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Readings for Reflection: March 2007
from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel


Using Quaker Practice – in Relationships, Society at Large,
and Conduct of Meeting for Business -

Some Friendly Advices excerpted and edited from
the New York Yearly Meeting web site.

Introduction - By becoming members of the Religious Society of Friends, we commit ourselves to a distinctive way of life. A guiding premise of Quakerism is that our actions are as important as our basic beliefs, and ought to reflect those beliefs. Although we may differ in our theological understanding and manner of worship, it is the use of Quaker practice that distinguishes us as Friends.
     To bring all areas of our lives under the ordering of the Spirit, we try to practice our testimonies of Community, Equality, Integrity, Peace, and Simplicity in relationships and in society at large.

In Relationships
Affirm the Spirit in oneself and others.
Create space for the Light; foster and preserve opportunities congenial to the
     Spirit.
Live with simplicity, avoiding materialism or mere conventionality.
Defuse tensions with the help of the Spirit; strive to deal openly and lovingly with
     others when conflicts arise.
Seek alternatives to violence in our words and actions.
Listen for the truth in the words of others.
Speak the truth as we discern it with cordiality, kindness, and love.
Avoid gossip, tale-bearing, breaking confidences, or the disparagement of others.
Resist temptations to falsehood, coercion, and abuse.
Avoid behavior that supports social ranking.

In Society at Large
Help others who are in need in whatever ways are open to us.
Support causes consistent with Quaker values.
Make economic choices that contribute to the fair sharing of world resources.
Question the myths and generalities often used to justify deprivation,
     punishment, and other human misery.
Avoid support of war or the seeds of war.
Speak truth to power, even when truth may not be welcome.
Embrace a style of life that promotes a healthy planet—supporting
     environmentally sound behavior.
Participate positively in public affairs.
Choose to affirm in legal proceedings, rather than to swear an oath, which implies
     part-time truth telling.

In the Conduct of Meeting for Business
In the consideration of business, Friends seek the sense of the meeting, a spiritual process of corporate discernment in the presence of God. Pursuit of the sense of the meeting as we try to reach a decision requires us to exercise openness, sensitivity, and tenderness to one another.

Quaker process calls upon Friends to:
Begin with centering worship.
Listen to all messages with openness, receive them in worship, and allow for
     silence between them.
Respond to the heart of the message, not to the messenger.
Wait for recognition from the clerk before speaking.
Speak, as standard practice, to the clerk, not to individual Friends.
Speak only once to a given issue unless it is clear that more is appropriate; allow
     all present to speak before seeking to speak a second time.
Avoid interrupting or engaging in asides or side conversations (maintaining one's
     center).
Seek God's guidance before speaking.
Avoid inappropriate emotional attachment to one's own opinion.
Consider introducing potentially contentious ideas and expressing deep
     convictions by means of queries rather than statements.
Call for silence (anyone can do this) to re-center in a spirit of worship.
Defer a decision if there is not clearness.
When personally disagreeing with the sense of the meeting, either stand aside
     (accept the meeting's decision while expressing disagreement with it) or
     [rarely] stand in the way (gently insist that the meeting consider your concern
     before acting).
Learn to trust Quaker process to work and leave the outcome to the Spirit.

All Readings for Reflection
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