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Procedures and Forms

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Conduct of Business Sessions

It is a Quaker conviction that the Lord of the Church is present in its times of decision making as well as in its times of worship. This conviction in no way lessens the need for clarity of presentation or thoughtful reasoning, but rather reinforces it so that every thought is made captive to Christ, who is present with his people for their corporate as well as individual judgments (see Acts 15). This conviction supports the following suggestions for business procedures.

A Devotional Period

Every session should begin with a devotional period, a time of waiting upon the Lord, so that minds and hearts may be united with Christ. During this period some may wish to offer prayer, testimony, or exhortation, or to read an appropriate Scripture passage. The clerk should determine that all minds are clear and ready for matters of business.

The Opening Minute

Business begins with the reading of the opening minute by the Recording Clerk. It is worded somewhat as follows “Pennville Friends Church has met in regular session January ___, 20____, at _____ p.m. (Some churches may want to preserve a continuing record of the age of the church; for example, “has met in its eighty-ninth regular session.”)

Reading of the Minutes

The minutes of the previous meeting should be printed for distribution, or read aloud; their presentation at this time is for the information of those present. Usually the Recording Clerk formulates the minutes as business goes forward and reads them at the close of the session for correction and approval. If this has not been done, approval of the previous minutes is the first agenda item.

Presentation of Business

From an agenda drawn up by the Presiding Clerk, the meeting moves through old business, then postponed matters, then to reports and recommendations by standing and special committees, then to matters of new business on the agenda, and finally to new matters introduced from the floor of the meeting. Every active member of the church has a right to participate and therefore to introduce new business. It is customary among Friends to present matters of business in the form of a proposal or a suggestion rather than a motion.

Consideration of Business Matters

Persons proposing action do so, not with the idea of championing an idea and bringing the church to that point of view, but with a desire for united action based upon the Divine will. Accordingly, it is incumbent upon members to speak freely to the issue, from their particular perspectives. When this is done in humility and godly fear, it is frequently the case that the common thought of the people may shift to one or the other side of the proposal. When all who wish to do so have expressed their judgments, the Presiding Clerk gathers the collective judgment, asking for approval. When approval is voiced clearly, the clerk announces the will of the church, in words such as these “It is my judgment that Friends approve the action, but are there those who do not feel clear about it?” Unless objections are raised, or clarification required, the clerk then announces that it is the decision of the meeting. The Recording Clerk then formulates a minute embodying the proposition and the decision. The business session resorts to voting only when civil law requires it.

The Concluding Minute

After all matters have been considered and there is no further business to be presented, the Presiding Clerk, perceiving that all minds are clear, reads or has read a concluding minute, for example, “The session adjourned, to meet_________, 20____, or at the call of the clerk.”

Marriage Ceremonies

The Spiritual Nature of Marriage

Marriage is divinely ordained and ought to be entered with prayerful deliberation and in the fear of God. Young people, especially, are advised to seek the counsel of pastors or elders and to be guided by their admonitions so that there is a context of support by parents and others sufficient to sustain the establishment of a new home in Christian grace and love. Because of the spiritual nature of marriage, a wedding should be a religious rather than a civil occasion whether the marriage is solemnized in a meetinghouse, in a home, or elsewhere. Spiritual celebration, rather than social ostentation, should characterize the ceremony. Those who are united in marriage and the ministers who participate in wedding ceremonies must be careful to meet all legal requirements of the state in which they reside there should be a valid marriage license, proper certification and registration of the minister, authentication by witnesses, and prompt and official reporting of the marriage ceremony to appropriate civil authorities.

Forms of Marriage Ceremonies

Wedding ceremonies vary greatly according to family wishes and tradition. Basic to all of them is the public witnessing of the exchanged vows. In some states a certified minister is required to sign and return a portion of the marriage license. In all cases two or more witnesses should sign. Friends should ensure that the emphasis is upon the couple prayerfully and joyfully pledging faithfulness to each other in the presence of family and friends. An appropriate ceremony may be arranged with a minister presiding, or a traditional form of the Friends ceremony may be used, as follows:

After a time of silent waiting in a gathered meeting for worship, the man and woman should stand before the church and, taking each other by the hand, declare to the following effect: “In the presence of the Lord and before these witnesses, I take you, D.E. [using the full name], to be my wife, promising with Divine assistance to be unto you a loving and faithful husband, as long as we both shall live.”

