Chapter 4 » 4.10
Constitution and functions
The area meeting shall keep the following matters under regular review:
- the right and regular holding of meetings for worship in its constituent local meetings (4.33.a);
- the right ordering of meetings for church affairs within its constituent meetings (4.32);
- agreement with each constituent local meeting as to how responsibilities are to be fulfilled (4.34);
- the appointment and service of elders and overseers; the level and nature of pastoral care in the area meeting (12.06; 12.16);
- the use of Advices and queries (1.05–1.07);
- the maintenance and revision of its official register of members (11.37) and its list of attenders and children not in membership associated with its several meetings for worship (11.38);
- the maintenance and revision of any published list of members, attenders and children not in membership (11.39);
- the preparation of the annual tabular statement, recording membership changes, marriages and deaths, which is to be forwarded to the Recording Clerk as early as possible in the following year (6.07, 11.36);
- the arrangements for forwarding notices of change of address (11.21–11.22) and certificates for transfer of membership (11.24–11.25);
- the proper custody of its records (4.39–4.45) including deeds (15.18);
- the care of trust property, including the appointment of trustees (15.02; 15.10) and the right application of capital and income (14.20);
- the stewardship of financial resources and maintenance of accounts, including those of its committees and its constituent meetings, in accordance with the general rules set out in 14.13–14.17: they must be examined by an independent person (who must satisfy the conditions set out in 14.15–14.16) before the annual statement of accounts is considered by the meeting and, if approved, accepted;
- the provision of the relevant financial accounts and property records to Meeting for Sufferings in order to enable it to fulfil its responsibilities (14.36) including annual certification to the Yearly Meeting;
- the advice to Friends on their outward affairs and the timely making and revision of their wills (4.22);
- the supervision (16.21) and recording (16.63) of marriages according to our usage; the prompt forwarding to the Recording Clerk of the name of any newly appointed registering officer (16.22); any delegation to specific local meetings of responsibility for appointing meetings for worship for the solemnisation of marriage (16.43);
- the recording of deaths of members of the area meeting (11.40); the provision of advice on funerals (17.07); the appointment of Friends responsible for the arrangement of funerals (17.08); the production and revision of memoranda (17.15) to ensure that a sufficient number of Friends are familiar with the practical arrangements for funerals and memorial meetings in their area (17.14);
- the supervision and recording of burials (including the interment or scattering of ashes after cremation) in burial grounds belonging to the area meeting (14.31, 17.11–17.13); the supervision of the use of gravestones in its burial grounds (14.34); the care of burial grounds (14.28, 14.33);
- the maintenance and use of libraries in local meetings (13.41–13.42);
- the nomination, where appropriate, in England and Wales, of Quaker prison chaplains, in accordance with 13.52–13.53;
- the relevance of new legislation to their activities and the compliance of their constituent meetings with the law: current concerns include matters as diverse as charity law, criminal records checking (4.14), data protection (4.45) and accessibility.
This list will doubtless change over time.
Area meetings will, according to particular circumstances, have other areas of responsibility (e.g. local homes for elderly people) and should always keep them under regular review.
Reference should also be made to the following paragraphs concerning other responsibilities of area meetings: representation on Meeting for Sufferings (4.17, 7.05–7.07), on Quaker Life Representative Council (4.17, 8.09–8.10) and at the Annual Conference of Treasurers (14.43–14.44); attendance at Yearly Meeting (6.12); assistance in the amicable settlement of disputes (4.23); discernment in concern (13.05–13.07 & 13.09–13.18).