The clerk needs to have a spiritual capacity for discernment and sensitivity to the meeting. In conducting the meeting and drafting minutes on its behalf, the clerk's abilities are strengthened by an awareness of being supported by the members of the meeting. Friends who have not known the unforeseen joy which comes from this experience may gain encouragement from this knowledge, should they be invited to serve. If the clerk's service is under concern in the certainty of God's presence and help in the meeting, then strength beyond her or his normal powers will be given.
The service of the assistant clerk can be of great benefit both to the clerk and to the meeting. The clerk bears the final responsibility for preparing the business, conducting the meeting and drafting the minutes. It is recommended, however, that the assistant clerk be enabled to share in all the clerk's duties as much as possible. Consultation will often help the clerk to come to a right judgment. The assistant clerk will gain experience and maybe the confidence to accept nomination as clerk in due course. Planning for a period of apprenticeship through assistant clerkship can provide for a smooth transition. Some meetings have found that co-clerkship can be highly successful. This may involve two or more Friends, with or without an assistant clerk, and enables Friends' differing abilities and skills to complement each other, particularly when time and energy are at a premium. Such a departure from tradition usually takes place after careful consideration and planning, and can result in a lively and varied interpretation of the clerk's responsibilities.
The following advice to clerks should be seen as being equally relevant to co-clerks and assistant clerks, and to conveners whose responsibilities are similar to those of clerks. (For further information about conveners see 3.21.)