Minneapolis Friends Meeting

State of Society Report 2012 – 2013

Minneapolis Friends perceive the Meeting to have settled, deepened, and expanded in the last year. We note that the Meeting always changes, as is right in order to remain in touch with the changing flow of life. While we are united by reflection, thoughtfulness, and exploration, we do not hold to fixed positions. We have passed through yet another period of ferment, a bubbling up of passion and a reaching out of witness.

Five members and attenders went to Kenya in April 2012 for the Friends World Conference, sharing the experience widely both in preparation, with lectiodivina meetings, an intergenerational 10:15 program, and a pot‑luck, and afterwards, at an adult program, a Quaker Women’s Group, a first day school class, and other venues.

Opposition within the Meeting to the proposed MN state marriage amendment was strong; many individuals put countless hours into activity and witness around this issue, and the Meeting itself took public stands, hanging a banner over the 44th St. porch, signing a statement/petition, and holding a (small) monthly worship for healing to support Friends related to this issue.

In July the Metro Friends Picnic program was on sustainability. Later Tom Ward went to New York to volunteer with the Red Cross following Hurricane Sandy. As the recent weather disasters brought the reality of climate change to the greater attention of the country, Meeting concern and commitment coalesced with the occasion of Carolyn VandenDolder’s message on the subject at semi‑programmed meeting early this year. The Clerk of Meeting, Ranae Hanson, asked at January monthly meeting if someone from MFM could attend the February Climate Rally in Washington, DC, Terry Hokanson volunteered, and the Meeting supported his trip. (A second member, Dan Jensen, at Pendle Hill for the term, also attended.) A core group of seven meeting members met to plan related events and build community. Mary Jean Port organized three after‑meeting talks by members involved in political climate work: Terry H. on the climate rally, Tom W. on volunteering after Hurricane Sandy, and Fred Harding and Mary Logue on frac sand mining in western Wisconsin.

Quaker Quest preparations have continued all year, with Friends looking and acting forward to offering the Quaker treasure to others. We are now entering an intense period of decision‑making and publicity planning, meetinghouse preparation, library preparation, and the like, which will very much expand the numbers working on some aspect or another of this program. The preparations the Meeting makes for Quaker Quest are extremely valuable in themselves—honing the library, tending to the building, exploring publicity, getting ready for a future.

The local Healing Justice office of the AFSC opened with Sharon Goens working now to develop the program. Two members of the Meeting were involved in the start‑up of this. Sharon has visited Meeting and is getting to know Friends here. The Meeting has an opportunity to grow with the work of this program and interface with the justice communities it will serve.

Many Minneapolis Friends attended Parker Palmer’s speaking on “Healing the Heart of Democracy” at Westminster Town Hall Forum in April. Benigno Sanchez‑Epler, a Cuban‑American Friend traveling in the ministry, came to our Meeting in early July, visiting and speaking at both meetings for worship. We also were visited by Diane Randall, the new Friends’ Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) Executive Director, in August of 2012.  Diane modeled the best in Quaker leadership, carefully and respectfully addressing difficult subjects. Since then we have learned that Doug Herron is eager to promote FCNL work, participation, letter‑writing, and the like in the Meeting. Friends’ World Committee on Consultation (FWCC) visitors Robin Mohr and Noah Baker‑Merrill visited in September, offering messages of spiritual deepening. The event was very well attended by people from other local Friends meetings as well as our own, especially for a Monday night.

The Property Committee had large projects this year. We contracted for a new roof for the meetinghouse. Ed Souther, Roland Barrett, and some other volunteers painted the south entryway trellis, a far more time-consuming job that one would imagine. In addition, replacing three furnaces and re‑working the heating system became an enormous job for Jim Haefemeyer, who needed to figure out how it should to be done in order to contract for a well-working system. These large expenditures have depleted Trustee funds considerably and will need to be replenished for future capital needs.

We are happy to report that we did meet out operating budget for the fiscal year.

Meeting Friends have formed the George and Elizabeth Watson Memorial Discussion Group,which has been meeting regularly for reading and discussion on spiritual approaches to social change. Another group, calling themselves Friendly Philosophers, has also formed and been meeting regularly.

Experimenting with Peace and Social Concerns and adult program formats, including one week a month with program options, bi‑monthly times offered for committees to meet, and bi‑monthly whole Meeting Peace and Social Concerns meetings has been disconcerting for some, but a useful experience. We “fell into” a great program, presented as one of the first Sunday options, an outgrowth of Winds of Change, sharing by one Friend each month of experience with race or racial justice work. It’s been just the kind of getting to know about one another and one another’s work in the world that has been so needed in the Meeting.

The MFM web‑site is up and running, with regular posting being done by MFM staff members, the web‑master, and the clerk of Worship Planning Committee. Kudos came to us (David Woolley, the web designer) from Friends in other parts of the country. An MFM Facebook page is up, has had occasional interesting content, but hasn’t really taken off; it might with more attention. Ann Lawton took it upon herself to make Fall Camp a Facebook event for the first time.

At the same time that we have been growing in these new ways, and experiencing vitality, we have been challenged with health, work, marriage and family, aging, and financial circumstances of many in the Meeting. We have found ourselves with few children in the First Day School program and have adapted by having all the children meet together instead of in separate age groups.

Family members of quite a few Minneapolis Friends have been in serious accidents, been seriously ill or have died this past year. The Death and Memorial Service Committee held a remembrance meal/worship to acknowledge the losses, and a large group attended.

Don Johnson, a member, and Ron Mattson, member and Ministering Secretary of the Meeting in the 60s, both died; services were held here. Also there have been celebrations‑ a wedding of Kyle Johnson and Heather Kerestes, book events as members (including co-authors Nancy Peterson and Judith James as well as Joanne Esser and Mary Logue) have published, and birthdays.

Our Director of Ministry is on a health leave at this time, so we do not yet have membership and attendance records for the year.

This year at Minneapolis Friends Meeting has been one of stretching and reaching for new ground. The energy is strong and the Spirit moving.

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