Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends – Handbook – DRAFT, November 2020

Current Monthly Meeting Handbook (2007) is here. What follows is a draft revision for consideration at Monthly Meeting, December 2020.

Purpose and Goals

Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends is a community discerning and serving the will of God.  Our understanding of God comes through corporate worship, study of the Bible and other literature, a sense of God through Jesus Christ, through continuing revelation, and in confirming experiences, many of which we share with one another.  The Meeting should provide opportunities for the individual to grow in faith and in expressing that faith.  For these purposes it is important for us to attend Meeting for Worship and Monthly Meeting for Business, to support the Meeting financially, to serve on committees as time and energy allow, and to take part in opportunities provided by the Meeting for worship, study, and fellowship with others. 

The Meeting is ideally a supportive community for those in it.  Those in the Meeting should be aware of its involvement in Friends groups at many levels beyond our own community: i.e., Falmouth Quarterly Meeting, New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, Friends United Meeting, Friends General Conference, American Friends Service Committee, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Friends World Committee for Consultation.  The Meeting is a member of the Brunswick Area Interfaith Council and the Lisbon Area Christian Outreach. 

Monthly Meeting

Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends meets once a month for business in accordance with Friends’ custom as stated in Faith and Practice of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (1985).  These meetings are held the third Sunday of each month after worship.  Business of the Monthly Meeting includes minutes, treasurer’s reports, Ministry and Counsel reports, reports of committees as appropriate, and consideration of other concerns as they arise.  Fund raising beyond the budget requires the approval of the monthly meeting. 

Committees, both standing and ad hoc, are appointed to help conduct and carry out the business of the Monthly Meeting.  Concerns, issues raised, and proposed actions may be assigned to appropriate committees for ‘seasoning’ and careful consideration.  Such committees then report their recommendations back to Monthly Meeting for further action.  Committees also present to Monthly Meeting concerns which they have discerned, and proposed actions.  Each committee of the Monthly Meeting at its organizational meeting chooses its own clerk from among its members.   It is recommended that an agenda be sent out previous to monthly meeting by Friday noon if possible; and that substantive materials (reports, proposals, etc .), from committees and individuals be sent as e-mail attachments.  Remind people that the meeting will generally consider only matters that have been first considered and brought forward by a committee appointed by the meeting.  Generally the meeting will not make a decision the first time a matter is brought forward but rather allow it to season for a month.

Clerk

The Clerk or a Co-Clerk of the Monthly Meeting presides at the Monthly Meeting for business, takes care of correspondence and the details of the business items unless such responsibilities are delegated to others.   

Recording Clerk

The Recording Clerk makes a record of the minutes and reports of the Monthly Meeting.  In preparation for archival storage the minutes are recorded on acid-free paper.  Periodically the minutes are bound and copies are made for Durham Monthly Meeting, the New England Yearly Meeting Archives, and the originals deposited at the Maine Historical Society in Portland. 

Recorder – Archivist

The Recorder keeps a record of each member and of all changes in membership, such as births, marriages, deaths, applications, and transfers.  Records should be kept in a form approved by New England Yearly Meeting.  No recorder’s pages are destroyed but kept for archival purposes.  A statistical report is prepared each year for the Monthly Meeting and the Yearly Meeting.  It is recommended that the Recorder issue annually to the membership an up-to-date list of names and addresses of all members.  Once every tenth year an up-to-date list of the membership is to be attached to the Recording clerk’s records. (started in 2007)

Ministry and Counsel

Monthly meeting appoints at least six members to Ministry and Counsel. The youth minister, and Meeting clerk meet with the committee.  The primary functions of Ministry and Counsel are to oversee and to nurture the spiritual life of the Meeting.  Visiting within the Meeting community, especially but not limited to those who have a particular need, shall be a high priority.  Ministry and Counsel shall visit and encourage, nurture and support visiting by others in the Meeting community.  Ministry and Counsel shall encourage members and attenders to develop their skills and calling in the many facets of the mission of the Meeting. 

