On 1/3/1999, Sandy Spring Friends Meeting approved recognition of Patapsco Friends Meeting and Seneca Valley Friends Meeting as Preparative Meetings under its care. In so doing, it approved the following statement of understanding, which was developed by an ad hoc committee with representatives from each Meeting.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SANDY SPRING MONTHLY MEETING AND ITS PREPARATIVE MEETINGS
The period of time spent as a Preparative Meeting is seen as the time for this new group to learn to work together, in the manner of Friends, and to establish the committees and procedures that will allow it to function in good order as an independent Monthly Meeting. It is the role of the parent Monthly Meeting to support, nurture, and work with the Preparative Meeting in setting up suitable infrastructure and learning to use it effectively. To this end persons and groups in the Monthly Meeting should be concerned to demonstrate and teach good Quaker practice as they work with the members of the Preparative Meeting community on the various aspects of establishing and maintaining a viable and vibrant meeting community. We understand that the relationship between the Monthly Meeting and its Preparative Meeting(s) is not static and should be expected to change.
Since the Baltimore Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice describes (pp. 86-87) the role of the Monthly Meeting in handling of membership requests, marriages under the care of the Meeting, and finances involving the Preparative Meeting(s), these items are addressed in some detail below. The nurture and support aspects of Overseers concerns and the family relations aspects of the Marriage and Family Relations Committee as well as the areas of general concern and overlapping work of other committees should be considered within the following guidelines:
a. Each Preparative Meeting committee should name one of its members to receive minutes of the related Monthly Meeting committee, share items of concern with the rest of the Preparative Meeting community, and bring concerns of the Preparative Meeting to the Monthly Meeting committee.
b. Each Monthly Meeting committee should name one of its members to receive minutes of the related Preparative Meeting committee and facilitate interactions, joint activities, nurture and support of the Preparative Meeting committee as appropriate.
c. Concerns arising in the Preparative Meeting should be considered by its meeting for business or the relevant Monthly Meeting committee before coming to the Monthly Meetings meeting for business.
The purposes of joint committee work on memberships and marriage requests include providing the Monthly Meeting with adequate information for consideration of the request; joint interviews to provide a reasonable blend of persons with knowledge of the individuals involved and of the processes; and participation by both the Preparative Meeting and the Monthly Meeting in considering the request.
a. Members of Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting of Friends who worship with the Preparative Meeting will retain their membership in the Monthly Meeting until the Preparative Meeting is established as an independent Monthly Meeting.
b. Persons who worship with the Preparative Meeting who desire membership in the Religious Society of Friends should apply for membership in Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting. The person desiring membership would write to the Clerk of the Preparative Meeting of their desire to become a member. The Preparative Meeting’s Ministry and Oversight Committee would receive the request, share it with the Monthly Meeting Overseers, and make arrangements for an interview of the applicant at a time and place convenient to all. It is understood that the interview process will include members of both the Preparative and Monthly Meeting Committees and that more than one interview will at times be desirable.
Upon completion of the interview process, a report will be made to the Preparative Meeting’s meeting for business by their Ministry and Oversight Committee. If the Committee recommends approval of the membership request and the Preparative Meeting concurs, the Preparative Meeting will forward the report and the approval to the Monthly Meeting Overseers for their consideration. Overseers will consider the reports and information from their members of the interviewing group. If they concur in the recommendation for membership, the request will be brought to the Monthly Meeting’s meeting for business for the customary first and second readings and approval of the membership. Members of the Welcome and Nurture Committee will be recommended by the Ministry and Oversight Committee of the Preparative Meeting and will include Friends from the Preparative Meeting and the wider Monthly Meeting as appropriate.
As with any membership request that needs more seasoning, the Preparative Meeting Ministry and Oversight Committee, the Preparative Meeting’s meeting for business, or the Monthly Meeting’s Overseers may suggest further meetings for clearness before the membership request moves forward. Care shall be taken to see that a spirit of love and understanding accompany this process.
c. Persons who worship with the Preparative Meeting(s), who are now members of other Friends Meetings, may request transfer of their membership to Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting. Transfers of membership follow the same process as requests for membership, except that the interview is usually less formal, and transfers do not lie over for a second reading in the Monthly Meeting’s meeting for business.
a. Weddings are held under the care of the Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting. Members or non-members of the Society may marry under the care of the Monthly Meeting, if their request for marriage has been approved by the Meeting. Persons who worship with the Preparative Meeting and wish to be married under the care of the Meeting should request approval from months in advance of the proposed wedding date. The request should be in writing, signed by both persons intending to marry, and indicate that they have considered the questions in Appendix F-l of Baltimore Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice.
