Chapter 3 » 3.13


Advice to clerks

Remember that while you, as clerk, are the servant of the meeting, you do, by your very attitude and your arrangement of the agenda, set the pattern of worshipful listening which should characterise our meetings for church affairs. The meeting is likely to repose great trust in you, and you bear an important responsibility in enabling the meeting to listen and wait for God’s guidance in its deliberations. Your experience in the ways of Friends and your understanding of the Quaker business method are very important in helping the meeting to discern God’s will and to recognise the way forward. Help Friends to remember that the period of silent worship at the beginning of the meeting prepares for and opens the way to the consideration of the business; the worship does not finish as the business begins, and the clerks do not shake hands until the close of the business. The meeting has given you a measure of authority which includes an expectation and an acceptance of leadership and firm guidance. At the same time it will usually respond willingly if you find yourself at a loss and ask for help. Above all, it is your responsibility to come with heart and mind prepared.

Do not leave all your preparations to the last minute. Before the meeting discuss the business with your assistant clerk if possible. Check beforehand all facts which may be in question, so as to avoid plunging the whole meeting into fruitless and time-wasting speculation. It will save time in the meeting to bring at least the factual part of your minutes in draft form.

When introducing business into the meeting try briefly to provide sufficient background information to set the meeting purposefully on its course. In the subsequent deliberations you may need to advise on procedure or make a suggestion if none is forthcoming on a routine matter. A very small meeting may wish you to participate on occasion. Remember, however, that your main task is to discern the meeting’s united mind and that it may be much harder to do this if you try at the same time to be a participant in the discussion. Be chary, therefore, of making known your own views. You may well find that this very discipline of detachment leads to a new and deeper relationship with the other members of the meeting. If you are deeply involved in a decision to be reached, the meeting should be invited to ask another Friend to act as clerk for the occasion.

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