Minneapolis Friends Meeting, March 2007
Although we have remained active beyond the walls of the meetinghouse, during 2006-2007 much of the attention and energy of Minneapolis Friends Meeting (MFM) has focused on internal issues. Throughout the year our sense of community has been enhanced. We are grateful for the presence of the Spirit in our midst.
Individuals from MFM provided leadership for the development and exhibition of Eyes Wide Open: The Cost of War to Minnesota. Since October 2006, the exhibit has toured seven cities, two college campuses and the Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda. Others have sent several care packages to soldiers in Iraq, and still others joined a candlelight service at St. Joan of Arc Church to remember child victims of war.
To focus on local issues, MFM and a number of Southwest Minneapolis churches collaborated with the Peace Foundation, a North Minneapolis organization, to address serious community needs in North Minneapolis. We continued our service through providing Loaves and Fishes at Holy Rosary Church. MFM joined Minnesotans Against the Death Penalty.
The largest contingent ever from MFM, including five high school students, attended the 2006 Northern Yearly Meeting. MFM members served on NYM committees and on the 2007 Friends General Conference Gathering planning committee. Also, MFM members served on the boards of Friends World Committee on Consultation, the American Friends Service Committee and the Friends School of Minnesota School Committee. A member served as Clerk of Right Sharing of World Resources. The Meeting was represented at a number of wider Friends gatherings.
We offered a vibrant religious education program for children drawing from the Jubilee curriculum and including creative and engaging teacher-designed or chosen activities. Teachers for the junior high class developed their own curriculum and considered Quaker history, an orientation to the Bible and stewardship of the Earth. The senior high class had more regular participants than in any recent year with attendance ranging from 10 to 12 young adults. They conducted their own meeting for worship and also held monthly meetings for worship with attention to business.
To enhance our religious education for children and youth, threshing sessions were held to consider desired outcomes and means to attain them. An ad hoc committee on Religious Education was formed to revise our curriculum. They are guided by a vision statement which they distilled from input received during the threshing sessions. We purchased some new curriculum materials to test. We continue to seek ways to integrate Quaker practice into younger children’s lessons and for materials for all ages which address Quaker issues and history.
For several months the Meeting as a whole prepared for a trip of MFM youth and adults to Cuba. Travelers prepared through clearness committees, varied educational activities and sponsored many fund-raising activities. The Meeting strengthened its sense of community through fellowship over cinnamon rolls at meetings for business, joining two oatmeal breakfasts, enjoying a concert and dance and attending a dinner. We anticipate 12 youth and seven adults will be in Cuba from June 15 to June 23.
A sense of community within MFM continued to be enhanced through small groups which gather both at the meetinghouse and in homes. A vocational support group has been added this year, and a singles group met once during our monthly potluck. We celebrated our 50th year of Fall Camp; 75 adults, children and youth attended. Community night, which offered a mid-week opportunity for brief worship and fellowship, was laid down.
MFM formed a think tank regarding diversity within our Meeting and beyond. Also, MFM wrestled with how to improve attendance and vitality within meeting for worship with attention to business and with how to observe holidays in ways that are meaningful and authentic for members and attenders. We began to address the latter issue by forming small groups within a recent meeting for business to share thoughts, hopes, wishes and meaningful memories of holiday observances past. Junior and senior high youth were invited into the discussion and were interspersed within the small groups, adding richness and dimension.
Worship has been rich and varied in both the unprogrammed and semi-programmed meetings for worship. We are grateful for the assurance and comfort God’s presence offers us in our communal life. We are challenged to consistently maintain an atmosphere of receptive worship, responsive to the immediate movement of the Spirit. We are aware that a distraction for one individual may offer an opening to another.
Adult education opportunities have enhanced our worship and strengthened our sense of community. We have discussed NYM Faith and Practice chapters and addressed other issues during adult program on first day mornings. An adult program and two Saturday morning sessions considered books and articles published by Marcus Borg.
Two marriages were held under the care of the Meeting this past year: member Janis Bremer and Dan Reuter, and members G. Zachariah White and Lynn Patricia. We held a memorial service for long-time member John (Jack) Parker on May 20, 2006. We continue to miss the depth and breadth of his vocal ministry and the fruits of his passion for tending bees and gardening. We welcomed one new member by convincement. Three members were released, one by death and two through transfers. There are currently 88 active members of MFM and 14 active associate members. There are 62 regular adult attenders and 42 regular attenders who are children.