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What is a Friends Meeting?

The fundamental spiritual community in the Religious Society of Friends is the monthly meeting, such as Green Street Monthly Meeting. The Religious Society of Friends was founded amid severe repression, and the monthly meeting took on a major responsibility to offer spiritual and material support to those who suffered and were often imprisoned for their beliefs, and for their families. From the beginning, Quakers believed that spiritual leadership was the responsibility of all, not just a designated pastor or priest. Decisions are made by all members of a meeting, and leadership is a shared responsibility. The monthly meeting derives its name from the fact that its members meet monthly in a meeting for worship to take care of business. Within its own area of responsibility, the monthly meeting is autonomous. Green Street MM aims to be a caring community that is responsive to the spiritual, social, educational, and material needs of its members. We do this work through committees.

Quarterly meetings are designed to bring together a larger group to encourage and strengthen one another through worship and to deal with matters of regional concern. A quarterly meeting consists of the entire membership of its constituent monthly meetings. Green Street MM is part of the Philadelphia Quarter, along with Germantown MM, Chestnut Hill MM, MM of Friends of Philadelphia (4th and Arch), Central Philadelphia MM, Unity MM, and Frankford MM. Each monthly meeting appoints representatives to attend the quarterly meeting sessions, which take place three times a year, although all members are encouraged to attend and take part. Quarterly Meetings can deal regionally with broader issues and special concerns and may also test concerns that a monthly meeting wishes to bring before the yearly meeting. Philadelphia Quarter oversees Stapeley in Germantown, and has a lesser role in the operation of the Friends Neighborhood Guild and Fairhill burial ground.

The yearly meeting consists of the entire membership of its constituent monthly meetings. Green Street MM is part of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PYM), which encompasses meetings from southern New Jersey to the middle of Pennsylvania, including Delaware and parts of Maryland. There are thirteen quarterly meetings and over a hundred monthly meetings within PYM. PYM needs the participation of the members of its monthly meetings on committees to review and recommend action on matters taken up at the yearly meeting, which usually meets annually in sessions. The purpose of its annual assembly is to assess the life of the Society, share information and concerns, conduct business, become spiritually refreshed and recommitted, and renew the bonds of friendship. It can engage in any activity or foster any work which the membership considers appropriate, including provision of funds and supervision for common projects. Among its numerous functions, the yearly meeting issues advices, queries, and reports of its proceedings to the monthly meetings. It exercises general oversight and care of quarterly and monthly meetings, aiding in the development of their concerns, providing inspiration and stimulation. It alone has the authority to establish or change its book of Faith and Practice. PYM provides for participation in the work and financial support of wider Friends’ organizations, such as Friends General Conference, which provides certain services to unprogrammed yearly meetings throughout the US and Canada, and Friends World Committee for Consultation, Section of the Americas, which serves as an umbrella group for various yearly meetings in the US, Canada, Central and South America, both unprogrammed and programmed. Interim Meeting also carries forward the work and witness of the yearly meeting when the yearly meeting is not in session.

Committee Meeetings : Concerns approved in a meeting for business are carried out by committees or appointed individuals. There are a number of standing committees with designated long term tasks. These include:

Budget | Care and Counsel* | Educational Assistance* | Greene Street Friends School | Hospitality | Nominating* | Property | Religious Education | Trustees* | Worship and Ministry
(An asterisk means the committee is restricted to meeting members only.)
  The Budget Committee

The Budget Committee meets at least once a year in or near the month of December, to draft a budget for the upcoming year, and also as is needed, sometimes by written and oral consultations during the rest of the year, to satisfy our obligations to our Meeting and to our Quarterly and Yearly Meetings, and to provide fiscal support to our properties and to ensure our ability to carry on all our Meeting activities. Other committee clerks are expected to advise the Treasurer or Budget Committee clerk regarding the amount they anticipate their committee will need for the following year as well as any fiscal problems for which they may need Budget Committee or Treasurer consultation.

The Budget Committee also reviews the Treasurer’s disbursements and bank accounts, supervises and provides assistance and guidance to the Treasurer, drafts timely appeals to our membership for funds, makes recommendations regarding financial matters and otherwise advises the Meeting on all budgetary matters.

  Care and Counsel*

The Committee for Care and Counsel has responsibility for pastoral care and counseling of members and is concerned with the spiritual and physical welfare of each individual. Matters discussed by the Committee are held in confidence.

Committee members are nominated in panels of three for three-year terms, with a limit of three consecutive terms.

Duties include providing information to attenders and receiving applications for membership and requests for marriage under the care of the Meeting. Visitation and clearness committees appointed from within the Committee for Care and Counsel meet with the prospective members and marriage partners respectively.

