Depending on your context you may inherit the makings of an agenda or you might have to start from scratch. If items arrive in your inbox you will have to do some prioritising. We talk about ways to do this later on.
Most regular (not one-off) meetings have required business – standing items that either come every time or at expected times during the year. Look back at previous minutes if necessary and try to get an idea of what tends to come in and when. You can copy the wording from your predecessor’s minutes. Copy-and-paste is your friend provided you are careful to change all relevant details. Be warned!
You are entitled as clerk to go chasing up business matters that you believe should be taken at the next meeting. An inspection of minutes from previous years could point the way to likely items. These include such things as financial reports, other regular reports, one-off reports promised to the meeting that haven’t materialised so far. Be on your guard to correctly identify matters which look like business items but are really notices or could be dealt with away from the meeting. Hear-say or assertions arriving in someone’s email inbox need careful discernment.
Sorting agenda items
By the time your deadline arrives you will probably end up with too many items for one meeting. This is where you hone your skills at triaging what should be on the agenda, what could usefully come, what can be delayed, what does not need the meeting’s agreement. This is how you can sift the potential items:
- Isolate all the essential items that MUST come this time – those that are time-specific, are legally necessary, important in their own right, or are to be taken out of consideration of the Friend(s)who might be involved in the matter. Then decide:
- Which items do not need agreement and could be taken as notices?
- Which items appear not to be well thought through yet?
- Which items are sensitive or confidential? There may be better ways of dealing with them before bringing some aspects to a meeting.
- Which items are not urgent and could frankly wait a couple of months?
- Which items could or should be re-directed to another group (elders, treasurer, trustees, a sub-committee)?
- Which items (if, say, you are clerking an elders’ committee) should be referred to a ‘parent’ body such as Area Meeting?
Examples of meeting agendas
Here are two invented routine agendas as basic examples of possible items:
Local meeting draft agenda
- Opening worship
- Representatives for next Area Meeting
- Death of our Friend Loveday Hamblin (for information)
- Application for membership – report (for discernment)
- Quarterly treasurer’s report (to be received)
- Nominations (release from service and new names proposed) (for discernment)
- Climate emergency updates from our committees (to be received, also possible discernment)
- Minute from Area Meeting elders on regular reading of QFP
- Minute from AM for LMs – Inclusion and Diversity (for discernment as response to questions)
- Proposed Local Meeting away-day (for info and discernment)
- Open House Weekend – do we wish to participate? (for discernment)
Draft area meeting agenda
- Opening worship
- Appointed representatives
- Advices and Queries
- Death and funeral (for information)
- Membership application (for discernment)
- Certificate of transfer from Bass Rock Area Meeting (to be received)
- Nominations – appointments (for discernment)
- Area Meeting tabular statement on membership (to record)
- Recruiting of voluntary wardens – minute from AM trustees (for noting)
- Meeting for Sufferings report (for information)
- AM treasurers’ committee report (for information and discernment)
- report on the life of Chiltern Hundreds LM (to be received)