Ana səhifə

IX. committees of concern or clearness1

Yüklə 43 Kb.
ölçüsü43 Kb.
The spiritual strength of a Meeting finds important expression through the loving community of its members. Out of awareness and responsiveness of its members to each other grow the bonds of trust and love that allow the Meeting to find coherence in its spiritual life and unity in its actions.
It is appropriate to the development of this spiritual life that members of the Meeting should feel free to approach the Meeting for assistance in dealing with major turning points in life, including such matters as career decisions, lack of funds to live on, terminal illness, withholding of taxes, marriage, separation, or divorce. One way that Meetings could respond to this desire for help is through committees of concern, appointed by the Ministry and Counsel committee of the Monthly, Quarterly or Yearly Meeting in conjunction with, and at the request of, the individual or individuals seeking help.
A committee of concern or clearness would meet 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. They are there to listen without prejudice, to help clarify alternatives and their implications, to facilitate communication if necessary and provide emotional support as an individual or family seeks to find God's will. The size of such a committee and the number of times it would meet with those seeking to make a decision would depend on the circumstances. The committee would normally be a Monthly Meeting committee but there may be times when members of the Monthly Meeting find themselves to be too close to the decision to be helpful or when special resources available at the Quarterly Meeting levels would make a committee drawn from a larger body more appropriate.
Committees may come into being in different ways depending of the situation. Those seeking clearness should feel free to use whatever method seems easiest and most comfortable. Examples of possible methods that could be used include the following:

  1. Through the Meeting as a whole. Those seeking clearness may initiate a committee while the Meeting is gathered for worship or business. The nature of the problem or decision should be described to the group and a request made that those willing to serve on a committee meet briefly afterwards.

  2. Through the Clerk of the Committee on Ministry and Counsel. The individual or individuals seeking clearness may ask the current Clerk of Ministry and Counsel to arrange a Committee for them. In these cases an informal conversation between those seeking clearness and the Clerk can serve to clarify the reason for asking for a committee and suggest potential members for the committee. The Clerk would contact the suggested members and arrange for a first meeting. When this method is used, more potential members should be suggested than will be needed since some may not be available. The Clerk need not be asked to be a member of the Committee that is arranged, and those who are asked to serve should feel free to decline.

'The purpose of such a committee is to help the concerned person, couple or family to find clearness for decision. However, some Friends object to the use of the term "clearness committee" because of its traditional specific use in clearness for marriage. A Meeting could use any term it wishes; it is the idea we hope to see broadened in use. This request could be made whenever it feels right, but in general a good time would be at the rise of a Meeting for worship. In this case the person or persons seeking clearness would arrange the time and place for the first meeting and should feel free to select the committee from those who make themselves available.

c) Through any other member of Ministry and Counsel. The person or persons seeking clearness may ask any other member of Ministry and Counsel to arrange a committee. The procedure here would be essentially the same as above.

  1. One of the first duties of a committee is to appoint a convener to be responsible for (a) chairing meetings, (b) coordinating arrangements for meetings, and (c) reporting progress to the Meeting or the Committee on Ministry and Counsel.

  2. At the first meeting it is important for the committee to define with those seeking clearness the approach to be used and the approximate time period before progress will be evaluated.

  3. Members of the committee should respect the needs for confidentiality of the individual or individuals seeking clearness. The degree to which confidentiality is desired should be a topic for discussion during at least the initial meeting.

  4. Members of the committee may choose to meet without the person, couple or family seeking clearness in order to clarify among themselves what has been said and what issues need to be addressed.

  5. After some interval of time (e.g., three or four meetings) the committee, together with the person or persons seeking clearness should determine (a) whether progress is being made, (b) whether individuals on the committee still feel able and willing to continue, and (c) whether those seeking clearness should be referred for professional counseling. It is important to recognize when a problem is beyond the resources of the committee so that other approaches may be initiated.

