1. External audit on Facebook concerns
With the trustees oversight, we (Nicola Coombe, focaliser; Jackie Amos Wilkinson, faculty lead; and Alan Briscoe, operations manager) have sought the views of an external consultant and have had the Facebook threads analysed. We will initiate an internal audit on the concerns raised on Facebook, to be led by an external consultancy. The terms of this audit will be shared and the audit will be started early in 2017. It will include those who wish to share their experiences with an external agent.
(Note: this is one of two related articles. A link to the other, Our Focaliser’s response to recent Facebook discussions, is at the end of this article.)
2. Trustee recruitment, development and views
The trustees are preparing a recruitment process for new trustees, to be open to OneSpirit graduates and the public. They are considering whether to co-opt trustees to the board on an interim basis to bridge the period between now and a longer-term recruitment process. The trustees commit to relevant development work for the trustee role within OneSpirit, and will report on this in early 2017, as well as communicating a sense of their own trustee-specific response to our organisation’s evolution.
3. System-wide conflict and healing processes
We commit to finding and implementing further system-wide engagement and healing processes, and using technology where suitable given our distributed body. We are creating an additional complaints process as part of this, as our existing process is more focused on complaints against individuals. A process to complain about the organisation is being written and will be shared in January 2017. We welcome all ideas and experience. Ministers with experience of systemic healing and communication modes, using in-person and technology mediums, are invited initially to contact Lindsay.
4. Focaliser role and wider leadership
We are committed to evolving the effectiveness and purpose of this role, and its potential. The wider leadership team (trustees, faculty and staff) will include this and all of these other strands in its agenda on 22 and 23 January 2017 at Asha House in our annual two day meeting. This will be reported on in iConnect and on the website.
5. Policies more visible on website
We are developing a new page on our website to give easy access to the policies and other documents that our ministers, students and the public might want to see. This will be ready by January, with the link given in iConnect. Our annual reports, and organisational history and aims, are on the tab About Us in the horizontal menu bar at the top of each page of the website.
6. Our minister body – clarifying the present – a brief overview
The structure of the charity is that the trustees are, formally, the only ‘members’ of OneSpirit Interfaith Foundation. The trustees are responsible for seeing that the charity’s aims are fulfilled, including oversight of the strategic and financial aspects. The charity’s objects are:
To benefit the public by the education of mature adults in:
the core principles of the world’s religions, faiths and spiritual traditions
principles and methods of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace-making
and the practice of non-denominational spiritual and pastoral service in the community.
When the trustees initiated the development of the Interfaith Ministers Association, the form that was chosen was an association. This is not, in formal terms, what is understood as ‘a membership body’ and thus does not have a formal role in the decision-making of the Foundation, including the development of overall direction and the employment of staff.
The trustees employ a focaliser to whom they delegate responsibility for the overall task of fulfilling the charity’s aims, which includes working with the trustees. (Before the focaliser role, the trustees directly employed a manager, a seminary leader, and a community developer).
It is understandable that this structure might not be clear to our minister body, and that the role of ministers in the formal workings of the organisation might be unclear.
However, at the informal rather than legal level, the Foundation has chosen to develop channels for support, communication, engagement, and feedback with our ministers. Recent developments include our new website; Touchstone calls with a regular open agenda invitation to speak to trustees and the focaliser; local meetings with ministers in the UK and Ireland; the four-year postgraduate programme, Mystery & Mastery Communities; Close-to-Home Convocations to build local and specialist minister support; the focus on the website and on our public Facebook page and in our public newsletter OneSpirit News on sharing the work of our ministers with the world; and more.
It is also understandable that it might look as if there is no longer a community development focus given that there is not – at the moment – a role called ‘community developer’. Ironically there has never been more focus on the minister community than there is now. The work that was held by that role is now held by a team, including Lindsay, Alan, Jackie, Rob, Danielle, and Nicola. It is clear that this has not been well communicated and we are very sorry about this. It is also all up for discussion and evolution.
7. Our minister body – going forward
During 2016 the leadership team have begun the work of establishing a clearer and evolved relationship between the organisation and our ministers. It is clear that this is urgently needed, and consultation with our ministers about this will begin as soon as possible in 2017, possibly with the support of an external agency. Anyone who wishes to share ideas about this is welcome to write to Lindsay, who will pass them on.
8. Advisory board … and/or other means of creative flow
We are considering the possibility of an advisory board to be made up of OneSpirit ministers and external colleagues, as one of the many ways to formalize and increase the flow of energy across our body. A consultation will include seeking your thoughts about this.
9. Touchstone Calls
Half a dozen calls were added to the normal schedule as an immediate way of being in direct communication about the Facebook energies. These have created a space, albeit a small space, for some of the conflict and frustration to be heard, for prayer and inner listening, and for dialogue. The faculty have deeply appreciated hearing from ministers about issues to do with guest speakers specifically, and about the curriculum in general. The faculty are in dialogue about how to evolve this part of the curriculum, including changes that were being made based on feedback from students during the last academic year. Notes from the recent calls are now posted on the website, as written by those who attend the calls. Ideas for future Touchstones are always welcome. Thank you for the goodwill and courage that these calls, and that all of this engagement, calls forth.
The related document can be seen here: Our Focaliser’s response to recent Facebook discussions.