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Agreeing upward is the term one author used to describe the Quaker decision-making process.1 Unlike other forms of decision-making such as Robert s Rules of Order or the parliamentary process, the Quaker s decision-making process is a spiritual experience rooted in Quaker theology. It has been sought out by the World Council of Churches as a model to be considered for spiritual decision-making that is "less conflict-based and more spiritually grounded."2 The Quaker Business Meeting is where this approach is demonstrated and it is through the official capacity of the clerk that this can be observed. This paper will first look at how business has been conducted in the Religious Society of Friends, what makes the decision-making process unique, and list its distinguishing characteristics. Secondly it will address the roles, responsibilities, and the qualities of a clerk. How is Business conducted? Friends began gathering into groups after George Fox began his public ministry. The development of the General Meetings occurred between 1650-1660 as a response to the needs of the families of those Friends who engaged in traveling ministries, or were imprisoned. Marriages, births and burials were other reasons why Friends organized themselves into a form of governing. Fox writes from prison in Ep. 162, 1658: Friends, keep your meeting in the power of God, and in his wisdom (by which all things were made) and in the love of God, that by that ye may order all to his glory. And when Friends have finished their business, sit down and continue quietly and wait upon the Lord to feel him. And go not beyond the Power, but keep in the Power by which God Almighty may be felt among you.3

Howard H. Brinton, Reaching Decisions: The Quaker Method. Pendle Hill Phamplet Number 65 (Wallingford, PA: Pendle Hill Publications, 1952), 28. Eden Grace, An Introduction to Quaker Business Practice, 2001, Available from, Internet; accessed 16 March 2007, pg 4.
3 2


Brinton, Reaching Decisions, 6.


As the General meetings began to gather more and more people, a decision- making process began to evolve. Evidence that decision-making and governing was being discussed is found in a message from the General Meeting of Friends at Skipton in 1659: That the power of the God-head may be known in the body [i.e. the local Meeting] in that perfect freedom which every member hath in Christ Jesus; that none may exercise lordship or dominion over another, not the person of any be set apart, but as they continue in the power of truth that truth itself in the body may reign, not persons or forms; and that all such may be honored as stand in the life of the truth wherein is the power not over, but in the body.4 While Fox and many of the influential leaders of the Friends were imprisoned, the Friends struggled. James Naylor and the followers of John Perrot were said to be causing "serious difficulties" among the Friends. Perrot was teaching that "the essence of religion required no outward frame of reference and moved some Friends to focus on individual spirituality versus corporate spirituality. The Quakers were also suffering due to the Coventicle Act that outlawed any gathering for worship except the Established Church. To address these issues a letter was drafted by the leading Friends asserting the authority of the Meeting to exclude from its fellowship persons who persisted in rejecting its judgment. In other words, the decisions made by the General Meeting were to be the governing authority of the Friends. That is said by Howard Brinton in Reaching Decisions: The Quaker Method, to have paved the path for Quaker government. He writes "This letter, by definitely subordinating individual guidance to the sense of the Meeting as a whole, marked an important step in Quaker development."6 After George Fox was released from jail in 1666 he traveled all over England, Ireland and eventually America (1671-1673). He worked to bring "order out of disorder by filling gaps in the existing arrangements, and defining more clearly the functions and boundaries of meetings."7 In his
Howard H. Brinton, Friends for 300 Years (Wallingford, PA: Pendle Hill Publications, and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, 1983), 100. [Quotes Edward Burrough, Letters Etc.of Early Friends, 289.]
5 4


Brinton, Reaching Decisions, 6. [ Quotes, Letters of the Early Friends, 319.] Brinton, Reaching Decisions, 6.