M&C oversees Meeting for Worship, encouraging members and attenders to share messages and care of worship.   M&C oversees the instruction of attenders and others who show an interest in the Meeting and considers applications for membership and, if favorable, recommends that the Monthly Meeting accept the applicant as a member.   M&C prepares an annual state of the society report which is forwarded to the Monthly Meeting for its consideration and then sent on to the Yearly Meeting Ministry and Counsel.

M&C should appoint annually one of its members to be clerk to preside at its meetings and a recording clerk to keep minutes of proceedings.  Meetings are held regularly each month.  Special meetings may be called by the clerk of M&C on request of three members of Ministry and Counsel.   Representatives are appointed to attend and report back on Quarterly Meeting and New England Yearly Meeting Ministry & Counsel sessions.  Recorded ministers who are members of the Meeting are ex officio members of M&C. 

Meeting Care Coordinator

The Meeting Care Coordinator and members of M&C share responsibility for attending to individual pastoral care needs of the Meeting.  The Meeting Care Coordinator would help ensure that those needing visits or special care have their needs met and help maintain connection with those who may seem to be drifting away.    The Meeting Care Coordinator would assist M&C or take the lead in contacting members to find message givers for each Sunday worship.  The MCC helps coordinate prayer groups and prayer partners, as needed.  The MCC also maintains coordination with the Youth Minister.   The MCC provides assistance, as needed, in scheduling and communicating about these events and in coordinating with other churches or organizations with similar concerns.  The MCC would also provide follow-up with visitors to the Meeting.    Committee meetings to attend to gain clarity on the above are Clerks Committee, M&C, Monthly Meeting, Peace and Social Concerns.

Pastor

In the past the Meeting hired pastors who have inspired, encouraged and challenged the community.  After an extended trial period beginning in 2017, we explored the feasibility of continuing as a semi-programmed Meeting without a pastor, and found that we continued to experience the life of the spirit within the Meeting, without having a paid pastor.  We have adopted this practice for now, allowing financial resources to be used in other ways as the Meeting is led.

Music Committee

The Music Committee coordinates music (choirs, etc.), will accompany hymn singing, and provide offertory music for Sunday Meeting for Worship. 

Christian Education Committee

The Christian Education Committee provides the leadership and resources for each participant in the meeting community to grow in the knowledge, understanding, and commitment to his/her personal faith and our shared faith tradition. 

Specific committee responsibilities include, but are not limited to, providing:

-Oversight of the youth minister role as consistent with the agreement which notes the committee’s responsibility for assessing whether the youth minister has met the expectations in the agreement.  This includes appointment and responsibility for the Youth Minister Care and Oversight committee and support for the youth minister

-Responsibility for Sunday School for all ages, with an appropriate planned or purchased curriculum in consultation and with support from the youth minister.  Support for Sunday school teachers, including: providing opportunities for leadership training relating to Christian Education, maintaining necessary supplies, and maintaining a directory of all the children in the Meeting

-A summer children’s Christian education program and a regular Sunday program

-Encouragement for the use of resources of the Meeting for study (library and curriculum library), different methods of instruction (flannel boards, maps, audio-visual equipment), grounds around buildings (cemetery, trails). 

-Utilization and dissemination to the Meeting of resources from the Yearly Meeting (e.g., through its Christian Education Committee), Friends General Conference and Friends United Meeting

-Communication with the Meeting at large regarding the Sunday School programs, special programs, providing Bibles or devotional books for each child in middle elementary school and/or graduates.

-Study groups as the need arises.

-Education about and opportunities for involvement in Friends work outside the local Meeting including overseas work.

The Christian Education Committee is made up of approximately six named members and all of the Sunday school teachers.  The youth minister is an ex officio member. 

Youth Minister

The Youth Minister has a flexible function within the Meeting.  Within set priorities, the youth minister shifts her or his emphasis over time to address the varying needs of our children and changing capacity of the meeting to address those needs.  She or he works with the Christian Education Committee, Ministry and Counsel, and interested individuals to support the children of the Meeting in their spiritual growth and connection to the Meeting.  The youth minister works on a variety of activities for children including the Sunday School, a youth group, camp outs, participation in New England Yearly Meeting, etc.  She/He also helps others who are led to develop their ministry with children. 

