FEBRUARY 17,2002

“Friends believe the divine Light is accessible to all people, regardless of race, sex, age,
or material wealth. Everyone has the potential to respond to God within. All persons
ought to have the opportunity to develop their talents and skills under the leadings of
the Spirit. Equality is not sameness. It is equality of respect. Every person is a child of
God.” (New England Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice,1985)

Notwithstanding the above, Friends over the years have recognized the special leadings
of certain people and have designated them as “Released Friends.” A Released Friend is
one “whose leading to carry out a particular course of action has met with approval
from a Meeting which then promises to provide such support as would enable the
Friend to follow that leading.” (Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice,1997)
A leading is other than a decision,a resolve,or a desire to do something. It involves a
fundamental, spiritual transformation in the life of a person and is not connected to
worldly gain. The events leading to a request to be a Released Friend, and the work of a
Released Friend, are transforming experiences in the life of an individual and in the life
of a Meeting. Given the seriousness of this step, approval at each point in the process is
given only when all have reached clarity and unity.

A person in the Meeting who requests recognition as a Released Friend should inform
Ministry and Counsel of his/her intent and should request the appointment of a
Clearness Committee to help explore the spiritual depth and commitment of the
leading. Ministry and Counsel will consult with the individual to appoint committee
members who will be both supportive and objective. Once clarity has been reached, the
person will make a report to Ministry and Counsel on the outcome of the clearness
process. In most cases it will be helpful to submit a written report.
Ministry and Counsel will forward the report with a recommendation to Meeting for
Business for final consideration. Meeting for Business records its decision in a formal
minute. Following approval of a Released Friend, Meeting for Business will apply the
Practices for Funding Personal Leadings and Projects to provide the financial, practical,
and spiritual support needed.