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Being a trustee: an experience of Quaker service

As applications open for the next Clerk of Trustees, Caroline Nursey shares some personal reflections about her experience of serving in the role.

Over several years we have identified clear priorities as we work towards being a simple church supported by a simple charity.
Over several years we have identified clear priorities as we work towards being a simple church supported by a simple charity.

A new Clerk of Trustees will begin service in January 2023. As the current clerk I can thoroughly recommend the role, it's quite a bit of work but I can honestly say that I am enjoying it. I find it truly satisfying to know that I am doing my part to help secure the future of Quakers in Britain.

An enriching, supportive service

I love clerking; Quaker business method is such an effective tool and the quality of worship within the trustee body is richly nourishing. The challenges of Covid-19 have meant that we have needed to take some difficult decisions over the last 18 months but at all times I have felt upheld by fellow trustees as, with God's guidance, we steer our way through the business to find the true way forward.

The Clerk of Trustees line manages the Recording Clerk and we are fortunate in having a Recording Clerk and senior staff team who manage Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM) very effectively. This is an enjoyable aspect of the role and as in any line management relationship needs a balance of support and challenge.

Enabling the future of Quakers in Britain

By 2023, Britain Yearly Meeting should be working to a balanced budget and following new strategies discerned by Quaker Life and Quaker Peace & Social Witness central committees. Trustees' relationship with central committees is crucial to engage with BYM's work.

Trustees report to Yearly Meeting in session and work closely with Meeting for Sufferings. I have found both to be valuable opportunities to test trustee thinking and to help discern complex matters. We often need to make important decisions that draw on discernment with other bodies and across a long period.

Over several years we have identified clear priorities for BYM and in the next period, the focus will be on the third of these – simplification – as we work towards being a simple church supported by a simple charity.

We have heard from Friends across the yearly meeting that many local meetings are struggling. In response, the idea emerged of the pilot vibrancy project providing support close to meetings. And from the evaluation and enthusiastic endorsement of that experiment by Meeting for Sufferings, we were emboldened to reshape Quaker Life and launch the Local Development Worker scheme.

By the middle of 2022 all the Local Development Workers should be in post with one in reach of every meeting. Trustees will monitor this – through Quaker Life Central Committee – over the years ahead.

Rewarding and meaningful impact

Being clerk to trustees takes time but it is hugely rewarding. There is strong support from staff and I have managed to juggle it alongside a busy job without too much difficulty. Much of what trustees do can be quite routine – setting and monitoring budgets, receiving reports, ensuring that safeguarding, health and safety and other matters are carried out properly. These are the important foundations for our work.

I have learnt a lot from the challenges as well as the enjoyable times. Last year we held extra meetings as we tried to anticipate the effects of the pandemic on BYM. Over several years we have sought to understand the risks that Quakers in Britain face.

As Clerk of Trustees, you often need a degree of resilience, but I am sustained by my fellow trustees, Friends and staff. I have come to see more than ever how important it is that Quakers in Britain offer our worship and witness to the world.

Find out more and apply for the role of Clerk of Trustees