Last meeting for business as clerk of San Francisco Monthly Meeting of Friends

Today I clerked my last meeting for business at San Francisco Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), at least for this go-round.

After four years, it was simply time to stop. I've enjoyed clerking and was the right person during that time, but had let the community know some months ago that I was ready to lay it down. While I felt stretched at times throughout the four years, and was definitely ready to let go at the end, I do not feel burned out. This is a good time to conclude this period of service.

Fortunately, my successor as clerk, Stephen Matchett, was approved today (whew), and so he will become the Meeting's clerk on May 1st.

It was an eventful business meeting on which to end: In addition to approving the slate of nominations, we had two memorial minutes, one membership release, a confession from a Friend that this Friend’s work had felt like a “joyless burden,” a report on our neighborhood food pantry on the occasion of its first birthday, and the annual "state of the Meeting" report.

After the state of the Meeting report, I said a few words as "a minister among us" about my role as clerk, likening it to the parable of the sower: The Meeting had provided fertile ground in which to grow. And however much I had given, I had received more in return.

(I hope to post the state of the Meeting report later. It’s pretty long. We’ve decided that’s okay: We’re doing enough interesting things that we like to report on some of our activities as well as the spiritual health of our meeting, so that perhaps others might learn from or be inspired by our efforts and experiments.)

When I read the draft report to the ministry & oversight committee earlier this week, I could not fully contain my emotions of sadness and loss at moving to Philadelphia. For example, reading the line about how our Meeting retreat at Ben Lomond Quaker Center is a central event in the life of our community, I felt a huge pang that this year’s retreat will be our last one, for a while, anyway. Another member of the committee continued reading for me, for which I was grateful.

Yet when I read the report at business meeting today, I was pretty composed. I had prayed for help to be faithful, and to love God with mind and body and spirit as well as my heart/emotions, and that seemed to keep me focused enough to read it through. It was satisfying to have people breathe out and smile gently when I was done, because it showed that the report appeared to accurately speak to our condition.

During joys and concerns at the close of business meeting, a Friend said, “I don’t know if this is appropriate, but I would like to thank Chris for his four years of service as clerk.” Yes, Charles, it was appropriate, and I’m grateful to be acknowledged, and more grateful to have had the chance to be of service.

Through our combined efforts, may we hear the word of God, encounter the divine presence, sense the eternal. May we love God and love one another.

1 comment:

Ashley W said...

Thank you for sharing this, Chris. I have really enjoyed your posts on being clerk; they have been inspiring to me as a baby clerk. I know that your meeting is in good hands, and I wish you and your family the best in all the transitions and changes to come.