We are an organisation set up by Quakers, mainly funded by Quakers and run by Quakers. In addition, though, we are an organisation acting in accordance with Quaker principles and run along Quaker lines- using Quaker methods.
As a Religious Society, Quakers have refused since our inception to define our faith in a way that includes or excludes – we don’t have a set statement of belief or creed by which Quakers are defined. There are, however, guiding principles which we often refer to as our “testimonies”. These testimonies concern Truth, Peace, Equality, Simplicity and Sustainability and they all inform each other. For example, our concern about sustainability is also connected with our concern about simplicity (in not opting for a high-consumption lifestyle, for example) and equality (in not aspiring to a lifestyle that places an unfair burden on others, now and in future generations).
So these principles guide Quaker faith and practice not just at the individual level but also at the corporate level. In QHT they are there in our aim to support projects that seek to build or refurbish to high environmental standards and to build a fairer society locally and nationally. More subtly, our principles of Truth and Simplicity inspire us to go the extra mile in establishing the worth of a project, even if those making the application might not have the skills to make a slick presentation.
These principles also guide Quaker business method, the way in which we make decisions. As well as starting and ending our meetings with silence, we also have periods of silence throughout, while we support our Clerk in writing a minute that aims to record the sense of the meeting. This “sense of the meeting” is not “what most people think” – we don’t take a vote on something and go with the majority. If anyone at the meeting is unhappy with the minute they are able to suggest a correction or raise an issue that they feel has not been fully explored. The end result is a minute arising from a thorough exploration in which everyone has participated.
So how meetings of QHT are conducted is an example of Quaker business method, rooted in Quaker faith and practice. One aspect of the Quaker testament of Simplicity is that there is no barrier between faith and practice or between business and worship. We hope, through this process, to be faithful to those who entrust their money with us in the hope that it will be used in accordance with the principles treasured not only by Quakers, but by all people of good will.