travels, Fox spoke about this concept that the sense of the Meeting supersedes individual authority. It was during this time that the Monthly Meeting became the "main administrative unit. Individual men s and women s meetings were formed because "Fox recognized that the community of believers would disintegrate into individualistic fragments if it did not find a spiritual basis for the conduct of its own affairs. This move by Fox is said, in the Faith and Practice of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, to be one of the major reasons the Quakers continued to exist throughout the centuries. 8 The Quaker decision-making process occurs in a monthly Business Meeting. Eden Grace in An Introduction to Quaker Business Practice writes that the Business Meeting s are of central importance to Quakers. It distinguishes them from other decision making processes. It is described by some as a process of spiritual discernment." 9 Grace summarizes it as a spiritual experience rooted in Quaker theology, the first example of this being that Christ as the Teacher is present, and the second being that everyone has the Light of Christ in some measure within them. Thus the Business Meeting is centered on experiencing Christ's presence first individually, then corporately. 10 What makes it unique? The Business Meeting is one of the elements of the Friends that have made them unique. This is because the focus of the Business Meeting is on discerning the will of God rather than coming to consensus or a majority vote. Votes are not taken in Friends decision-making. Votes can lead to a dominant member swaying the meeting toward a personal objective. Consensus decision-making is different from the Friends process in that the focus in on collective human wisdom versus seeking the

John Punshon, Portrait in Grey: A Short History of the Quakers, 2d ed. (London, UK: Quaker

Books, 2006), 101.

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends. Faith and Practice of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Worcester, MA: New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, 1985), 31. Lloyd. Wilson, A Handbook for The Presiding Clerk, Reprint (Philadelphia, PA: Friends General Conference, 2001), 134.


Grace, An Introduction to Quaker Business Practice, 4.


Divine Will. Leonard Joy quotes Edward Burrough, 1662 (Abridged from Britain YM QT&P, 1995. 2.87) in Collective Intelligence and Quaker Practice saying, Being orderly come together proceed in the wisdom of God not in the way of the world not deciding affairs by the great vote [but by] assenting together as one man in the spirit of truth and equity, and by the authority thereof."11 Corporate decision-making is the premise for Quakers Business Meetings. It is believed that divine guidance is given to the group as well as the individual. The goal of Business Meeting is observed "...when members labored to overcome their self-centered interests and experienced changes in attitudes in response to the spirit of Christ's presence in their midst."12 This may be something greater than any one individual could have imagined. Brinton writes: In general, voting creates nothing new, one party is simply more numerous than the other. The organic method may actually produce by a process of cross-fertilization something which was not there at the beginning. As in all life, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. A new creation emerges through the life or soul of the whole which was not completely present in any of the parts. As the Meeting becomes a unity, it learns to think as a unity. This is an achievement. Every partial, fragmentary view contributes to the total view.13 One of the terms used in the Business Meeting is the "sense of the Meeting." This is determined as a result of a collective discernment process. It is different from consensus in that it is not humanoriginated. It is not a product of the wisdom of the participants. It does not involve voting for the majority as in the democratic process. Instead the focus is directed towards discovering the will of God, or the Truth, for a particular decision. With Christ as Inward Teacher, the participants are led together to a decision. Each member is equally heard because all have the Light of Christ in them, and all are looking to Christ for His will to be revealed. "Unity, and not uniformity, is achieved when the

Leonard Joy, Collective Intelligence and Quaker Practice, 2007, Available from, Internet; accessed 15 March 2007, pg. 7. David O. Stanfield, A Handbook for The Presiding Clerk (Greensboro, NC: The Publications Board North Carolina Yearly Meeting of Friends, 1989), 1.
13 12


Brinton, Reaching Decisions, 18.


participants are united in their understanding of God's will. This is considered an act of worship and is described by Brinton, as "Agreeing Upward" (from Chinese Philosopher Mo Tzes).14 The objective of the Quaker method is to discover Truth which will satisfy every one more fully than did any position previously held. Each and all can then say "that is what I really wanted, but I did not realize it." To discover what we really want as compared to what at first we think we want, we must go below the surface of the self-centered desires to the deeper level where the real Self resides. The deepest Self of all is that Self which we share with all others. This is the one Vine of which we all are branches, the Life of God on which our own individual lives are based. To will what God wills is, therefore, to will what we ourselves really want.15 In John 17:22 Jesus is praying to God just before He is to be taken away to be judged and killed. He is praying for his followers that God will bring the same unity He experienced with the Father "...that they may be one, as we are one." Brinton writes: "The principle of corporate guidance, according to which the Spirit can inspire the group as a whole, is central. Since there is but one truth, its Spirit, if followed, will produce unity. To achieve this unity is practicable, and the Society of Friends has practiced the method of achieving it with considerable success for nearly three centuries."16 The structure of the Business Meeting is based on the process of discernment. This process is one that is practiced and developed over time. It is a spiritual discipline where value is placed in the inward movement towards a relationship with God in a way that requires an attitude of mind, heart, and soul focused on being united with God s will. Stanfield, in A Handbook for The Presiding Clerk, prioritizes the spiritual aspect of the Business Meeting over the actual decisions being made. The Business Meeting has three purposes according to Stanfield. The first is the unifying experience of spiritual guidance. The second is the observance of the Holy Spirit's leading in decision making for the Meeting. The third is the exchange of information

