August 30, 2009

Two tips for clerks

Not too long ago, I began compiling a collection of brief handouts to pass along to the incoming clerks of the monthly meeting's Committee on Ministry & Counsel. Among the items I wrote up was a sheet that included a few random tips--things that any clerk might be helped by having.

Tracking items during meetings

Each clerk will have a different way to track the “who,” “when,” and “what,” such as WHO will convene a clearness committee; WHEN there should be any follow-up to an item; or WHAT should be brought before Meeting for Worship for Business.

Sometimes the clerk is able to track these pieces by herself/himself. Sometimes the clerk may need to ask a specific person—such as the assistant clerk or the recorder—to help “check” that these details are noted, if not in the minutes then in the clerk’s own notes.

Sometimes there isn’t clearness on how to move forward but there’s a desire to continue discussion at a future meeting (or business session). For accountability to both the specific committee and the meeting as a whole, having a separate way to track these items can be helpful so they don’t “go missing.”

Listening for unity—and being prepared to articulate if there isn’t unity

There are at least three possible outcomes when discussing an item.

  • There is clarity and unity to move forward in a certain direction.
  • There isn’t clarity but there is a desire to continue discussion the next time or at a later date.
  • There has been significant discussion and the sense of the committee is that there is no unity on the issue or direction. When unity or clearness cannot be found, it can be helpful to encourage the group to settle into a few moments of worship as a way to reestablish the corporate connection with one another and with the Presence before continuing.
These are specific items that, as I've grown into my service as clerk, have helped me test the sense of the group while also paying attention to the practicalities of committee work.


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