The youth minister participates in Monthly Meeting and regional Meetings and workshops concerning Christian Education and youth ministry.  She/He reports to the Christian Education Committee and receives support from a Care and Oversight Committee made up of members from Christian Education, Ministry and Counsel, and the Meeting at large. 

Library Committee

In 1833 Durham Friends realized the value of reading Quaker histories and biographies if a firm foundation was to be laid for continuance of Friends’ ideals.  A librarian was appointed, and a library started.

The continued purpose of the library is to provide reading and teaching materials. The library has grown to be a well-rounded collection of Quaker-related materials as well as religious, socially concerned, children/youth and fiction books.   Books should be signed out and brought back in a timely manner.  All members and attenders should find the library a source of enrichment. All gift books and other materials should be given to the Library Committee.  The Library Committee is responsible for maintaining the library by purchasing, receiving, and processing new books, discarding worn copies as needed, keeping the bookshelves and card catalog in order and up to date, so that specific books can be easily found.

Finance Committee

The Finance Committee prepares a budget for the consideration and approval at the January Monthly Meeting, to be in effect for the calendar year.  The approved budget will be circulated to the members and attenders.   The committee keeps record of all financial transactions (except cemetery funds).  The treasurer, appointed by Monthly Meeting, takes direction from the Finance Committee.

Treasurer

The Treasurer receives and disburses funds as the Meeting directs, keeps the account books of the Meeting and reports regularly to it.  These accounts are to be audited annually.   The Treasurer may pay current bills under the budget without further approval of Monthly Meeting.  All other bills are to be presented and approved by Monthly Meeting.   With the approval of the Finance Committee, the Treasurer may open and close bank accounts.   The Monthly Meeting shall appoint an alternate signer of all bank accounts.

Communications Committee

The Meeting has a monthly newsletter called The Best of Friends and a web site.  Both carry news of the Meeting, Sunday Meeting for Worship, other schedules of events, outside events of interest, reports from committees, personal news about members and attenders, their families and friends, news of the financial state of the Meeting, any applicable artwork or photographs, and articles which the pastor and other members and attenders care to submit.  Committee members solicit and collect the news and articles, put together the newsletter for copying and distribution.  The Meeting has a non-profit mailing permit that is used along with email for newsletters.  Extra copies are available at the meetinghouse.  The newsletter is also edited for personal identifying information and forwarded to our website. 

Nominating Committee

The Nominating Committee makes nominations to the December Monthly Meeting for officers, committees, and others as directed by the Monthly Meeting and other nominations as necessary throughout the year.  Nominees should be named on a three-year rotating basis so that not all appointments must be renewed or filled each year.  An appointee may serve two consecutive terms on a committee.  After one year off the committee, that person may be re-appointed to that committee.   

The committee members confer with proposed nominees before names are presented to the Monthly Meeting for appointment.  Any member of the Meeting may suggest changes in the nominations.  Nominees are members or regular attenders of the Monthly Meeting.  Only members are appointed to Trustees and Ministry and counsel. 

The Nominating Committee should not remove any member with an unexpired term without approval of Monthly Meeting.

Members of the Nominating committee are chosen with regard to their discernment, seasonal judgment, and general knowledge of the membership of the Meeting.

The Nominating Committee is appointed directly by the Monthly Meeting.  There are three members, one of whom is appointed each year for a three-year term.  A member may serve for a second consecutive three-year term. 

Auditor

Books of the Treasurer and of the Trustees are audited.  The auditor checks all cash received and cash dispersed.  Vouchers should agree with accounts.  If vouchers and cancelled checks agree and the Treasurer’s statement and bank statement agree, then the auditor certifies to the Monthly Meeting for Business the correctness of the accounts. 

Peace and Social Concerns Committee

The task of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee is twofold: discernment and taking action. 

The process of discernment consists of:

-Determining what issues confronting our present social order pertain to Friends’ traditional testimonies of equality, peace and non-violence, stewardship, civic and community responsibility.

-Hearing the concerns of the Monthly Meeting or individual members of the Meeting and those brought by other religious, service and legislative bodies that address these issues. 

