Images for Quaker Meeting Houses

Friends House design and circulate a set of posters every year along the theme of Quaker Week – this year Quaker Week runs from Friday 27 September to Sunday 6 October.

However, what if your Meeting House doesn’t have enough space to run all of the series or has difficulty relating to this year’s posters? Previous designs are sometimes available through the Quaker Bookshop in the Quaker Centre at Friends House.

Did you know that there are other Quaker designed images which can be used for leaflets, postcards and posters? Visit the Q-posters page on GroupSpace to see the range available.

  • Which one do you like the best?
  • Have you used any – if so how did you use them?

Affording our Meeting House – Sustainability

563990405fc2130fc312f244476a8ba99ee8d99d2477577b998321d01f0d852c3e41d200Six Weeks Meeting  are the representative Trustee body for the 40 Meeting Houses in London. Last March they wrote a minute about how they would be tackling the 2011 Britain Yearly Meeting corporate decision to become a low carbon community – often called “Minute 36: Our Canterbury commitment

SWM13/23 Six Weeks Meeting Statement on
a Low Carbon Sustainable Community for Quakers in London.

Further to minute SWM 12/44, we have been reminded of Minute 36 of Britain Yearly Meeting 2011.

We, the Trustees of Six Weeks Meeting, wholeheartedly endorse the sentiment contained in this minute. In our role in managing the maintenance and repair of the Quaker Meeting Houses in London, we recognise that the built environment is responsible for around 50% of global CO2 equivalent emissions.

We wish to commit Six Weeks Meeting, on behalf of all the Quakers in London, to significantly reduce the energy consumption of our Meeting Houses over the next few years. This will require us all to re-envision how we use our buildings, and how many we seek to maintain. To this end we wish to draw up a strategic vision and plan of action. The scale of change required will need more financial capital than we currently have available.

This is an opportunity given to us. Change is always challenging. It also offers new opportunities for growth and renewal.

To incentivise and accelerate energy reduction methods they’ve come up with an Energy Saving Fund. This isn’t new money per se – instead the financial savings that accrue during the first five years after each energy-saving-project are then ring-fenced for future re-investment into further energy saving projects.

Sustainability is always a complex subject – it is easiest to look for the ‘green bling’ as I’ve heard it called – the solar panels on the roof and the electric or hybrid car. But as in so many things it is in the small daily actions which will make the biggest difference.

Trent, a frugality blogger explains it re saving money, but the same principle can be used to save energy.

First, there are more opportunities in your life to practice the small stuff. We spend money dozens of times a month – at the grocery store, online, on our bills, and on little incidental things. Each of those is an opportunity to spend less and seek out a greater “bang for the buck.”

The same applies personally – do you leave the water running when you wash dishes, use low energy bulbs, compost your kitchen scraps? These aren’t as glamorous of course but do add up.

Each building no matter its usage will have similar opportunities to save energy – and that is the overall goal. Current UK Government targets talk about reducing today’s levels by 60% over the next decade.

As a result of that Canterbury Commitment, Meeting for Sufferings instructed Quaker Peace & Social Witness to create a baseline of energy usage. Our Meeting completed questionnaires, measured and noted many things. Including – we weighed our rubbish – every bag was hung from a luggage scale and its total duly noted.

We were delighted to discover that we recycled and composted over 50% of our rubbish. We are lucky to have a garden where we can compost and a local authority that collects recycling weekly.

However, I was also delighted to note that the Pre-School who use the lower half of the building were so surprised by how much was being thrown away – that they changed their practices. The staff put a recycling box in the class room and encouraged everyone to use it. Peels and waste food from their healthy snacks are now fed to the worms in the wormery or put into the compost.

Other building wide improvements which will have a daily effect in reducing the amount of energy needed to run the building have been done. We were lucky enough to be able to take advantage of the Muswell Hill Low Carbon Zone and were able to get some building works including cavity wall and loft space insulation funded for us.

Smaller steps included ensuring all light fittings had low energy bulbs (LED would be next and is being considered), noticing that people weren’t using the recycling bins outside and finding places inside to put smaller containers.

608421722d0e0e13120c3ef9c93f6263dd713a6f75daad586ccf5bb1753677ffdd4b1152In the garden we installed water butts, linked where there was space.

Plus we diverted one guttering down spout to feed the garden pond.

The pond acts as a reservoir as well as adding important bio-diversity habitats.

We garden organically, adding plenty of mulch to maintain soil moisture and healthy soils. Plus we consider what we grow – fruit, flowers and vegetables.

