You may be reading this because you’re interested to know more about Quakers in Bristol, or you may be a long-standing Quaker about to visit or move here. So here’s some basic information.
Bristol Area Meeting has about 400 adult Friends (as Quakers often call themselves) who are either Members who have formally joined, or are regular attenders at Meetings. In addition there are children and young people, and very many more people who come along infrequently or for short periods of time. All are welcome at our Meetings.
Within Bristol Area Meeting, there are seven Local Meetings. They vary in size – the smallest usually has 10 or so Friends on a typical Sunday Meeting for Worship, the largest about 60. Friends may attend the Local Meeting closest to where they live, but others go further afield to a Meeting where they feel most at home. All Local Meetings – whatever their size – share the same way of worship.
At local level, Quakers do not have paid hierarchies of workers. Instead, Friends take on roles for a specific period of time, usually three years, which can be extended to six years, but rarely longer.
Bristol Area Meeting has a Clerk and Assistant Clerk, who are responsible for smooth running of business, such as membership applications, appointments to posts, and financial matters. Other Friends will take on the jobs of, for example, Treasurer or Newsletter Editor or advising on Quaker funerals.
A Board of Trustees is responsible for ensuring proper running in accordance with the Charity Commission (Bristol Area Meeting is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation).
Each Local Meeting also has a Clerk. Many other tasks, such a running a library, producing a Newsletter, or organising children’s activities, are undertaken by other Friends. Arrangements are in place for the care of our meeting houses, in some cases by resident wardens.
The spiritual life of the meeting, and pastoral care for Friends, are the responsibility of Elders and Overseers; each Local Meeting will have a team of Elders/Overseers, numbers depending on the size of the Meeting.