How We Do Business

The Quaker corporate decision making process is a spiritual discipline needing trust, patience, a willingness to listen, mutual forbearance, a concern for and openness to others with differing views, and the grace of humor. The care with which we conduct our decision-making is often critical to the enduring harmony of the entire meeting. At its best the result reflects the transforming power of the love of God, an exhilarating and joyful experience.

Northern Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice

Anti-Racism & Climate Justice Queries

Northern Yearly Meeting begins our business meetings with these queries, to be considered throughout our business process:

“How does this decision support our goal for this NYM session to be actively anti-racist in our faith and practice?”

“How does this decision we are about to make impact our ongoing Spirit-led work on climate change?”

Meeting for Business

Friends do not vote or use majority rule. Rather they seek the truth and unity of the Spirit. Discerning God’s leading is both an individual and a communal process in which the meeting listens to each Friend and each Friend listens to the meeting. They accept a decision when there a “sense of the meeting.” Unity is found when all or nearly all those present believe that the proposed decision is truly Spirit led. Objections are respectfully considered and may lead to further discussion, moving forward while representing the views of the dissenter, or finding other ways to proceed.

Threshing Sessions

For decisions that are controversial or that require additional time, the clerk or the meeting may call for a threshing session. A threshing session is a meeting where everyone is encouraged to express their views but with no intention of coming to a decision. Ultimately unity is best reached if full opportunity is given for differences to be aired and faced, and a threshing session is just such an opportunity. Threshing sessions also give opportunity for background information to be reviewed.

Called Meeting for Business

At times a decision will be of such importance and will take up such a large amount of time that a special meeting for worship for business will be called devoted to one topic. The purpose of this meeting for worship for business will be to reach a decision if possible. A called meeting for worship for business should be announced and publicized well in advance so that all will have the opportunity to attend.

A Special Meeting for Business might be called on short notice to address a time-sensitive item that cannot be addressed in any other way.

Officers, Committees and Concerns

Officers and most committee members are selected by a Nominating Committee and approved by the body at business meeting to serve designated terms. While the clerks and and officers have specific roles, committee members, working groups and representatives to various organizations are essential to the functioning of the Meeting. Learn more about Officers, Committees and Concerns here.

Nimble Responders

Sometimes an issue will arise that that has been a concern of NYM and needs a timely response. Nimble Responders is composed of the Clerks Team, selected committee representatives and former clerks, and can act on behalf of the Meeting when needed. A few examples of Nimble Responders has done: sent letters on behalf of NYM to President Biden and to the Department of Justice asking them to use all resources at their disposal to defend the Indian Child Welfare Act; wrote a letter in support of the designation of the Dog’s Belly 60 Islands region in the Menominee River between Upper Michigan and Wisconsin as a state and national historic place of significance; wrote in support of New York Yearly Meeting’s efforts to oppose the decision of Green Haven Prison to terminate the  annual “quarterly” meeting and the weekly meeting with a concern for business of the Quaker Preparative Meeting that has been meeting at the prison since 1976.

Statements of Concern

Our public minutes are crafted and approved collectively by the Yearly Meeting before publishing and distributing widely. They are statements of our faith as we apply them to events and issues in our world. 


NYM’s expenses are covered largely by the contributions from each of our meetings and worship groups. Suggested amounts are based on the number of adult members or active attenders, with consideration to the financial resources of each entity. Additional contributions are welcome. Checks can be mailed to NYM, c/o Madison Monthly Meeting, 1704 Roberts Ct, Madison, WI 537011.

For business meeting minutes and rosters of Clerks, Committee Members and Representatives, please log in to the private NYM site.