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?

Managing Meeting Houses Conference 2016

2011 01 Front of building

Managing Meeting Houses

Managing meeting houses can be a lonely job – it is easy to feel that you are alone in dealing with matters. It is equally important to ensure that you don’t spend time re-inventing the wheel.

This annual conference organised jointly by Quaker Life and Woodbrooke is a great chance for new wardens, trustees and premises committee members to learn about their new role. But there is always enough sharing of good practice, tips and tricks for a more experienced person to take away too.

Sessions ranged from those essential nuts and bolts of Employment and Health & Safety to more inspirational – what is special about your Meeting House? We considered them as a place of worship, as part of the local community and as a venue for customers.

Employment Matters

Pensions – especially for smaller meetings with only one worker, or many part time workers were discussed. Friends House recommends The People’s Pension which several participants said had worked well, but we were also encouraged to apply earlier rather than later. There is a worry that these suppliers will fill their quotas of small charities and some meetings may miss out.

Employment – especially ways to decide if someone is actually employed or truly self-employed was a perennial favourite. I’ve discussed this before here – and my favourite definition is from another of these conferences in regards to wardens.

“If your meeting could arrive Sunday morning to find the building locked up tight with a note pinned to the door saying, “I’ve gone to Peru.” And deal with this without any real hassle – then your warden is a volunteer…

If your meeting couldn’t cope then it is more likely that your warden should be an employee.”

The importance of all meeting houses being properly organised – with back up for wardens and resident friends was mentioned several times. Ensuring there are contingency plans in case of sickness and to cover regular days off were both stressed as necessary to prevent burn out and stress.

Laughter greeted the suggestion that members of Premises and Trustees should do any job they were asking someone else to do – to have a more complete idea of the specification they should give as well as some idea of how long the job should take. Several attendees gave examples of how doing this changed their time expectations, and their appreciation for how quickly (and well) a professional can do a job!

Employers’ resources and support

The transfer and rewrite of the new Employers’ & Wardens resources and support pages from the old quaker.org site to the new has been completed. There are newly updated template documents and of course more guidance can be found both here and in chapter 13 of Quaker Faith & Practice.

As always it was a pleasure to stay at Woodbrooke. I made sure to get outside into the gardens, to walk the labyrinth and enjoy catching up with old friends, as well as meeting new people.

If you’ve not been before – or haven’t been for some time do look out for the next in January 2017.

Reading Quaker faith &Practice Chapter 2: Approaches to God – Worship & Prayer

Qf&P stones Chapter 2 Approaches to God - Worship & PrayerReading Quaker Faith & Practice Chapter 2: Approaches to God – Worship & Prayer

This chapter is one that most Quakers I’ve spoken to have dipped into.

Not surprisingly ‘Quakers and God’ is a continually popular Quaker Quest session.

There are four sections

  • Experience and nature of worship
  • Silent Waiting
  • Prayer
  • Meeting for Worship

and ninety-two passages, quite a lot to read in 31 days, but fourteen which contain the word “LIGHT” so they are in my current Qf&p journal. I reread through my journalling, and worked through the four remaining.

My word for 2016 is BELIEVE – I was interested to see that although BELIEVE appears ten times in Chapter 2, there are only three (2.24, 2.57 & 2.58) that also included LIGHT.

I’m looking forward to pondering and journalling on the remaining seven in this year’s journal.

  • Are you taking part in this reading project?
  • Is your meeting arranging a monthly discussion group?

This post is part of my Reading Quaker Faith & Practice series – click here for the introduction and explanation or here for all posts in this series.

A Living Wage Must Pay Enough To Live On

Living Wage.indd

The Living Wage Campaign

Lancaster Quaker Meeting are tasked to take the lead nationally within the Society of Friends to promote awareness about the payment of The Living Wage.

As part of their work they have produced an information pack, which can be downloaded from their website, which includes the poster above and others.

Pay Compare is an independent, not-for-profit organisation funded entirely by donations, founded by Stuart Hill, a member of Quakers in Business, who works for Pay Compare on a voluntary basis.

This is what Stuart says about it:

‘We invite business leaders and owners to lead the way towards a fairer, better economy by publishing their organisation’s pay ratios at the website www.paycompare.org.uk for everyone to see and compare. In doing so you receive the Pay Compare Mark which can be proudly displayed to show your commitment to pay transparency – a consideration promoted in Q&B’s Good Business Ethics at Work book. Be in the vanguard of organisations who are empowering citizens and investors in this way, including Triodos, TSB, Charity and Unity Trust Banks, numerous social enterprises and charities, and a growing number of local councils and private companies. Those not active in business can take action as Ratio Requesters by simply visiting www.paycompare.org.uk to tweet, email or write to any employer to ask them to publish their pay ratios at Pay Compare. Together, we can help pay ratio reporting become common practice in the UK so that we can all favour those who pay fair.’

