I’m often asked what is the difference between a Quaker Clerk and the Chair of a Committee. My usual rather tongue-in-cheek (and not strictly true) answer is that “A Quaker clerk is a servant of the meeting, and the Chair is the boss of their group”.
Quakers in Britain have a good deal of information and advice on their website.
So, who are these Quakers, anyway?...
In my clerk experience...
I have served on Quaker committees where there were good reasons why the clerk wasn’t the right person to write the minutes. Therefore the assistant clerk or minutes clerk was appointed. The main difference here is that the minute clerk only turned up and wrote minutes, they didn’t do any of the admin and preparation.
When I’m in a clerk support or charity administrator role, I prepare agendas, draft minutes, or even attend and take notes/minutes. It largely depends on what the clerking team have decided they need support with. If you are using the Quaker practice of contemporaneous minutes (written in the meeting and agreed by everyone there) then the minutes are still an agreed reflection of the meeting’s discussion and discernment (even if that discernment is that no decision can be made right now).
That decision is made by the meeting as a whole, not by the clerk. Though the clerk may help lead that decision by suggesting “I’m feeling that the meeting is xxxx”, or “I’m not seeing a decision being possible at this point – shall we come back to this at xxxx?”
We will be exploring this topic throughout this A-Z series.