Brinton, Reaching Decisions, 28. Brinton, Reaching Decisions, 18.


Howard H. Brinton, Guide to Quaker Practice, Pendle Hill Phamplet Number 20 (Wallingford, PA: Pendle Hill Publications, 1946) 35.



regarding people, places, and events.17 The resulting effect, according to Wilson in A Handbook for The Presiding Clerk, is that the depth of the spirituality experienced in the Monthly Meeting will reflect the depth of the spirituality experienced in the Business Meeting.18 The focus of the content thus far has been to give a foundation to understanding Quaker Business Meetings. This provides the context in which the clerk serves. Secular resources and Friends resources (from all perspectives) were utilized. The second part of this paper will focus on the only official of the Business Meeting: the clerk What are the Roles of the clerk? Elements of the decision-making process are evident in the many Epistles of the early Friends. The history of the Quaker Business Meeting is thoroughly documented first through these Epistles, then as the Friends organized, through the records of the Faith and Practice of Yearly Meetings. Another source of the history of Quakers is the minutes that are recorded by the clerk of the Meeting. The following section of this paper details the role, responsibilities and the characteristics of a clerk. The role of the clerk is not a position or title that carries authority. It is simply a particular way that a person chooses to serve the Meeting. Brinton describes the clerk as the "channel through which the Meeting's sense of God's leading flows."19 Stanfield writes that the clerk role is spiritual guidance. Sheeran quotes one woman's description as "The clerk's role is to point the mirror [of the Meeting] towards the Truth, he cannot try to be the source of the light."21


Stanfield, A Handbook for The Presiding Clerk, 2. Lloyd A. Wilson, A Handbook for The Presiding Clerk (Philadelphia, PA: Friends General Conference, 2001), 133.


Damon D. Hickey, Unforeseen Joy Serving a Friends Meeting As Recording Clerk (Greensboro, NC: The Publications Board North Carolina Yearly Meeting, 1987), 3.


Stanfield, A Handbook for The Presiding Clerk, 2.

Michael J. Sheeran, Beyond Majority Rule (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, 1983), 92.



The duties of the clerk are "to focus and enable the discernment of the Meeting by laying business before it in an orderly way, managing the pace and discipline of the discussion, listening for the Sense of the Meeting to emerge, restating that Sense in clear language and asking for approval, and recording the business in written minutes."22 Some Meetings only have one Clerk, others have a Recording Clerk who writes the minutes, and a Presiding Clerk who facilitates the Business Meeting. According to Damon D. Hickey, in Unforeseen Joy Serving a Friends Meeting As Recording Clerk, the Recording Clerk serves as a historian, a vital statistician, and an archivist.23 Quakers do not assign authority to different roles, for God is seen as the sole authority figure. They believe that all members have equal authority to speak into the matters that concern the Business Meeting, and are heard with the understanding that each are listening for the will of God, and are speaking in the spirit of discovering God's will. As it is our hope that in our meetings of discipline the will of God shall prevail rather than the desires of men, we do not set great story by rhetoric or clever argument. The mere gaining of debating points is found to be unhelpful and alien to the spirit of worship which should govern the rightly ordered meeting. Instead of rising hastily to reply to another, it is better to give time for what has been said to make its own appeal, and to take its right place in the mind of the Meeting.(353 drafted by the 1925 Revision Committee)24 What are the Responsibilities of the clerk? Business Meetings are scheduled once a month and take into account the dates of the Quarterly Meeting and Yearly Meeting. Clerks are to prepare for the Meeting ahead of time. They call for special meetings in order to prepare sufficiently for the Business Meeting and give special invitations to new members and young Friends.