Less picturesquely – a new condensing boiler was installed which is programmable – this should reduce the overall gas usage quite considerably. We’re taking monthly readings to ensure we keep a look at how much we use over this rather unusual year.

There is one Meeting House which was determined to lower its energy usage and fuel costs. To do this it has put into their Terms & Conditions that you are to set the room thermostats to 10C at the end of your session. If you don’t – you pay double for that session. I was told it only takes one or two occasions for new hirers to decide it is worth the hassle!

More ideas on how to tackle energy reduction can be found online at

  • What steps have you taken to make your buildings and meetings more sustainable?
  • How have you inspired other groups using the meeting house to get involved in reducing cuts?

Affording our Meeting Houses

2013 06 18 Collection boxThis could be taken two ways – how do we ensure that the Meeting House is affordable for both the local community and the worshipping community that uses it. Not only financially, but also with reference back to an earlier post: Beacon or Burden.

Hopefully, all Quaker Meetings are a spirit-led, all-age faith community trying to create a vibrant worshipping community, based on their testimonies of equality, integrity/truth, peace, simplicity & sustainability. From that there is the expectation that this community should be able to support itself & its activities.

I’ve talked about how you can increase the visibility of and welcome to your building for both potential hirers and visitors. These actions can hopefully increase the numbers of hirers and enquirers who find you.

Now I’m widening this to the more intangible costs – I’ll cover ways of reducing utilities etc. later.

In this post instead I’m going to talk about the costs on the members of the Quaker community that uses the building.

  • How can we find ways to empower all members of the meeting to take responsibility for their meeting?
  • How can we decide each time a decision or suggestion is made if this a good use of our meeting’s energy and time?
  • What is our Meeting’s Ministry and how can we work together to achieve it?

Obviously, I could talk about outsourcing some of the routine tasks – cleaning, gardening, bookkeeping, lettings administration but those are the easy ways to release energy.

Or I could mention that Clerking teams or combined Eldership & Oversight work well for many meetings. There needs to be a balance between keeping the jobs within a small ‘weighty friend’ circle and overburdening a new attender or member.

  • What ways are there for ensuring the work is equally spread between new and more experienced Quakers?
  • What ways are there to experiment with structures and ensure everyone feels able to contribute?
  • What ways have you found in your Meeting to do this?

Marketing – the next steps

2012 07 23 banners at Friends House

So you’ve read my previous post and either been busy ensuring you’ve met all the recommendations or you might be thinking, ‘yep knew all those!’ What other tips can I suggest? Well, hanging huge banners outside your building is one that Friends House did last summer…

However, much of what is next will be very personal to your area, your meeting and your possible clientèle. If you are based in a small low income rural town with lots of competition offering similar services, than your marketing will be different from a busy market town, or an inner city building with dozens of rooms.

First step – do some research!

  • Make a list of your existing hirers and where they came from (if known).

  • Decide how many hours/sessions/rooms are available and supportable with your current admin/caretaking set up or how you would cover any additional requirements.
  • From there you can estimate how much work might be sensible to fill those gaps.
  • Look at the vacancies you have – are they all morning or mid afternoon? Could the meeting offer unpopular gaps to local groups at a discount? Drop in centre, adult education groups etc.
  • Look out for other venue’s marketing, decide if it is successful and if you can adapt any of it to your building.
  • Make a list of what possible advertising outlets there are locally – not just newspapers – think blogs, review sites, festivals, podcasts or radio shows, contacting schools, training organisations and local businesses who might want office space.
  • Are there any places your meeting could advertise it is available – perhaps at the Fresher’s Fair, or the local community festival, having a stack of ‘rooms available’ leaflets next to the ‘all about Quakers’ leaflets is fairly easy to arrange.

Review these possibilities – asking yourself what the Meeting would be comfortable with and what would be appropriate for your building. Just starting the discussion within the Meeting might turn up more suggestions, information or even the decision that the building is busy enough!

You might want to work out what costs are involved with each booking – and ensure that your hourly rate covers those. If not that needs to be reviewed too – but that is a topic for another post.

Another set of decisions you need to consider – what sort of people and groups do you want to attract?

  • Ad hoc groups, who use the building as flexible space?
  • Regular groups who book a block at a time?
  • A mixture of the two?
  • Only community and non-commercial groups or are you willing to allow commercial groups?

