Constitution and functions
Until 2007 area meetings were known as monthly meetings. The change was made to give more emphasis to the area meeting as a spiritual community rather than a regular event, and in the interests of accuracy because many monthly meetings no longer met monthly.
Monthly meetings were an important part of the gospel order established by George Fox, which played a large part in ensuring the survival of the young Society of Friends. From 1659 onwards monthly meetings were set up, first for men only, then for women and finally joint; they combined business with social ties, caring for the poor and prisoners, education and ministry. By 1676 they were the unit of authority for membership, marriages, property, records, the recognition of ministers (until 1924) and the recognition and laying down of local meetings; most of these functions continue today. So too does their formal responsibility, completed by 1789, for the appointment of elders and overseers.