CONSIDERING MEMBERSHIP in the RELIGIOUS SOCIETY OF FRIENDS?
A message from Friends at Fresh Pond Meeting I New England Yearly Meeting
What does membership mean? Membership implies a commitment and an acceptance of responsibility. It requires a willingness to participate in a corporate search for divine guidance. In this way, membership can be seen as an outward sign of an inward attitude. Friends recognize that the degree of active involvement may vary during different stages of an individual’s life. Nevertheless, all members should expect to assume their share of the responsibilities of membership, which include: attendance at meeting for worship, participation in meetings for business, service on various committees, an openness to teach First Day School, and financial support of the meeting and its programs.
Am I “good enough” to become a Quaker? Being a Quaker has less to do with being “good” than seeking the Inward Light and being “obedient to the Truth”. We are not perfect and so need divine assistance. Quakers do not have a creed or a test. We do ask prospective members to meet with several Friends in a discussion as a way to discern that individual’s “dearness” for membership. It is a meaningful, prayerful and rewarding experience for all participants.
Consider these questions:
Those considering membership are encouraged to seek answers to the following:
Do I believe in a spirit which endows every person with a measure of the divine spirit? (Some call this God, The Inner Light, or other … )
Do I understand that Quakerism is rooted in Christianity, but that Friends differ in their view of Jesus?
Do I feel a sympathy with the historic testimonies of the Society of Friends?
Do I feel comfortable with the testimonies and other matters included in the Queries? (found in Faith and Practice)
Do I understand that the Society of Friends does not accept as final the authority of any person or creed, but individually and collectively trusts in the continuing revelation of Truth and The Light?
Do I consider Quakerism to be a way of life?
Do I recognize the importance of the meeting for worship in strengthening and nurturing the growth of the Spirit within each person?
Do I feel open to the possibilities of receiving and giving ministry?
Do I accept responsibility for attending meetings for worship and for sharing in the meeting’s work as well as supporting it financially?
Am I familiar with the wider family of Friends which includes Salem Quarterly Meeting, New England Yearly Meeting, Friends General Conference, Friends United Meeting, Friends Committee on National Legislation, and the American Friends Service Committee?
Do I find that the Society of Friends meets my needs for worship and fellowship, and that I am willing to make this my religious home?
How do members of my family feel about my joining the Religious Society of Friends?
Consider these actions
Those considering membership are encouraged to consider doing the following:
Attend meeting for at least one year
Visit other Friends’ Meetings
Attend Meetings for Business
Read about Quaker history and current concerns of Friends
Talk to Friends at Fresh Pond about your concerns
Pray for divine guidance
Talk to your family members about your intentions
Apply for membership
At or after clearness, resign from any previous religious affiliations
How do I apply?
A Simple request for membership in writing to the Clerk of Fresh Pond Meeting is all that is necessary, although describing the process by which one was led to apply for membership can be helpful. The Clerk will notify the Nominating Committee of your request. Three members will be asked by the Nominating Committee to serve as your committee for clearness for membership. This group of members is proposed to the Meeting for Business and must be approved. Once this has occurred, the Friend who is the convener for your clearness committee will contact you to arrange a meeting time and place which is convenient for all concerned. This process can take up to 2-3 months.
What is clearness for membership?
Clearness is ” feeling clear” about what it is that God intends for you. Put simply, it is making sure that there are no impediments to membership in the Society of Friends.