The Quaker Practice of Clerking

From the outside the clerk appears like a cross between a chair and a secretary. Clerks prepare the agenda, do the necessary administration and guide the meeting through the items of business.

The clerk has to discern the outcome (often called ‘the sense of the meeting’) of each item and prepare a minute.

The final decision about whether the minute represents the sense of the meeting is the responsibility of the meeting itself, not of the clerk.

Taken from Britain Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice

Start Here: Short Articles Introducing the Practice of Quaker Clerking and Group Decision-Making

The Role of the Clerk Art Larabee (see video below for more from Art)

The Clerk Disappears (excerpt) C. Wess Daniels

Some Basic Mechanics of Being a Clerk Art Larabee

For Further Reading

Principle vs. Preference: The Speed of Quaker Decision-Making By C. Wess Daniels

Quaker Decision-Making at Guilford College Jim Hood

Meeting for business

A Quaker ‘meeting for business’ is also held in the context of worship. This may take place after a meeting for worship on a Sunday or at any other convenient time during the week. Besides members, attenders of the meeting may join in as well with the permission of the Clerk of the meeting.

The aim of a meeting for business is to seek the will of God. It is not a matter of bowing to the will of the majority, as Friends do not vote. It is an exercise of listening to God through what each person says. The Clerk has prepared an agenda and conducts the meeting, often with the help of an Assistant Clerk. The Clerk discerns ‘the sense of the meeting’. If the Clerk feels that an item has been thoroughly considered, he or she drafts and offers a ‘minute’ to the meeting. This will encapsulate what has gone before and record any decision that has been arrived at. The minute must receive the assent, spoken or tacit, of the meeting. If the Clerk is not able to discern a clear sense of the meeting, no decision will be taken, and no minute will be made except to record that the meeting is not ready to proceed.

“Quaker decision-making is less about arriving at a final decision and more about becoming a community together.” When practiced well, Quaker decision-making is a tool for building community.

The clerk needs to have a spiritual capacity for discernment and sensitivity to the meeting…

– Quaker faith & practice 3.12