Chapter 14 » 14.27
Use of premises
Area meetings are advised to permit and encourage the use of their meeting houses for educational and other suitable purposes which serve the needs of the people living in their neighbourhood. Such users should be expected to make an appropriate financial contribution to the running expenses and upkeep. It should be borne in mind that the primary purpose of the meeting house is as a place of public worship.
As premises used by the public, meeting houses must meet certain statutory requirements in respect of fire precautions, safety and hygiene. All premises must be adequately insured, including liability insurance as well as buildings and contents insurance; the Treasurers’ handbook should be consulted for more detailed advice.
In considering the proper use of their meeting houses, area meetings should be sensitive to the feelings of the worshipping community, whose members may object to the introduction of alcoholic drinks onto the premises or to other practices by other users of the meeting house. Hiring policies in respect of particular premises should be agreed between area meetings and local meetings, and conditions made clear to prospective users. The use of Quaker premises by political parties, and by other religious or secular organisations with whose principles or practices Friends might not be in sympathy, will always require careful consideration and full consultation with Friends in the meeting most closely concerned. Particular care must be taken to avoid bookings by ‘front’ organisations with undesirable aims; the bona fides of new users should be checked. In all cases it is important to ensure that any publicity given to meetings held on Quaker premises makes a clear distinction between those organised by a meeting, committee or other Quaker body as such, and those for which others are responsible, in order to avoid confusion in the public mind.
Meetings and committees involved in letting Quaker premises should always bear in mind the need to minimise disturbance to neighbours, hurt to individual Friends, division among the membership, and erosion of our distinctive Quaker identity.