Monday, 5 June 2017

Quaker Stewardship Committee: report to Meeting for Sufferings

MfS/17/04/07 Quaker Stewardship Committee  Ursula Fuller and Mary Aiston of Quaker Stewardship Committee have spoken to its report (MfS 2017 04 06). We have also received minute 2017/21 from Leeds Area Meeting.
Like Sufferings, QSC has a vision of vibrant, well-managed meetings that can develop innovative solutions to the problems facing them. Like Sufferings, QSC works primarily with area meetings. Sufferings works on our faith and action, QSC looks after the good governance that underpins it.
QSC has helped our area meetings so that in 2016, Yearly Meeting was told that every meeting that has to send their annual report and accounts to the Charity Commission or to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator met the deadline and the reports contained all necessary requirements.
We reaffirm that all Quakers should be good stewards of our resources: it is part of our witness in the world to do this job well and there is ongoing work needed to support meetings in their stewardship of our resources.  We have considered the three questions that QSC has put before us:
1. What more can QSC and area meetings do to ensure that trustees and treasurers receive the support they need?
Initial feedback from representatives today was positive: the support QSC offers via Trustee and Treasurer News and their willingness to work with Friends in their meetings is appreciated.
News of Woodbrooke's proposed online course was welcomed. Feedback on annual reports from QSC link Friends is also helpful.
A proactive approach is needed to engage Friends in matters of governance, as there are difficulties in some areas in finding Friends to serve. Friends would welcome QSC members visiting them in their area meetings.
2. Would making wider central use of the information provided in trustees annual reports and accounts be a worthwhile expenditure of BYM’s resources?
In responding to this question, we were reminded of the opportunity annual reports provide for outreach to the wider world. They are a report on the life of the whole area meeting and whilst legally their production is the responsibility of trustees, we are reminded of the guidance in Qf&p 15.03 that the ultimate authority lies with the gathered meeting.
Asking for reports to provide information about, for example, sustainability, would require clear guidelines to enable consistency.
We were urged not just to follow the letter, but to respond to the Spirit.
3. How can QSC best prompt a wider conversation to ensure that BYM's governance structures are sustainable in the long term?
We acknowledge that there is no ‘one size fits all’ and there are limits to Friends' ability and willingness to sustain the work of governance. This is a serious risk.
We thank Ursula Fuller and the members of QSC for their report to us today and for their work for the Yearly Meeting and we will return to these matters at a future meeting.
We look forward to hearing further comments when all representatives have reported back to their meetings.  

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