Notes from London Quakers day to look at ways to reduce our workload, 22 Feb 2014

Ideas

We need a look at solutions – we want to work to resolve issues and not concentrate on the problems!

Please note that not all the ideas given here were discussed on the day – many were emailed to me afterwards.  I am happy to receive further ideas for posting on the website – please use the contact form below.

 

Finance

  • Can we have standard financial approaches?  (This would make end of year consolidation easier; this is a UK, not just London problem.)
  • Can we share book keepers?

 

Roles

  • Some jobs barred from non-members – can we be less prescriptive on this, eg overseers?
  • We need to bring newcomers into new roles in a Quakerly way – can we pair them with an experienced Friend who can advise (but let the new friend do the work)
  • We need to share roles and expertise.  Prison ministers, treasurers, clerks and registering officers are examples of this.  Can we have cross London role meetings to share ideas and experiences?
  • We need to explain explicitly on membership visits the need for new Friends to take on service and so challenge them.

 

Nominations committee

  • A strong nominations committee is key to a lively local or area meeting.
  • Can we get rid of, or share, roles?  In theory, meetings only need a clerk, an elder and overseer, a treasurer and someone to look after premises as a minimum.  All other roles are optional (!), and if no-one wants to do them, that might be telling us something.  Are we listening?
  • Can we have standard job definitions (some may need changing to meet local needs, but starting from a UK wide set would make life easier.
  • We need to be more adventurous in our appointments and appoint people who are not experienced, and help them grow into the job.  Always wanting experience limits our options …
  • Nominations committees need to talk to people (debrief) once they have done the role for a few months and check the job description was right, they are happy in the role, and whether the role is still needed.  Some meeting do this 4 times a year.
  • Nominations committees need to look not just at what the meeting needs, but at individual needs – what role might a friend take on to develop their skills and expertise or to bring them more into meeting?
  • Some meetings have people who feel left out – the key positions always seem (to them) to go to the same small set of friends.  Does this happen in your meeting?  Are there people feeling over-burdened, whilst others are feeling left out?

 

Intervisitation

  • We need to visit other Quaker meetings and communities (including having cross London meetings).  Area Meetings can be a good opportunity to visit other meetings for worship.

 

Enlivening Local and Area Meetings

  • Does your business meeting attract people because they want to go, or because they feel they ought to go?  What is the purpose of Area Meeting?  Which of these get you to go to the Area Meeting?!
  • Membership matters
  • Finance, eg accounts
  • Bringing Local Meetings together
  • Shared, active eldership and oversight
  • Fostering the spiritual life of meetings
  • Fostering individual spiritual growth
  • Can you reduce the number of business meetings – Northumbria Area Meeting now has four a year.  They are on Sundays and last a day.  Two local meetings join together to host the meeting and people come for meeting for worship, a shared lunch, a short business meeting and some spiritual activity.  Overnight accommodation is provided beforehand for those who need it.  Attendance has increased markedly to 80-90.  They also have four other meetings a year between times to handle routine business run by a committee, but anyone may attend.
  • If your Area Meeting is on a Sunday afternoon, should you attend the meeting for worship at the hosting meeting beforehand, so you can join them for lunch, rather than travelling in this time?
  • Area meetings should include activities for children and young people.
  • Before each business meeting, explain how it works and terminology that might be used, so newcomers feel included (Young Friends General Meeting do this every time).  See the role sheet on this website.
  • Look at the examples from Hemel Local Meeting and Northumbria and South East London Area Meetings for ideas.

 

Community

  • Do we include non-Quaker family members in our community (eg socials, weekends away)?
  • Shared meals are vital to help build community.  (Even shared breakfasts before meetings!)

 

Web

  • Websites bring people in (Epping).  Does yours?
  • Can we have a national website infrastructure, so we are not all reinventing the wheel?

 

Merging Area Meetings

  • How do we actually merge area meetings?  Where do we start?
  • Cumbria area meetings started by getting local friends to get to know one another in shared activities and worship.  They had a provisional merger timetable over several years, but this accelerated as they found they were more similar than dissimilar … start by getting to know your neighbouring AMs, work with them, have fun together and build knowledge trust and friendship.  Then decide what you want to do.

 

Premises

  • Are your premises a blessing or a burden?
  • Should you employ someone to look after the lettings (see the Six Weeks Meeting work sheet to see how to look at whether there is an economic business case to do this).
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