  6. It should be understood by all concerned that the decision finally reached is in no way either sanctioned or condemned by Ministry and Counsel or by the Meeting. The committee may help with the process but the final decision is the responsibility of the individual or family concerned.

Meetings, in seeking to help members respond creatively to personal crisis, should be aware of the effects that this effort will have on the Meeting as a whole. First there will be a drawing together, a feeling of closeness and concern. This will however almost always be followed by a period of apparent division, of taking sides. While different solutions to the problem are being attempted there will be times when the Meeting is tempted to give up on the whole discouraging business, but persistence will usually be rewarded. The solution will probably not come all at once but in bits and pieces, over a period of time, and there will be several smaller cycles of drawing together, of division of opinion, of trying to find the energy for a change, of depression when things go badly and rejoicing together at breakthroughs before a new equilibrium is reached in the lives of those in crisis. The feelings of polarization and depression are difficult for the Meeting, but out of them often comes the very energy needed for change. If the Meeting can keep them in perspective, as painful but transitory stages, it can continue to support its members to the eventual growth and strengthening of both the members and the Meeting.


  1. Does the committee have a good range of age and experience?

  2. Is the committee too large or too small to be effective?

  3. Can members of the committee work well together and put aside personal biases?

  1. If it is a family decision, do all the members involved feel comfortable with the committee? It is not always necessary that all members of the family be in accord with seeking the help of a committee in reaching a decision, but the committee must keep all members of the family in mind and be careful not to take sides or even to appear to take sides against a family member who refuses to participate in the process of seeking clarity through a committee of this nature.

  2. If there are children involved, is there someone on the committee especially concerned with their needs? Is it appropriate for some or all of the children to meet with the committee?

Consider asking persons outside the Meeting community such as members of Yearly or Quarterly Meeting Ministry and Counsel or others with special resources to serve on such committees. This may be the best procedure when a Meeting is too emotionally involved in the problem to be helpful to those seeking clarity. If part of a couple or family is not a part of the Meeting consider asking some non-Friends to serve on the committee.


  1. Do you feel sufficiently at ease with the other members of the committee to work with them? Can you labor with them to truly provide an atmosphere in which divine guidance can be sought?

  2. If it is a family decision can you listen without prejudice or bias to each member who is involved?

  3. Can you devote sufficient time and energy to this committee, knowing that clarifying the problem and providing support while the decision is made and carried out may take several meetings and many weeks or months?

  4. Can you keep the committee discussions confidential and avoid gossiping or referring to them outside the committee unless those requesting the help of the committee are comfortable with wider sharing of their problem?

  5. What questions can you ask, or issues can you raise, that a non-religious counselor could not appropriately raise?


  1. Try to truly listen to the other persons present, not just wait until it is your turn to talk. Give equal attention to each person present, whether adult or child. Watch for verbal and non-verbal ways in which persons shut others out and find constructive ways of pointing out such behavior when it occurs.

  2. Consider persons capable of changing and growing. Do not become absorbed with historical excuses or reasons for present problems; that is a dead end. Focus on what is happening now to maintain the situation and explore what could be done to change it.

  3. Notice the concept of blame, whether it is directed at self or others. Point it out when it occurs and discuss its consequences.

  4. Do not give advice; do not present solutions to others. Do not create dependency by taking over responsibility. Remember that it is your task to help clarify the problem, not to make the decision.

5. Do not take sides if it is a family problem. Each person contributes to the problem, its continuation and its solution.
Committee members should be sensitive to the issues but not personally involved. All share responsibility but the primary responsibility is the convener's, or facilitator's, who should:

  1. Convene the meetings at mutually agreeable times and places.

  2. Surround each meeting with a waiting silence - begin and end with worship.

  3. Be sensitive to undercurrents and vibrations. Be prepared to help people express their feelings but also keep some control over the proceedings so that the problems are seriously addressed.

  4. Be sure that everyone has a chance to speak; encourage those who are inclined not to take part in the discussion to do so.