As action is considered the Committee seeks to make recommendations to Monthly Meeting for supportive action in order to:

-Educate the Meeting regarding Friends’ traditional testimonies and their application in the world, especially addressing the issues of violence, discrimination, addictions and poverty,

-Enable the Monthly Meeting and individuals to take action regarding their concerns,

– Support those who are suffering because of actions they have taken in support of their concerns,

-Act in solidarity with those who are affected by our failure to achieve a society of non-violence, equality, economic justice and equal opportunity.

The committee seeks to work on cooperation with other committees of the Monthly Meeting, other Monthly Meetings and community groups that work constructively on these issues. 

Friends Committee on National Legislation Contact

The Friends Committee on National Legislation contact person is the liaison between the FCNL and the Meeting.  This person receives mailings from the FCNL, may use its telephone updates to keep informed regarding rapidly changing legislative issues, and passes this information on to the members of the Meeting in ways most appropriate; e.g., posted or spoken announcements, individual contact, newsletter articles.  The contact person keeps available pamphlets and newsletters from FCNL. 

Woman’s Society of Durham Friends

All resident women members of the Monthly Meeting are members of the Woman’s Society, plus other women who choose to participate.  The Society meets once a month for worship, program, business and fellowship.  The Society seeks to provide inspiration, education, and opportunity for women to share in the mission of the meeting.   The Society gives spiritual and financial support to a number of domestic and international programs and projects.  The Society is a part of United Society of Friends Women International.

Membership

Membership in the Society of Friends is in a Monthly Meeting.  Anyone who has faith in God and understands the precepts of the Bible, who wants to follow the life and teachings of Jesus under the guidance and authority of the Light Within, and who feels comfortable in the Meeting community is encouraged to apply for membership.  If already a member of another Friends Meeting, the person should write a letter of transfer to be sent to the Clerk of Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends.  If an individual has been a member of another faith group, that connection, and an appropriate communication with that group will be discussed in the clearness process.  The Monthly Meeting acts on the recommendation of Ministry and Counsel after it has acquainted itself with the person and his/her religious /spiritual experience.

Committees for Special Purposes

The Monthly Meeting may appoint committees for special purposes.

A Clearness Committee is a unique and essential part of Quaker process, used to assist in the following of a leading or in a period of transition. Clearness Committees for membership or marriage are the responsibility of Ministry and Counsel. All other requests for a Clearness Committee can be made to Monthly Meeting or to Ministry and Counsel.

Trustees

Trustees have charge of the property of the Monthly Meeting.  They are responsible for the care of the buildings and grounds, cemeteries, and any special funds for the care of the cemeteries.  The trustees’ financial records are to be audited annually.  Periodically the trustees review the Meeting’s insurance coverage and make recommendations to the Monthly Meeting.   The trustees, in conjunction with the Finance Committee and auditor, will prepare a detailed report of all assets (including invested funds, property, and cemetery funds) and present to Monthly meeting and New England Yearly Meeting at least every ten years (start in 2011) 

The trustees plan for workdays to accomplish cleaning, outside clean up, and special projects.  They hire work done when that is necessary, asking in advance for any funds needed above budgeted amounts, except in emergencies.  They arrange to have the lawns at the Meetinghouse and parsonage mowed, as well as the cemeteries, and arrange for snow to be plowed.   The trustees contract for custodial service with continuing oversight, and perform other duties as assigned by the Monthly Meeting. 

Custodian

The janitor is responsible for keeping the meetinghouse neat and ready for regular and special events, turning up the heat when needed.  The janitor may also call, from the list approved by the trustees, for the service people to attend to emergencies. 

Guidelines for Use of Durham Friends Meetinghouse

The trustees of Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends are delegated the responsibility for the use of the meetinghouse. All meetings should be recorded on the calendar on the bulletin board in the entry and in the Meeting Google calendar.  Regular meetings for worship and groups within the Meeting may use the meetinghouse as a meeting place without further authorization (e.g. Ministry and Counsel, Monthly Meeting, Women’s Society, youth fellowship, and other committees of the meeting.   A request for the use of the meetinghouse for a single occasion should be made to the trustee(s) delegated to receive this request.  The trustee(s) will consult the calendar and two other trustees before permission is granted.

