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YM22 Preparing for Business

Preparing to Participate in Australia Yearly Meeting 2022 online Business Sessions

In our meetings for worship we seek through the stillness to know God’s will for ourselves and for the gathered group. Our meetings for church affairs, in which we conduct our business, are also meetings for worship based on silence, and they carry the same expectation that God’s guidance can be discerned if we are truly listening together and to each other, and are not blinkered by preconceived opinions. It is this belief that God’s will can be recognised through the discipline of silent waiting which distinguishes our decision-making process from the secular idea of consensus. We have a common purpose in seeking God’s will through waiting and listening, believing that every activity of life should be subject to divine guidance. 

Quaker faith and practice 3.02

Business Sessions for YM22

Quakers’ experience internationally is that worshipping together online can be deep and spirit-filled, with ministry springing from a gathered stillness. In 2020, Quaker Yearly Meetings approached Business in quite different ways. Britain Yearly Meeting was held over one day during which Friends received and considered committee reports; some North American Yearly Meetings included no formal Business sessions; and others scheduled fewer Business sessions covering a limited agenda.

Clerking ‘virtual’ Yearly Meetings online with sometimes large groups of participants was a new and rather daunting experience for each Clerk. Ann Zubrick says "I found it required different spiritual and practical preparation, significant backroom technical support, and practice. Deep listening with everyone muted is challenging for the Clerk to gain the ‘sense of the Meeting’."

Now, with that experience, and Friends’ encouragement, additional Business sessions will be offered during Australia YM22. Some sessions will Minute items discerned and agreed by Regional Meetings. Matters requiring further consideration and discernment will be scheduled during YM22—with a Zoom link, agenda and links to documents or reports advised on the YM22 website.

Zoom Meetings for Worship for Business take longer than when we meet in person. Clerking Standing Committee and Annual General Meeting experiences over the last 2 years suggests that a virtual Meeting for Worship for Business may take 30%-40% longer than one held face-to-face. There may not be time at YM22 to address all Friends’ concerns.

Preparatory work for the Meeting for Worship for Business

If you plan to attend and participate in YM22 Business sessions,  please come prepared. Please access information on the YM22 website and read the relevant reports.

Preparatory work for the Meeting for Worship for Business includes both information gathering (which includes Yearly Meeting 2022 Documents in Advance, reports from Preparatory Sessions, Regional Meeting responses and reports or recommendations from committees and other meetings) and preparing the mind and heart.

As part of your preparation, Friends are asked to reflect upon matters to come before the meeting, so that all relevant insights, leadings, information and other considerations can be weighed in the meeting’s discernment process.

A virtual YM restricts or eliminates the formal and informal opportunities there are when we meet in person. There are no informal conversations among Friends during meals, morning and afternoon teas, shared walks or shared tapestry time. It’s easy to overlook the value of these conversations in preparing Friends for Business sessions.

Spiritual preparation and support for the clerking team helps to ensure that the meeting is conducted in a worshipful manner. Elders and Pastoral Care play an important part before, during and after each session.

It is important that each participant begins the meeting with the expectation that it will be a spiritual experience.


  • What activities, rituals, practices can you engage in to prepare yourself for YM22 Meetings for Worship for Business?
  • Have you read the relevant material for each meeting and taken time to sit with this material? Is there anything you are unsure about that you could ask a friend for clarity about?
  • How might you create your own opportunities for informal conversations and connections during YM22, perhaps on the phone, meeting up with nearby Friends, or through daily walks in nature?

Recognition of speakers

It is the responsibility of each Friend to be recognised by the Clerk before offering a contribution, and to address the meeting rather than any individual.

A Co-Clerk will advise the Clerk the names of people wishing to speak. The Clerk will name that person who should then unmute. All others wishing to speak should remain muted, until called upon. 

Contributions should be brief and clear, and avoid repeating points that have already been put before the meeting. It is not expected that any Friend will speak more than once on an issue, unless specifically requested by the Clerk (e.g. to provide a committee report or information from a Friend’s area of expertise).

The Clerk will allow time to process and consider before calling the next person. We need this space to create a gathered stillness for ministry within the worshipping community.

The YM22 Clerking team is currently working with the IT support people and YM22 organising committee to ensure this process works as well as possible.

If you indicate that you wish to speak, but are not called upon to speak, it may be because you have already been heard on the topic, because there are many people wishing to speak, or it may be an accident. If this occurs, please do not ‘just speak’. Instead, remain in worship and trust that if the contribution needs to come to the meeting, a way forward will present itself.

Preparing the space where you are meeting

Friends wishing to participate will need to have a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone with a Zoom connection, a camera/webcam, a microphone setting and enough bandwidth to allow them to be heard distinctly without the signal breaking up.

Friends using a phone line or experiencing unreliable internet should consider simply listening to a Business session or joining another Friend with a better connection. If either situation applies to you, please consider talking with your Clerk about how you can best participate in YM. If you know someone in this position, consider reaching out to them and inviting them to join you for Business meetings, or offer to help them get set up on Zoom.

Preparing to participate if this is new for you

  • Try out Zoom in advance, ideally with a friend who can help you – it takes away the stress, and lets you learn peacefully first.

And on the day

  • Make sure the name you wish the Clerk to use is on the screen. If more than one person is present, please include names of all Friends.
  • Connect 10 minutes or so ahead of the scheduled time of Meeting so if you need help, you can contact someone who can help (there will be a Help Desk number for YM22).
  • Check that your microphone is turned on, but muted unless you are speaking.
  • Try to have a few minutes of quiet preparation ahead of the start of the session.
  • Stay in that worshipful space throughout the whole meeting, especially if the clerks leave the main meeting to write a minute in a break out room.

Queries for preparing the space you are in (either on your own or with other Friends)

  • Is this a quiet space? Is this a space where I can be quiet and still? If I unmute, will there be background noise?
  • What will Friends see on the screen? Does it look like and feel like a worshipful space? Might a few flowers or a copy of This We Can Say help set the scene?
  • Do others in the location understand that you are Meeting for Worship for Business?