Think about other venues locally that you and others might visit, especially how are they decorated. A fresh coat of paint, clean windows and tidy noticeboards goes a long way towards making spaces feel welcoming. A place where others might want to hold classes or meetings.

All of the above sound as if they are just marketing but they are also a way of ensuring any enquirer looking for a spiritual home can find out that Quakers exist. Then discover where the nearest Meeting is and when they arrive feel excited to find this clean bright and welcoming place. First impressions are so important, you want to ensure no one is put off even before they cross the threshold.

Discussing these topics can help members of the meeting to think about how to prepare your meeting house to welcome newcomers too. Once inside it is easier to find that welcome pack of leaflets and information from a tidy lobby or point out useful courses on a recently sorted noticeboard and of course it is useful for both hirers and enquirers to know where the loos are!

Not forgetting – all of these improvements don’t have to cost much and can be considered inreach, as well as outreach and marketing. After all, even faithful long standing Members and Attenders will be happier to walk into a clean, tidy building with flowers in the garden!

As always if this is something you or your meeting would like some help with – don’t hesitate to contact me on

This is the third in a series of three for number one click here

Marketing or Outreach?

or for two click here

Marketing your Meeting House the Basics

Marketing your Meeting House – the basics

2011 01 Front of buildingWhen was the last time you looked critically, as a newcomer might, at the front of your Meeting House? Does it look inviting? Welcoming? A bit run down or even somewhere you might be concerned about your personal safety?

Have you ever tried to find out about your local meeting without knowing anything about it? I remember when Residential Yearly Meeting was held in Exeter University – it was pointed out that the local Meeting wasn’t included in the ‘where to worship’ bit of the University’s local information pack. We were assured that was to be put right.

First you might want to put a notice outside the Meeting House to say that there are rooms to hire – giving rates, terms and any conditions you might have. No alcohol or children’s parties for example. Ensuring that whatever telephone or email address is given is monitored and any messages answered promptly.

Secondly you might ask your members and attenders if they would be willing to mention the Meeting House to any groups and associations they belong to. A leaflet giving the same information as above but now add a map and directions – including any public transport links could be produced. These could be given out at local fairs, put up in local shops or libraries or given to the members and attenders to hand out or put up further afield.

2012 10 22 New outside noticeboard croppedThirdly you might want to put a noticeboard outside that shows what sort of events and classes are held in your Meeting House.

This does several things

  • It is likely to draw attention to your building as people look for classes and events, they might even stop to look at the Quaker information too.
  • It also supports the people and businesses who use your building as their venue – helping to ensure that they stay in business and hopefully continuing to supply you with income.
  • Finally, this helps generate community – you could consider putting up community notices if you have space. All of these are positive things… and increase the likelihood of people using the building and therefore paying in money.

O.k. You’ve done all of those – what next?

Hopefully your Meeting has at least a basic website which can give someone information on where to find you. The main website has that much on each meeting – searching for “Exeter” in their “Find a Meeting” database brings up Exeter Quaker Meeting.

But of course that doesn’t help someone who wants to run a yoga class or is looking for a venue for their new business – they’re unlikely to look for a Meeting House unless they’ve used one previously.

If you have a Meeting website adding a page for ‘rooms to hire’ with dated information and at least one photograph is a good place to start. Dated as people will be reassured to see that you have looked at it recently – which does mean that it does need to be updated regularly. Think of it as the on-line equivalent to the noticeboard above. You need to maintain it and ensure it looks welcoming.

If you have several Meeting Houses in your local Area Meeting which hire out rooms – do the people organising these talk to each other? Are you close enough geographically that they are able to refer someone they can not to help to you, or accept a referral from you?

Have you considered looking for local websites such as Churches Together or local Business Forums which encourage people to shop or run businesses locally?

Have you investigated Google Places? Considered putting a poster up at your local train, bus or tube station?

If you think these sound like great ideas but wonder where to start – I’d be happy to hear from you. I’m always interested in helping a Meeting come up with a locally based marketing plan – click on the Contact tab at the top or email me on Wendrie at Mindful Business Services dot com.

This was the second in a series of three for number one

Marketing or Outreach?

or number three

Marketing the Next Steps

Marketing or Outreach?

2011 01 Front tri signAll businesses, if they are to thrive, need some form of marketing.

All Quaker meetings, if they are to thrive, need some form of Outreach.

