The Care and Counsel Committee provides pastoral care for the Newtown Friends Meeting community. This includes caring for members in times of need and processing requests for membership, marriage and Clearness Committees.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How do I become a member of Newtown Friends Meeting?
A. If, after attending Meeting for Worship and becoming familiar with Quakerism, you feel moved to become a member of Newtown Friends Meeting, the next step is to send a letter expressing your interest to the Clerk of Newtown Friends Meeting (Box 224, Newtown Pa. 18940 or firstname.lastname@example.org). The letter should include why you feel led to become a member of Newtown Meeting and the Religious Society of Friends. Following the receipt of your letter, Care and Counsel appoints a Clearness Committee to visit with you to learn more about your journey, Meeting activities, the nature of membership, and any questions you may have. Faith and Practice is a useful resource.
Q. How do I inform Care and Counsel about a member or attender who needs help or support?
A. The ability of Care and Counsel to minister to members and attenders of Newtown Meeting depends on friends informing us of any concern they may have. Please speak to a committee member.
Q. How do I request the temporary use of one of the Meeting’s Healing Quilts for someone in need of comfort due to illness or bereavement?
A. Please speak to a committee member.
Q. How can we be married under the care of Newtown Meeting?
A. To initiate consideration of a Quaker marriage under the care of Newtown Meeting, send a letter to the Clerk of Newtown Friends Meeting (Box 224, Newtown, PA 18940) indicating your interest at least five months prior to your preferred wedding date. Following the receipt of your letter, Care and Counsel appoints a Clearness Committee to meet with you to explore areas of understanding regarding marriage, the nature of your relationship and possible dates for the ceremony. Faith and Practice is a useful resource. The Meeting is NOT available as a wedding venue rental for those without a Meeting connection. For more information, go here to the Marriage Handbook
Q. What is a Clearness Committee or a Committee for Clearness?
A. Committees for Clearness consist of a few members of Meeting who meet with, listen to, advise and support members considering a change in life’s direction, sensing a leading towards a personal witness or facing a crisis in their lives. Faith and Practice is a useful resource. Care & Counsel can help you create a clearness committee.
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.
Q. What should I do if I feel a leading that is spiritual or for service/action?
A. The first step is to discern more about this leading with friends or members of the meeting, sometimes through a formal clearness committee. Newtown Meeting has created a document to help you discern and get support for a leading, called Outward Witness to our Beliefs. PYM Faith and Practice Guidelines for a Clearness Committee
For anyone who is considering having or serving on a Clearness Committee, we recommend you watch QuakerSpeak video “How to Have a Clearness Committee” and QuakerSpeak video “How to Serve on a Clearness Committee,” both found at the bottom of this page.
For any other questions, please contact a member of Care & Counsel.