Grace, An Introduction to Quaker Business Practice, 3. Hickey, Unforeseen Joy Serving a Friends Meeting As Recording Clerk, 3.


London Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, Christian faith and practice in the experience of the Society of Friends (London: Headley Brothers Ltd, 1960), 353.



The agenda is created with space for silence and discussion. It allows for the clerk to be efficient in taking care of business and to be conscientious to the members. The clerk consults others in setting and ordering the agenda by gathering information such as reports, concerns, proposals, and other materials from the clerks of other committees.25 Clerks are responsible for discerning what topics are ready or "seasoned" to be placed on the agenda from the committees. When clerks gather the information for the Meeting, they are careful not to come with opinions, but to keep their minds open for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Queries that are given by the Yearly Meeting are included in the agenda throughout the year. The clerk may order the agenda so that the concrete decisions are first on the agenda, and the items that more subjective are at the end of the agenda. This allows the clerk to set the rhythm and establish confidence in his or her ability to facilitate at the beginning of the Meeting. Having the agenda printed or emailed ahead of time, and posted at the Meeting allows for all members to predict the flow of the Meeting, and gauge the amount of discussion necessary for each agenda item. Decision-making in the Quaker Church is an act of worship. Therefore, beginning and ending with worship, in whatever style that is customary for the Meeting (opened or programmed worship), prepares the minds and hearts for God s will to be discovered. This encapsulates the Business Meeting in an attitude of worship and sets the tone for seeking God's will. Stanfield suggests that the clerk guide the new members into silence to "...anticipate the Presence and become listeners for that still, small voice of Christ's spirit...

New concerns and new business may be introduced during the Business Meeting. The clerk may delegate it to an existing committee if it is relevant to their expertise and purpose, or may initiate the


Joy, Collective Intelligence and Quaker Practice, 12. Stanfield, A Handbook for The Presiding Clerk, 11.



formation of a new committee for further investigation. If a member approaches the clerk outside of the Business Meeting, the clerk may refer them to a relevant committee already established. The clerk s communication style, attitude and posture are significant to the set the tone of the Meeting and will evoke enthusiasm in the process, or a lack thereof. If the clerk has faith in the decisionmaking process, it will be evident to the members of the Meeting and be contagious. Therefore the clerk speaks with neutrality, stating questions and restating the remarks of the Meeting. The clerk guides members into understanding their responsibility during the Business Meetings. Personal conduct and prayer is emphasized. The clerk directs each Member who speaks to address the Meeting, not the clerk. Wilson believes that whether silent or speaking, all are working together to verbalize God's will. The intent of each member is to listen to the Spirit and speak only when their word has not already been stated. Redundancy and jockeying for position are not part of this process. Therefore there is no attachment of opinions to one person, but rather to the whole. Grace states: Friends often find the Meeting for Business to be a purgative, humbling and awe-inspiring experience as we let go of our own self and personal agenda....We refrain from comments which suggest argument, debate or an attempt to convince, and rather give testimony to our experience of the leading of the Spirit in this matter. We listen thoughtfully and respectfully, observing a pause between messages for deeper listening. Each person present has a responsibility to participate and not hold back if they are led to speak. Every member of the church has the responsibility to attend the Business Meeting to the extent they are able.27 As a facilitator of the Meeting, the clerk manages the flow of communication in order to assure that all are heard. If a member is being long-winded it is the clerk's responsibility is to find a creative way to interrupt the member and proceed with the Meeting. If there is a member that is known for opposing the Meeting on specific agenda item, the clerk is responsible for holding the tension of listening, and diverting.


Grace, An Introduction to Quaker Business Practice, 3.


