Quaker Leadership – Quaker & Business Gathering ’18

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Quaker & Business

Tickets are now available for the Quaker & Business Gathering 2018.

Date & Time: Saturday 30th June 2018, 9am – 5pm
Location: Friargate Quaker Meeting House, Friargate, York YO1 9RL

This year’s theme is Quaker Leadership, and as one of the planning committee I’m delighted that we’ve been able to get three really interesting speakers.

A provocative and creative opportunity to explore the links between leadership of organisations and people, and Quaker experience and values of leadership amongst our worshipping communities.

You can see the full programme for the day, and how to buy tickets on the Q&B website.

Bursaries are available – please contact the clerks of Q&B for more details.

Looking forward to this – it will be an interesting day!

Building Peace Together

Building Peace Together a Practical Resource

Quaker Council for European Affairs (QCEA) has produced a useful report with practical resources:

The visibility of violent conflict from all over the world in our daily digest of news and media creates a sense that violence – or the threat of violence – is ever-present, when in fact, it is peace that is the norm. Building Peace Together makes the case for peacebuilding and provides a myriad of tools that can be used by actors across the board.

Download a copy to read, which includes 40 tools and 80 examples of nonviolent peacebuilding, and then try out the resources suggested.

Who are QCEA?

The Quaker Council for European Affairs was founded in 1979 to bring a vision of peace, justice and equality to Europe and its institutions. QCEA advocates for nonviolent approaches to conflict resolution, the intrinsic equality of all people everywhere, and a sustainable way of life for everyone so that the one Earth we share can support us all.

You can find out more at their website: http://www.qcea.org/ They’ve just issued this year’s epistle where they say:

QCEA is working from a vision with specific goals to create change politically and culturally, focusing on the two main programmes of Human Rights and Peace. The reports on child immigration detention, and hate speech in online news comment sections bring ethical substance to debate within the EU. Work in quiet diplomacy, networking, coordinating with other organisations, and cultural activities make QCEA an important player in Brussels. The results of these activities are sometimes difficult to anticipate, but will resonate in the long-term.

I was sorry to see that they are working on a budget deficit at the moment, and hope their appeal for more funds to support this work will raise enough money for their work to continue.

Christian Entrepreneurship

2018 03 11 tree branches b&wA&Q 1 and Christian Entrepreneurship

While I love Advice & Queries 1, “Take heed, dear Friends, to the promptings of love and truth in your hearts. Trust them as the leadings of God whose Light shows us our darkness and brings us to new life.” I had not previously considered it as business advice.

During last week’s Churches & Commerce conference, Richard Frazer, Minister Greyfriars Kirk Edinburgh, gave us some thoughts on approaches to a theology for entrepreneurs.

As a Quaker I try hard to remember that all things are equally sacred – work, play, rest, worship… So I was intrigued by Richard’s comments that he thought the first Apostle Andrew was also an entrepreneur in the way he handled his big opportunity (meeting Jesus) by recognising that:

  • it was an opportunity
  • he wasn’t the right person to handle this alone
  • he knew others who needed to be part of this opportunity

Andrew was humble enough to leave Jesus, and go fetch Simon Peter, but also continued to network and bring people he felt would be useful. Andrew found the boy with the loaves and fishes, for example. Of course he was also a fisherman, so would have been used to networking as part of running a small business. Dealing with clients who wanted to buy his fish as well as the others who worked in the family business, other fishermen, etc.

Money Making as Mission

Yesterday, during Meeting for Worship, ministry was shared about how a childhood prayer asking for ‘G*D’s guidance, love and protection‘, took on a new deeper meaning when the speaker twisted from ‘asking’ to ‘being ready to receive by standing in a place of gratitude for the blessings already received’.

This connected with my musings, over the last few days, about the difference between networks and business plans compared to G*D’s community & plans. A concept mirrored by the interconnectedness of the tree branches lining my view from the room.

I’m often asked how I can see running a business, making money, and working with clients to help them do likewise, as a mission. For me, it depends on where you start.

If you are rooted into a firm foundation of G*D’s love and truth, and are looking at these opportunities as ones where you can make a difference by creating or facilitating a profit, network, etc., that then allows you to work from a place of gratitude and thankfulness, with a quiet certainty that you are following the leadings of G*D for you.

This is very different viewpoint and attitude to one that is only in it for the profit, or personal gain, and leads to different choices. But it does require continual awareness and consideration of which state I’ve slipped into, and a regular drawing back to the centre where I can hear those quiet promptings.

