Quakers with spiritual nurture and pastoral care responsibility look after the people that attend meeting and the life of meeting itself. Both are required to ensure that the needs of individuals and the community are being met.

As a new or experienced Quaker with eldership or pastoral responsibility, Quaker faith & practice offers a first port of call for guidance and advice. Chapter 12 'Caring for one another' offers help for meetings making nominations for these roles. It is also a valuable source of information for Friends considering a nomination to either of the roles.

In Quaker faith & practice chapter 12 you will find ideas for how eldership and pastoral care might be set up in local and area meetings.

Spiritual nurture and pastoral care advice for Quakers during Covid-19

Quaker Life and Woodbrooke have been working to help Quaker comminities continue worshipping and caring for each other during the pandemic

We have made some of the volumes of the Eldership and oversight handbook series into PDF's (see below). And other books can be purchased as e-books from the Quaker online bookshop.

If you wish to ask for support or would like to get in touch to share something that your community is doing please email supportmeetings@quaker.org.uk.


Engaging with families

Recording Clerk, Paul Parker introduces our approach to engaging with families and building all age community. This video was shown at the two conference days for elders and overseers and other interested Friends last year and has been widely requested. It speaks of the importance of making all welcome and the meetings being places of spiritual nurture and growth for all.

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With a tender hand: a resource book for eldership and oversight

This comprehensive publication supports new and existing elders and overseers, drawing on the experience of many different meetings across Britain.

With a tender hand is available as an e-book from the Quaker Centre Bookshop at Friends House, London. Also accessible on this website is a range of support material that complements the publication.

Eldership and oversight handbook series

This series of handbooks deals with various issues concerning meetings, and comprises:

  1. Patterns of Eldership and Oversight
  2. Funerals and Memorial Meetings (PDF)
  3. Spiritual Reviews (PDF)
  4. Conflict in Meetings (PDF)
  5. Quality and Depth of Worship and Ministry (PDF)
  6. Committed Relationships
  7. Pastoral Care of Children and Young People
  8. Moving into Membership
  9. This Is Who I Am: Listening with Older Friends

We have made some of these books available for free. We are working on making them all available in due course.

Information, advice and support leaflets

Free information, advice and support leaflets are available on a wide variety of subjects that are relevant to eldership and pastoral care. Leaflets are available from the Quaker Centre at Friends House, quakercentre@quaker.org.uk, 020 7663 1030. Large print versions are available from our publications team at publications@quaker.org.uk or on 020 7663 1162.

Dying, death and end of life resources

Mental health in meetings resources

More resources

We have lots of other resources for meetings. Follow the link below to the resources section of the website where these are available to download.

Living eldership practical course

This is a seven-session programme designed for elders or anyone else interested in enriching the spiritual life of their meeting. Living Eldership and all course materials can be downloaded free of charge. Printed copies can be purchased from the Quaker Centre Bookshop at Friends House.


Quaker Life staff team

The Quaker Life staff team can assist with general and specific enquiries about eldership and pastoral care. You can ask for help with worrying, long-standing or seemingly intractable meeting problems and gain advice on creating a meeting community where all are welcome.

Conflict in Quaker communities

Quaker Life offers support to Quaker meetings that are experiencing damaging conflict within the community.

Quaker Life works with Woodbrooke (offsite link) to develop and deliver support for role holders on handling conflict in Quaker meetings.

Training and events

Quaker Life and Woodbrooke in partnership offer training on eldership and pastoral care. Weekend and midweek training courses take place at Woodbrooke and other venues.

Young adult Quakers

See www.quaker.org.uk/youngadults.

Safeguarding and pastoral care

Safeguarding is the term to describe protecting children, young people and vulnerable adults from abuse. When you are working with children, young people and adults at risk in a Quaker setting you will need to consider safeguarding and ensure you have a policy and procedures. It is important that those responsible are aware of your policy and procedures. They also need to be clear about what to do to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place and what to do in the event of a concern.

Area meeting trustees are responsible for safeguarding in their local meetings and at area meeting events. It is good practice to have a lead trustee for safeguarding (otherwise this falls to the clerk of trustees) and an annual report to trustees about safeguarding. Each area meeting appoints a safeguarding coordinator, and many have a deputy.

In practice Friends with responsibility for pastoral care are often a first point of call for enquiries about safeguarding from Friends as they hold responsibility for the pastoral care of individuals. Area meeting pastoral care groups should be aware of their meeting's safeguarding coordinator as this person will be the first point of contact if a disclosure is made. Read more about the role of the safeguarding coordinator to help understand how you can work with them.

On our main Safeguarding page you will find links to the other safeguarding pages on our website, an explanation of how Quakers organise safeguarding, and a range of people to contact. The page I have a concern about abuse explains who you can talk to in a variety of Quaker situations, as well as links to external organisations.


Header image © Zélie Gross 2014