We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of Friends who have permitted
us to use material for this Faith and Practice.
becoming a member
decisions concerning membership in the Religious Society of
Friends are made in sessions of the Monthly Meeting, as Meetings
seek to include in their membership all who find themselves in
unity with their faith and practices. The procedure has several steps.
It is seldom completed within less than three months. In some cases
both the applicant and the Meeting may find it useful to take even
more time for this process.
1: An applicant writes a letter to the Clerk of the Monthly Meeting
expressing a desire to become a member. The letter need
contain no more than a plain request although in some Meetings it
is customary to provide some background. The Clerk promptly
sends an acknowledgment on behalf of the Meeting, reads the letter
at Business Meeting, and then gives it to the Oversight Committee.
2: The Overseers appoint a clearness committee consisting of
two or three members, at least one of whom is an Overseer, to visit
with the applicant. Great care should be taken to select sympathetic
and discerning Friends who also have a strong understanding
meaning and implications of membership. All visits take place
in the spirit of a common worshipful seeking for God’s will
guidance. Sufficient time must be allowed to ensure mutual
trust and understanding. <See Appendix
4a for topics suggested for the
use of a clearness committee>.
The members of the committee meet with the applicant as often
and for as long as necessary for both the applicant and the
committee to discern the rightness of this relationship, and the
applicant. These visits provide an opportunity (a) for the
visiting Friends to become acquainted with the applicant at a deeper
for the applicant to ask questions and (c) for preparing the
applicant and the Meeting for this new membership.
3: When the clearness committee unites with the applicant
in the request for membership, it reports to the Oversight Committee
with its recommendation.
If the committee feels the applicant is not yet ready for
membership, they may encourage a wider experience with Friends’ beliefs
and practices through additional reading, visits to other
Monthly, Quarterly or Yearly Meetings, attendance at workshops,
other activities. Membership itself is not as important as
the spiritual growth of the prospective member. If it becomes
more seasoning is required, the committee should set another
time to meet again with the applicant. The committee should
Overseers and plan a time to report again, keeping the Meeting
aware of continuing work on the application.
If it becomes clear to the applicant or the clearness committee
or both that membership is not advisable, the application
withdrawn and the Meeting should so be informed. Regardless
of the outcome, the applicant should be treated with gentleness
respect. He or she should be welcome to continue attending
and participating in the life of the Meeting, just as prior
possibility of membership.
4: If the Overseers have a positive recommendation, they present
it to the Meeting for Business. It is not acted on at that
session, but is placed on the agenda for action at the next Business
Meeting. This allows members to become better acquainted with
the applicant and to voice concerns about the prospective
membership to the Oversight Committee in advance of the
When the recommendation is brought back to the Meeting for
action, it is customary in some meetings for the applicant to withdraw
from the room during the deliberations. A Friend, often a member
the Oversight Committee, generally accompanies the applicant.
5: Upon approval of the application, the Meeting minutes
its acceptance of the new member, and the Recorder or another
designated person promptly completes Pacific Yearly Meeting
6: The Meeting should arrange to provide a warm welcome into the
community. A Quaker book or periodical may be presented
as a gift from the Meeting.