Inactive and distant members are contacted as deemed warranted and encouraged to participate more fully in the life of the Meeting, or, as appropriate, to consider transfer or release of their membership.

The Committee is responsible for coordinating visitations or assistance in cases of illness or personal difficulties by any Meeting member or attender.

Committee members aim to be creative listeners—aware of and responsive to each Meeting member’s and attender’s needs. It is important to understand that membership means different things to different people and to know why a given Meeting is attractive to a given person. The position of Care and Counsel member calls for dedication and responsibility, and should be entered into prayerfully and with a willingness to be of service when occasion requires.

  Education Assistance*

The Education Assistance Committee was established to respond to requests from Meeting members for tuition grants in four categories:

  1. To send Green Street Meeting children to Greene Street Friends School.
  2. To help send children of members to another Friends elementary or secondary school or to a school for those with special learning needs.
  3. To help defray college tuition.
  4. To enable a member to attend a Quaker conference or other like educational event.

The Education Assistance Committee also cooperates with the Education Granting Group of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, as needed.

Requests may come to the Committee any time, as need arises, but the usual yearly schedule is like this:

1. Clerk of the Committee puts a notice in the Meeting’s November newsletter reminding parents and college students that the Education Assistance Committee needs a letter of request for tuition aid in early January. (College students are expected to apply for themselves.)

2. The Committee meets shortly after January 15th and reads over all the applications. The Meeting treasurer supplies information about the financial resources expected to be available from the Education Assistance Fund for the next year. That fund is used for all the above categories of grants except category # 1. The Committee must determine how much will be needed to be put in the Meeting budget to cover the students in category # 1. Funds for the other categories come from the interest of Education Assistance Fund investments through the Yearly Meeting. Usually, the Committee meets at least once more to finalize the awards given. The clerk writes each recipient and also returns any tuition aid application forms, filled out, to the Yearly Meeting Education Granting Group.

The Education Assistance Committee should have five to six members. The Meeting treasurer should be a member of the Committee.

  Greene Street Friends School Board of Trustees

In 1855, Green Street Monthly Meeting established Greene Street Friends School as its major form of outreach. Since then, the Meeting and the School have enjoyed a care relationship that has stood the test of time and evolved into the modern era. Recently the Meeting and the School each incorporated to provide legal protection to Meeting members and volunteers in the two communities. Incorporation has not affected the care relationship. The School's Governance Committee and the Meeting Nominating Committee continue to work together to identify possible members of the School's Board of Trustees. The Meeting approves all appointments.

The Head of the School manages the staff, and she/he is responsible to the Board. The Board has multiple responsibilities: to encourage and support the Head and staff to operate the School in accordance with Friends principles and beliefs, as an expression of the Friendly way of life, and as a force for good in the lives of the children, in the School community and in the community of Germantown. In addition, the Board stewards the care relationship with the Meeting, keeps the School on sound financial footing, and develops and implements strategies to further the School's mission.

Board membership should reflect the demography of the student population, as well as a balance between young adults and those whose maturity, experience, skill, and resources have proved valuable. Because human relationships are the very heart of a school, qualities of judgment, tolerance and understanding are vital.

The Committee meets five times during the school year from 4:00 pm — 8:00 pm. Meetings are held from September through May. Regularity in attendance is essential. Members are expected to contribute to Annual Giving and capital campaigns, and to participate on a standing committee, a working group, or special projects. The standing committees of Finance and Governance meet approximately five times per year and report to the full Board.

Members are appointed for three-year terms, so arranged that one-third of them come up for reappointment each year. At least 50% of the members are Friends.

  Hospitality

The Hospitality Committee arranges the social functions of the Meeting. The Committee will cooperate with the other committees in arranging functions of a more serious nature.

The Committee takes care of the coffee hour after meeting for worship by arranging the list of persons to do each coffee hour and the lunch between meeting for worship and meeting for business.

The purpose of the Committee is to plan occasions when we can be together for fellowship and to make new members and attenders feel welcome. Committee members serve three-year terms.

  Nominating*

The Nominating Committee has the role of linking the spiritual journeys, leadings, and skills of Meeting members and attenders to the spiritual and practical needs of our community. Members of the Committee are responsible for listening for and helping to name the spiritual gifts of members and attenders. On this basis, we nominate members and attenders to serve on the various committees of the Meeting and seek approval for the nominations from Monthly Meeting for Business. The Committee works to keep a good record of appointment dates and dates when terms expire. The Committee also monitors and cares for the committees so that they are active and maintain good process. This work includes collecting written descriptions of the responsibilities of each committee and officer and helping the Meeting and committees engage in self-study and reflection.

