Minneapolis Friends Meeting, May 2008

The Minneapolis Friends Meeting continues to hold two meetings for worship every Sunday, one unprogrammed and one semi-programmed, with a Sunday adult program in-between during the school year, and first-day school classes concurrent with the semi-programmed worship. We are grateful to God for theopportunity we have to grow and serve together in this faith community. Many of us feel supported in our commitments and strengthened to follow God’s leadings because of shared worship and the counsel of Friends.

The greatest number of Minneapolis Friends ever to attend the Friends GeneralConference Gathering participated last July when it was held in River Falls.About seventy-five went on a full or part-time basis including three whobiked there. George Watson spoke at an evening plenary about his life andlearning for over fifty years with his wife Elizabeth.

A group of nineteen (twelve high-school age youth and seven adults) traveled in Junefrom MFM to Cuba where they stayed in a retreat center at the meetinghousein Gibarra, and painted the exteriors of both, along with some Friends fromthe Gibarra Meeting. This was the fourth and largest group from our Meetingto visit with Friends in Cuba (the first was in 1999). In February this yearone adult member joined a Friends United Meeting Cuba delegation of eight,which was based in Holguin and prepared for the construction of an additionto the meetinghouse there where people will be able to stay. The impact ofthis international fellowship has been great on participants, as it also haswith members who have visited El Salvador through the yearly meeting, andworld conferences and triennials through FWCC and FUM. The Meeting hasrecently established a Youth Mission, Service and Fellowship Fund to allowfor regular and ongoing build-up of money, so that when another trip isplanned, the fundraising burden will be lighter.

We continue to explore two related issues: the meaning of the Christian holidays for usas individuals and as a Meeting, and multi-generational relationship,activities and worship in our Meeting. In the fall we dedicated portions ofthree monthly meetings with attention to business to a multigenerationaldiscussion about general worship and activities together, and specificallyour acknowledgement of Christmas. We are now experimenting on fifth Sundayswith both a multi-generational get-to-know-you and Quaker educationactivity, and a meeting for worship that is inter- or multi-generational insome way (we realize that a semi-programmed meeting for worship thatintentionally gears itself to young children will likely not work well withsenior high youth, etc.). In our most recent multi-generational meeting forworship, we limited the length of worship to forty-five minutes.

Our ranks of children in the Meeting are greater on the older end, especially highschool, and we have very small classes in early elementary, primary andmiddle elementary. We are grateful for each and every child, but are unsureat what point and how we restructure our age groups. A dedicated clerk ofReligious Education has been calling together small groups to make short andlong-term decisions about curriculum to meet our goals of religiouseducation for children. We are blessed with the committed service of FirstDay School teachers. During the school year our senior youth hold a monthlymeeting for business at the same time as monthly meeting for worship withattention to business. Recently the two groups, one a subset of the other,began to share their meeting minutes with each other and incorporate theyouth business meeting notes into the recorded meeting minutes.

Other small groups meet for worship and fellowship on a monthly basis. Several elders,along with a few others, have met the first Wednesday night of the month atthe home of one or the other of our members at a retirement center whereboth live. In addition there is a monthly mid-day gathering of elders fromMFM which meets there for lunch and a program, and the inter-Meeting Cronesgroup which alternates between the MFM and TCFM meetinghouses. Theseoccasions keep relationship strong among a group of our oldest members, manyof whom have anchored and sustained our Meeting for fifty or more years.

The Meeting received a designated gift this year to enable development and publicationof a Meeting history. Linda Coffin has been researching and writing foreight years. A clearness committee was formed this year to provide supportand to thresh through possible directions.

Visitors and new attenders come, with more in the young adult cohort, which has beenlargely lacking in our community. It is our work and privilege to welcomethem and offer on-going Quaker education. We are always wanting to do thismore and better than we do. We have held six recent gatherings on the topicof membership, using the Pendle Hill pamphlet by Tom Gates, "Members, One ofAnother."

The Peace and Social Concerns Committee offers us the "Green Tip of the Week" to helpus integrate into our lives new behaviors kinder to the earth. Driving toMeeting and Meeting activities has become more of an issue and we are makingbaby-steps toward more ride-sharing. A few bike to Meeting and some walk.

A few Minneapolis Friends continue to make the state Eyes Wide Open exhibitavailable, and it had a good showing at the State Capitol building on thefifth anniversary of the war in Iraq. Plans are underway for a NationalGuard boots display during the Republican National Convention.

Friends have suffered personal and family losses, griefs and challenges, and manyare stretched, including financially, in terms of time and commitments, orwith pain and illness.

The Meeting is thin for all we want to do. We generate many more good ideas than we canpossibly carry out. What are we being led to do? Given our commitments tofamily, work/jobs, etc., what do we plan as a Meeting community? What do weleave out for simplicity’s sake?

There are currently 91 active members of Minneapolis Friends Meeting, 13 activeassociate members, 45 regular attenders and 31 regular attenders who arechildren. We had five new members this past year: one by convincement, twoby transfer and two by parent request (associates).

Eleanor and George Owen were married under the joint care of Minneapolis Friends Meetingand Milwaukee Friends Meeting on August 25, 2007.

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