“In the presence of the Lord and before these witnesses, I take you, A.B. [using the full name], to be my husband, promising with Divine assistance to be unto you a loving and faithful wife, as long as we both shall live.”

A minister or elder may then declare that they are husband and wife, directing the witnesses (or perhaps all those present) to sign the license and a certificate of record.

A certificate becomes the property of the bride and groom. Care should be taken that the legal document provided by the county clerk is filled out properly and returned by the official to the civil authorities.

Minutes of Service

Suggested Form for Minutes of Service

When a minister or other member has been liberated for service beyond the local church, a minute may be drawn to the following effect: ___________ has expressed a concern for ministry among Friends in ___________. We concur with this concern and recommend him/her/them to your fellowship and care. ______________ has been active among us in the following ways ____________. We would be pleased to receive an endorsement of this minute of service and any response to the ministry you may wish to send. Our prayers are with you.

(Signed)_______________________ Presiding Clerk

________________________Friends Church

(Similarly, a sojourning minute may be drawn for persons desiring to visit among Friends, particularly in other yearly meetings and in other countries.)

Membership Forms

Suggested Application for Active Membership

I (name) _________________, having acknowledged Jesus Christ as my Savior and having studied the Christian beliefs of Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends Church and accepted them, desire to become associated with fellow Christians of this faith and do hereby apply for active membership in ________________Friends Church.

I am ready to take advantage of opportunities for spiritual growth offered through the various ministries of the church and to take an interest in the business of the church and the work of the Yearly Meeting.

I understand that membership implies an obligation on my part to support the church in the following ways:

  1. by living a consistent and godly life (Romans 1:21),
  2. by using my gifts in ministry and service as God directs me (1 Peter 4:10),
  3. by attending the regular meetings for worship and fellowship unless hindered by reasons I can conscientiously give to my Lord (Hebrews 10:23-25),
  4. by making regular financial contributions to the ministry of the church (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).

I am prepared to uphold the statements of Christian belief of Northwest Yearly Meeting, but if at any time I can no longer work in harmony with the faith and practice of Friends, I shall ask that my name be removed from membership.

(Signed)_________________________________________________________Phone__________________________

Address________________________________________________________________________________________

Birth date______________________________________________________

Single___________Married___________

Are you now a member of another church? _______________________

If so, where?_____________________________________________________________________________________

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Recommendation to the Business Meeting:

The Committee of Elders accepts this applicant and presents ___________________________for active membership.

Date__________________________

(Signed)________________________________, Clerk of Committee of Elders

Date______________________________

Date of business meeting and action taken_______________________________


Suggested Application for Affiliate Membership

I (name) _______________________, having acknowledged Jesus Christ as my Savior and having studied the Christian beliefs of Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends Church, desire to become associated with fellow Christians of this faith and do hereby apply for affiliate membership in _________________ Friends Church. I am not yet ready for active membership for the following reason _____ (a) temporary residence, _____ (b) tentativeness about Friends beliefs, or _____ (c) other (specify) _________________________________________________________________________

I am ready to take advantage of opportunities for spiritual growth offered through the various ministries of the church and to take an interest in the business of the church and the work of the Yearly Meeting.

I understand that membership implies an obligation on my part to support the church in the following ways:

  1. by living a consistent and godly life (Romans 1:21),
  2. by using my gifts in ministry and service as God directs me (1 Peter 4:10),
  3. by attending the regular meetings for worship and fellowship unless hindered by reasons I can conscientiously give to my Lord (Hebrews 10:23-25),
  4. by making regular financial contributions to the ministry of the church (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).

I am prepared to respect the statements of Christian belief of Northwest Yearly Meeting, but if at any time I can no longer work in harmony with the faith and practice of Friends, I shall ask that my name be removed from membership.

(Signed)______________________________________________________________Phone____________________

Address________________________________________________________________________________________

Birth date________________________________________________________

Single _________ Married__________

Are you now a member of another church? _____________

If so, where?_____________________________________________________________________________________

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Recommendation to the Business Meeting:

The Committee of Elders accepts this applicant and presents ___________________________for active membership.

Date__________________________

(Signed)________________________________, Clerk of Committee of Elders

Date______________________________

Date of business meeting and action taken_______________________________


Suggested Certificate for Active Membership

This is to certify that ___________________ has been granted active membership on the basis of a credible profession of faith in Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord, a manner of life consistent with that profession, an acceptance of the beliefs of Christianity as held by Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends, and a unity with its spiritual disciplines.