Committee members serve a three-year term with the option to renew a second term after which they must rotate off for a year before serving again. Nominating Committee members are nominated by the Naming Committee and approved by the Monthly Meeting for Business.

  Property

The Property Committee is responsible for the maintenance of the buildings and grounds of the Green Street Monthly Meeting of Friends.

The Committee does this using an annual budget that is provided by the Meeting to purchase goods and services to maintain and improve the property. The Committee has a complement of nine members, who serve for three-year terms. The members should be persons with a knowledge of, or interest in, building construction or maintenance.

The Committee is responsible for the employment and oversight of a maintenance/custodian employee who cleans and does minor repairs to the building and maintains the grounds, using equipment supplied by the Meeting.

The Committee is also responsible for employing professional contractors to install and service the necessary equipment to heat the building, paint the building, and provide electrical service, plumbing service, construction services, and snow removal from the driveways and parking lot as well as any other necessary work on the buildings and grounds.

The Committee is also responsible for scheduling the use of the building by outside groups when this does not interfere with the use of the building by the Meeting.

  Religious Education

VALUES/ASPIRATIONS

  • Our goal is knitting the community together.
  • We want the adults to know our kids, so that they feel valued, known, and that they are contributing. And we want the kids to know the adults.
  • We strive to be flexible, providing enough structure to make things work, while allowing room for continuing revelation.
  • We believe we will find joy in doing this work, even though some of our experiments will fail and we will make mistakes.

CONTENT

We want to expose the participants to the following, both through explicit curriculum and through implicit behavior/activities:

  • Worship: Learning how to do it, and valuing meeting for worship
  • Knowledge of the Bible
  • Knowledge of Quaker history
  • Experience with Quaker practice
  • Experience with service to others

FORMAT On most Sundays (Firstdays), the children and youth gather in the second floor classrooms for a lesson with two adults present. Sometimes the children help prepare the snack for after meeting, play and run outside, or engage in another activity during the lesson time. The children and youth then join the larger community for the last 15 minutes of meeting for worship.

  Trustees*

The Trustees of Green Street Monthly Meeting of Friends of Philadelphia were incorporated in 1924 “for the purpose of receiving and holding property, real and personal, of and for Green Street Monthly Meeting, any of its subordinate meetings, and any religious, charitable, educational or benevolent object under the control of the Monthly Meeting or any of its subordinate meetings and committees, and to execute trusts thereof.”

By its charter, the corporation consists of nine persons who are members of Green Street Monthly Meeting. Trustees serve in three panels for three-year terms.

Every year, in May, the Nominating Committee of the Monthly Meeting is responsible to bring forward to the Monthly Meeting the names of three members for appointment to succeed the three members whose terms as Trustees are expiring. Because of the nature of this service, Trustees are traditionally reappointed and vacancies are considered on the basis of recommendations by Trustees.

The Trustees hold in trust for the Monthly Meeting all the buildings and grounds at School House Lane in Germantown and the grounds used by Greene Street Friends School on Greene and Annat Streets. The Trustees maintain insurance sufficient to cover all the property and contents thereof.

All bequests and legacies to the Monthly Meeting are received by Trustees and have generally, with Monthly Meeting approval, been placed for investment with Fiduciary Corporation of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.

All income received by Trustees, including interest income, is paid out each year to the Treasurer of the Monthly Meeting with the exception of miscellaneous lesser expenses such as Trustees expenses and legal and consulting fees.

The Trustees hold an Annual Meeting in April, a Semi-Annual Meeting in October, and otherwise as circumstances require.

  Worship and Ministry

The Committee on Worship and Ministry cares for and nurtures the life of the Spirit in the monthly meeting and is available to members and attenders to support their experience of worship.  The committee organizes programs in adult religious education as needed and wanted by the meeting community.

Responsibilities of Committee and Its Members

  • To arrange for the weekly care of the Meeting for Worship, introductions, announcements, and the welcome of visitors.
  • To strive to attend Meeting for Worship regularly, arriving a few minutes early to help establish the spirit of worship in the room.
  • To support everyone, both adults and children, in their experience of worship while embracing and nurturing the diversity among us. The bustle of children should be a welcome sound.
  • To model spiritual care for each other, mindful that at times this care may overlap with the work of Care and Counsel.
  • Upon request, to establish clearness committees for members and attenders with leadings.
  • To maintain care relationships with spiritual support committees as they are constituted by the Meeting for Business.
  • To coordinate its work with other committees of the meeting, particularly Care and Counsel, and Religious Education.
  • To attend committee meetings.
  • To plan Christmas worship.
  • To select and present a gift for Greene Street Friends School graduates.
Meeting Secretary: Gail Woodbury
Office Phone: (267) 285-0553
Office Hours: Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.