  • Are they the same thing?
  • What sort of things can you do to encourage Outreach?
  • What sorts of things can you do to encourage marketing?
  • Why might you hesitate before doing anything?
The word marketing can cause a variety of expectations, some of which are negative. However, the Chartered Institute of Marketing offers the following definition for marketing:
“Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”
Outreach is a bit trickier – the main reference I hear about it is that ‘someone else’ should be doing it…

Many years ago, while Clerk of Quaker Outreach London (now London Quakers), I wrote “A Quakerly Guide to Outreach” which gathered together many ideas about how to do Outreach. I pointed out then (2005) that whilst Outreach certainly was hanging a large painted banner outside the main entrance to Friends House during Yearly Meeting or organising a group of Quakers from all over Britain to stand holding vigil in the grounds of Euston Station… it is also the friendly comments to newcomers, ensuring the loos are well signposted and that your Meeting House exists on any local maps.

There is one specific reference to Outreach in Quaker Faith & Practice (4.13) which just says it happens, whilst 28.08 says this about Outreach:

“Outreach is for me an invitation to others to join us in our way of worship and response to life which are so important to us that we wish to share them. At the simplest level this means supplying information about meetings, Friends to contact, and basic beliefs, all of which should be given accurately, clearly and if possible attractively. In the second stage outreach offers to others, through meetings, personal contact and literature, the experience and truth which Friends have found for themselves through three centuries and which impel us just as strongly today. It is different from some forms of evangelism in that it does not use mass emotional appeal, idiosyncratic demands or autocratic compulsion but only the persuasion of insight, humanity and good sense. It does not depend on rewards or threats, but on the active acceptance of those who see it as truth.” Edrey Allott, 1990

Whilst on you can not only read their point, ‘Outreach is the sharing of information on Quaker convictions, beliefs, practices with the general public.‘ but download the extremely useful and free Outreach Pack.

If you see the sign and poster in the photo above you might think it is almost all Outreach – fairly traditional three panel sign, complete with posters supplied by Quaker Life, a central panel giving times of Meeting for Worship plus a bit of a blurb about what that is… However, there are also two bits of specific marketing.

First and most obviously, there is a small (not readable in the photo) A5 leaflet tacked underneath one poster which gives a bit of blurb about the building as a venue. Whilst the other – perhaps not even noticed bit of marketing, is that there is a sign there telling you that this place exists and that things happen here.

It’s the first more specific type of outreach – posters, leaflets that most people consider when they think about raising the profile of their Meeting. That’s well supported by the centrally funded staff who work at Friends House.

However, in my next post, I’m going to concentrate on Marketing the building as a venue specifically whilst also mentioning where I see the two aspects overlap.

This is the first in a series of three for number two

Marketing your Meeting House the Basics

or number three

Marketing the Next Steps

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?

Meeting Houses – Beacons or Burdens?

spikey candle large
As mentioned in my last post “Why have a Meeting House“, Quaker Meetings are often supporting Meeting Houses with fewer Members, as the number of Quakers donating money and time has reduced.

Just over a year ago I helped organise an event in London called, “Creating a Vision of Our Future“. During this Alec Davison gave an inspirational talk on what meeting houses could become – true beacons of Quaker testimonies in our local communities and beyond. He suggested setting up small Quaker Centres for the local area with events, retail outlets and other things supported and inspired by the local Meeting’s concerns, but not necessarily organised or run by the local Meeting.

John Dash (Secretary of Six Weeks Meeting soon to be London Quaker Property Trust) focused in his talk on London specifically with its pooled funds system. Other talks though from Clare Scott-Booth on aspects and initiatives seen across the country by Quaker Stewardship Committee and John Marsh’s investigation of what can happen in a Quaker Meeting are applicable to any meeting.

Downloads of all four of the talks with all supporting papers are available on the link given above. This event led to the setting up of a “Boundaries Group” who are looking at the technical aspects of Quaker life across London.

But it isn’t all just profit and loss sheets with business cases.

Hopefully, all Quaker Meetings are a spirit-led, all-age faith community trying to create a vibrant worshipping community, based on their testimonies of equality, integrity/truth, peace, simplicity & sustainability. From that there is the expectation that this community should be able to support itself & its activities.

Linked to that surmise are the following questions:

  • If the meeting as a group agrees that a piece of work should be done, how can it spread that work fairly to avoid burn out and empower everyone to take part?
  • How can we, as Quakers, ensure that both our Meeting House and our Meeting is a beacon to the surrounding community and not a burden on others or ourselves?

So, if your Meeting has a building that could be let out – what then? Each Meeting should consider the uses of its building, as well as how best to maximise the income from that asset and usage.

