Nominations Process

How do Quaker nominations work?

Nominations are a key part of Quaker process, and while much of it takes place behind closed doors it is central to the life of any Meeting. Like with all of our decision making, we look for leadings of the Spirit (or God, or whatever you want to call it) to prompt us in the right direction at a given time. It is always the Meeting as a whole who makes an appointment, although most of the work and discernment is delegated to a nominations committee – discernment over a nomination can get very deep, and is something best done in a small group. At YFGM we’ll normally have 5 – 7 people on our nominations committee, and it’s probably smaller for a local meeting.

At YFGM we ask our whole community to make suggestions for people they think might fill particular roles. This is very valuable, since we are a large enough community that a small group can’t possibly know everyone well.

The nominations committee will approach people who have been suggested to find out if they are willing and able to be in the role or roles their name has been suggested for. They will discern, using the Quaker business method, who is right for a given role at a given time, and bring that forward to the Meeting for appointment.

While the key work of discernment is done by the Nominations Committee, the whole Meeting is responsible for nominations and needs to support the committee by upholding them, by making suggestions, and by considering approaches with a frank and open mind.

If we’re sensible we don’t do everything this way – the person who makes the tea probably just volunteered for it – but where a Quaker community has a role it has discerned needs filling it will use this process to find someone to fill it.

How do I suggest someone for a role?

Nominations committee will advertise what roles they are looking to fill, typically on this website, in docs in advance for a YFGM, and at YFGM. There is a suggestions form here, and we will have a physical suggestions box available at YFGM itself. You can put the name of anyone you want to suggest in, and the role you are suggesting them for, and nominations committee will approach them to find out if they are willing and able.

You are very welcome to suggest yourself!

How does nominations committee decide who to bring forward for appointment?

Nominations committee uses a discernment process to find the right person for a given role at a given time – this is key, and we’ll be trusting in the Spirit (or God, or whatever you want to call it) to lead us to the right person.

They’ll have spoken to people who have said they’re willing and able to find out what their experience and interests are, and they’ll be looking at the role description and have spoken to people on the same committee or who work closely with that role to find out what’s needed from someone appointed to the role at that time. This is something that can vary – e.g. a committee might know that right now they’re missing a particular skill so noms might look for someone who can fill that gap, while when the role next comes up that won’t be necessary.

Noms will try and consider both what YFGM can gain from a particular person being in a given role and also what that person can gain from doing it. It is hoped that people will grow during their appointments, learning new skills or developing their understanding of Quakerism. The consideration is specifically not “who would be best at doing this” – the right person right now might be someone with past experience, but it’s almost more likely that it’s someone who noms feel would be able to learn the role and gain a lot from it.

How do I decide whether to say yes if nominations committee approaches me?

We ask you to have an open mind – take a moment to think beyond your immediate reaction and don’t just dismiss a role because it’s not something you’ve previously pictured yourself doing, or agree to something you actually don’t have the time to do.

A few things to think about;

  • Can you see yourself learning something from doing the role?
  • Is it something you think you’d be good at? Would there be skills you’d want to develop in order to do it?
  • Do you think you’d enjoy it?
  • Is there a practical reason you can’t do it? (we can often be inventive, although e.g. you can’t be a planning weekend newcomer right now if you can’t come to the next planning weekend) Know that if circumstances change during an appointment you can be released early, so don’t let uncertainty over what the next few years might bring prevent you.
  • How many things are you committed to at the moment? Do you have the time and energy to take this new role on?
  • Are you feeling any kind of spiritual calling, in either direction?

If you’re unsure it is worth talking things through with noms or with someone who has done the role before. Noms will always be happy to have a frank conversation when you’re not quite sure whether you can do something, either to help you come to a decision or to feed into the nominations discernment – if you think you are willing to do something but have uncertainties it can be worth being open with noms about it and trusting the process to have considered whether those are actually blockers.

How can I find out more about a role?

We have role descriptions available here.

For any particular role (especially if you’ve been approached about it), you’re welcome to talk to noms or to someone currently doing it or who has done it in the past about a role and what it involves / is like – noms will happily point these people out if needed.