Traditionally in Quaker communities, a member is led to serve as clerk of the meeting. The clerk of the meeting is responsible for various administrative tasks, needs, and functions, which together make up what’s typically referred to as the “business” of the meeting. Friends gather on a monthly basis to practice collective discernment in the meeting for worship with attention to business (or just “business meeting” for short). At Durham Friends Meeting, we have a clerking team made up of 3-5 Friends who share these responsibilities.
Some of the team's tasks include:
Preparing the agenda for and facilitating Meetings for Worship with Attention to Business, which typically occur on a monthly basis
Listening for, articulating and testing the “sense of the meeting” during Meeting for Business.
Holding an annual meeting of the corporation and presiding as president of the corporation.
Managing all official correspondence of the Meeting
Maintaining communication with clerks of committees.
Attending Ministry and Counsel Committee meetings
Working with DFM members of Interim Body to maintain the relationship with Yearly Meeting
The current Clerking Team consists of Kent Wicker (he/him) and Bill Velto (he/him). If you need to reach them, please send an email to:
A message from the Clerking Team, November 2021
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2)
Greetings from your Durham Friends Meeting Clerking Team: Rachel Wilson, Bill Velto and Kent Wicker. Bill joined the team in 10th month, as Heidi Hannapel and Julie Grubbs ended their terms; Rachel will stay on through December.
We want to acknowledge something important: this pandemic has stretched on for so long, and it has affected who we are, both as individuals and as a Meeting. First, it has exhausted us, and understandably left us with less capacity for doing Meeting business as usual. It is hard to fill all of our committee positions, and we still don’t have a full Clerking Team in place for the Meeting. This is why many Friends have been saying we need to take a “pause” or have a season of sabbatical during which we sink down and reflect on what we have to offer and what our Meeting truly needs.
The pandemic has also frayed our social fabric. It is wonderful that we have electronic ways to “be with” each other remotely -- but it is not the same as truly being together. Lacking the opportunity for all of us to gather together, we can feel disconnected. And we have not had the opportunity to hang out after worship, to get to know each other better, or to make new friends beyond those we already know well. In such a situation, even Friends can become defensive and mistrustful of each other, more prone to see us-and-them “sides” rather than a loving, supportive community waiting to help each other grow.
So these are not the most opportune conditions for our Meeting to be examining ourselves to discern how we can move toward being a more anti-racist Meeting. And yet we really have no choice because this means living into our Quaker values and testimonies more fully. This work is absolutely necessary if we are to be the beloved community we want to be -- one that welcomes all, and affirms the identity and experiences of Friends of color. The DFM Clerking Team is committed to ensuring that we continue down the anti-racist path that Meeting already committed itself to.
We believe that this work is not reserved for just certain people: it can represent a powerful source of spiritual growth and personal insight for everyone in our Meeting. It will require a willingness to look within ourselves honestly to examine our own experiences, values and identities. In approaching this work, we Clerks will do our best to create spaces in which everyone can feel free to speak their own truths. (We anticipate that these will include both small groups and larger opportunities for worship-sharing.) We cannot guarantee these spaces will be free from disagreement or discomfort (because that has never been something Friends could guarantee), but we will endeavor to make them spaces in which Friends are heard and held lovingly within our community, even when there is disagreement.
This holy work will require us to be patient with each other. It will require us to be brave. It will require us to give up any fear-based “us vs. them” thinking, and gracefully accept that Friends who hold different beliefs are not threats, but are doing their best to act in good Quaker faith and follow the promptings of the Divine Spirit just as we are. It will require us to rise to the occasion. It will require an openness to change and growth -- and to sometimes recognizing we have been wrong.
And we have every reason to expect good things. We have already been through so much together! And, together, we have amazing power and resources. In the past few weeks alone, there has been a flurry of insights and activities among Friends at Durham Meeting designed to creatively reinvent those aspects of our Meeting that are less functional during the pandemic. And we know that there are people of all ages and backgrounds in our Meeting who have worked against racism in multiple ways for decades. We can all learn from each other as we move forward in our anti-racist work.
We look forward to seeing how this journey unfolds.
The 2021-2022 Clerking Team