"The clerk and the recording clerk work as a team" and they "wait for full expression" while keeping the movement of the Meeting present to the presence of God.28 This is essential when there is more than one member wanting to speak at the same time. During the Meeting the clerk is responsible to determine the "weight" of comments. When a Friend agrees with another, he/she interjects with "I agree," or "I approve," or "That Friend speaks my mind." Monteze M. Snyder, in Building Consensus: Conflict and Unity, describes the roles of the clerk concisely below: 1. Educating: to the process of decision making for those who are new and reminding the others to be "effective participants." 2. Tone setting: the attitude of the clerk sets the tone for the Meeting. 3. Facilitating: "manage the process while remaining neutral to the content of issues raised." 4. Nurturing of group members: encouraging members of the group to be available and affirmed in their talents and abilities. 5. Encouraging acceptance of differences: acknowledge and accept differences, and encourage the group to appreciate differences. 6. Problem Solving: the clerk is not responsible for "fixing" the problem, but "assisting" the group to deal with the problem. 7. Serving as a team player: with the Recording Clerk in making sure the minutes reflect the discussion. 8. Evaluating: seek feedback and suggestions to make the group more effective.29 Judging and articulating the sense of the Meeting is the most important duty of the clerk and brings the discussion to closure. The clerk is responsible for observing the members for "signs of approval, such as nods of heads or smiles on faces, as well as what is being said explicitly."30 The clerk summarizes what has been expressed with clarity, consistency, and brevity. It might be stated, "It appears the sense of the Meeting is....Does this meet with your approval?" Other writers describe the sense of the Meeting in these ways: corporate guidance as revealed to seeking hearts by the Divine

Seth Bennettt Hinshaw, FRIENDS WORSHIP TODAY Contemporary Concepts and Practices (North Carolina Friends Yearly Meeting and North Carolina Friends Historical Society. North Carolina: Briarpatch Press, 1991),112.


Monteze M. Snyder, Building Consensus: Conflict and Unity (Richmond, IN: Earlham Press, 2001), 26. Stanfield, A Handbook for The Presiding Clerk, 19.



Presence" 31; "

feeling out the Divine will, one can feel the sense of the Meeting accumulate around a

particular course of action as more and more of the gathered Friends discern that this is right order for the Meeting."32 The clerk states the sense of the Meeting after consideration of a specific topic reaches a stage where unity seems evident. The Members may suggest different wording, or may agree with a silent nod. After which, a judgment is made and a minute is recorded. What if there is someone who doesn't agree with the sense of the Meeting? But if we as a group expect the Spirit to guide us into what is true for the group's action, we must go deeper. If some say yes and some say no, the true answer may be neither yes nor no, nor even compromise, but a new solution that combines what is true on both sides. We know that the lone dissenter might be right, and might convince the rest. But if he is led by the Spirit, the dissenter is right: and so is the opposing majority if they are open to the Spirit.33 How does the clerk determine if the sense of the Meeting is of God or man? According to Stanfield the clerk must first look to the weighty friends that have a reputation for discernment; and second, compare the statement to the word of God, especially the New Testament teachings of Jesus. "Let us remember continually in prayer the clerks at the table, whose duty it is to gather up the sense of the Meeting and, with guidance to God, to find the words in which to record a right decision."(353 Drafted by the 1925 Revision Committee)34 The clerk is also responsible for recording written minutes. This role is one that is seen by Quakers as a weighty spiritual practice. The minutes are recorded and sometimes printed. They are seen as a spiritual diary and a chronicle of social action. Historically a minute was recorded immediately after


Hinshaw, FRIENDS WORSHIP TODAY Contemporary Concepts and Practices, 101. Wilson, A Handbook for The Presiding Clerk, 136. Jack A. Willcuts, Why Friends Are Friends (Newburg, Oregon: Barclay Press, 2002), 14.



London Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, Christian faith and practice in the experience of the Society of Friends, 353.



