Friendly Use of Communication Technology

Technology can reduce the time, expense, and environmental impact of traveling in order to communicate. Emails, conference calls, and video connections can also aid people who have difficulties with mobility, hearing, or vision. We remain tender with each other during continuing changes in media and patient with the use of the devices themselves and their uneven rate of adoption. We also practice using the technology in advance, so that the equipment itself does not hinder our Friendly communication. Offering to help each other with communication technology skills can build community among us.

The focus of this appendix is on how Quaker groups use conference technology and email, not on individual use of electronic media.

Conference Technologies

Conference technologies may be used for several purposes, including committee meetings and consultations, worship-sharing, and clearness processes. Conference technologies have proven to be media through which Spirit can move and connect Friends. Not every Friends group has found conference calls suitable for discernment. The following suggestions have been found helpful:

For the Clerk:

For the Participants:

Queries for Friends Using Conference Technologies


Email, when used carefully and thoughtfully, can support good Quaker process in business and decision making. Quaker meetings and committees may use email extensively to disseminate information, minutes, and agendas, and to attend to logistics. Some committee work seems to lend itself to email communication. Email may not be suitable for deep listening and group discernment.

We attend to email messages as carefully as when speaking with someone face to face. Because an email can be sent quickly, caution is helpful. Choose words carefully; we cannot depend on tone of voice to shape our meaning. Take time to respond with care. If the matter is complicated or sensitive, let the reply season for a while. Always review everything before sending.

When agreeing to conduct business by email, we make a commitment to check messages regularly and we respond to messages in a timely manner to ensure others of our continuing engagement.

Email can work well when a group needs to gather information and a central person is collecting feedback. When many are in a discussion on a topic, the process takes special attentiveness. Participants treat the email conversation as they would a face-to- face conversation with Friends. Read all prior messages first, pay attention to where the discussion is going before responding, and consider carefully what – and when – to contribute.

When decisions are being made by email, someone acts as clerk, and the group follows the good order of Friends. If the conversation is moving too quickly or carelessly, if the conversation is splintering or losing focus, or if some people feel they are not being heard, the clerk ends the email conversation and suggests a face-to-face meeting.

Group Email Lists and Listservs

Listservs or email groups allow Friends to direct messages easily to a whole meeting or to an interest group. A listserv or email group for a whole meeting is a valuable tool for cultivating and nurturing community and allows Friends to share important announcements relevant to the meeting, such as agendas and reports for an upcoming meeting for business. To ensure beneficial use of these tools, it may be helpful for the meeting to establish guidelines, for example:

Sometimes it may be necessary for a host to caution a Friend who uses the listserv or group email list inappropriately. This should be done privately, but a general reminder may be shared with the list. If after a reminder or two the Friend continues to make inappropriate posts, the meeting may wish to explore ways to preserve Friendly communication.

Queries for Friends Using Listservs and Group Email Lists