Area meetings' responsibility for pastoral care
The responsibility for providing each local meeting with the necessary resources for eldership and oversight rests with the area meeting, while much of the ongoing work is carried out in its constituent meetings. Good communication between these meetings and the area meeting should be maintained at all times so that items referred by one body to another are attended to and, where necessary, action is taken.
Elders and overseers (where appointed) will only be able to serve well if they are known and accessible to Friends and attenders. Care should be taken that members of a meeting know which of their number are serving for the time being in each capacity.
Meetings of those responsible for eldership and oversight should be called at least once a year by the area meeting. Here they can consider the needs of other meetings besides their own as well as the fundamentals of their faith & practice. Here too, newly appointed elders and overseers can learn about the tasks laid upon them and about how these responsibilities are carried out in other meetings. The area meeting should ensure that opportunities for consultation and inspiration are made known and appoint representatives to conferences on pastoral care matters, which might also be arranged by general meetings. Meetings are urged to learn about, and make use of, the wide variety of experience and resources available. Guidance on many aspects of pastoral care is available from Quaker Life.
Area meetings shall keep under regular review the provision of pastoral care in their constituent meetings (see 4.13 & 12.16). Area meetings should seek the forms of eldership and oversight in each constituent meeting that best meet needs (12.15).