the decision is made, although some wait until the end of the Meeting. The minutes are read back to the Meeting. This can promote further discussion or can lead to decision making. When participants approve the wording of the minute, it is recorded as an action of the Meeting. Editorial changes that are minor can be made by the clerk, but are noted at the next Business Meeting. Once the minutes are approved, and signed by the clerk, they become authoritative.35 Minutes include: name of Meeting, date, place, names of those in attendance (use full names). The writing style is to be factual, noting if there was a time of silence or a devotional. If a decision is not made and a committee is assigned, the clerk records the opposing statements but is careful to not list names with opinions. This allows Members the flexibility to change their viewpoint as the process of decision making persists. The Business Meeting is not a time for self reflection, but listening. When disagreements arise Stanfield suggests using these questions to evaluate: 1.) Are the objections related to personal styles of expression? 2.) Is the Meeting exhibiting impatience? 3.) Is the Meeting feeling the pressure of time to make a decision? There may be times when silence can break the tension and allow for the Spirit's leading. 36 When there is dissent or disagreement, it is stated by the Quakers that a member will stand in the way of unity in order to come to a "truer understanding of God's will."37 After further discussion, the member can choose to stand aside, submitting to the corporate leading of the Meeting, and allowing the Meeting to continue with the decision. If, after extended and careful consideration of a matter, the Meeting seems ready to approve a course of action which a few members cannot support, the clerk may then ask if those


Grace, An Introduction to Quaker Business Practice, 3 & 9. Stanfield, A Handbook for The Presiding Clerk, 17. Grace, An Introduction to Quaker Business Practice, 3.




few are willing to lay aside their objections to allow the Meeting to proceed. If the reluctant members thus allow the Meeting to pursue its course, the clerk may request that the minute state that the decision was not unanimously approved. The clerk should go privately to them to express appreciation for their acquiescence and to assure them that they are valued participants in the search process.38 It is appropriate for a clerk to take into consideration the weighty Friends. They "have more wisdom and experience than others and their conviction should carry greater weight."39 Their input may be what directs the Business Meeting more than most, because of the confidence the attendees have in that person. Quakers believe that if the process of decision making is honored, the ability for discerning God's will is greater. Therefore decisions are not made quickly. If unity cannot be reached, the decision is laid over or postponed. The clerk assigns a committee to do further research and report back to the Meeting. The process of is called seasoning. The benefits of waiting for unity are seen in the decision regarding Friends who owned slaves. The issue was brought up over consecutively over six years, from 1770-1776. It was not until unity was reached that the decision was recorded and published. Stanfield states: One of the best examples is that of John Woolman's rising concern about slave ownership and the consequences of slave labor accepted by Friends in the 1700s. He began as a single voice inviting members of his Meeting to examine the injustice of the issue. With amazing self discipline he would not take his concern to other Meetings until his own Meeting embraced his concern and endorsed his desire to travel among other Friends. After years of patient and Friendly persuasion, other Friends joined him in the desire to free others from slavery. One of the results of his obedient ministry was that American Friends had released their slaves and began working to encourage their development as free citizens one hundred years before the Emancipation Proclamation by President Lincoln in 1863.40 If the clerk does not write the minutes during the Business Meeting, it is advised to do so promptly after the Meeting. The clerk may be asked to keep records pertaining to membership, transfers,


Stanfield, A Handbook for The Presiding Clerk, 17. Brinton, Guide to Quaker Practice, 37. Stanfield, A Handbook for The Presiding Clerk, 17.




marriages, divorces, births, deaths etc meetings as "ex officio member."

The clerk may also be expected to attend other committee

What are the Distinguishing Characteristics and Qualities? Certain characteristics of clerk s are mentioned by the various authors. These characteristics most describe an individual who is experienced in group dynamics, and leadership, has a reputation for discernment and servitude in the Religious Society of Friends, and has demonstrated respect and honor for the individual members and the Meeting as a whole.
Characteristics of a Business Meeting By Stuart Chase 41 1. Unanimous decisions. No voting. 2. Silent periods. To begin, end and to calm conflict. 3. A moratorium. Wait to make a decision is acceptable. 4. Participation by all with ideas on the subject. Focused dialogue. 5. Learning to listen. Others remarks leaves no need to re-emphasize. 6. Absence of leaders. Clerk steers but is not the authority. 7. Nobody outrank anybody. Equal status of all. 8. Consider the facts. Processing occurs outside of meeting. 9. Keep meetings small. Small is preferred. Traits for Presiding Clerks By David Stanfield 42 1. Spiritual Awareness. 2. Faith in the Quaker Decision-Making Process 3. Knowledge of Quaker Testimonies and History 4. Awareness of Quaker Activities Beyond the Local Community 5. Experience in Group Dynamics 6. Constructive Attitudes 7. Mastery of Detail and Follow-Through 8. A desire to Serve

Chart: The above chart lists the characteristics of a business meeting by Stuart Chase in Roads to Agreement and the traits for Presiding Clerks given by David Stanfield in A Handbook for The Presiding Clerk. Seeing them side by side gives a glancing view of the Quaker decision-making process and its only official, the clerk.

