“To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune… To lose both seems like carelessness” (Lady Bracknell to Mr Jack Worthing in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest).
It was with a degree of trepidation that I announced to members of the National Committee of Quest gathered in London for their January meeting that I will be standing down as Editor of the Bulletin with effect from after the publication of the Autumn 2015 edition.
The reader may be asking In what way this ties in with the quotation above. Well, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, “To lose a Conference Organiser may be regarded as a misfortune . . . To lose an Editor as well seems like carelessness”.
My reluctance in revealing my decision stemmed from the knowledge that, almost two years after Nick Burchnall announced his intention to step down, the post of Conference Organiser remains unfilled. The annual Conference is an important event in the life of Quest. Not only does it serve as an opportunity for members to socialise with old acquaintances and forge new friendships, it is also an occasion to imbibe the wisdom of keynote speakers and, most importantly, elect new officers as well as discuss matters important to the mission of Quest in the context of the Annual General Meeting.
The fact that no one has yet stepped up to the plate to fill the vacancy left by Nick (who has since taken on the role of Membership Secretary and, temporarily, as Deputy Chair) places the future of the annual Conference in jeopardy. It was with a measure of reluctance that, in 2007, I accepted Mark Dowd’s invitation to assume the position of Bulletin Editor. However, I am glad that I eventually summoned up the courage to take the task on, for it has been an immense privilege and, yes, joy, to serve Quest in this role. As I began to put the finishing touches to the Winter 2014-15 edition, it became increasingly clear to me that I was running out of steam and out of ideas for future editions. Twenty-five editions – as it will be with the Autumn edition – spread over eight years, admittedly, has not been too much of a burden. Whilst acknowledging that finding a successor will present the Chair and the other members of the committee with a considerable headache to add to that of finding a Conference Organiser, I nonetheless feel that to continue in post does not serve the best interests of Quest and will very soon lead to resentment on my part.
Like that of the Conference Organiser, the role of Editor of Quest Bulletin is a key position within the organisation. As well as keeping members in touch with news ‘from the centre’ and articles relating to our Catholic faith and sexuality, through its availability via the website it also provides a window to the world on our activities, views, plans and developments. As I informed the committee on 24�� January, and have since repeated in my communications with Ruby, I am genuinely enthusiastic about the developments opening up within Quest and wholeheartedly endorse them. It remains my intention to advise and support the committee whenever called upon to do so. Whoever succeeds me as Editor – and, please God, let someone step forward soon for my job and Nick’s – I am available to share with that person (or persons) the benefit of eight years experience in the job.
So, it is now down to you, the readers of the Bulletin. To paraphrase another famous quotation, this time from John F. Kennedy and his inaugural Presidential address of January 1961: “Ask not what Quest can do for you, ask what you can do for Quest”. The future of the Conference, the Bulletin and, dare I mention it, Quest itself depends on the answer you give.
• John Ashman