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December MFM News - A Sampling

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Clerking Learning

By Khyber

I spent 3 days online in November at the Pendle Hill workshop “Friends Decision-Making and Clerking with Joy and Confidence,” led by Steve Mohlke. It focused on business meeting beginning with how Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business was exactly that: a spiritual process that deals with the matters at hand that came from a monthly meeting’s presence, maintenance, and activities. Joy was a central presence in Mohlke’s clerking.

The goal of clerking for a lot of us going in was to discern the sense of the meeting or, for me, the spirit of the meeting, looking for the mystical in the Quaker process. We learned that the sense of the meeting is more than that; it is a sense of unity that is the spiritual center of the meeting. The process is not a legal one where individuals have rights such as in the phrase of “standing in the way of the meeting,” but a spiritual one in which we have responsibilities towards the meeting just as we do in worship.

The clerk has the authority to voice the sense of the meeting (I especially liked that part), but all of us have a responsibility to act as clerks in this discernment, rather than just focusing on our own positions as if we were voting. Releasing our point of view is as important as expressing it. Only then can unity express more than individual opinions. We discussed the difficulties inherent in this process and spent time on how to move forward and when to present the clerk’s sense of the meeting. The solution to both is a recourse to spirit.

We discussed how the dreaded impasse in trying to find unity should be reframed and lifted up as a spiritual gift. The seeming disagreement can be seen as a way for the meeting to explore and reach a greater understanding.

Interestingly, the object is not to form some secular idea of consensus, but to share concerns that develop into an inclusive sense of the meeting brought about by worshipping in the Quaker manner even when attending to business. I feel much more confident in my role as clerk now that I understand what the sense of the meeting really is.