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Threshing Session on Good Works

Threshing Session at Potluck to Consider Good Works Donations

"Threshing sessions derive their name from the assumption that through them the chaff might be separated from the grain of truth, clearing the way for later action on the issue. However, no corporate decisions are made at such meetings."

Please join a discussion on Sunday during pot luck to share your opinion, whatever it may be, about how Meeting should proceed with distribution of funds toward organizations which do good work in our community. This discussion will be in the form of a Threshing Session, to help us sort out what the real issues are.

Our Questions for Meeting:

1.  Should we continue to budget the same amount for Good Works as we spend to operate the Meeting?

2.  Are we donating to the right organizations?

3.  Would friends be willing to rethink the manner in which they make their donations to Meeting?

Some Background to these Questions:
1.      Despite a shortfall in the general fund of 3000 at the end of 2008, Meeting re-committed to funding Good Works to the same level in 2009 that we fund ourselves. (The is the concept of parity.)We feel it would helpful for Friends to weigh-in with thoughts to guide us for planning for 2010. Can we afford to continue this commitment to parity, individually and collectively?

2.      It would be helpful to have Friends weigh-in on how they feel about the organizations we are currently supporting. Are there any we should re-think or remove? Are there others in our community we should be supporting? Are there some that clearly need our support to a greater extent than currently supported? (A list of the organizations and concerns we support in the Good Works budget follows below this message.)

3.      Per Faith and Practice (2009: 78), "Membership involves a willingness to attend meetings regularly, both those for membership and those for business; to give service through committees and otherwise as the way opens; and to share in financial responsibilities."   We invite attenders and members to join us in this consideration of our budget. It may be helpful to re-consider how we give to the Meeting. Our bills come monthly and the Meeting has the discretion to try to match our donations to the Good Works   organizations as best meets their needs. It would be useful as the year progresses for Meeting to be able to assess how closely our donations are matching our commitments. To this goal, it would be helpful if Friends might donate quarterly, or even monthly, to Meeting. Giving may be easier for many if done via electronic bank transfer (a form with a description of how this may be done can be found at

A few Friends have weighed in with their opinions on these matters. Some feel that we should hold fast onto our commitment to parity and that if we ask, the donations will be given. One Friend wondered if our savings weren't for just this sort of rainy day. That is, if our savings are for hard times, perhaps we've arrived there, and it is reasonable to spend down our savings to meet the needs of those in our community. Other friends have weighed in with the concern that we not spend down our savings, and further engage in deficit spending. It has been noted that we could maintain our idealistic commitment to parity but reduce all donations by an equal percentage in order to arrive at a balanced budget. Few among of us have weighed in and we seek the thoughts and concerns of more Members and Attenders as we sort through


Occasionally an issue may be complex, controversial, dependent on technical details, or emotionally charged so that significantly more corporate preparation is required than can reasonably be accomplished in Meeting for Business. In such cases the Meeting should arrange a series of separate meetings. If technical details are crucial, study sessions may be in order. If matters are emotionally charged or members need to be heard in a receptive setting, Quaker dialogue or worship sharing may be helpful. If extended preliminary exploration is needed, threshing sessions may be appropriate.

Threshing sessions derive their name from the assumption that through them the chaff might be separated from the grain of truth, clearing the way for later action on the issue. However, no corporate decisions are made at such meetings.

The Clerk or moderator of a threshing session is responsible for ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to speak, drawing out the reticent and limiting redundancy. Special efforts must be made to see that Friends of all shades of opinion can and will be present. To the extent that Friends who hold a given view are absent, the usefulness of such a meeting will be impaired. Knowledgeable people should be asked to present factual or complex material and be available to answer questions. A recorder should take notes of the meeting for later reference.

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