Applying For MembershipIn Boulder Friends Meeting
One does not need to be a formal member of the Religious Society of Friends to participate fully in the life of a Meeting. For Quakers, all spiritual seekers are “Friends of the Truth,” regardless of formal status. True, one cannot be the Clerk of the Meeting or serve on one of the committees tasked with supporting the Meeting’s corporate spiritual mission and health, Ministry & Counsel and Oversight & Membership. But Quaker community reaches far beyond formal membership to embrace everyone who lives and worships in our midst.
Still, membership—like marriage—does express deeper commitment to Quaker Faith and Practice, and a deeper sense of responsibility both to the Meeting and to the Society as a whole. After attending Meeting for Worship for some time and acquainting yourself with Friends’ ways by participating in the life of the Meeting, you may come to feel ready to take this further step.
In deciding whether the Meeting is indeed their spiritual home, most people will have engaged in several of the following activities:
- Attending Meeting for Worship regularly
- Reading in the Intermountain Yearly Meeting Faith & Practice
- Learning about the history and philosophy of the Society of Friends through private reading or by participating in a Quaker Studies course
- Participating in committee work
- Attending Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business
Membership in the Religious Society of Friends is held within a Monthly Meeting. The members of any Monthly Meeting welcome inquiries about membership and other matters concerning the Society. Friends encourage informal conversations as one step toward applying for membership. It is important that the Meeting help newcomers understand the membership process and how it differs from that of other denominations.
The membership process in Boulder Meeting is outlined below. Be aware that the process usually takes several months to complete. Though the process may seem long and cumbersome at first glance, Friends have found that the seasoning it allows is ultimately helpful to everyone.
- You initiate the process by writing a letter requesting membership, addressed to the Clerk of the Meeting. Your letter may be a plain request for membership, simply communicating your wish to join. Alternatively, applicants may choose to say something more about why they seek membership and anything else they would like Friends to know about their background and spiritual journeys. If you wish, you may suggest the names of Friends whom you would especially like to serve on your Clearness Committee.
- The Clerk reads the letter at the following Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business, and refers it to the convener of Oversight & Membership.
- Oversight & Membership forms a Clearness Committee and brings the names to a subsequent Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business for approval. Care is taken to appoint discerning Friends who have open hearts as well as a strong understanding of the meaning and implications of membership. Though Oversight & Membership will consider any names you have suggested in your application letter, the choice is ultimately made by the Meeting as a whole during business meeting. The Clearness Committee will include at least one member of Oversight & Membership, who will serve as convener and find a time and place convenient for you and the committee to meet.
- The purpose of this committee is to explore the applicant’s commitment to the Faith and Practice of Friends and to discern together the readiness of both the applicant and the Meeting. All visits take place in the spirit of a common, worshipful seeking for God’s will and guidance. The goal is to help you reach clarity and to reach clarity on behalf of the Meeting.
- The Clearness Committee will meet with you one or (less commonly) more times until clarity is reached. It will also meet once on its own. The committee has three options: (1) recommend membership; (2) recommend that a decision be deferred to allow further seasoning; or (3) recommend against membership at this time. When recommending deferral, a time will be set for a follow-up meeting, when the committee will suggest a specific course of action, such as further worship, reading, participation in Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business, service on a committee, or longer exposure to Quaker practices.
- The Clearness Committee will report its recommendation to Oversight & Membership, which will decide on a recommendation to bring to Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business for approval. The decision is recorded in the Meeting minutes, and you will receive a letter documenting the membership minute.
- In celebration of your membership, you will receive a copy of the Intermountain Yearly Meeting Faith & Practice. Oversight & Membership periodically hosts a welcoming party to introduce all new members.