Committees for Clearness

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.

Responsibilities of the committee to oversee the marriage:

1. To meet with the couple to discuss plans for the wedding, including the choice of a person to read the certificate and one to close the meeting, and to arrange for the rehearsal.

2. To see in advance that all applicable legal requirements have been met and that the proper license has been obtained; also to see that both sections of the license are dated and signed by the couple following the wedding and by two members of the committee as witnesses and that the proper section of the license thus signed is returned to the office from which it was obtained within the time required by law.

3. To see that the marriage and reception, if any, are accomplished with dignity, reverence, and simplicity.

4. To arrange for the care of the certificate following the meeting for worship and to see that it is signed by those who were present as witnesses.

5. To deliver the certificate to the recorder for copying or duplication for the records of the monthly meeting and to give the recorder an address to which the certificate may be returned.

6. To report to the monthly meeting whether the marriage has been suitably accomplished; whether the applicable legal requirements have been satisfied; whether the certificate has been properly recorded; and to report any name changes that result from the marriage for the recording in the minutes of the monthly meeting, for the quarterly meeting and for the yearly meeting.

Additional Responsibilities of the Committee to Oversee the Marriage

  1. Familiarize yourself with all the information included in this book.
  2. Consult with the Committee on Clearness as seems necessary.
  3. Contact the Housekeeper (of Buildings and Grounds) to make sure the Meetinghouse is cleaned shortly before the wedding.
  4. Make sure the couple is familiar with the rules for using the Meetinghouse specifically in reference the fact that there can be no alcoholic beverages served and there is no smoking in any part of the Meetinghouse or outside on the grounds.
  5. Be sure the cost for using the Meetinghouse is clear with non-members and that a donation (ideally close to the rental cost) is appreciated of members and long-term attenders. Receptions in the Meetinghouse can be offered only to members and long-term attenders.
  6. Check that Meetinghouse clean-up is accomplished properly.
  7. Be familiar with the necessary information about the Certificate of Marriage found in its own section of this book.
  8. Maintain an ongoing relationship with the newly Married couple, especially within the first six months, to assure them of interest in their marriage and the newly created home. Overseers should convey their convictions about the importance of the permanence of marriage, as a contract made in the presence of God.
  9. Present a Meetinghouse plate to the couple.
  10. Acknowledge difficulties and challenges in a marriage.


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