Moving in a new direction
Trustees of Britain Yearly Meeting and Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre have this week agreed to work together to radically change the way the two organisations support Quakers across Britain.
The bold plan will see a local development worker within reach of every meeting in Britain within five years.
Trustees envisage reshaping both organisations to fit the new realities – demographic, cultural, climate and financial – facing Quakerism in the third decade of the twenty first century.
Sandra Berry, Director of Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre said, “Throughout our 115- year history Woodbrooke has adapted and changed our approach to learning, and we are excited about this new evolution."
Paul Parker, Recording Clerk of Britain Yearly Meeting, added, "We're excited too. This will help us in supporting Quakers throughout Britain to attract new people and, through our faith, make a difference in the world. Facing climate breakdown, we must reduce our carbon footprint and strengthen local resilience."
Both trustee groups minuted, “Now is the time. We go forward with hope and realism, committed to evaluating the difference we make, adapting as we learn what works and knowing that in a changing world the structures that are suitable at one time will not last forever."
The decision to begin this new way of working follows a three-year pilot project, known as Vibrancy in Meetings (offsite link). This examined decentralising work by having work hubs, or clusters, with staff based in different parts of Britain.
Trustees agreed to build on this model, working towards a local development worker within reach of every meeting in Britain within five years.
A successful evaluation of the project by NCVO Charities Evaluation Services (PDF) found that the majority of Friends interviewed about the project reported a positive impact and felt more confident, supported and better equipped to be part of a vibrant Quaker community, through contact with their workers. Some Friends also reported a deeper quality of ministry in meetings for worship.
The project was funded by legacies to Britain Yearly Meeting and supported by Woodbrooke's resources and facilities.
Now BYM and Woodbrooke Trustees will begin the work of planning this transition. They are keen to listen to Friends' hopes and fears about the project, and consult with staff on the development of this work.
Trustees of Britain Yearly Meeting and Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre met on 7 June 2019. They consulted widely before their decision. Meeting for Sufferings will hear more about next steps in July.