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Qf&P 3.22 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (I Cor 12:4–7)
It is a responsibility of a Christian community to enable its members to discover what their gifts are and to develop and exercise them to the glory of God.
During a day conference exploring aspects of managing meeting houses there was a plea from an attendee,
“When I was asked to be on Premises my first thought was why should I get interested in my meeting house? How do we engage with the people who don’t find these things – policy/strategy/housing interesting?”
This is such a perennial question, people often tell me they shouldn’t be on Premises as they aren’t builders or surveyors or gardeners or…. However, there is so much more to creating a building that is the centre of a vibrant worshipping community than just the bricks and mortar.
I’m paraphrasing Ben Pink Dandelion in his 2014 Swarthmore Lecture below:
‘if we as Quakers in Britain want our meeting houses to be vibrant, cohesive, coherent and socially useful, we need to be clear about what we are and what we are not…”
The whole meeting can be part of that discernment process and help to create a list of ways in that the building can be used. What other gifts may members of your community have that can be developed and help enrich both the building and its community of users – both Quaker and hirers?
Some gifts I have seen shared:
Art work – stained glass in windows, as decorations in larger windows as coasters, as wall hangings. Ceramic tiles as used in Horfield’s courtyard, cushions and cushion covers in bright sturdy fabrics.
Graphic Art work and photos – to improve websites, leaflets, signage and to add beauty to the building.
Interior Design – to give advice on which colours look best together or, who can suggest what sort of fabrics would be easiest to keep clean and might survive the expected heavy usage…
Hospitality – I suspect every meeting has at least one person who has this talent, someone who makes people feel welcome, who can point out a tweak or change that can make being hospitable easier. Those who look at a building or room and can make it feel warmer and more welcoming to both Quakers and others. Perhaps bringing in flowers or plants for the table on Sunday but also for other times.
Gardening – at Muswell Hill I welcomed gifts from those who didn’t have time to work in the Meeting’s garden, but donated divided perennials, extra seedlings and gave advice on planting schemes. Having some one willing to look after indoor plants can be such a blessing.
Organising – having people willing to delve into the corners, cupboards and drawers of a building, make decisions and then haul off the remains to the appropriate disposal place is a blessing. I had a wonderful afternoon doing this with a Q who told me that as a busy professional, parent etc. they didn’t have time to dedicate to regular committee work but an afternoon followed by trips with their car made them feel more involved with the meeting – and inspired some decluttering at home too.
- How do you enthuse other members of the meeting to become involved with specific projects or the ongoing care of the meeting house?
- What other gifts have you been blessed with in your meeting?
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