Quakers in the South East of England think about sustainable models of governance

In October, twenty-two Area Meeting Clerks and Trustees from six area meetings met together in Brighton Meeting House and on Zoom to consider sustainable models of governance.

heart and cloud shaped word clouds
Word clouds helped those present to see what they value about Quaker community and what’s needed to support those things.

The workshop was put together by the local development worker in response to hearing from Friends that AMs are struggling to find Friends to fill the role of trustee, among others, and that this is less about the willingness of Friends to serve and more about a physical lack of those able to do so.

Oliver Waterhouse, Quaker Life Governance Lead, offered some context for the conversation, reminding Friends how many roles we expect to fill and how few Friends there are to fill them. Lesley Richards, Worcestershire and Shropshire AM, offered her experience of the way AMs in Wales, Scotland and other parts of the country started exploring and moving towards further collaboration and sharing between AMs.

Over a fine M&S sandwich lunch, Friends had plenty of time to chat, explore ideas and make connections. Ollie spoke about other possibilities such as paying people to enable service and introducing the idea that not having tried something before doesn't mean it can't be tried now. After plenty of time for questions and reflections with Lesley and Ollie, and a break for tea and plenty of cake, Friends spent time in small groups considering spiritual and practical barriers to change.

Before the day was wrapped up, there was the opportunity to think about possible next steps, which included ideas about closer working together and bringing the conversation to the wider Quaker audience of all the members and attenders across the six area meetings.

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