Quakers with eldership and oversight responsibility care for the people that attend meeting and the life of meeting itself. Eldership involves nurturing the meeting's spiritual life. Oversight ensures the pastoral care of individuals and the community.

As a new or experienced Quaker with eldership or oversight responsibility, Quaker faith & practice offers a first port of call for guidance and advice. Chapter 12 'Caring for one another' offers help for meetings making nominations for these roles. It is also a valuable source of information for Friends considering a nomination to either of the roles.

In Quaker faith & practice chapter 12 you will find ideas for how eldership and oversight might be set up in local and area meetings.

More support for eldership and oversight

    Eldership and oversight advice for Quakers during the coronavirus outbreak 2020

    Last updated 20 May 2020

    Quaker Life and Woodbrooke have been working on guidance for Quakers during the coronavirus outbreak. It is to help communities continue worshipping and caring for each other. Bits of the advice are available as a Word document to be amended as needed. It can all be downloaded and stored locally or printed.

    The advice will be updated as required so we suggest checking back here each week to check if any of the guidance has changed.

    We are also trying to make available as many books and other resources that meetings might need. We have made some of the volumes of the Eldership and oversight handbook series as PDF's (see below). And other books can be purchased as e-books from the Quaker online bookshop.

    If you wish to ask for support or would like to get in touch to share something that your community is doing please email supportmeetings@quaker.org.uk.

    Resources

    Engaging with families

    Recording Clerk, Paul Parker introduces our approach to engaging with families and building all age community. This video was shown at the two conference days for elders and overseers and other interested Friends last year and has been widely requested. It speaks of the importance of making all welcome and the meetings being places of spiritual nurture and growth for all.

    Pressing play on the video below will set a third-party cookie. Please see our cookies page to find out more.

    With a tender hand: a resource book for eldership and oversight

    This comprehensive publication supports new and existing elders and overseers, drawing on the experience of many different meetings across Britain.

    With a tender hand is available as an e-book from the Quaker Centre Bookshop at Friends House, London. Also accessible on this website is a range of support material that complements the publication.

    Eldership and oversight handbook series

    This series of handbooks deals with various issues concerning meetings, and comprises:

    1. Patterns of Eldership and Oversight
    2. Funerals and Memorial Meetings (PDF)
    3. Spiritual Reviews (PDF)
    4. Conflict in Meetings (PDF)
    5. Quality and Depth of Worship and Ministry (PDF)
    6. Committed Relationships
    7. Pastoral Care of Children and Young People
    8. Moving into Membership
    9. This Is Who I Am: Listening with Older Friends

    We have made some of these books available for free. We are working on making them all available in due course.

    Information, advice and support leaflets

    Free information, advice and support leaflets are available on a wide variety of subjects that are relevant to elders and overseers. Leaflets are available from the Quaker Centre at Friends House, quakercentre@quaker.org.uk, 020 7663 1030. Large print versions are available from our publications team at publications@quaker.org.uk or on 020 7663 1162.

    Dying, death and end of life resources

    Mental health in meetings resources

    We have lots of other resources for meetings. Follow the link below to the resources section of the website where these are available to download.

    Living eldership practical course

    This is a seven-session programme designed for elders or anyone else interested in enriching the spiritual life of their meeting. Living Eldership and all course materials can be downloaded free of charge. Printed copies can be purchased from the Quaker Centre Bookshop at Friends House.

    Support

    Ministry and outreach staff team

    The ministry and outreach staff team at Friends House can assist with general and specific enquiries about eldership and oversight. You can ask for help with worrying, long-standing or seemingly intractable meeting problems and gain advice on creating a meeting community where all are welcome.

    Quaker Life Network

    The Quaker Life Network supports eldership and oversight in a variety of ways. A request might be made for a bespoke workshop or event. It is helpful to have a conversation about what is needed before filling in a request form for a Quaker Life Network workshop (offsite link).

    Conflict in Quaker meetings

    There is a cluster of Friends within the Network that support Quaker meetings that are experiencing challenges of conflict within the community. It explores these themes and shares experiences and practice to work with meetings to help resolve issues.

    Quaker Life works with Woodbrooke (offsite link) to develop and deliver support for role holders on handling conflict in Quaker meetings.

    Training and events

    Quaker Life and Woodbrooke in partnership offers training on eldership and oversight. Weekend and midweek training courses take place at Woodbrooke and other venues. We are now offering Patterns and examples gatherings for people serving in Quaker roles. Three of these events will be offered annually in locations across Britain.

    Yearly Meeting

    Quaker Life holds an event for elders and overseers each year at Yearly Meeting. It is a chance for elders and overseers to come together and learn from each other. It is available to all Friends whether or not serving as elders or overseers. More information about this is available in the Yearly Meeting events listing.

    Young adult Quakers

    We are currently developing the young adult Quakers pages and they should be available in early March 2020. Once published visit www.quaker.org.uk/youngadults.

    Safeguarding and oversight

    Safeguarding is the term to describe protecting children, young people and vulnerable adults from abuse. When you are working with children, young people and adults at risk in a Quaker setting you will need to consider safeguarding and ensure you have a policy and procedures. It is important that those responsible are aware of your policy and procedures. They also need to be clear about what to do to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place and what to do in the event of a concern.

    Area meeting trustees are responsible for safeguarding in their local meetings and at area meeting events. It is good practice to have a lead trustee for safeguarding (otherwise this falls to the clerk of trustees) and an annual report to trustees about safeguarding. Each area meeting appoints a safeguarding coordinator, and many have a deputy.

    In practice Friends with responsibility for oversight are often a first point of call for enquiries about safeguarding from Friends as they hold responsibility for the pastoral care of individuals. Area meeting oversight groups should be aware of their meeting's safeguarding coordinator as this person will be the first point of contact if a disclosure is made. Read more about the role of the safeguarding coordinator to help understand how you can work with them.

    On our main Safeguarding page you will find links to the other safeguarding pages on our website, an explanation of how Quakers organise safeguarding, and a range of people to contact. The page I have a concern about abuse explains who you can talk to in a variety of Quaker situations, as well as links to external organisations.


    Header image © Zélie Gross 2014

    Contact us

    020 7663 1007
    supportmeetings@quaker.org.uk