Chapter 11 » 11.11
Becoming a member
Stages of the process
Discerning the rightness of the application
The process of discernment that membership is right for both the applicant and the meeting is at the heart of the acquisition of membership. Once it has been discerned that it is right for the application process to be taken forward, area meetings may offer a number of options. For example, it may be that the traditional process is followed, with a letter from the applicant to the area meeting clerk and the appointment of two Friends, one from the applicant’s meeting and the other from a different local meeting within the area meeting, to visit the applicant and report back to the area meeting. In other cases supporting Friends may hold discussions with the attender and together they may write an application letter or a minute which is taken to the area meeting. For some a meeting for clearness (12.23) may be right.
Some applicants will have found a wider Quaker community beyond the local geographical area, and those involved in the discernment process may find it helpful to contact individuals from this wider Quaker community (such as members of a Quaker recognised body, a young person’s link group, or a university chaplain).
The final part of the process of discernment is consideration by the area meeting. As area meetings are responsible for holding membership they are responsible for the final decision about an application. The decision may be informed, for example, by a minute from the local meeting, a report written by visitors with the applicant, or by the outcome of a meeting for clearness. All of these are the product of discernment.