Remembering that the reason for having a building is primarily to support any initiatives and activities (including Meeting for Worship) that Friends have set up or in which they are involved. Again, you don’t need to have a building, alternative venues and uses can be explored.

Each Meeting needs to consider these questions in relationship to their own situation, and then review them at regular intervals. What was possible twenty years ago may be more difficult now – either because your members are older and less active, or because there has been an influx of children and you need more room.

With the realization that your priorities may have changed, comes the possibility that there may be new conflicts in these priorities. Accepting these changes means the Meeting can work through them together, bringing new opportunities as well as challenges. How can the meeting now answer the age old Quaker query, “How does truth flourish among us?”

Thankfully no Meeting is an isolated community. There is help available from other meetings and from Quaker Life through the Quaker Life Network. While I thoroughly enjoy the Wardenship e-list group – where you can ask any question in confidence.



Why have a Meeting House?

2012 03 05 Meeting House front view
This is a question often asked when I say, “I manage a Meeting House.” or talk about making profits and covering costs.

Why does a Meeting House or any place of worship exist?

1) Primarily a Meeting House exists to enable Quaker worship to happen – at a set time and place.

Any place will need some maintenance, investment and, of course, preparation for the worship. Quakers have a history of meeting in a wide variety of places – outdoors, in homes, in rented rooms, but most Meetings in Britain now meet in set premises at set times. You can see 555 existing and former Meeting Houses on Flickr.

2) A Meeting House also supports the Meeting as a worshipping community.

It allows the Meeting to have a visible permanent presence in the local community. It supplies a place to keep the library, store records and to display notices.

All Quakers this way...

It also allows the Meeting to have social gatherings, weddings, funerals and other activities as desired without having to incur additional costs.

As Meetings for Worship are a public event, it means these can be advertised widely, without compromising the personal information of anyone involved.

Or having to alter signs to ensure people find you this month…

How does the Meeting as a worshipping community fund these places?

Originally Meetings were funded through local donations only. Now, there is often a wider pool, including income generated by the building. Renting or hiring out the building during the week is the most common way of raising money to support the building. Often this money is pooled locally to enable smaller or struggling Meetings to be nurtured by larger or stronger ones.

3) This bring us to a third reason for owning such an asset.

Meeting Houses can bring in income. This can support Quaker work locally and further afield, and also enable the Meeting to make donations to non-Quaker work they want to support.

Meetings can exist without a building – indeed many flourish in rented accommodation or private homes. Open air Meeting for Worships can be and are held regularly. However they rarely develop into a recognized Meeting, instead being supported by other Meetings.

Conversely Meeting Houses can survive without a Meeting – to be converted into something else, rented or leased out to another body and any income paid back to the Area Meeting to support Quaker work.

Meeting Houses making money used to be a luxury. One Warden told me that when he started twenty odd years ago,

“Back then 80% of the local Meeting’s income was from donations, while lettings brought in 20%. These days – it has completely reversed!”

Declining numbers and changing demographics, mean that the number of people supporting either their local Meeting or Central Work is lower.

Few people feel that Meeting Houses shouldn’t be used during the times that Quakers aren’t using it. Often Meeting Houses are designed or altered to enhance community use. Most Quakers would, therefore, agree that using our Meeting Houses to make money is sensible. What that money will be used for, should Quakers make a profit, and if so how much profit, seem to be continual discussion points.

I am presuming that the basic premise is that any hiring should at the very least cover costs, ideally giving some profit for maintenance, improvements and investment.

If the price charged by a Meeting House is not covering the costs of the hire, this should be looked at. Is this because the local Meeting has corporately agreed this work is worth supporting?

Generally a Meeting won’t continue supporting non-Quaker work to the detriment of Quaker work. Where that doesn’t happen, it is often because the full conclusion of a decision hasn’t been thought through.

During one discussion, a member of a Premises committee explained that they charged below-cost rents for some yoga teachers.

‘Oh, they are such nice people.’

I asked, if they meant that they thought that Quakers should be donating to these individuals, rather than to Central Work or some other Quaker cause. As someone must be paying the difference between the rent coming in and the running costs going out after all…

In this case the local meeting was subsidising yoga classes. Of course, this is something that the local Business Meeting might have decided to do – but had it actually discerned this was what they felt they should be doing? Or, had it just happened? From the surprised look, I suspected the latter.

So, if a Meeting has a Meeting House – what should they do with it?

I’ll try to answer this question next time.

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.


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.