State of Society Report 2003

Minneapolis Friends Meeting, April 2003

This past year has been one of grief, despair, supplication to God and grace.  The current administration’s curtailment of civil liberties and search for security through military action has shaken many in our Meeting and left us asking ourselves what can be done to turn the tide.  The death of Senator Paul Wellstone, whose work so many of us admired, and the war in Iraq has brought despair to our souls.  We cry out to God with heavy hearts.

And God is gracious.  God has called many in our community to recommit or extend their commitment to working for peace and social justice.  MFM members and attenders have participated in vigils, peace movement planning sessions, visits to the offices of our congresspeople, and organizing events to preserve civil liberties.  There is a free flow of information, especially via the internet, from local and national and even international organizations about events, petitions, phone-ins and other campaigns which has encouraged and enabled our activism.  The Quaker community and local peace movement have been blessed by Phil Steger, director of FNVW, who is an excellent educator and a persistent voice of reason amid the turbulence of our times.  As we work for justice without violence, we pray for wisdom in seeking common ground with those whose views differ, and the insight to discover and communicate viable alternatives to war.  We know that Light will overcome darkness and trust that God can bring good from evil.

And God has moved the hearts of those in our community to such generosity!  Our community sent a total of $11,100 in special offerings to AFSC’s Afghanistan schools project, Missing Children Minnesota, Friends for a Non-Violent World, Cuba Yearly Meeting, and the Million Dollar Campaign for the children of Iraq.  We are grateful for the opportunity to help heal the broken-ness in the world through this gesture of financial outreach.  Likewise, we have so many talented, gifted people who have agreed to serve on our Meeting’s committees.  There is a generosity of service.

Our community has been enriched by the presence and spirit of ten new members and two new associate members, along with many new attenders.   We give thanks for their presence, and the Light that shines through them.

The first day school continues to thrive with 57 children attending with some consistency.  We have 25 active middle and high school students, and continue to develop a youth program to offer service and social opportunities for them.

The Adult Program speakers and topic discussion have added richness and depth to the life of our community.  Hearing the spiritual journeys of admired elders in the meeting, sharing and learning from each other about our individual experience of worship, being stimulated and challenged by a conversation around racism, finding the beauty and poetry within each of us, and hearing from respected community members about their struggles, and what we can ask of ourselves in terms of activism, have nourished the seeds of the Spirit.  We are grateful for the opportunity to learn and share with each other.

Linda Coffin of the ad hoc History Committee has continued to work toward researching and writing a history of Minneapolis Friends Meeting’s first one hundred and fifty years.  We eagerly anticipate its completion in time for our 2005 sesquicentennial.  We are thankful for her gifts and dedication that are bringing this publication to fruition.  We are also better tending the preservation of Meeting records.

Our first day worship and turning our hearts to God continues to nourish and sustain our community of faith.  Thursday Night Community Night remains a place of welcome and worship, particularly for newcomers or those not able to come first day morning.

We have brought some measure of closure to an area of pain in our community.  At our business meeting in third month of 2003, we received and approved the recommendation from Ministry and Counsel that same sex couples who wish to marry under the care of the Meeting be allowed to call their union whatever term they wish.  The decade previous, the Meeting decided to take same sex unions under its care, helping to nurture the relationship’s growth, and the spiritual wellness of the individuals, but it would not call the union a marriage.  Now all couples may describe their commitment in terms of their own choosing, including marriage.  It was not until this business meeting that many in the community began to understand how our accepted practice had hurt and marginalized some in our Meeting.  We are grateful for the opportunity to grow in awareness, sensitivity and understanding, and hope to incorporate that new understanding into our corporate life.

We give thanks for the presence and ministry of so many of the elders in the Meeting, despite their decline in health and energy.  We are grateful to them and to God for their example of aging with wisdom and grace.  We celebrate the work of God as shown in the life of Alfred Vaughan, who passed on August 11, 2002.

Membership Statistics for Minneapolis Monthly Meeting

Fifth month, 2003

This report is an attempt to record as well as possible, the real participation of individuals in the life of the meeting, and does not include non-resident or inactive members.  It also does not include the membership of Winona Preparative Meeting.

Currently there are 112 active members of Minneapolis Monthly Meeting.  There are 16 active associate members.  The pool of attenders is greater this year than it was last year, but it is hard to determine who among those new attenders is solidly with us.  Unscientifically stated, there are 57 regular adult attenders and 43 regular attenders who are children. 

New members: 12
by convincement – 9
by transfer – 1
by request (associate memberships) – 2

Released members: 1
by death – 1