Q&B Conference 2017 ‘Seek unity; uphold difference; find wholeness: Exploring decision-making through Quaker Business Method and other models’

The annual conference was held at Friends House, always a pleasure to spend time there.

The day was very full – with more workshops I wanted to attend than I could, which is always a good sign.

You can read the full minute and report on Q&B’s website: http://qandb.org/qbc17

Priming the Brain

My highlights were a workshop with Claire James from Pivotal Moment on Priming the Brain. Claire talked about the new discoveries in neural science are showing how people can consciously shape their thinking environment, and help them make better decisions.

Charity Governance and the Quaker Business Method

Shivaji Shiva from Anthony Collins Solicitors gave a good overview of Charity Governance and the Quaker Business Method. I’ve done several workshop/seminars exploring and explaining Governance, but it was good to have a specific workshop aimed at Quaker Charity Governance.

Including a quote: ‘Recognition of the fact that good charity governance is difficult to achieve is a useful first step.’ Something to keep in mind, as we struggle to be good trustees and committee members.

Lots of notes to work through – and hopefully a couple of blog posts to come.

Setting Up Your Organisation’s Email Part II

Knowledge Sharing by Ewa Rozkosz

Okay, in Part I we covered the concepts behind email, now it’s time for the…

Actions

Create an account for the organisation

This ensures that all the data that belongs to your organisation is under your control.

With the majority of communication taking place via email, the temptation will be to use the email addresses that the individuals involved already have.

Don’t do it!

It may be easier now, but when the role is handed over to someone else the data will almost certainly be lost. In addition, if the data is attached to an individual’s private account it legally belongs to them, not the organisation.

And if the relationship between the organisation and individual in question breaks down, you may as well kiss your data goodbye. Getting it back will almost certainly be very painful, and take more time, money, and lawyers than you have access to.

Services such as Google allow small organisations and charities to do this for free, (Google for Non-Profits) so make use of them. We do not advocate for Google, and other services exist. The choice of which suits you best will be dependent on your organisation & circumstances, but theirs is a good offering.

One reason for this is because they have a suite of integrated services included with the email, notably Google Drive, which lets you store all your data in an easier to use format than just having it in emails. This is something you should consider, and that I will be detailing in a later post.

Whether you use Google or not, sticking to a big-name provider reduces the risk of your service being lost without notice.

  • The administrator user name and password for the account should be available only to recognised office holders. An admin account lets you make whatever changes you want, so if someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing uses it they could do a lot of damage.
  • User names and passwords should be stored in such a way that they can be accessed by other office holders should the nominated person suddenly become unavailable. Shared cloud based password systems are useful for this and other reasons. A personal emergency should never leave your organisation unable to access its own account!
  • Name the account unambiguously. At this point you should seriously consider registering a domain name for your organisation, for the following reasons:
  1. It only costs a few pounds per year.
  2. Your email addresses are those of your organisation and not your service provider (yourorganisation.org.uk rather than yourorganisation.google.co.uk for example).
  3. If you choose to move your service provider you won’t have to change all your email addresses, avoiding the disruption that would entail.
  4. If you don’t do it people will assume that you’re too cheap, technically inept, or simply couldn’t be bothered, and that’s not a good look.
  • You can do this within Google as part of the sign-up process or with a separate domain registrar. Your preferred domain may already be taken so be prepared to try a few variations until you get one that’s available. Your will probably want a .org.uk domain as this signifies that you are a non-commercial organisation in the United Kingdom.

Create mailboxes for roles not individuals

  • For each role, create a mailbox and give the user name and password to the individual performing that role. For example, ‘Treasurer@domainname’ rather than ‘Bob_Example@domainname’. This means that when Bob moves on, you don’t have to create a whole new account or have their replacement constantly explain that they aren’t Bob.
  • Ensure that all electronic communication for a role is performed with that mailbox. Do not use personal accounts, and do not cross-contaminate roles (e.g., dealing with Clerk matters in the Treasurer account). This is especially important if you have someone with access to multiple accounts.
  • The first action performed by anyone taking over a mailbox should be to change the password, to ensure that only they can access it.
  • When setting up a mailbox for the first time, if individuals already have correspondence in their personal mailboxes (and you’re still on good terms) get them to forward the relevant email to the new mailbox.
  • If it becomes necessary to have an individual’s access removed from a mailbox, the account administrator can force a password reset. This should be done as soon as an individual ceases performing a role, as a routine matter of security.
  • On a regular basis (semi-annually or annually) who has access to each mailbox should be reviewed to ensure that it’s correct and up to date.

