The following proposal was presented at Meeting for Business on July 14, 2013. It represents the work of an ad-hoc committee made up of David Woolley, John Stuart, Mary Jean Port, and John Robey which convened following the threshing session on this topic that was held in June.
At the July meeting for business, Friends approved the general direction of this proposal. At the August meeting for business, it was decided to move ahead with this by asking the Nominating Committee to find and propose a few people to serve on the new Peace & Social Concerns Committee.
We met as an ad-hoc committee to recommend a way forward with how peace & social concerns might best be dealt with at Minneapolis Friends Meeting. Roland Barrett, Kyle Johnson, and Mary Gochnauer had also indicated interest in being involved but were unable to attend for various reasons.
We would like to propose that Peace & Social Concerns be reinstated as a standing committee of the meeting. As with most other committees, we expect that Nominating Committee would identify and recruit a committee clerk and committee members. We would like to see committee membership rotate, with 3-year terms being standard as with other committees, so that there is a continuing infusion of fresh faces with fresh ideas. We did not discuss how many members would be appropriate for the committee.
In the past few years our Meeting has become an incubator for the spontaneous formation of groups either around a particular interest (philosophy, reading) or devoted to various causes (climate stability, same-sex marriage, racial equality and diversity). This is a wonderful thing! It contributes enormously to the health and vitality of our Meeting, keeps us involved with one another in a variety of ways, and creates openings for new people with related interests to get involved. We certainly do not want to do anything to impose bureaucratic requirements on the formation of such groups. We do see a possible role for a P&SC committee to assist these groups in various ways.
Following are some things we envision as being part of the charter of a new P&SC committee. Some of them are things the P&SC committee has traditionally done in the past, others are new.
* Point of entry for those outside the Meeting to carry concerns to the Meeting. This includes looking at material and requests that come in by mail, email, etc. and deciding whether it needs a response, can be passed on to a group or individual with a related interest, deserves being brought to the attention of the Meeting, etc.
* Creating or seasoning statements of corporate witness for possible presentation to Monthly Meeting.
* Notifying the Meeting community about events and opportunities for activism or volunteerism (e.g. Habitat for Humanity projects). Since the number of such things is huge, this requires listening to the “pulse” of the Meeting in order to discern which issues are most closely aligned with the interests and energy of members and attenders.
* Annually reviewing the Meeting’s budgeted contributions to other groups (AFSC, FNVW, FCNL, etc.) and recommending changes when appropriate.
* Soliciting suggestions for recipients of the annual White Gift and making a recommendation to Monthly Meeting.
* Promoting awareness of what individuals in the Meeting are doing related to peace and social justice issues.
* Occasionally providing educational opportunities for members and attenders about P&SC issues.
* Maintain and publicize a master calendar of P&SC-related committee and interest group meetings and events. This might include actively prodding some groups to tell us what’s going on, since informally organized groups don’t always have a designated member to keep those outside the group informed.
* Acting as a consulting/advisory resource for informally organized groups regarding Meeting process, such as handling money or bringing proposals to Monthly Meeting. Possibly also advising about lobbying and political activism.
* Holding, and communicating, answers to the question: How do we do political and activist work as Quakers?