This year has been challenging for our nation and our Meeting. Our country felt under threat in response to the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania on September 11. We have been looking for ways to bear witness to a non-violent response both individually and as a Meeting. Through all our endeavors we have been richly blessed and we acknowledge the Spirit as the source of our blessings.
This has been not only a challenging, but an exciting year for the Minneapolis Friends Meeting. Having had the services of our Director of Ministry, Patricia Jones, for over twenty years, we thought it was high time to plan for her to have a sabbatical leave! Pat worked with a committee to discover her focus for the sabbatical and arrange for meeting function in her absence. Her focus was on finding renewal and a wider perspective by traveling across time, geography and culture to observe where people, out of their sense of the sacred, have manipulated natural elements – stone, water, vegetation. She was interested in the relationships between outer landscapes and the landscape of the soul. During her 7 and ½ months away, she traveled twice to Japan and also to the British Columbia, Canada. The Meeting applied for and received a $30,000 grant from the National Clergy Renewal Program of Lilly Endowment, Inc. to cover Pat’s travel expenses, staff salaries and two retreat days for the Meeting. Pat came back in November refreshed and with many new insights that she continues to share with the Meeting.
During Pat’s sabbatical the Meeting attempted to renew itself by holding two one-day retreats on the meaning of ministry and sabbatical in our own daily lives. Pat’s focus on the environment touched the Meeting’s concerns about threats to the environment and we sought healing ways to address these concerns. We also sought to discover the strengths of the Meeting in shared ministry and committee functioning. Two members shared the role of Ministry Coordinator and our administrative assistant accepted additional responsibilities. Other members served as stewards on Sunday mornings. Evaluations of the experience were positive and we are planning to provide a sabbatical for our Director of Ministry every seven years.
The youth program has gained new life partly as a result of a work project in Cuba in April of 2001 and a work project on the Pine Ridge Reservation in the summer of 2001. We recently added a senior high first day school class which meets every other week. Other classes have enjoyed sponsoring the creation of hygiene kits for the Harriet Tubman Shelter in Minneapolis and for people in need in other countries.
The mental, spiritual and social growth of adults has been fed by an adult education program three times a month, Thursday Community Nights every Thursday, and Golden Oldies. With metro area Friends we have had some participation in Crones and have joined in some special gatherings. We share the expenses of regularly serving at Loaves and Fishes with Friends from Twin Cities Friends Meeting, Prospect Park and St. Croix Valley. Between twenty-five and thirty members and attenders serve on Yearly Meeting committees and on boards and committees of national Quaker organizations
An ad hoc History Committee of the Meeting is helping us prepare a history of the Minneapolis Friends Meeting and other early Meetings in the area for a sesquicentennial celebration in 2005. We are hoping to create a book of this history.