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Thomas Swain Letter re: Proper Quaker Business Practices

by Joe Marchese last modified Mar 09, 2017 04:17 PM

Dear Friends,

At our February MFB, we took up the letter written by Thomas Swain re: proper Quaker business practice.  What follows is the minute drafted by Kevin Gallagher as a result of our discussion.  Please review this minute with an eye toward discussion and approval at our March MFB.  If approved, we will then send this along to CQM.

Best wishes,


In discussion of Thomas Swain’s concerns, Friends at Westtown Monthly Meeting

1. approved reading aloud a quotation from George Fox’s Journal (1678) which addresses dealing with divisiveness in a Meeting for Business, and heard that text,

2. heard queries raised by one Friend regarding Fox’s advice and our own conscious use of our process , and

3. agreed that texts of both should be sent to and considered by Concord Quarterly Meeting. Those texts are as follows:

And dear friends, if there should happen at any time anything that tends to strife, dispute or contention in your monthly or quarterly meetings, let it be referred to half a dozen, or such like number to debate and end out of your meetings, as it was at first, that all your monthly and quarterly meetings may be kept peaceable.  And then they may inform the meeting what they have done, that the weak and youth amongst you may not be hurt, through hearing of strife or contention in your meetings, where no strife or contention ought to be: but all to go on and determine things in one mind in the power of God, the gospel order; in which gospel of peace ye will preserve the peace of all your meetings…

“Let all prejudice be laid aside and buried; also all shortness toward one another; and let love, which is not puffed up, envies not, seeks not her own, but bears all things, have dominion in all your meetings. This love will suffer long, and is kind; will keep down that which would vaunt itself, behave itself unseemly, or is easily provoked: it hath sway over all such fruits which are not of the Spirit, the fruit of which is love. “

                                                                        --George Fox, 1678

Queries:  “How does this advice of Fox speak to us now?  Where may it not serve the love of some of our Friends? Don’t we need to be purposeful in how we talk about our practices, and thoughtful of where our practices are taking us?

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