Quakers help each other listen by holding a clearness committee.
Peterson Toscano: Early on in my time with Quakers I learned about this thing called a “clearness committee.” Basically the way it was described to me is that you’ve got something that you need to figure out, you have a problem you need to solve, or a question you need to answer. You don’t necessarily need advice. You probably know what you need to do, but you need to clear through all the things that are interrupting your ability to access what, in your heart of hearts, you know you need to do. So you can then have a clearness committee.
How to Have a Quaker Clearness Committee
Leslie Manning: I have a personal prayer: I am the clay. Mold me. I am the vessel. Fill me. I am the instrument. Use me. But in trying to decide how best to be used, I need the prayer and support and listening of others.
What is a Clearness Committee?
Roger Vincent Jasaitis: A clearness committee is a small group of Friends that gather and basically ask you tough questions about what your leading is, what your concern is, what’s happening inside you. What do you feel?
Pat Moyer: Well people regularly have what’s called a clearness committee for marriage. We have clearness committees about whether people are actually called to do a ministry that they’re thinking about. We have clearness for membership. Are you ready to join the Religious Society of Friends?
Anthony Smith: A clearness committee, I think, in Quaker terms, very much involves humility. You are submitting yourself, generally voluntarily, to an entity that is part of your Meeting, your congregation.
Cherice Bock: And so a lot of people will convene a clearness committee if they’re getting married, if they’re choosing what college to go to, or choosing which direction to go in their career, or that sort of thing.
Margaret Webb: So that’s where we get the name “clearness committee.” It’s about clearness. Becoming clear about a decision.
Who to Have on Your Committee
Gil George: When we call this group together, we’re looking for very specific kinds of people. We’re looking for people who are good at listening, and who don’t have a tendency to give advice.
Cherice Bock: These should be people that are important in your life and in the life of your community, but not so close to you that they’re going to be influenced by your decision one way or another.
Roger Vincent Jacaitis: They’re not there to provide answers. They are there to try and help you see clearly what the situation is, what’s happening, and what you should do about it.
Monica Walters-Field: It’s a gift of your spiritual community, saying, “you don’t have to struggle alone. Here are your companions that can work with you and go on this part of your journey with you,” which is, to me, phenomenal in this day and age. That we could be so blessed that our community says, “You don’t have to do this alone. We’ll help.”
Preparation for a Clearness Committee
Ashley Wilcox: The prep work for a clearness committee is that the clerk will find a place and time and put together the committee, and then the person who is the focus person of the committee will write a page or two in advance.
Gil George: And so you start off by actually describing the situation. Like, really sitting down, writing it out so that everybody has access to it and you can say, “Ok, this is what’s going on, and this is why it’s confusing to me. These are what I perceive my options to be in this situation. What am I missing?”