These are excerpts from our Faith and Practice.
Admission to Membership
The churches of Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends welcome into membership all who make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, whose lives testify to their union with him, and who accept Christian beliefs as held by Friends (see “What Friends Believe,” pp. 5-7).
A Friends Church
A congregation of Friends fully established is called a local church (or meeting). Its organization consists of all persons recorded on its list of members. Clerks, elders, and pastors provide spiritual and moral guidance. It is through official recognition of spiritual gifts and qualities in certain persons that positions of leadership in public ministry are filled. Appointments are made to other positions.
Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends is committed to the spread of the Gospel through proclamation, fellowship, and service. The underlying purpose of each office, department, and activity of the local church and the Yearly Meeting is to exalt Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and to so witness the Gospel that persons will be converted and brought into Christ’s Kingdom.
Local churches are organized into regional Areas, which sponsor rallies and conferences of various kinds for the common good of the churches. Business matters are minimal.
Yearly Meeting Sessions
Yearly Meeting sessions occur annually, providing opportunity for inspiration, fellowship, and edification, as well as for the transaction of business. Local churches send official representatives (see local church). Various boards and committees submit their reports and hold their meetings.
Leadership: nomenclature and terms of office
The word “clerk” is used uniformly to designate presiding officers of the Yearly Meeting, its constituent bodies, and its local churches. The term “secretary” especially for committees, may be an accepted alternative to “recording clerk.” Instead of “vice-chairman,” “assistant clerk” is used. Descriptively, the terms “preside over” and “presiding clerk” are appropriate. In case of absence or incapacity, leadership passes from presiding clerk to assistant clerk to recording clerk. For related organizations connected with Northwest Yearly Meeting, these terms need not apply. For them, “director” or “president” may be appropriate alternatives to “chairman” or “clerk.”
In order to develop spiritual and administrative leadership, it is recommended that local and Area appointments and the internal appointments of the Yearly Meeting generally should not extend beyond six to ten continuous years in any particular responsibility. At the Yearly Meeting level, where some organizations have representation named from different sources, a combined period of up to ten years continuous service may be considered adequate.
Only active members may serve the local church as officers, elders, ministers, trustees, or clerks of standing committees; only active members may serve on the Nominating Committee or as representatives to Yearly Meeting. Only active members may serve the Yearly Meeting as its officers or on its councils, boards, or commissions.