About Membership in the Religious Society of Friends
New York Yearly Meeting uses no creed or other settled test of faith or behavior as a demand for membership. Rather, the applicant for membership and the meeting, initially through a small, specially-appointed committee, discern together whether both are clear for the applicant to enter into membership. Meetings differ somewhat in how they treat the membership of children.
Meetings do expect members to understandthe basis of the Quaker faith, our mode of worship, and manner of transacting business. Attenders should attend meetings for worship and meeting for business in worship for a period of time sufficient to become convinced that membership will nourish their growth in the life of the Spirit. They should discuss any questions or doubts with members of the meeting, particularly members of ministry and counsel or the meeting's pastoral care committee.
Members should be prepared to support their meeting financially, with service to the meeting on committees that match their talents and experience, and with their other spiritual gifts and ministries.
Application for Membership
The application process typically has five steps:
- First, the applicant writes a letter to the meeting requesting membership and explaining why they wish to join. This letter is read in a meeting for worship with a concern for business.
- The meeting's ministry and counsel committee then forms a "clearness committee" comprised of two or three Friends who then arrange to meet with the applicant. The clearness committee's purpose is to discern with the applicant whether both are clear to go forward with the application—clear about the applicant's understanding of the Quaker way and the meaning of membership, and clear that nothing stands in the way of the applicant's membership.
- The clearness committee then sends a recommendation to the minsitry and counsel committee, which then sends a recommendation to the meeting, which considers it during a meeting for business in worhsip.
- Finally, in the meeting for business, the gathered meeting makes a final decision.
- If accepted, the meeting typically forms a welcome committee to formally welcome the new member.
More about Membership