Minneapolis Friends Meeting State of Society Report: Fourth Month 2009- third month, 2010
In the spring of 2010 Minneapolis Friends Meeting is responding to leadings to deepen our faith, to become more welcoming, to be true to that of God in our heritage, and to bring our voice and values to our larger communities. We are in the midst of change — changing the timing of our monthly meeting for worship with attention to business, initiating an on-going Meeting-wide process for racial healing, exploring participation in Quaker Quest, considering another trip to visit our F/friends in Cuba, continuing to revise First Day School curricula for our youth while also identifying needs for adult education, updating the tasks and guidelines for our standing committees, and simplifying how we record minutes at business meeting.
The impetus for change comes from many directions. It comes as we look at who we are in order to authentically welcome new attenders, as we ask what we need from each other to grow spiritually, and as we discern Spirit’s priorities for our energy and resources. To use the language of our Christian heritage, how do we live in the Kingdom of God now? Addressing these issues has revealed disparate needs and competing ideas as well as new opportunities to speak our truth and listen deeply to one another. How do we use and evolve our Quaker process of discernment and listening for that of God in each of us to make change with integrity, in Spirit and in love?
In November, 2009 two groups began reading a chapter a month of Fit for Freedom, not for Friendship. Discussions of Quaker racism and attempts to address it are rich and provocative. In these and other discussions, Friends state that we are missing something by remaining primarily of European descent. How do we need to change to become more inclusive and whole?
This winter Monthly Meeting approved the Adult Program Committee’s proposal for a five month, weekly exploration of Quaker spirituality, faith, history, and testimonies. This involved changing a longstanding practice whereby Peace and Social Concerns Committee invited a speaker for one adult program session per month. The resulting discomfort sparked a discussion; what do adults in the Meeting need to nurture and express our faith, and how much of that can we as a Meeting provide for ourselves? We held a threshing session on a Wednesday night attended by 20 people. It became clear that our needs for education, connection and spiritual sustenance are varied and cannot be met in one 45-minute period on Sunday. We continue to grapple individually and collectively with both the perception and reality that we do not have enough time for all that is important to us. Perhaps as we move forward, we will embody the wisdom, expressed in Ecclesiastes, that there is a time for everything under heaven.
We struggle to see what work is ours to be done, and how to organize ourselves to do it. It is difficult to fill standing committees while energy bubbles up for activities outside of the committee structure. In March 2009, we laid down Advancement and Outreach and approved a two year ad hoc committee to focus on newcomers. With great excitement we’ve begun the first major re-design of our website with the intention that it serve internal communication needs as well as make us more visible to those who want to find us. In the spirit of welcoming, we also keep our elevator in good repair, and we are grateful for the gift of a new amplifier for our microphones, so all may hear and be heard. Our Marriage Oversight Committee is developing ways to meet the ongoing needs of those whose marriages are under the care of the Meeting. Death and Memorial Committee is clarifying the tasks involved in caring for those facing death and identifying those able to provide service in doing these tasks.
As a Meeting we have been able to meet expenses. We addressed the recession by eliminating items from our budget for 2009-2010 that we hoped we could later add back in. In May of 2010 we approved re-funding these items with a budget surplus. For 2010-2011, we decided to approve our full budget with an awareness that we might have to take items out if revenues are not adequate. At the same time many individuals and families are struggling with a lack of adequate employment. We experimented with informal structures to connect those with needs with those with resources. Two groups formed to provide mutual support during long unemployment and other economic stresses.
We continue to speak publicly from Quaker testimonies. Three members spoke of simplicity and environmental stewardship with our US Senator, Amy Klobuchar. Two members attended our US Congressperson, Keith Ellison’s Interfaith Gathering and were humbled by the work of other faith communities. Three members participated in an annual interfaith lobby day at the state capitol. Ten people participated in “The [first] Great Minnesota Walk to Worship” weekend. Ministry and Counsel created a map of the homes of members and attenders who are interested in sharing rides. Many continue active participation in the Alternatives to Violence Project, locally and nationally.
We are renewed by participation in the wider community of Friends. Thirteen attended a clerking workshop at TCFM by Arthur Larabbee. Fourteen attended a metro-wide half day session on sharing our Quaker faith and experience with family, friends and newcomers. One member is on Friends General Conference Central Committee. Another, on AFSC’s Friends Relation Committee. Our youth participated in NYM youth retreats in Milwaukee and Madison and at our own meetinghouse.
We note a continuing change in leadership as the elders of families who strengthened the Meeting in the second half of the 20th century are less and less active. We thank God for the strong, Spirit-based legacy they have given. We are blessed with an increase in the number of new attenders many of whom are in their 20s and 30s, an age group which is not strongly represented in our current membership. There are currently 21 children enrolled in FDS, and we note a 12% decrease in the number of nursery visits. Many carry a concern for more interaction between the adults and the youth.
As we undergo change, we continue meaningful traditions as well; our 53rd annual Fall Camp week-end, our active support and hosting of the winter fund-raiser for Friends for a Non-Violent World, our annual White Envelope Gift, which this year went to an international group, Water for Peace: Iraqi & American Reconciliation Project; and in Minneapolis, the Peace House: A Place to Belong.
We are thankful for many gifts shared among us and note two specific causes for celebration. In January, we celebrated the gift of 10 years of service of the Meeting’s administrative assistant. And we eagerly await the publication of a history of the meeting, from 1850 to 1950 researched and written by one member with the counsel of several others.
May we be strengthened by knowledge of our past and willing to change and be changed so that our future is vibrant and joyful, we are more deeply welcoming, and our faith-based voices can bring about heaven’s values on earth.
Minneapolis Friends Meeting Membership Report
Fourth Month 2009 – Third Month 2010
Generally stated, there are currently 90 active adult members of Minneapolis Monthly Meeting and 9 active associate members.
There are 55 regular adult attenders and 22 regular attenders who are children.
New members: 4 adults by convincement
New associate members – 3 children
Released members: 3 adults
by death – 1
by transfer – 2