Warning: if you are one of the people who gets their knickers in a knot when I compare Mormonism to Quakerism, just skip this post, ok?
Last night I attended a Finance Committee Meeting for our Quaker congregation. There were many agenda items and among them was a discussion of the wording for a statement about the appropriate usage of funds by various committees within the meeting. For about 10 minutes we debated whether two particular sentences were worded with clarity. The crux of the discussion came down to whether using a semi-colon or starting a new sentence would make a particular section of the statement more clear.
In this room were 4 women and 2 men. At least 4 of those people had advanced degrees. Four of us were “mature” and two of us were young-ish. Everyone had the chance to express an opinion. Each expression was considered equally and the decision was made to use the period rather than a semi-colon. My feeling was that the statement was fine either way and was clear either way. I didn’t contribute much to the discussion.
As we moved on to the other agenda items, a large concern was how to make the Meeting’s financial situation more clear to all those who attend weekly meetings–especially so everyone could know how important each contribution was to the well-being of our group. It was decided to put some of the information in the monthly newsletter and to create a graphical representation of the Meeting’s various financial allocations to have in the area outside the Worship room, where we meet for refreshments each week following Silent Meeting.
IF you are familiar with the LDS church then you will know that there is no transparency about the usage of donated funds. And, to be a member in good standing you are required to donate ten percent of your income to the church. Yes, if you have a particular leadership calling you might know how local funds are allocated. But the church does not release any information about the usage of the funds sent to SLC nor does it disclose the value of any of its vast holdings and investments. And, as I have said before, there is great gender disparity about who gets to make any kind of financial decisions in LDS wards. Local leaders are not allowed to set their own policies about financial allocations–meaning that they can’t decide how much of their funds go to Salt Lake and how much of it remains locally-held. This all comes straight from church HQ.
So sure, it can be a bit tedious to sit in a meeting and debate the merits of specific punctuation–especially when it seems such a very small detail. But I found it quite charming, simply because of the very fact that such an item could be on an agenda and could be up for discussion by all of us, even myself.