 

Digital Organization: Let the calendar do the remembering…

2013 10 11 Fri calendar

Calendars are useful – except when the synchronization fails,
although I like the idea of the day above.

Meeting Houses are often run by volunteers. But even if you are a paid member of staff – usually you are fitting managing the maintenance of the building around other more immediate aspects of the work, and it can be hard to ensure nothing slips through the organisational net.

Using a calendar as a planning tool

One way to avoid this happening, is to use a calendar for your reminders.

Create a list of regular to-dos, enter them onto your calendar and (if digital) have a reminder emailed to you. Not only for the task ‘clear gutters’, but for the preparation – ‘get quote’, ‘tell Premises clearing gutters is due’, ‘book window cleaner for gutters’.

If you use a paper calendar you can do a similar thing. But will need to remember to look at the calendar to be reminded, and store the ‘next xxx date’ on a piece of paper added into the back.

You can add in one off tasks as well of course, but the repeating function means you don’t have to wonder when the next PA Testing or roof inspection is due. A quick search and the calendar will tell you, even if that is a couple of years in the future.

Other Benefits

If you use the calendar attached to the generic email, (and hopefully shared booking calendar), that forward planning isn’t lost when the role passes to the next holder.

Share your calendars, so other people can see those reminders as well. This sharing enables you to spread out tasks and responsibilities. Or at least the awareness that these tasks are being dealt with by you.

Creating a Record

When work is done, add a note on the date to create a record.

Search within the calendar for ‘inspection’ or ‘building tour’ and print off the results. This gives an easy report for records – especially useful for Annual or Quinquennial reports.

Once a year’s worth of reminders/work has been completed, why not print off a copy to go in the front of the Minutes book as a visual reminder of the work that will be coming up?

  • What methods do you use to spread out the work, and ensure regular maintenance jobs aren’t forgotten?

You might find these posts useful:

Digital Diaries & Documents

Generic Email Addresses or How to Prevent Memory Loss

K is for Knowledge & Know How

Flowers in Meeting for Worship

2014 09 28 new meeting

  • Do you have flowers or books on a table in the middle of Meeting for Worship?
  • If you do – what books and who chooses them?
  • Have you worshipped outside?

All of these questions and more are being asked by Peter Duckworth who is coming to the end of a two year Equipping For Ministry (EFM) Course at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre. During the course he has developed an interest in the motivations for use of flowers and books in Meeting for Worship. Many Friends are deeply attached to the practice though it is a relatively recent innovation, one not generally used by American Friends and alien to the practice of early Quakers.

As part of his EFM Project, Peter was prompted to find out more about how widespread the practice is and what the experience and understanding of Friends might be. He has developed a short ‘flowers in meeting survey‘ which he asks for Friends to complete – it won’t take long and each answer helps to give a fuller picture.

My current meeting meets in rented accommodation and doesn’t tend to have flowers; many people don’t have a garden to plunder or come by bike. I haven’t noticed any difference in how I settle or worship without flowers – but do enjoy them when they appear.

ACAT Annual Conference 2016

Responsibility, Impact & Stewardship

This year’s ACAT conference was held Saturday October 15th at Woburn House Conference Centre, London.

Money & Monks, Markets & Monasteries

Our opening address was Br Dr Anthony Purvis, Prior of St Michael’s Priory, Willen, Milton Keynes talking about the relationship between Thomas Merton and Dom James Fox the Abbot of the Abbey of Gethsemani. Stressed at some times as they had very different priorities, while also sharing many similarities – as they joined the same order and lived together for many years.

“What does it mean to live in a world based on money, when you have taken a vow of poverty?”

We were assured that to live in a religious house is not to run away from the world’s problems, but instead to face them in a smaller community. A priory is a place with budget deficits, financial difficulties, problems with contract law etc. It can be hard to deal with such things in association with people only wanting to concentrate on theology.

We must learn to live together or we fail each other. We learn from those we don’t leave.

Money Management

Thomas Merton is often seen as a prophetic voice speaking from the wilderness loved the simplicity of the life he signed up for – sleeping ten to a dorm on straw mattresses, hand cultivating the land, eating very frugally. But he also made a great deal of money for the community – by writing a best seller.