Children uniting as associate members:

(Name) __________________________________________________ Birth date______________________________

(Name) __________________________________________________ Birth date______________________________

(Name) __________________________________________________ Birth date______________________________

Approved in business session on (date)________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________ Friends Church

(Signed)_________________________________, Presiding Clerk


Suggested Certificate for Affiliate Membership

This is to certify that has been granted affiliate membership on the basis of harmony with one of the following:

  1. The Faith and Practice of Northwest Yearly Meeting
  2. The following essential Christian doctrines: the sovereignty of God; the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ; the atonement through Jesus Christ by which persons may be reconciled to God; the resurrection of Jesus, which assures the resurrection of all true worshipers; the gift of the Holy Spirit to believers; and the authority of the Scriptures.
  3. The Statement of Faith of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Accordingly, ___________________________ is granted the privilege of participating in the worship and business of this church within the limits set forth by Faith and Practice, and the obligation of faithful attendance at services of the church, active moral and spiritual support, and considerate giving toward its financial needs. This membership will be reviewed annually and may be terminated at any time by the member or by the church.

Approved in business session on (date) _______________________________________________________________

________________________________________Friends Church

(Signed)________________________________, Presiding Clerk


Suggested Certificate for Persons Received by Transfer

This is to certify that __________________________ has been granted active membership on the basis of transfer from ___________________________ Friends Church (__________________ Yearly Meeting), which has issued a certificate of good standing and a commendation to Christian care and fellowship. Children uniting as associate members:

(Name) __________________________________________________ Birth date______________________________

(Name) __________________________________________________ Birth date______________________________

(Name) __________________________________________________ Birth date______________________________

Approved in business session on (date)________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________ Friends Church

(Signed)_________________________________, Presiding Clerk


Suggested Certificate of Transfer

This is to certify that ____________________________, who wishes to transfer to (church/address) ________________ ____________________________________ is a member of good standing with us, and we commend him/her to your Christian fellowship. On behalf of __________________________Friends Church, (address) ___________________ _________________________________________and by official action (date) ______________________. The transfer will be made official upon acknowledgment of this certificate.

_________________________________________ Friends Church

(Signed)_________________________________, Presiding Clerk

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Acknowledged on this date____________________________ by ___________________________ (presiding officer), ____________________________________ Church.

Note: Local churches, or the Yearly Meeting, may wish to prepare more extensive certificates embodying spiritual goals and covenants. Any such certificates should include as the statement of faith the summary document “What Friends Believe” from this Faith and Practice.

Incorporation of Local Churches

Inasmuch as articles of incorporation for churches must take various forms because of the differing corporation laws in the states within which the churches of Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends are located, no precise wording is provided. The Yearly Meeting does require, however, that in each instance of incorporation the articles must contain the following four paragraphs:

First, that somewhere in the paragraph on purpose or objective there be included this clause: “to conduct a local church in accordance with the provisions as set forth in the Faith and Practice, as amended, of Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends Church, a nonprofit corporation in the State of Oregon.”

Second, in the paragraph on dissolution there be included this statement: “Though intended to be perpetual, in case of dissolution of the corporation, the assets shall become the property of Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends Church, an Oregon nonprofit corporation, or its successors.”

Third, in the paragraph on membership there be included this statement: “Every person who has been admitted as a member of the ________________________ Friends Church in accordance with the said Faith and Practice, as amended, shall be a member of this corporation, and no other terms of admission into such corporation will be recognized or required.”

Fourth, in the paragraph on trusteeship there be included this statement: “The method of electing trustees and the duties of the trustees shall be in accord with the said Faith and Practice, as amended, of Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends Church.”

Fifth, a paragraph be included which says: “These Articles of Incorporation cannot be changed or amended without the consent of Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends Church…

If the exact wording as stated above is inconsistent with the statute of the state under which the church is seeking incorporation, differing wording will be allowed provided that it states in essence the concepts delineated above, and that the suggested change is approved by the Superintendent of Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends Church.

Any changes or amendments of Articles of Incorporation under the fifth provision shown above must be approved by the Administrative Council of the Yearly Meeting upon the recommendation of the Superintendent. Requests for approval should be submitted to the Superintendent.

The name shown in the articles of incorporation will be the “legal name” of the church being incorporated. (See “Organization of the local church. Organizational Transitions. Nomenclature”). If the legal name and the common name are significantly different, it may be necessary to register the common name with the respective states as an “assumed” or “trade” name.

About: Faith and Practice

A Book of Christian Discipline
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Download the full PDF document [HERE].