Statement from Brighton Quaker Meeting Finance and Property Committee on our bookings policy
The management of the bookings at Brighton Quaker Meeting House is done by our Wardens in the first instance. If the Wardens have doubts about any person or group who wish to hire our building, they will refer the matter to the Finance and Property Committee who will make the final decision
This statement endeavours to explain the criteria used for such decisions
Brighton Quaker Meeting considers its lovely Meeting House as one of our best forms of outreach to the local community so we endeavour to use it as fully as we can to support our testimonies and social witness. In keeping with our Quaker values, we try to provide a peaceful space where a wide range of groups can meet and hold events. We have developed our Conditions of Hire over recent years and these are to be found on our website. We are happy to hire our rooms to groups who can agree to these conditions.
We place particular emphasis on the need for groups to respect our Quaker testimonies of peace equality, truth, integrity and sustainability
However, sometimes decisions in these matters are nuanced and complex. Where doubt has arisen from whatever source about any group or speaker being in conflict with our testimonies, we give the matter serious consideration. We may also consider the matter within Quaker Worship
If we feel the need, we will also consult others including those within our wider local Quaker Meeting and may seek advice from Friends House (the central Quaker organisation). Where possible we may also consult other communities within Brighton which may have a particular understanding of an issue.
Having been through this process, we make a decision based on our discernment at the time. Where we decide to go ahead with a booking despite doubts having been expressed by other outside persons or organisations, we will endeavour to have Quaker observers present. Should these observers raise any doubts themselves about speakers or organisations who use our Meeting House, we will review future bookings.
Where bookings are rejected, that decision will also be based on not only whether the hirer’s aims and objectives are in accord with Quaker testimonies, but also whether their means to achieve these are respectful and peaceful. We are aware of increasing polarisation of views in society, the weaponizing of otherwise legitimate concerns and a tendency to goad those holding views which differ from one’s own. These tactics are not acceptable to us. Quakers have a proud tradition of speaking truth to power, but we try to do so in a spirit of love rather than hate. “Othering” of opponents and claims to victimhood generally exacerbate mistrust and fear.
We are, above all, a religious community and we do not have the resources needed to carry out speedy and exhaustive checks on all potential hirers. If you want to hire our rooms, we must ask you to give us as much notice as possible.
In the past, we have sometimes tried to respect the wishes of those organising public meetings (as distinct from private events) that the identity of the venue be kept confidential until very shortly before the meeting’s start time. This has often been in expectation of likely confrontation. In future, we will not accept such requests. We recognise that, in principle, a peaceable organisation may face unwarranted and possibly violent opposition. However, in our experience of hiring our meeting spaces, unrest is often associated with a past tendency of the organiser to use inflammatory language or other behaviour intended to divide people. This is contrary to Quaker faith and practice.
The decision of the Finance and Property Committee as to whether to accept or reject a booking is final.
Finance and Property Committee