Living-eldership-cover-250Eldership is about nurture, nurture and nurture (from Chapter 13 “What is required of us”).

The most significant “thing” at AYM for me, was the visible presence of designated Elders. I noticed that there was less “cross” talk and chatter during sessions; very little disruptive energy or tensions really rising; differences were more easily dealt with or managed. I think that people were better able to focus on the issues; contributions during formal sessions were more in the nature of ministry than in previous YMs. The whole atmosphere was calmer and more purposeful. I would like to see designated RM elders also upholding RM meetings, throughout Australia.

One new, useful guide to Eldering is Jenny Routledge’s book. It is also an illustration of how one Friend lived through the growth and faithful following of a concern.

Like many Australian Friends, Jenny Routledge was very disconcerted by the practice at Pendle Hill of accompanying eldership, where the elder is an obvious, praying presence, upholding the minister and the community. I experienced this type of accompanying eldership when I gave the Backhouse Lecture in 2009, and it enabled me to do much more than I was capable of: I was not speaking from my own strength, rather the Spirit was able to flow through me.

Jenny also acknowledges the reality that Friends are also uncomfortable with the word “accountability”. She writes, “accountability… asks ‘How can we support each other to live our lives authentically? How are you led to express our Quaker testimonies in your life? Can you be specific and lay down some fundamental principles and actions that you want to commit to?’”

Our new Testimony to “Earthcare” (which could more humbly be named “Earth Gratitude”) will require this sort of accountability from us if we are to live with integrity, and eldering can help us with this. We need help in clearing the blockages so that the Spirit can flow freely through us.

Helen Gould, NSW Regional Meeting

The Living Eldership course guide is excellent. It is also available free at

Living Eldership by Jenny Routledge. Published by Quaker Books London, 2014.

Includes A Journey of discovery and course guide.


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