It’s not the same as taking minutes of a board meeting or city council session, but ours has a dimension all its own. Originating in the recording of persecutions in the initial decades of the Quaker movement, and in the subsequent petitions for redress and justice, our earliest minutes tell of “sufferings for Truth’s sake” and soon lead into the efforts of determining just what it means to live as a people of conscience.
Sometimes today we find the practice burdensome or unnecessary. Friends who follow the Old Ways in this matter will draft and read aloud the record on that part of the agenda, moving ahead only after that minute has been revised to satisfaction and approved. It’s slow and tedious, but it does focus the deliberations.
Here, the concept of clerking – especially for the recording clerk – has a meaning related to “clerk of court,” where the official records decisions from the bench above. In our case, Friends traditionally saw the high judge as Christ, and the meeting gathered as witnesses who would voice the sense of the resolution. I suppose we might see Friends attending our business sessions as a jury, then. If it were only as simple as guilty or not guilty!