Meeting The Society of Friends, vulgarly called Quakers, have adopted the use of this word to designate their official gatherings for various purposes.
(1.) Meeting for Sufferings.-Its origin and purpose are thus given: "The yearly meeting of London, in the year 1675, appointed a meeting to be held in that city, for the purpose of advising and assisting in cases of suffering for conscience sake, which hath continued with great use to the society to this day. It is composed of Friends, under the name of correspondents, chosen by the several quarterly meetings, and residing in or near the city. The same meetings also appoint members of their own in the country as correspondents, who are to join their brethren in London on emergency. The names of all these correspondents, previously to their being recorded, are submitted to the approbation of the yearly meeting. Such men as are approved ministers and appointed elders are also members of this meeting, which is called the 'Meeting for Sufferings,' a name which arose from its original purpose, and has not yet become entirely obsolete. The yearly meeting has intrusted the Meeting for Sufferings with the care of printing and distributing books, and with the management of its stock; and, considered as a standing committee of the yearly meeting, it hath a general care of whatever may arise, during the intervals of that meeting, affecting the society, and requiring immediate attention, particularly of those circumstances which may occasion an application to government." SEE FRIENDS.
(2.) Monthly Meeting, a gathering of Friends of several particular congregations, situated within a convenient distance of one another. The business of the monthly meeting is to provide for the subsistence of the poor, and for the education of their offspring; to judge of the sincerity and fitness of persons appearing to be convinced of the religious principles of the society, and desiring to be admitted into membership; to excite due attention to the discharge of religious and moral duty; and to deal with disorderly members. Monthly meetings also grant to such of their members as remove into the limits of other monthly meetings certificates of their membership and conduct. It is likewise the duty of this body to appoint overseers for the proper observance of the rules of discipline, and for the disposal of difficulties among members by private admonition, agreeably to the Gospel rule (Mt 18:15-17), so as to prevent if possible, their being laid before the monthly meeting. When a case, however, is introduced to the monthly meeting, it is usual for a small committee to be appointed to visit the offender, in order to endeavor to convince him of his error, and induce him to forsake and condemn it. Time is allowed to judge of the effect of this labor of love, and if needful the visit is repeated. If these endeavors prove successful, the person is by minute declared to have made satisfaction for the offence; if not, he is disowned by the society. In disputes between individuals, it has long been the decided judgment of the society that its members should not sue each other at law. It therefore enjoins all to end their differences by speedy and impartial arbitration, agreeably to rules laid down. If any refuse to adopt this mode, or, having adopted it, to submit to the award, it is the direction of the yearly meeting that such be disowned. To monthly meetings also belongs the allowing of marriages; for the society has 'always scrupled to acknowledge the exclusive authority of the priests in the solemnization of marriage. A record of marriages is kept by the monthly meeting, as also of the births and burials of its members. A certificate of the date, of the name of the infant, and of its parents, is the subject of one of these last-mentioned records; and an order for the interment, countersigned by the gravemaker, of the other.
(3.) Quarterly Meeting, among the Society of Friends, is an assembly composed of several monthly meetings. At the quarterly meeting are produced written answers from the monthly meetings to certain queries respecting the conduct of their members, and the meetings' care over them. The accounts thus received are digested into one, which is sent, also in the form of answers to queries, by representatives to the yearly meeting. Appeals from the judgment of monthly meetings are brought to the quarterly meetings, whose business also is to assist in any difficult case, or where remissness appears in the care of the monthly meetings over the individuals who compose them. SEE QUARTERLY MEETING.
(4.) Yearly Meeting, an annual meeting of the Society of Friends. "The yearly meeting has the general superintendence of the society in the country in which it is established; and therefore, as the accounts which it receives discover the state of inferior meetings, as particular exigencies require, or as the meeting is impressed with a sense of duty, it gives forth its advice, makes such regulations as appear to be requisite, or excites to the observance of those already made, and sometimes appoints committees to visit those quarterly meetings which appear to be in need of immediate advice." At the yearly meeting another meeting (a sort of subcommittee) is appointed, bearing the name of the morning meeting, for the purpose of revising the denominational manuscripts previous to publication; and also the granting, in the intervals of the yearly meeting, of certificates of approbation to such ministers as are concerned to travel in the work of the ministry in foreign parts, in addition to those granted by their monthly and quarterly meetings. When a visit of this kind does not extend beyond Great Britain, a certificate from' the monthly meeting of which the minister is a member is sufficient. If to Ireland, the concurrence of the quarterly meeting is also required. Regulations of similar tendency obtain in other yearly meetings. The "stock" of the yearly meeting consists of occasional voluntary contributions, which is expended in printing-books, salary of a clerk for keeping records, the passage of ministers who visit their brethren beyond sea, and some small incidental charges; but not, as has been falsely supposed, the. reimbursement of those who suffer distraint for tithes and other demands with which they scruple to comply. Appeals from the quarterly meetings are heard at the yearly meetings. There are ten yearly meetings-namely, one in London, to which representatives from Ireland are received; one in Dublin; one in New England; one in New York; one in Pennsylvania; one in Maryland; one in Virginia; one in the Carolinas; one in Ohio; and one in Indiana. Reports of each of these may be found in the Annual Monitor.