MEETINGS. A preparative meeting, like the monthly meeting of which it is a part, has a definite membership list and meets regularly to conduct business, but does not have final authority to receive, transfer, or dismiss members, or to perform marriages. A preparative meeting may be established by a monthly meeting on its own initiative or on request of a group of members desiring to organize a preparative meeting. The preparative meeting may hold property and collect and disburse funds on behalf of its constituent members but in matters of membership and marriage can only bring recommendations to its monthly meeting.
Worship Groups. When Friends or other seekers choose to worship together regularly, whether in a community or in a prison, they may form a worship group by requesting the care of a nearby monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or regional meeting. A committee of care and accountability should be appointed by that meeting to assure the conduct of the worship group in the manner of Friends. The care committee for that worship group should include meeting members or attenders who attend the worship group regularly. Attenders at the worship group should become familiar with the ways of Friends’ faith and practice. New attenders should be welcomed.
Attenders of a worship group may apply to the monthly meeting providing care for the worship group for membership in the Religious Society of Friends, or for marriage, in accordance with the process used by the meeting to which they apply and the guidance offered in this Faith and Practice. If the worship group is under the care of a regional, quarterly or half-yearly meeting, attenders may apply to any monthly meeting in the region for membership or marriage.
A worship group may hold property and/or financial assets, and may receive and disburse funds on behalf of its attenders. It may also choose a clerk, a treasurer, and others to serve as needed, conduct business of its own, and prepare business to be forwarded to the meeting under whose care it operates.
INDULGED MEETINGS. An indulged meeting, unlike a monthly meeting, holds no business meetings. An indulged meeting can be initiated by a sufficient number of interested persons desiring to hold meetings for worship together under the care of the most convenient monthly meeting (or meetings, if thought desirable, when more than one is represented in the group). Committees of oversight should be appointed by the monthly meeting, or meetings, jointly, to assume such official duties as may be necessary for the orderly conduct of the indulged meeting.
EXECUTIVE MEETINGS. An executive meeting has the same authority and responsibility as a monthly meeting but has insufficient business to meet monthly. Business sessions may take place at such intervals as the meeting may determine, but not less frequently than one in three months.
QUARTERLY MEETINGS. A quarterly meeting may be established either upon the initiative of the yearly meeting or upon that body’s approval of a request from two or more monthly meetings. The yearly meeting may similarly receive a request from a quarterly meeting that deems it right to divide into two such meetings. The yearly meeting, in either case, should provide for preliminary consideration and follow-up in accordance with the general procedures for establishment of meetings. The quarterly meeting meets four times a year.
HALF-YEARLY MEETINGS. Where there is insufficient business to warrant meeting quarterly, the group may decide to hold meetings for business twice each year. In such a case a half-yearly meeting may be organized with the same authority and responsibility as a quarterly meeting. An established quarterly or regional meeting may change to a half-yearly meeting by giving notice to the yearly meeting. A new meeting group should follow the same procedure as given above for a quarterly meeting.
REGIONAL MEETINGS. As an alternate to either quarterly or half-yearly meetings, the group may decide to organize as a regional meeting with a flexible schedule of meetings for business. Established quarterly or half-yearly meetings may make such a change by giving notice to the yearly meeting. New meetings should follow the same procedure as described above for quarterly meetings. Regional meetings should hold at least one meeting for business annually, but may call additional meetings to the extent that interests and concerns of the group may warrant.