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New Practices

The Clearness Committee

Going Forth
Traditional Quaker Method

The Clearness Committee was developed by Quakers for the purpose of seeking clarity in important decision-making, as when considering marriage. This method of discernment is based on a two-fold conviction: (1) that each of us has access to inner wisdom; and (2) that this inner wisdom can become clear when a group gives its caring, undivided attention, and offers questions instead of advice.

Traditionally, the seeker or focus person invites five or six trusted individuals (with as much diversity among them as possible) and provides them beforehand a written description of the situation or choices he is facing. The Clearness Committee then meets for about three hours, with the possibility of continuing in a second or third meeting in subsequent weeks. One member agrees to serve as clerk (or facilitator), another as recorder, and everyone serves as prayerful listener and channel for clarifying questions.

The essential and defining feature of the Clearness Committee is this: that after the focus person summarizes the issue, members of the committee assist her by asking questions rather than engaging in problem solving or giving advice. Honest, caring queries, arising out of prayerful silence, help the focus person to see herself and her situation in a new light and unblock her inner wisdom and authority.

Workshop Adaptation

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