  • Does your business, employer or supplier publish its pay ratios?
  • Find out, and if not suggest they do!

Pay Compare is a company limited by guarantee and registered in England as No. 8974596

 

‘Reading Quaker faith & practice’ conference at Woodbrooke

Woodbrooke Conference & Quaker Study centre

All area meetings in Britain have been invited to nominate a Friend to participate in the ‘Reading Quaker faith & practice‘ conference at Woodbrooke, 22nd to 24th April 2016.

The conference will provide an opportunity to:

  • Learn from one another’s experience of participating in the Reading Quaker faith & practice programme so far.
  • Gain ideas and resources for setting up and inspiring groups in meetings.
  • Share reflections and insights emerging from existing groups.
  • Understand more about the origins, purposes and development of the current book.

The conference welcomes participants from all area meetings, including those which have not yet decided to participate in the Reading Quaker faith & practice project.

Every Area meeting is being asked to nominate a Friend or attender who has one or more of these qualities:

  • is involved in an existing Reading Quaker faith & practice group
  • is willing to promote the programme around the area meeting
  • has a concern for spiritual learning in the area
  • will be able to communicate with others about what they have learned

If you would be interested in attending the conference on behalf of your area meeting, please talk to your AM clerk or nominations committee. For more information about the conference contact: qfp@quaker.org.uk

I have found the process of reading from a specific chapter and then discussing it with others (including members of my local meeting) such a benefit this year. Combined with my Qf&p journal it has been both inspiring and challenging.

 

Stone Cleaning – before and after

2003_0199 Banner at FH Trish Carn watermarked

copyright Trish Carn, used with permission.

Stone Cleaning at Friends House

While looking for photos of the banners at Friends House, I was struck by the difference between the 2003 photo (above) and the 2015 photo (below).

Hard to believe they are of the same building.

2015-08-18 banners at FH Trish Carn 2 watermarked

copyright Trish Carn, used with permission.

Isn’t it nice to realise that the money we spent on cleaning the stone work at Friends House made such a difference?

You can just see the gilding done in the carving as well in the bottom photo.

Building a Fairer World

2015-08-18 banners at FH Trish Carn 2 watermarked

Copyright Trish Carn, used with permission


After all the long term struggles to get banners on Friends House with Camden council, I have so enjoyed seeing them go up – temporarily and now permanently. Such a good form of outreach and of brightening up the neighbourhood. Lovely to see them as I exit Euston station.

23.13 Seeking to live at all times in a divine order of life, Quakers have always counted social service part of Christianity. In fidelity to the genius of their inward experience, they have set themselves the task of developing their own spiritual sensitiveness to the light of truth; and have then resolutely confronted the unawakened conscience of the world with the demands of the new light, and have borne witness to it with undaunted patience.

This has resulted in progressive enlightenment for themselves, and in the slow but sure triumph of many of the causes of which they have become champions. The reform of the criminal law, the improvement of prisons, the suppression of the slave-trade and of the institution of slavery, the abolition of the opium traffic, the protection of native races, the repeal of the state regulation of vice, the emancipation of women, have all been powerfully helped to victory – however incomplete – by Quaker action on these lines, side by side with that of other noble-hearted reformers.

Other great ills, patent or latent in our civilisation, have yet to be overcome, perhaps have yet to be perceived; the old philanthropy has to deepen into something more vital if the full demands made by the teaching of Christ are to be obeyed; but the faithful following of the Light that illumines the alert conscience still seems to many of us the truest way for securing this deeper experience and for recognising and combating the evils that menace social and international life.

William Charles Braithwaite, 1919

During the discussions one of my groups has been having regarding reading Qf&p, the comment was made that short passages can spark inspiration, more than slogging through some of the longer passages.

I see where that is coming from – and some of my favourites are quite short. However, there is also a power in the slow unfolding of a message and the explanations of attitudes and theories.

This passage featured in several conversations around here over the last week. That last thought that ‘other great ills, patent or latent in our civilisation… have yet to be perceived….’ is one that stops me and haunts my thoughts.

What great ills are we not aware of, or have not yet started to struggle to overcome? Climate change? Housing inequality?

The ‘yet’ brings me hope for both the perceiving and the overcoming.

This post is part of my Reading Quaker Faith & Practice series – click here for the introduction and explanation or here for all posts in this series.

Everything can happen….

2015 09 26 everything is possible23.32 is one of my favourite passages – Ursula Franklin talks about the her enjoyment of sitting in silence at the beginning of meeting knowing that everything can happen.

It always makes me think of an encounter with a homeless ex-catholic priest while volunteering at the Quaker Centre at Friends House. A large part of the role is to meet the public and discuss aspects of Quaker beliefs and history with them.

