In joke. The Recording Clerk of Quakers, Paul Parker, will be speaking at our Area Meeting on 15th March. Paul is an energetic speaker who has raised the profile of the role outside Quakers (that is, there may be a number of non Quakers who know he exists, which is a massive improvement on the last 300 years…) and spoken out on several key Quaker issues and campaigns.
and he plays the bassoon.
Paul shows that one has a very different understanding of leadership in Quakers. The leader of the group is the spirit of God. The clerk is the servant of the meeting (sometimes they have to be quite a bossy servant, but nevertheless, rule one of clerking is, it is not about your opinion, sunshine.)
Recording Clerk is really chief executive of the paid staff at Friends House in the Euston Rd, certainly not in any sense, the Chief Executive of the whole Society of Friends in Britain. Authority rests with the annual conference which all Quakers can turn up to, and with the representative committee Meeting for Sufferings and its trustees in the meantime. Different people clerk all those groups.
What has happened with Paul is he accepted the crying need for Quakers to grab opportunities to explain who we are. So Paul has put on a tie and gone on TV, not a year after the event, but when the issue was timely. And by a good choice of what he says and when, a more proactive operation at Friends House has been widely welcomed.
Another key thing is Paul’s optimism about the future of Quakers. I can’t predict the future, but if our ‘plan’ is to manage decline and hope something comes up, we’re doomed. The listening for the still small voice as to where we are being led is very interesting.
There is more to the role than this, but above all, Quakers need to show that our ways of doing things still mean things can get done.