Quakers have no ministers. Or, to put it another way, everyone is a minister in a Quaker Meeting – we all take a little bit of responsibility. When it comes to general organisation, things are organised more or less so that people are enabled to bring their skills to bear in the most suitable ways. There are a lot of funny titles for the various roles and a strong penchant for committee making, with organisational meetings conducted using the strange but powerful Quaker business method. The result should be that no one has too much of a burden to bear.
Here are some of the people involved in Settle Meeting:
Clerk: John Asher – As Clerk I help with the organisation of Meeting so that we worship and witness effectively as a community of Friends. I joined Quakers in Blackburn in the late 1980s after membership of the Anglican, URC and Presbyterian Churches. Other interests include refugee issues and archaeology – which we have married together here in Settle! I also chair the North Craven Heritage Trust, our local civic society.
Elder: Michael Yates – I began my working life as an ordained Anglican priest. In 1974 we decided to move to Giggleswick, and for a couple of years I had five part-time jobs. This was followed by teacher training and 22 years at North Yorkshire’s largest comprehensive. In the mid 80s I decided that what I should “give up for Lent” was being an Anglican! So I went to my first Quaker Meeting with my wife who had been enjoying Meeting for Worship for about a year. We joined Friends together a few years later. I served as a Yorkshire trustee at Glenthorne and in the late 1990s as clerk to the development committee to extend and improve Settle’s 17th century Meeting House. This included raising about £4,000 from a bed and breakfast scheme and saving about the same amount by doing demolition work ourselves before the builders moved in. Fortunately, my present role as an elder is less physically tiring – or so I hope! As an elder I am responsible for nurturing the spiritual life of the Meeting and its members, particularly through our Meetings for Worship.
Treasurer: Alison Tyas – I have been a Quaker all my life. I was born into a Quaker family whose ancestors go back to the 17th century beginnings of Quakerism. I went to a Quaker boarding school, trained at a Quaker mental hospital, married a Quaker and after I retired I came as Resident Friend to the Meeting House in Settle. I enjoy the company of people from all walks of life and religions. I try to buy fairly traded, ethical, organic items whenever I can and go on the occasional demonstration against weapons of mass destruction.
Resident Friends: Marian and Phil McNichol – Our task is to provide a welcome for any enquiries relating to Settle Friends Meeting. We manage the room bookings for the meeting house and keep the building safe and secure for everyone who uses it. Phil also manages the garden. We have been Quakers for over thirty years and were resident friends in Wellington New Zealand for a year as our first step into retirement. We enjoyed it so much we decided to apply here in Settle
Many Quaker Meeting Houses host a library. The one in Settle is actively managed, and new books on a range of topics (for example: history of Quakerism, world religions and spirituality, environment, peace) are regularly introduced.
The collective noun for Quakers is a “Meeting”. Quaker Meetings are scalable in both space and time. Settle Meeting is a Local Meeting, but we are also part of Craven and Keighley Area Meeting which is a wider area that meets less often. It includes the Local Meetings of Settle, Airton, Keighley, Skipton and Bentham. The next step up in scale is Quakers in Yorkshire, which meets about quarterly, and we all also belong to Britain Yearly Meeting, which – you guessed it – has a big meeting once a year!