Suddenly, in the middle of a personal history monologue, my visitor leant forward and putting an arm on the desk said earnestly,

“I have been meaning to ask you…. do you go to Meeting?”,

after I confirmed that I went most Sundays, he continued.

“So…. do you have miracles every Sunday?”

I don’t remember exactly what I said, something along the lines of ‘not every Sunday’. But ever since, that question has been mulled over on a regular basis. Remembering the idea of all days being created equal, I’ve felt the question could have easily been: “Do I have miracles happen every day?”

Maintaining that expectant waiting that I go into Meeting for Worship throughout the week would be tricky but I think returning to it regularly would also be worthwhile. Something to consider the next time the days start to blur together through work or family stresses.

So – what miracles have happened in your life?

Do you look for them?

This post is part of my Reading Quaker Faith & Practice series – click here for the introduction and explanation or here for all posts in this series.

Qf&p Chapter 23: Social Responsibility

2015 04 12 Qf&P stones Chapter 23

This chapter is the first in the calendar to read through.

It contains the following sections:

  • Faith in Action
  • Corporate Responsibility
  • Social Responsibility – poverty and house; slavery; torture; discrimination and disadvantage
  • The Individual and the Community – work and economic affairs; education
  • Friends and state authority – conscription; crime and punishment

Fifteen passages have the word ‘Light’ in and therefore are part of my current Qf&P journal.

I had already journalled several earlier in the year, but will be contemplating the remaining nine throughout this month. Exploring the chapter through discussion with my groups and reading through some of the other Quaker blog posts as well.

I’m looking forward to the reading, as this isn’t a chapter that is as heavily thumbed as some others – but with 103 passages, plus an afterword this is a full month of reading.

 

This post is part of my Reading Quaker Faith & Practice series – click here for the introduction and explanation or here for all posts in this series.

ACAT Annual Conference 2015

ACAT wp3fc874a7_06This was my first visit to the ACAT annual conference and AGM, but it won’t be my last. Although it felt slightly odd to be in Bloomsbury and not in Friends House, the Institute of Education was a comfortable venue for the day.

As you might expect from an association with Church or religious connections the day balanced stewardship with time for worship and fellowship. With a buffet lunch, and breakfast, to ensure we had enough caffeine and sugar to make it through to the end of the very full day.

Business wise there was a brief AGM (15 minutes), with a request for anyone tempted by the idea of becoming a trustee contacting the board as they were always looking for new members.

The remainder were talks or introductory samples of the fuller training sessions ACAT offer around the country.

I particularly enjoyed the ‘Balancing Stewardship with mission – Issues for Treasurers and Trustees’ talk given by Canon Dr Christina Baxter CBE where she explored aspects of G-D an Mission, reminding us that mission is now what you live/breathe, living out our beliefs and living so others can hear/see G-D in those actions.

If we allow ourselves to become such living missionaries, people coming to our buildings, events, services should find a taste of heaven. That is people living out their lives faithfully – listening to that divine spark within. “Mission is in the church as fire is in glowing embers” Martin Luther.

One concept I will be thinking more about was, “What we give to the Lord belongs to the Lord – but we don’t give to the Lord was also provided by G-D and however it is used should also glorify G-D”. Money however it is spent is a spiritual issue and part of the role of the Treasurer is to help members of the community to explore how to use those resources to meet their spiritual goals and needs.

With a final quote (with attribution at the moment): “There are lots of parables about growth in the NT (with seeds being sown and growing), a budget which is not a growth budget is not a kingdom budget.”

Plus hearing from Dr James Corah about how CCLA Investments work with Church leaders and other groups to put forward the issues that are important to their customers and change large secular companies policies. Enabling small groups to join together to tackle large issues.

For example before the 2012 Olympics they approached hotel chains regarding human trafficking, with fact and figures from previous Olympics. Originally they had no interest, but then Whitbread asked more questions, realised it did impact their business and put out training for every hotel and staff member.

With regard to the living wage it was through discussions with Glaxo’s CEO Andrew Witty that overturned the original, ‘that’s too expensive’ knee jerk reaction and instead had Glaxo matching the living wage. Resulting in 600 contractors receiving a living wage and Glaxo sponsoring the living wage.

Other talks covered – What is ACAT doing to support its members, Employing People, Keeping on the right side of the Charity Commission and then we split into small or large church groups to work through some issues relating to size. Enjoyable examples of Gift Aid problems and misconceptions.

The day finished at just after 4pm. I took time out before heading to the tube to tidy up my notes and soak up some of the inspiration there within. There is a list of things to research and learn more about too.

I can see why two of my table mates assured us that they came every year. Definitely looking forward to the next event.