Quakerly Business

2013 01 25 viburnum flowers

Is a Meeting House

  • a place of worship?
  • a business?
  • a social enterprise?
  • a community resource?

Or some combination of all of the above?

Quakers, historically, have been very good at running businesses – including banks. In more modern periods this has been viewed with a bit more suspicion. Quakers In Business have a set of principles on their website which talk about how Quakers can run a business in a Quakerly fashion.

Why and how might those ideas and questions be applied to your Meeting House.

Quakers have Testimonies to Equality and Truth.

  • Does the giving of a discount fit into your understanding of treating all hiring groups equally?
  • Or if a discount is available ‘but only to certain groups’ is that truthful to explain and simple to manage?

As I mentioned in a previous post Why Have a Meeting House? A discount can just happen, rather than be considered in a business like matter.

A practical example:

Business Meeting hears from a small group of Members & Attenders that they feel the local Amnesty group is one that Business Meeting corporately might want to support. Citing the many links between the local group and members of the meeting, Amnesty’s Quaker roots and its important work in helping to promote human rights. They ask the Meeting to discern a way forward…

How should they do that – for example should the Meeting waive all room fees? But then what happens if a problem develops? Or if the Amnesty group start to request more meetings as they now have a free venue? Or if the Meeting decide they want to use their meeting house for a Quaker event – who has priority?

Would it be clearer to everyone – more in Right Ordering perhaps… If Amnesty were charged the same as any group; and the Local Meeting decides each year if they should hold a special collection, or agree from local funds that a donation should be given to the local group. Either the collection or the donation could of course be equal to the amount of room hire they had received.

The small group could also of course raise money for the local group by organising a joint venture – book sales, concerts and other fund raising groups can bring Quakers together as a community and help form links to the local community as well.

Of course the Meeting might decide for a wide variety of reasons that part or all of the building, can be supplied free of charge to a specific list of Quaker and non-Quaker groups. For me, it is more important that the decision is actually made and the consequences of that decision realised.

  • What do you think?
  • Have you had to deal with this in your Meeting?
  • How was the conflict resolved?

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