On Being a Quaker Warden: Wardenship as a Spiritual Matter

I’m often asked why I chose to become a Warden, not to mention ‘what IS a Warden?’ Quaker Life have a page that gives the current understanding, plus supplies questions and answers to anyone looking at appointing or managing wardens with Britain Yearly Meeting.

Wardens are mentioned several times in Quaker Faith & Practice:

4.13 Pastoral Care & Outreach

The potential contribution of meeting house wardens to outreach should be borne in mind, particularly when rebuilding and reorganisation of meeting houses is being considered.

Wardens

13.33 As Friends, we cannot separate our religious calling from our practical work for the kingdom of G*D. As Friends concerned for wardenship, we make our contributions to the local community to those who come to the meeting house. We appear to offer our facility but in fact we offer our love.
QHS conference on wardenship 1981

Qfandp photo copy13.34 The aim of wardenship is to provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere within the meeting house, to create conditions conducive to worship and to offer a service to the community.

Wardenship should be seen as an integrated part of Quaker life and worship, and a responsibility which is shared with the whole meeting. There are unique opportunities for outreach. Many demands are made of wardens who are regularly available.

 

However, my inspiration for becoming a warden is drawn from other places in  QF&P.

Some of which do talk about the intertwining worlds of work and spirituality.

In the following quote if you replace parenthood with wardenship you get one of the strongest reasons for my choice of career:

Social Responsibility:

23.63 One of the aspects of parenthood (wardenship) which I enjoy most is putting my mind to trying to solve all sorts of problems. (…) I love to get to work on a thoroughly neglected garden or room and put it right again. I find great satisfaction in being consulted about other people’s problems and helping to sort them out. I have come to the conclusion, therefore, that this is an area in which I shall both find my main direction and satisfy my needs to be creative, practical and supportive. … Helen Edwards 1992

For me Wardenship can be both a concrete form of service and something more liquid and intangible:

  • A feeling of doing a job I enjoy, thus liberating members of the meeting for other service, of seeing my living and working as a form of worship.
  • Accepting the inspiration and challenge to just BE during the most mundane of jobs and rejoicing in the feelings of achievement when the welcoming feeling of the building is commented upon.
  • Or the satisfaction when I am able to communicate information or some of the history of the society or my feelings about the wonders of Quakerism to a caller. Whether a delivery driver who had learned about us in History and had been told by his lecturer that Quakers had died out some time ago; to the more intense enquirer who wants an in depth discussion either by telephone or in person or just a sympathetic ear.
  • Or answering a question from a regular hirer, ‘So what do Quakers do at Easter?’.
  • Or when people are able to arrive for Meeting for Worship and find the building, meeting room and surroundings ready for worshipping – the furniture arranged, the building cleaned, made safe and stocked with necessary items. The weeks post, telephone calls and enquiries sorted and dealt with.

These jobs could  be done by someone else, but I gain satisfaction in knowing that these tasks and other less obvious ones have been done, so Sunday morning can be focused on worship and fellowship rather than overtaken by more mundane or practical matters.

Wardenship, on a more practical level, enabled me to stay home with our children during their childhood and for us to share times of work and leisure with them.

  • They were able to do “real work” and accompany me as I went about completing my duties.
  • They saw me living what I felt to be important and experience growing up in a meeting house. A place of worship and fellowship – and a great place to run around and play in when not otherwise occupied!

This mix of spirituality and practicality in my everyday life was, and is, very important to me. It helps me to stay grounded during my spiritual journey and growth.

Welcome!

What is a remote or virtual meeting house manager?

  • I am a self employed contractor specialising in management and administration – for  meeting houses, for committees and others.
  • Remote professional office management and services for Quaker Meeting Houses and other small businesses.
  • Fully fitted modern office – using my own up to date equipment and software.

You might need a remote business administrator or virtual meeting house manager if:

  • You have lots of ideas – but need help to implement them.
  • You want help in marketing, administration or other aspects of your business.
  • You want to develop the business side of the meeting house to raise funds, without sacrificing local Quaker usage and skills.
  • You already outsource cleaning, gardening, bookkeeping and are now considering doing the same with the lettings or other administration.
  • You don’t want to employ someone, but need help to do the above.
  • You aren’t sure how many hours the job might take, so want a flexible arrangement.

How does it work?

  • Using modern technology I deal with emails, phone calls, faxes from my own office, have meetings over Skype or other meeting facilities.
  • Depending on your telephone contract you can put a redirect on your phone to me.
  • Work can be transferred electronically, through recorded post or personal courier – I can easily meet people at Friends House in central London.
  • I work the hours you need when you need them – you don’t pay holiday, sick pay or coffee breaks!
  • As a sole trader I am responsible for all financial and legislative requirements.
  • You are protected by a contract which shows that you are not my employer.
  • While I work normal office hours, I will also cover evening and Sunday afternoon business meetings at the standard charge.

Why use a virtual meeting house manager?

  • There isn’t space in the building for an office or you want to maintain flexible use of the building.
  • You don’t want to invest in equipment and training, or deal with payroll or pensions.
  • You want to build a relationship with someone who also has an investment in your business – obviously the better you are doing the more work there is for me!
  • By using me you will not need to explain Quaker jargon or business procedures to numerous temps.
  • It is easier to maintain a relationship between hirers and the office.
  • You want to hold a one off event (outreach, fund raising or building project) and want some guidance or just need an extra pair of hands.
  • Your current Wardening or administration arrangement needs some extra support – things have become busier, or possibly to cover maternity/paternity leave, holidays, sick leave or a break between wardens.

What sort of jobs can I do?

  • Clarify ideas, help design and research specifications for and in other ways support your meeting to create a Business or Development Plan including Marketing.
  • Write reports, manuals and policies for your Meeting House or committees, plus newsletters for users.
  • Lettings administration: Dealing with phone calls, emails, postal correspondence, raising invoices, invoicing.
  • Book keeping (including the Sharman Excel Spreadsheets), and liaison with treasurer.
  • Researching items/services for the committee to read and decide on.
  • Negotiating with clients re dates/availability
  • Project management & other jobs as needed and agreed.
  • I also do similar administrative support for other small businesses.