A Workshop on Community Discernment

 I wrote the invitation below for my local meeting.  Some information about the workshop is at the top.  Then there is a list of the topics we had available to read about and perhaps discuss.  Third is a bibliography for the readings.

Friends have some unique and wonderful ways of deciding things together.  You’re invited to participate in learning more about them in a September Workshop on Community Discernment at Corvallis Friends Meeting.  We plan for two sessions before worship on 9/7 and 9/21/2008.  This could expand to more sessions, if we need it and are led there.

This is a response to some inklings felt by the Committees on Ministry & Oversight and Adult Religious Education.  Our meeting has many people serving in new responsibilities this year.   We have a unique organization with volunteer coordinators and short term volunteers that we all could benefit from careful consideration of.  We hope this session will be of use to all in our meeting and of particular use to committee clerks.

I have selected and copied some readings on various topics.  They are available on the table in the meeting house lobby.  Multiple copies of Patricia Loring’s book, Listening Spirituality, vol. II:  Corporate Spiritual Practice among Friends are on order.  It will serve as a basic text for the session, along with the NPYM book of Faith and Practice.  Keep watching that space for those books and new readings as they come in.

There are several readings copied on white or ivory paper that address questions for everyone, such as:
What can an individual Friend do to help in community discernment?  What spiritual growth might come from taking part in this?  You’ll find these in manila file folders.

Not every Friend is expected to read all the written material.  Some of the topic questions are those that clerks, committee clerks or recording clerks deal with all the time.  So I’ve targeted some of the material for those leaders.  These are on colored paper in colored file folders.  With the brighter color comes greater responsibility.  If you read one of these selections, you may be asked to summarize it for those who haven’t read it.

A Friend would be welcome to read which ever materials she was led to.  We will all benefit and all be able to shed some light on these ideas during the discussions.

The sessions will start with some time to browse the written material as we gather.  Doors will open at 9:00 am and we’ll settle together at 9:45 am.

As we consider each topic, different Friends will volunteer to report on each of the readings relating to it.  Lively and enlightening discussion should ensue.  If it doesn’t, we can move to another topic.

The list of topics with the readings I’ve planned are below.  The bibliography shows the sources I’ve found so far for this workshop.  The workshop is definitely open to suggestions for additional topics and readings.  The ones I’ve selected come from my particular set of experiences and perspectives.  Please supplement from your own.  I’m happy to help you find and choose readings.  You could even join me in writing an essay on one of your favorite opinions related to community discernment.

If you have suggestions, questions or reservations, please call or write.

Jay T.

Topic Questions & Readings

What can an individual Friend do to help in community discernment?  before the meeting?  during?  after?      Loring, pp. 70, 73–78, 85–89; Larrabee, The Practice of Sense of the Meeting Decision making & The Role of Those Present; Wilson, pp. 137–139             These readings are recommended for all.

What spiritual growth might come from taking part in this?     NPYM Draft on Discernment; Larrabee, The Salutary Effect of Not Voting, Loring , pp. 155-156         These readings are recommended for all.

What does a committee clerk do?      Bosworth;  Patuxent;  Loring, pp. 89–92

Building an agenda    Lakey

Does a committee–or the meeting–need to keep minutes?  of what?      Hickey

How does decision making in unity relate to democracy?      Morley; Loring, p. 159–160

What is email good for?      Committee on M&O Minutes from 7/29/2008

What decisions belong to a committee and which to the meeting for business?    Wilson, p. 143; Larrabee, The Use of Committees;  Thatcher

Nominating Committee    Wilson, pp 96–98; Loring, pp. 82–85

The Committee on Worship & Ministry    NPYM pp. 84–85;  Loring pp. 141–145, 239–243

The Committee on Oversight    NPYM pp. 86–88; Loring pp. 146–153

Meeting House Maintenance & Hospitality    Loring, pp. 239–243

What processes can be used for considering and furthering our concerns for the wider society?    NPYM pp. 78-80; Wilson, pp. 121-125

How do these processes apply to the unique structures we’ve chosen for Corvallis Friends?      Corvallis Friends Meeting–Joint Committees


Bosworth, Carol with Thatcher Jay, editor.  The work of a clerk of a standing committee at our meeting.  2008.  Corvallis: Corvallis Friends Meeting.

Corvallis Friends Meeting–Joint Committees on Nominating and Ministry and Oversight.  Report.  2005.  Corvallis: Corvallis Friends Meeting.

Corvallis Friends Meeting Committee on Ministry and Oversight.  Minutes from 7/29/2008.  2008.  Corvallis, OR:  Unpublished.
Haines, Deborah.  A Practical Mystic’s Guide to Committee Clerking in FGC Connections.  2004.  Philadelphia: Friends General Conference.

Hickey, Damon D.  Unforseen Joy: Serving a Friends Meeting as Recording Clerk.  1987.  Greensboro, NC: North Carolina Yearly Meeting (FUM).

Lakey, Berit.  Meeting Facilitation: The No–magic Method.  Undated.  World Wide Web.

Larrabee, The Salutary Effect of Not Voting, The Practice of Sense of the Meeting Decision-making & The Role of Those Present and The Use of Committees.  2005.  Westtown, PA: self-published.

Loring, Patricia.  Listening Spirituality, Volume II: Corporate Spiritual Practice Among Friends.  1999.  Bethesda, MD: Openings.

Loring, Patricia.  Spiritual responsibility in the meeting for business.  1993.  Philadelphia: Quaker Press of FGC.

Morley, Barry. Beyond Consensus:Salvaging Sense of the Meeting. 1993. Wallingford, PA: Pendle Hill.

North Pacific Yearly Meeting.  Faith and Practice.  1993.  Corvallis, OR: NPYM.

Patuxent Friends Monthly Meeting.  Guidelines for Meeting and Committee Clerks.    Undated.  World Wide Web

Thatcher, Jay.  On the appropriate reach of decisions made by Friends’ committees.  2008.  Corvallis: Corvallis Friends Meeting.

Wilson, Lloyd Lee.  Essays on the Quaker Vision of Gospel Order.  1993.  Wallingford, PA: Pendle Hill.