Any money that came in was carefully managed by James Fox (a graduate of the Harvard Business School) to improve the fabric of the building, to mechanise the farming and increase production and to create mail order businesses – diversifying and increasing income streams. Good business sense that enable the religious work to continue and grow – by the time of Thomas Merton’s death new buildings were needed to hold all the incoming monks.

Two very different viewpoints and priorities, but the two were also brothers in spirit. When James Fox became the Abbot he insisted that Thomas Merton heard his confessions and when dying, asked to be buried next to Thomas Merton.

This was an inspiring set of thoughts and several on our table said we were going to do more reading – It reminded me of the Parker J Palmer passage in Qf&P 10.19

In a true community we will not choose our companions, for our choices are so often limited by self-serving motives. Instead, our companions will be given to us by grace. Often they will be persons who will upset our settled view of self and world. In fact, we might define true community as the place where the person you least want to live with always lives!

Parker J Palmer, 1977

Workshops, Advice & AGM

This year’s conference format included a brisk AGM, plus several workshops – separated into large or small church streams.

From the chat around our table and others both streams were well done, with interesting presenters, thoughtful answers and useful tips.

There was advice on employment, financial matters, information about Churches impacting on the community and the setting up of the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union, low cost property loans for churches, information on applying for grants – from a list available on parishresources.org.uk or through your local authority community fund, plus stewardship and the raising of funds.

I’ve come away with several pages of notes, some items to do research on and a pack of material to sort through over the next few days. A truly worthwhile day – recommended to any other Treasurer or Trustee concerned with financial management.

QBC’16 – Embodying Equality in Business – Why? & How?

QBC’16 – Embodying Equality in Business – Why? & How?

The ‘Why’ inspires change and the ‘How’ empowers change

Wednesday, 9th November 2016
Friends House, 173-177 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BJ

9:30am to 10:00am Registration and Networking.
10:00am Meeting for Worship (for ten minutes).
4:30pm Close.

The heartfelt purpose is for those attending the conference to leave with their own personal intent to embody equality in their organisations at a deeper, more profound human level. The participants will leave feeling and knowing the difference these ideas will make for their staff, their customers and for the wider community.

The day will be grounded in Quaker Advice and Queries 22:
“Respect the wide diversity among us in our lives and relationships. Refrain from making prejudiced judgements about the life journeys of others. Do you foster the spirit of mutual understanding and forgiveness which our discipleship asks of us? Remember that each one of us is unique, precious, a child of God”

There will be speakers and creative activities during the day; and the flow of our four speakers for the day is:-

  • Gender Equality
  • Sexual Orientation Equality
  • Racial Equality
  • Religious Equality

Satish Kumar, internationally renowned speaker on ecological and spiritual issues will be speaking on Embodying Religious Equality in Business.

Michael Lassman, who has over 30 years’ experience following an equality and diversity agenda, speaking on Embodying Gender Equality in Business. Michael set up Equality Edge at the end of 2006 as a vehicle to deliver innovative workshops, one-to-one or small group coaching and public speaking services. He is speaking at the 2016 Global Equality and Diversity Conference.

You can find the full programme here.

Looks like a full day of inspiration and challenge – I’ve put that in my diary and hope to see you there.

Fire Drills During Meeting for Worship

2013 07 15 fire truck 2Fire!

Fire Alarms and the necessary Fire equipment and signage are all an important part of any building’s safety plan – and we always hope they won’t be needed. However, if the worst happened – would your meeting know how to respond?

Mount Street, Manchester recently held a fire drill during Meeting for Worship. Although there were several mishaps, and originally many people were upset, by the end they had learnt so much it was decided this should be done again.

Have your Premises and Elders sat down to work out an evacuation plan? Appointed marshals to ensure the building is empty, count everyone out and to ring the Fire Brigade?

Consideration of where to meet – and when to reunite children and parents are two important issues.

Are there any people who need special consideration?

  • Is anyone hard of hearing who wouldn’t hear the alarm for example?
  • Is there anyone who would need help in getting out of the building for any reason?
  • Does your Children’s Meeting meet in a different part of the building? If so do the helpers know where to go and have enough people to ensure everyone can leave safely?

We’re not alone in needing to do this – Ship of Fools has a thread about other churches who have done drills during services. One suggestion was to hold the drill at the end of the services so everyone was still there but the evacuation practice was done. Another was to do it at different times of the month to cover any changes to routine.

Reminding us that this risk is real one post commented that there was a priest who started each Sunday service with information about fire exits as their previous church had burned down.

  • Have you ever held a fire drill during Meeting for Worship?
  • Would you consider it? If not – why not?