Friends may be most familiar with clearness as the process a Meeting uses to decide whether to take a marriage under its care, or to accept someone into membership. More and more, however, Friends are rediscovering the power of committees for clearness to guide and support members facing a crisis in their lives, sensing a leading towards a personal witness or considering a change in life’s direction.
Those who wish the help of a clearness committee may ask the clerk of the Meeting that such a committee be formed. Meetings are encouraged to establish a procedure for the forming of clearness committees so that the Meeting may be prepared and supportive when a Friend so requests.
Members of a clearness committee are chosen based on their willingness to devote prayerful time and energy, their knowledge and experience, and their ability to ask searching questions and provide support and guidance in a spirit of loving worship. Those seeking clearness may suggest Friends who would bring significant gifts to the committee.
When Friends gather in a committee for clearness, we find ourselves under the same loving discipline as when we gather for meetings for worship and business: an openness to the Holy Spirit and a commitment to one another and to discerning God’s will. We listen deeply to those who have asked for guidance. We do not come intent on giving advice or taking a position. The gathering includes an explanation of the issue or problem for which clearness has been sought, periods of worship, time for questions, and an opportunity for the sharing of insight and inspiration. The clerk of the committee guides this process, mindful of the needs of the Friend seeking clearness and of the promptings of the Spirit.
Whether or not clearness is reached, it is helpful to report to the monthly meeting, being careful to respect confidentiality. This enables the Meeting to continue to respond to the Friend who requested clearness, and to support any changes or witness this Friend undertakes.
Committees for clearness can help Friends be obedient to the Spirit and enable Meetings to better support and nurture their members, build trust, and deepen spiritual community.