Role of the Clerk
In the unprogrammed Quaker tradition, all worship participants–both members and attenders–are potential ministers, led by and open to the presence of the Spirit. While the clerk does not have a special role in meeting for worship, the clerk is appointed by the meeting to conduct meeting for worship on the occasion of business. In this role, the clerk presents relevant business with clarity and in good order for consideration and action by the monthly meeting, records the sense of the meeting and sees that the decisions of the meeting are carried out by the responsible persons or committees.
Qualifications and Term
In the Santa Monica Monthly Meeting, the clerk is approved by the meeting though the discernment of Nominating Committee to serve a term of three years (with extensions possible). The clerk must be a member of the meeting and have a spiritually centered understanding of Quaker process, so that the business of the meeting will be conducted through a lens of spiritually informed, corporate guidance. Thus, it is useful for the clerk to be familiar with our Quaker Faith and Practice and related Quaker literature. A clerk should have the confidence of the Quaker community and respect for its members and attenders. The clerk should be familiar with the practice of corporate discernment, and how to create the conditions whereby Friends can be led by the spirit to a sense of the meeting.
The clerk presides at all business meetings or arranges for an alternate clerk. The clerk urges business meeting participants to engage in spiritually centered forms of Quaker process in a variety of ways. These include preparing and circulating an agenda in advance, reminding participants to engage in clerking consciousness by being recognized by the clerk before speaking, reminding participants to address issues to the clerk and not to others and assists participants to focus upon the matter at hand. The clerk offers guidance by paying attention to pacing, asking for periods of reflection and listening beneath the words. The clerk is responsible for discerning the sense of the meeting, deciding when to formulate a minute, testing the minute with the group, and then (with the assistance of the recording clerk) recording the minute. The clerk also ensures minutes are clear and accurate and there is appropriate follow-up with committees.
Administratively, the clerk has the primary fiduciary and legal responsibility for the meeting, acting as official representative for legal issues, is the authorized signer on checking and savings accounts, signs or endorses minutes of sojourn, transfer, traveling minutes and the like. The clerk acts as a conduit for information from Pacific Yearly Meeting, Southern California Quarterly Meeting and other Friends’ organizations and becomes ex officio on all committees and attends (or has a representative do so) all meetings of Pastoral Care and Worship & Ministry.
Britain’s Faith and Practice notes: “Think affectionately between meetings of the needs of the community which has appointed you and how they can best be met; ask guidance from God continually in the performance of your task.” Note: Thanks to Art Larrabee’s material from his clerking worships and to Strawberry Creek Monthly Meeting for their material as well.