A request by a group outside the Meeting for use of the meetinghouse on a fairly regular basis over a period of time should be made to the clerk of the Monthly Meeting, or the delegate trustee(s), who will bring the matter before the Monthly Meeting.  The Monthly Meeting will make the decision.  For use of the building and grounds, the Trustees ask that a donation be given to a trustee member or put in the committee depository (piano bench).   No smoking and no alcoholic beverages are permitted in buildings or on the property. 

Instructions Regarding How to Leave the Meetinghouse.

The meetinghouse must be left as found, replacing everything used and cleaning, taking down all but two  tables in the fellowship room.  When heat is on in cold weather, before leaving read and follow directions near the thermostats.   The children’s room thermostat should be set at 60 degrees.  Leave door open to children’s bathroom, kitchen and bathroom.  Leave both divider curtains in the fellowship room open.  Check stove to be sure all burners are off.  And be sure all faucets are turned off and that no toilet is running.  Turn off all lights.  Emergency lights will come on automatically.    Lock back and front doors.

LUNT MEMORIAL CEMETERY of DURHAM MONTHLY MEETING OF FRIENDS

Single, two, and four-grave lots are available in Lunt Memorial Cemetery. For members of Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends, the charge is only the cost of perpetual care. For non-members who are residents of the community of the Friends Meeting and for certain other non-members under special circumstances allowed by the Trustees of Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends, lots are available at prices shown below.

                                                Lot Price          Perpetual Care            Total

Single grave lot (4’x10’)          $  150.00         $  200.00                     $.   350.00

Double lot (10’x10’)                $  200.00.        $  400.00                     $    600.00

Large lot (10’x20’)                   $  350.00         $  650.00                     $ 1,000.00

Family lot (20’x20’)                  $  600.00         $  900.00                     $ 1,500.00

A lot may be transferred from the owner to another only with the approval of the Trustee in charge of the Cemetery.  If a lot is unused and a written request to return the lot is sent to the Trustees of Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends within ten years of purchase, all of the Perpetual Care cost and half of the purchase price (General Fund) will be refunded.

Green Burial Lot Agreement

Single lots are available for purchase in Lunt Memorial Cemetery. Each lot measures 40’ X 8’, allowing room for a small marker and flowers. The charge for members of Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends is $200.00, the charge for non-members is $350.00.

A lot may be transferred from one owner to another, only with the approval of the Trustee in charge of the cemetery. If a lot is unused and a written request to return the lot is sent to the Trustees of Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends within 10 years of purchase, half of the purchase price will be refunded. 

A green burial is an unencumbered burial. There is no embalming and no need for a commercial casket. The body may be wrapped in a cotton shroud or other decomposable fabric and placed directly in the ground or placed in a plain wooden box and placed in the ground. The required depth for the green burial is 3’.

CARE OF LOTS

  • Simple stones and monuments will be in keeping with the Cemetery, and should be oriented parallel to Lunt Road
  • Simple decorations are permissible. Decorations should be in good taste and in keeping with the Cemetery. Decorations deemed not in keeping with the Cemetery will be removed.
  • Seasonal decorations and silk/plastic flowers will be removed periodically
  • Lot owners may bury multiple urns on a lot, with or without professional assistance
  • Lot owners may spread ashes as they choose
  • No woody plants may be planted on lots (existing woody plants will be handled on a case-by-case basis)
  • Plantings by owners should be in good taste and plantings of any kind that become overgrown will be removed
  • Perpetual Care provides for six mowings per year, trimming and edging as needed and grading and seeding when necessary   

AGREEMENT

Lot #  ________________      Member___________                        Non Member ______________

Date__________________                           

I have read the above and accept the provisions of this agreement:

Signed: ______________________________________________________________________

Print Name.     __________________________________________________

On the date of _­­­_________________,           Received $ __________________________

Contact Information: 

Address__________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Phone_______________________________ email________________________________________________

Trustee Signature 

___________________________________________________________

Donna Hutchins, Trustee