This post was partially inspired by a post at the Sheffield Quakers blog about The New Priesthood.
I hope that our discussion of Trusteeship – and of finance, and our relationships with our trustees and our money – will remember that They Are Us and We Are Them. Now that all Area Meetings, as well as our Yearly Meeting, as well as all sorts of semi-Quaker or connected bodies (like nursing homes and colleges and semi-abandoned Quarterly Meetings) have trustees, I anticipate that most adult members will be asked to serve as a Trustee to something or other during their lifetime. As members of Meeting for Sufferings are reminded from time to time, Britain Yearly Meeting’s Trustees are also members of Sufferings – and of Yearly Meeting – and of their own various local and area meetings.
Our finances work best when we own them – corporately – and bring their ordering under the Spirit whose guidance we use for everything else. I do not agree, needless to say, with the Friend quoted who says that the Quaker business method is not appropriate to financial matters. (I don’t know the original context of this comment, and The Friend‘s website is down at present, so I can’t find out – if you know, please comment and enlighten me.) I can imagine that there are times when it feels difficult – either because the time required feels inappropriate to the speed of today’s financial affairs, or because a meeting is led to do something which a financial advisor would deem to be silly – but I hope that we, as a Society, don’t move towards abandoning it.
In fact, I see no signs of this. In my recent contact with BYM Trustees and Quakers in Yorkshire Trustees, I found them working by Quaker methods and happy to seek the promptings of love and truth.
I once told the Yearly Meeting, in a discussion of finances, how glad I am to be part of a religious community which plans ahead, takes as far as possible sensible precautions, and doesn’t have to have endless little ‘fund raising’ drives for new carpets or curtains. (We had heard something about the virtues of churches who take risks with their money to help others, and and enlivened by the resulting financial pressure. I’m sure there’s something to be said for it, but I prefer to think that we steward our buildings as well as we can and offer money to charity when we have it to spare, rather than becoming charity cases ourselves.) We have our fair share of financial challenges. I hope we uphold our treasurers, our Finance and Property committees, and our Trustees as they work on such things – whether or not we understand their decisions.