Conclusion "Our bold affirmation is that God does indeed have a will for us, that God is actively trying communicate that will, and that we are capable, through corporate prayer, to discover that will. A

Stuart Chase, Roads to Agreement (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1951), 51-52. (with researchers notes) Stanfield, A Handbook for The Presiding Clerk, 6-9.



sign that we have achieved our goal of discerning God's will is the experience of Unity which is recognized and affirmed by those gathered."43 The clerk in Quaker Business Meetings plays a significant role in the life of the Monthly Meeting and in the process of decision making. From the outsiders perspective the clerk may be seen as a position of authority or power. But, this is not so. It is not the clerk s word that determines decisions, but the body of people (the members) that meet together regularly centered on Christ as their Lord and Savior. They look to Jesus as their Inward Teacher, believing in the Light that shines from all, and making decisions in unity that comes from listening for the Truth in the Will of the Divine, together, as Friends. The fruit of this process is evidenced in its longevity and the interest that others, like the World Council of Churches, have in understanding it. Agreeing upward may truly be the easiest way to summarize this decisionmaking process in the Religious Society of Friends.


Grace, An Introduction to Quaker Business Practice, 1.


Bibliography Brinton, Howard H. Friends for 300 Years. Reprint. Wallingford, PA: Pendle Hill Publications, and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, 1983. _______________. Guide to Quaker Practice. Pendle Hill Phamplet Number 20. Wallingford, PA: Pendle Hill Publications, 1946. _______________. Reaching Decisions: The Quaker Method. Pendle Hill Phamplet Number 65. Wallingford, PA: Pendle Hill Publications, 1952. Chase, Stuart. Roads to Agreement. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1951. Friends World Committee for Consultation. Handbook of the Religious Society of Friends. London: Headley Brothers Ltd, 1962. Glasgow Quaker Meeting. Quaker Business Meetings: how Friends make decisions. Available from http// Internet accessed 22 March 2007. Grace, Eden. An Introduction to Quaker Business Practice. 2001. Available from Internet; accessed 16 March 2007. Hickey, Damon D. Unforeseen Joy Serving a Friends Meeting As Recording Clerk. Greensboro, NC: The Publications Board North Carolina Yearly Meeting, 1987. Hinshaw, Seth Bennettt. FRIENDS WORSHIP TODAY Contemporary Concepts and Practices. North Carolina Friends Yearly Meeting and North Carolina Friends Historical Society. North Carolina: Briarpatch Press, 1991. Institute of Quaker Studies Earlham School of Religion. The Three M s of Quakerism Meeting Message, Mission. Tenth Anniversary Lectures. Richmond, Indiana: Prinit Press, 1971. Joy, Leonard. Collective Intelligence and Quaker Practice. 2007. Available from Internet; accessed 15 March 2007. London Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. Christian faith and practice in the experience of the Society of Friends. Reprint. London: Headley Brothers Ltd, 1960. New England Yearly Meeting of Friends. Faith and Practice of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends. Worcester, MA: New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, 1985. Punshon, John. Portrait in Grey: A Short History of the Quakers. 2d edn London, UK: Quaker Books, 2006.


Sheeran, Michael J. Beyond Majority Rule. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, 1983. Snyder, Monteze M. Building Consensus: Conflict and Unity. Richmond, IN: Earlham Press, 2001. Stanfield, David O. A Handbook for The Presiding Clerk. Greensboro, NC: The Publications Board North Carolina Yearly Meeting of Friends, 1989. Steere, Douglas V. on Listening to Another. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1955. Willcuts, Jack A. Why Friends Are Friends. Reprint. Newburg, Oregon: Barclay Press, 2002. Wilson, Lloyd. A Handbook for The Presiding Clerk. Reprint. Philadelphia, PA: Friends General Conference, 2001.