Elders and overseers have responsibility for the care of people that attend meeting and the life of meeting itself. Eldership involves nurturing the meeting's spiritual life. Oversight ensures the pastoral care of individuals and the community.

As a new or experienced elder or overseer, 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 Qf&p chapter 12 you will find ideas for how eldership and oversight might be set up in local and area meetings.

More support for elders and overseers

    Resources

    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 or in print 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
    3. Spiritual Reviews
    4. Conflict in Meetings
    5. Quality and Depth of Worship and Ministry
    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

    Information, advice and support leaflets

    Free information, advice and support leaflets are available on a wide variety of subjects that are relevant to elders and overseers. 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.

    More resources for Quaker meetings available here

    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.

    Support

    Support for Meetings Officer

    The Support for Meetings Officer can assist with general and specific enquiries about eldership and oversight. 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.

    Quaker Life Network

    The Quaker Life Network supports eldership and oversight in a variety of ways. A request might be made for a bespoke workshop or event. It is helpful to have a conversation about what is needed before filling in a request form for a Quaker Life Network workshop.

    Conflict in meetings

    There is a cluster of Friends within the Network that support meetings that are experiencing challenges of conflict within the community. It explores these themes and shares experiences and practice to work with meetings to help resolve issues.

    Mental health in meetings

    What support can meetings be expected to offer to Friends who experience mental illness? When is it right to say that the support requested is beyond the capability of a meeting and needs to be met by professional expertise or the state? This cluster has been developed to help meetings find a balance that is realistic for their community.

    To find out more or request support from the Network call 020 7663 1007 or email qlnetwork@quaker.org.uk.

    Encounters with mental distress: Quaker stories

    In 2015 the Quaker Life Network Mental Health in Meetings Cluster published the book 'Encounters with mental distress: Quaker stories'. The book is a collection of stories of Quakers' experience. Now available is an accompanying document with ideas of how meetings might use the book to explore mental illness in Quaker meetings.

    Training and events

    Quaker Life and Woodbrooke in partnership offers training on eldership and oversight. Weekend and midweek training courses take place at Woodbrooke and other venues. Every three years there is a series of one-day training events in Quaker meeting houses across the country. For further details about any of these events please get in touch with Woodbrooke.

    Eldership and oversight conferences

    Every three years Quaker Life and Woodbrooke hold two conferences on eldership and oversight. It is the same conference run twice and is intended to allow two Friends from each area meeting to attend. The next such conferences are taking place in March and April 2016. Your area meeting will have been sent booking information. More details at www.quaker.org.uk/events.

    Yearly Meeting

    Quaker Life holds an event for elders and overseers each year at Yearly Meeting. It is a chance for elders and overseers to come together and learn from each other. It is available to all Friends whether or not serving as elders or overseers. More information about this is available in the Yearly Meeting events listing.


    Header image © Zélie Gross 2014

    Contact us

    Oliver Waterhouse
    020 7663 1007
    oliverw@quaker.org.uk