  5. Assess the sense of the meeting. Try to end it at a productive, ongoing point. Make suggestions for consideration at the next meeting. Be sure everyone has something constructive to work on until then.

Even if everybody thinks they know what everybody else thinks and feels and wants, ask them to be explicit. Try to take the following steps more or less in order, spending as much time on each as seems necessary, returning to a previous step when it seems appropriate.

  1. How many persons are involved? Who are they? What is their relationship to each other? Are all of them willing and able to participate in this process? Are they all present? (Introduce them if necessary). Should they be present at some point if not at the start? How can you all relate to those involved in the problem who are not present?

  2. What is the major question or problem for which a solution is sought? Is this clear to everyone?

  3. Are there preliminary or secondary questions or problems which must be solved before the major one can properly be addressed? What are they? List them and arrange them in logical order. Be sure that everyone understands them. These are subject to revision at any point in the proceedings.

  4. What is the present object[ive] of each person involved, i.e. what does each person want? Honesty is absolutely necessary; hidden as well as obvious object[ive]s must be considered.

  5. Are these object[ive]s or desired solutions necessarily mutually exclusive? What kinds of solutions have been considered and/or tried, and to what avail?

  6. Is each person (including members of the committee) open to the process and where it may lead, or is each (or some, or all) attached to a particular outcome? (This is tricky. A person may say that he is open but know he is not; think she is open but discover she is not, at which point she should say so; or think he is not open but discover that he can be.)

  7. Is each person as concerned (or concerned at all) for the other(s)' welfare and happiness as for his or her own? Do they trust each other? If not, how can mutual trust be established and encouraged?

  1. Is it possible or desirable for the individuals to temporarily separate themselves from each other and/or from the situation if their continued closeness is interfering with a solution?

  2. Is it possible to separate feelings from practical issues, or at least to recognize that they are intertwined and that the feelings are complicating the issues? Are the feelings based on reality or on misperception and misunderstanding? If misunderstandings are cleared up, do the issues become clearer?

  3. Can some issues be temporarily laid aside while others are worked on in a mutually agreeable step-by-step process? (See #2.) What are they?

  4. Are there any solutions which should be acceptable to all of the persons concerned? Are there any which they would be willing to try, and work at for an agreed period of time, after which there would be a reassessment? List these, spell them out, arrange them in order of priority and workability. At subsequent meetings, let each person speak about progress (or lack of it) in working Out these separate problems.

  5. Begin all over again, if necessary. The more time and effort invested at this stage, the better everyone will feel, even if eveiything does not work out to everyone's complete satisfaction.

Each member of such a committee will find it helpful to have read at least one of these. The convener should find the Clearness manual particularly helpful.
Greer, Art. No Grown-ups in Heaven: A T-A Primer for Christians (and Others). New York: Hawthorn (pb), 1975.

May, Rollo. Love and Will. New York: Dell (pb), 1974.

Nouwen, Henri J. M. The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1970.

Sanford, John A. The Kingdom Within: A Study of the Inner Meaning of Jesus' Sayings. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1970.

Simon, Sidney, Leland W. Howe, and Howard Kirschenbaum. Values Clanflcation: A Handbook of

Practical Strategies for Teachers and Students. New York: Hart, 1972.

Speck, Ross V., and Carolyn L. Attneave. Family Networks. New York: Pantheon, 1973.

Welter, Paul. Family Problems and Predicaments: How to Respond. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale (pb), 1977.

Woodrow, Peter. Clearness: Processes for Supporting Individuals and Groups in Decision-making.

Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1984.

[NOTE - This article is taken from Living With Oneself and Others, which was developed, along with Human Sexuality: Aspects and Issues and Living with Children, by groups in New England Yearly Meeting. This is the 1993 version.]


Verilənlər bazası müəlliflik hüququ ilə müdafiə olunur © 2016
rəhbərliyinə müraciət