To Members of Meeting for Sufferings.
At the historic October meeting on the future role of MfS you will no doubt consider suggestions such as that MfS should nurture the whole Society, not concern itself mainly with central work. Maybe you will decide to hold annual meetings concentrating on external issues, with presentations on and from FWCC, Churches Together, QUNO, QCEA, and leading religious and ethical figures. Maybe also one on internal matters, such as to consult with all the SIGs, or to hear reports on the concerns of the members and attenders who seldom attend MM or YM.
But it is vital that you accept energetically, positively, insistently and from the start your authority and responsibility to set the priorities for the centrally managed work. This aspect has not been emphasised in some recent guidance documents. But it is well stated in the Terms of Reference for Trustees, DUTIES: sections 5.1, 5.2, 5.6, 5.16, 5.17, and 5.18.
Hold them to it!
Your job is not to represent the central work to the members, far less to seek to increase their support for it. Your responsibility is to represent their concerns so that central work reflects what members want. Now you have been given better tools to ensure this happens.
Your responsibility is, by consultation with your MMs and members, to discern their concerns and then to develop an appropriate Long Term Plan. In this you must state unambiguously the work that the membership wants undertaken. Your role is not simply to rubber stamp a proposed LTP. (Nor to agree in retrospect any changes to your LTP; see 5.18.) To do this well, you will need to identify what needs to be laid down; for this you must have quantitative data on every project and programme (see 5.6. and 5.16).
If you fail in this responsibility, as has MfS in the past, then central work will fail to hold the support of members.
Do not each of you leave this responsibility to others!
If in doubt about the basis on which I make these assertions, read QF&P, also the RECAST Report, and YM Minutes.
By Stephen Petter, Bristol.
(Written as an independent statement because I am unsure whether my MM representatives (like many other reps on MfS) accept this their role.)
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