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Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

What is a Threshing Session?

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Building and Grounds Report
October 7, 2018
Rick Pifer

In September the Building and Grounds Committee held three informational sessions attended by a total of approximately 85 individuals. In addition, a variety of background materials were mounted on the Meeting website. We ask this Meeting for Business to be faithful to the leadings of the Spirit, and consider whether the Meeting is ready to hold one or more threshing sessions focused on whether to renovate or relocate.

A threshing session provides an opportunity, guided by the Spirit, to ask questions, as well as to state a position or express a point of view regarding whether to renovate or relocate. It is an opportunity to explore all our options deeply and thoughtfully. It is a process through which Friends are invited to speak plainly and truthfully about their questions and concerns. Our gathered community will strive together to respond to the questions and concerns with love and thoughtful discourse stemming from the quiet of the Light to bring us round to a clearer understanding of our options. No decisions will be made at the threshing session(s). The threshing session(s) will help prepare us for decision-making when the Meeting is ready for that phase.

Conducting threshing sessions does not preclude cycling back to answer new questions. Moving to the threshing phase is a continuation of the process of knowledge development. It is one more step in a process through which we are guided by the Light and our love for each other to greater understanding and the right outcomes for our Meeting.

Is the Meeting ready to begin threshing ideas and concerns related to renovation or relocation?

Building and Grounds Committee members: Amy Crikelair, Lynn Entine, Vern Flesch
Chris Frakes, Carl Houtman, Sue Kummer (co-convener), Ginger Morgan, Rick Pifer (co-convener), Aaron Rittenhouse, Julie Shaull, Kay Stevens, Dou-Yan Yang

This is one of the documents used in the EMES Meeting for Learning 11-13 June 2010 held at Svartbäcken, Rimbo, Sweden

Threshing Meetings/Sessions
Information compiled by Sue Glover Frykman

A threshing meeting or threshing session is defined as “a meeting at which a variety of different, and sometimes controversial, opinions can be openly, and sometimes forcefully, expressed, often in order to smooth the passage of business at a later meeting for worship for business. Originally the term was used to describe large and noisy meetings for convincement of `the world's people' in order to `thresh' them away from the world” (see Britain Yearly Meeting’s Quaker Faith &Practice, §12.26).

A threshing meeting can be arranged in order to share factual information, air one’s views about a controversial subject, express our preferences, or ask questions. Subjects that have been discussed at threshing meetings or sessions include whether to purchase or lease a Meeting House, the attendance of children at Meeting for Worship, whether or not to form smaller neighbourhood meetings when one meeting has become so large that people no longer know each other, which organisations the Meeting should donate to etc.

No decisions are made at threshing meetings. The aim is simply to move towards clarity and a greater understanding of an issue and to separate the ‘grain of truth from the chaff’. Such meetings can also provide an outlet for people to ‘let off steam’ about a subject before taking the matter to a meeting for worship for business. There is no restriction as to how many people can attend a threshing meeting/session.

A threshing meeting or session is usually moderated or facilitated by an experienced Friend, who is asked in advance to take on this role. The facilitator/moderator is responsible for making sure that everyone present has a chance to speak and air their views. Care should be taken to ensure that Friends of differing opinions can and do attend the threshing meeting or session. Friends with specific knowledge about the subject under discussion should be asked to present factual or complex material and be available to answer questions. Someone should also be asked to take notes at the meeting for future reference.

Both of these documents are available for download below.