“A Clearness Committee for personal discernment meets with the individual or family, not as professional counselors nor as friends discussing a problem and giving advice, but rather as caring Friends, drawing on the resources that bind us together in our meeting for worship. Maintaining a spirit of openness and prayerful waiting, the committee seeks to help the individual become clear about an impending decision by serving as a channel for divine guidance. The members of the committee are there to listen without prejudice, to help clarify alternatives and their implications, to facilitate communication if necessary, and to provide emotional support as an individual or family seeks to find God’s will.”
– New England Yearly Meeting, 2001
Friends seek to follow the Light Within when they reach major choices in life, but the Light does not usually give us unmistakable road signs or route maps. Instead, we pray, follow spiritual disciplines, sit with an issue in worship, and talk to people who have perspective or insight to offer.
For some decisions that we face – what vocations to follow, whether to join a faith group, whom to marry, whether to adopt a child with special needs – the spiritual dimensions of the choice are especially striking. If our choice is not in harmony with our deepest values and the guidance of the Spirit, the consequences may be serious. Friends may gain a deep sense of ease and grace from knowing their decision has been made with the aid of caring Friends who have listened together for the counsel of the Spirit.
Friends faced with such choices sometimes ask for the help of a Clearness Committee. This is usually made up of a several seasoned Friends who may be chosen by the person seeking clearness or may be convened on the person’s behalf. The purpose of the committee is not to give advice and offer options or opinions. It is to listen deeply and worshipfully and to ask pertinent, non-judgmental questions to help the person achieve clearness with regard to the way forward.
Members of the committee should be selected with the following in mind: their relationship with the person seeking clearness their empathy and experience with the situation being considered their centeredness; their ability to listen well without jumping into give advice; and their openness to whatever the outcome may be.
Friends can gain most from a Clearness Committee when they have prepared for it. It is often helpful, both for the person and for committee members, to begin by expressing writing the basic question and the issues surrounding it. This statement can be given to committee members before the first meeting to help them prepare. Prayerful searching, meditative walking, or a creative activity such as making a piece of artwork or writing a poem may help shed Light.
The committee may have one meeting or several.
To request a Clearness Committee, please contact either of the co-Clerks of the Ministry & Oversight Committee – Sheila Kryston or Catherine Cox.
18204 Lincoln Road Purcellville, VA 20132
PO Box 105 Lincoln, VA 20160