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Faith and Practice

Pacific Yearly Meeting

of the

Religious Society of Friends

a guide to quaker discipline in the experience of pacific yearly meeting of the religious society of friends.
published 2001

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appendix 3: pastoral care/clearness committees

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3B: Advices and Queries for Those Asked to Serve on a Clearness Committee

pym in context
quaker faith & spiritual practice
testimony & experience of friends
organization of the society
activities & organization of the YM
sources of quotations
index of sources
subject index

We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of Friends who have permitted us to use material for this Faith and Practice.



 Try truly to listen to the other persons present, rather than just waiting for your turn to talk. Give equal attention to each person present, whether adult or child.

 Remember that people are capable of change and growth. Do not become absorbed with historical excuses or reasons for present problems. Focus on what is happening now to perpetuate the situation or to require a decision.

 Do not take sides if it is a family problem. Each person contributes to the problem, its continuation, and its solution. Try to avoid all suggestion of blame. It destroys openness and makes clearness difficult or impossible to reach.

 Do not give advice; do not present solutions to others. Do not create dependency by taking over responsibility. Remember that your task is to serve as a channel for the Light to help the seeker deal with the problem or make a decision; neither you nor the committee deals directly with the problem or makes the decision.


 Do you feel sufficiently at ease with the seeker and with the other members of the committee to work with them? Can you labor with them truly to provide an atmosphere in which divine guidance can be sought?

 If it is a family decision, can you listen without prejudice or bias to each member who is involved?

 Can you devote sufficient time and energy to this committee, knowing that it may take several meetings and many weeks or months to clarify the problem and provide support while the decision is made and carried out?

 Can you keep the committee discussions confidential and avoid gossiping or referring to them outside the committee unless those requesting the help of the committee are comfortable with a wider sharing of their problem?

 Finally, it is important that all members of a committee on clearness feel a responsibility to help the convener establish and maintain a right spirit in all meetings of the committee.

The convener has the primary responsibility. All members should cooperate in surrounding each meeting with a waiting silence, by beginning and ending with worship and asking for moments of worship during a meeting. Members may frequently recall that a meeting of a committee on clearness is not an occasion for professional or amateur counseling but a spiritual exercise, one in which Friends hope to be channels through which one or more seeking individuals may receive light on a problem and divine guidance for a decision which they — with God alone — must make.