Chapter 8 » 8.02


Discernment and decision-making are crucial aspects of our life as a Quaker community, not least in relation to the work carried out centrally by Britain Yearly Meeting through its committees and staff. All our committees act as gathered meetings for worship, a discipline which continues throughout the governance and management of the work.

The centrally managed work of Quakers in Britain has three elements: first discernment and decision-making; secondly governance; thirdly management.

Friends in local meetings, area meetings, Meeting for Sufferings and at Yearly Meeting in session are responsible for the discernment and decisions about the work that needs to be carried out (1.02.14; 13.0513.07). Britain Yearly Meeting Trustees (8.178.18) and Quaker committees (8.048.08, 8.118.13) are responsible for the governance and oversight of this work: this includes both strategic decisions arising from Yearly Meeting and elsewhere and the monitoring of their implementation. Staff are responsible for the management of this work (8.198.23).

Britain Yearly Meeting in session is the body with ultimate authority for church affairs for Quakers in Britain (6.12). The term ‘Britain Yearly Meeting’ refers also to the combined membership of the seventy or so area meetings that make up the Religious Society of Friends in Britain and it is used as well in its governing document to refer to the work carried out centrally on behalf of the membership. Whilst much of the work of the yearly meeting takes place in any of its constituent meetings, some work is more appropriately organised centrally, and it is that which is described in this chapter.

In the governing document (covering the centrally held and managed policy, property, employment and work adopted by Yearly Meeting), the charitable object of Britain Yearly Meeting is ‘the furtherance of the general religious and charitable purposes of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain and beyond’. The full governing document and explanatory notes are available from the Recording Clerk and the BYM website (new window).

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