b. The procedures for consideration of marriage undriage under the care of the Monthly Meeting from persons in the Preparative Meeting will follow the same principles as those for a membership request. The request is directed to the Preparative Meeting Clerk. The Preparative Meeting Ministry and Oversight Committee will work with the Monthly Meeting Marriage and Family Relations Committee to set up a group for the clearness process which includes members of both the Preparative Meeting and the Monthly Meeting Committees. When this process, or series of interviews, is successfully completed, the request will be considered by the Preparative Meeting Ministry and Oversight Committee, the Preparative Meeting’s meeting for business, the Monthly Meeting Marriage and Family Relations Committee and then come to the Monthly Meeting’s meeting for business for the customary first and second readings and approval. The marriage oversight committee will include members from both the Preparative and Monthly Meetings.
The worship groups appreciate the willingness of Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting to underwrite their basic expenses from the Monthly Meeting reserves as the need arises. They hope this promise will continue when they become Preparative Meetings. The following paragraphs set out guidelines for the financial arrangements under which the Preparative Meetings will operate at first. We see the main areas of concern as the sharing of records and and information and integrating the Preparative Meeting budget process into the Monthly Meeting process. We recognize that as a Preparative Meeting matures, it will become ready for a separate checking account and an Assistant Treasurer for that Preparative Meeting. Process and details for these matters can be worked out by the Preparative Meeting and Monthly Meeting Finance Committees when they are needed.
As a worship group Howard County has no finance committee, and Seneca Valley has a very small committee. Each group has had a person serving some of the record keeping and informational functions of a treasurer. So as to allow each group to choose the structure that will best serve its evolving needs, this document will simply refer to the “Finance Person(s)” for the Preparative Meeting to include a treasurer, finance committee, or whatever small group the Preparative Meeting sets up to oversee its financial affairs and to be the point of contact with the Treasurers and Finance Committee of Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting. The Preparative Meeting will determine the process it will use for authorization of payments from its funds, and the Clerk of the Preparative Meeting will inform the Monthly Meeting Treasurers in writing. The Finance Person(s) for the Preparative Meeting will receive information from the Monthly Meeting Treasurers and Finance Committee and will be the one(s) to sign vouchers authorizing payments by the Monthly Meeeting Treasurer for expenses of the Preparative Meeting.
Record keeping and Information Sharing
Information on income and the portion from donations received each month would be helpful for the Preparative Meetings. We have worked with the Treasurers and Finance Committee of the Monthly Meeting and the Preparative Meetings on ways to provide more information without undue burden on the Meeting Treasurers.
The Monthly Meeting Treasurers and Finance Committee will try to track and will work with the Preparative Meetings to identify what expenses the Monthly Meeting is incurring on the Preparative Meeting’s behalf. Preparative Meetings would budget these costs and pay for them as they are able. A Preparative Meeting may include in its own budget contributions to specific outside organizations.
Separate record keeping by the Preparative Meeting Finance Person(s) may be helpful so the Preparative Meeting can have more detailed records of income and expenses than the Monthly Meeting Treasurer maintains. These records should be reconciled periodically. A thorough review should also be done at the time the Preparative Meeting becomes a separate Monthly Meeting.
Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting’s budget year is the calendar year. The Treasurers of Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting will provide the Preparative Meeting with a six-month statement of income and expenses in July so the Prehe Preparative Meeting can use this information in preparing their budget. The annual operating budget of the Preparative Meeting should be approved by the Preparative Meeting in their meeting for business in time to forward it to the Monthly Meeting Finance Committee by the second Sunday in October for inclusion in the Monthly Meeting Budget. The proposed budget is presented to the Monthly Meeting for Business in November and brought back in December for approval.
Members of the Preparative Meeting need to participate in the Monthly Meeting budget process. A representative is encouraged to attend the budget development sessions of the Monthly Meeting Finance Committee. The Monthly Meeting Budget should be considered at the Preparative Meeting’s business meeting. Preparative Meeting members are encouraged to participate in the Monthly Meeting’s budget considerations during the November and December Meetings for Business.
Additional Items of Concern
The Preparative Meeting needs to let the Monthly Meeting Trustees know about appropriate insurance for any rented facilities and/or any real or personal property which should be covered under the Monthly Meeting insurance.
A Preparative Meeting can request that the Monthly Meeting establish a special fund for a particular purpose, following the process Monthly Meeting committees use. (A “Minute to Establish the Fund” is brought to the Monthly Meeting’s meetieeting for business, usually after consultation with the Finance Committee and the Trustees. This minute states the purpose and duration of the fund, who is in charge of it and who is authorized to request payments from the fund, how money in the fund will be handled when the fund is no longer needed, and whether the fund should have earnings of the Monthly Meeting’s investments allocated to it.)