Minneapolis Friends Meeting

Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business, 8/11/2013

11:00 AM

Attendance: David Woolley (filling in for presiding clerk), Tom Ward (recording clerk), Pat Jones (director of ministry)

[Some names and information have been edited or removed for publication on the web]

  1. July Minutes – Approved
    1. Director of Ministry – Pat Jones. Pat noted visits by former Minneapolis Friends, including Steve P this morning. John S and  Bill H were surprised to see each other when they both visited 54th Street Meeting in NYC recently. Jim B, Clifford G, and Mary and Steve S attended annual sessions of Iowa Yearly Meeting of Friends (Conservative). Phena S attended annual sessions of Iowa Yearly Meeting of Friends (FUM), which was MFM’s historical affiliation. Carolyn VandenDolder has begun service as MFM’s rep to Northern Yearly Meeting and as an NYM rep to the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) National Board. Jeannette Raymond is now serving as a member of the AFSC Regional Board.
    2. Ministry and Counsel – Joanne Esser.  M&C did not meet in July. In August they addressed many individual concerns of members and attenders. They are exploring how M&C can meet its’ role to help with the pastoral care needs of the Meeting – visitation, phoning, sharing food together, opportunities to meet in prayer or share in silence. Quakers have a long history of supporting one another via these “opportunities”. M&C wants everyone in Meeting to know that they can reach out to M&C for this type of care. One idea is to use an Adult Forum program to explore the kinds of pastoral care that are available. M&C is also discussing the idea of starting a weekly or monthly prayer group. This would be beyond the usual meetings for worship and is a way to support others experiencing health crisis, loss, grief, feelings of helplessness. Some people have spoken about powerful experiences they have had gathering with others in prayer. The idea is just developing. They are looking for time and place to hold them. If you have ideas to share, please let someone on M&C know. Other activities discussed: Ways to support Quaker Quest. A potential future workshop – “Learning from Early Quakers” lead by Marcel Martin that would not be considered until after Quaker Quest.   Discussion: Is this the same Marcel Martin who wrote a Pendle Hill pamphlet? Yes!
      1.  Question: Regarding the status of the clearness committee on marriage for Bill Hendricks and Michael Reid…? Pat answered that there is going to be a celebration at MFM; and then she raised the broader question of whether or not this is an issue for M&C approval since, normally, the decision belongs to business meeting. There was more discussion about the purpose of singling out marriages to be under the care of Meeting, and even whether or not there is a need to have Monthly Meeting approve placing a marriage under the Meeting’s care, since everyone is presumed to be under the care of Meeting, already. Only marriage has the distinction of receiving special approval to be under the Meeting’s care. Bill and Michael are already married, so it complicates the picture some. Tom Wells, speaking on behalf of their clearness committee, said Bill and Michael have asked, specifically, that their marriage be placed under the care of Meeting.   After further discussion and clarification, Friends were asked to approve the following statement: “Minneapolis Friends Meeting will hold a called meeting for worship to celebrate, with joy, the marriage of Bill Hendricks and Michael Reid, which continues to be under the care of the meeting”   This was APPROVED. Celebration will occur on October 26, 2013 at 3 PM.
    1. Ministry and Counsel (Annual) – Joanne Esser   Accomplishments: 1. January retreat for all meeting committees to improve communication and to help clarify responsibilities and roles; 2. Offered programs for adult forum on the worship experience; 3. designed and implemented a single combined worship during the summer to bring the whole meeting together; 4. Provided hospitality to attenders – making contact with visitors who sign guest book; 5. Kept in touch with Quaker Quest working group; 6. Explored how to support emerging interest groups in meeting like the Climate Stability Group, Watson Memorial Discussion Group, Philosopher’s Group, etc.; 7. Responded to quality of worship issues – nurturing the worship experience – implementing a better method to assist those with hearing loss; 8. Addressed the pastoral care needs, in addition to what the Director of Ministry does, by providing increasing M&C’s outreach to members and attenders – telephoning – sharing meals, etc.; 9. Helped sponsor and host metro-wide Friends event with Noah Baker-Merrill; 10. Co-sponsored a well-attended event with Mayim Rabin.  Challenges:  Continuing to struggle with the idea of eldering – Who are elders? Whose responsibility is it to elder? Are there more informal forms of eldering that are less intimidating? 2. How do we build community and connections as a single Beloved Community when we return to the fall schedule with separate meetings for worship; 3. Improving pastoral care and making it more available. 
    2. Report on Ministry and Counsel Sub-committees:
      1. Death and Memorial: notes from Tom Ward – There have been no memorial services since Don Johnson’s service in April 2012. Main contribution of the committee was the January 20, 2013 Remembrance Meal – well received – attended by 30-35 people and should be repeated. Nancy H assembled a resource kit with guidance materials and practical support for dealing with loss – available in the library.
      2. Worship planning – notes from Carolyn VandenDolder  Sub-committee supports the experience of semi-programmed worship – plans the speakers and addresses concerns about quality of worship;  addressed the challenge of this summer’s combined meeting – working closely with unprogrammed meeting attenders, especially around the closing of worship. There have been on-going challenges in creating an atmosphere of worship – 1. Walking the fine line between micro-managing and controlling the experience or letting worship be organic, spontaneous and sincere; 2. Allowing candid and unselfconscious speech versus feeling the need to speak with people who set an example in worship that we do not want to encourage.   M&C is also working with attenders of the unprogrammed worship to find avenues to encourage and support the worship experience.
      3. Marriage Preparation – notes from Adolph Burckhardt.  The sub-committee supported Kyle and Heather Johnson as they prepared for their wedding under the care of Meeting in March. They organized a small group of Friends to meet with Bill Hendricks and Michael Reid, who have been married for years, to prepare for their called meeting for worship in October. Discussion: How is M&C going to evaluate the summer schedule? In September M&C will look at how to evaluate and gather feedback. Nothing is being done right now since it is still ongoing. Adult forum on September 15 will assess the summer schedule experiment.
    3. Social Committee (Annual) – Diane Barrett  The Social Committee organizes potlucks and birthday celebrations, supports other Meeting events – welcomings, special speakers, staff appreciation, and is available to support Death and Memorial Subcommittee.   They purchase kitchen supplies and are responsible for keeping the kitchen clean.  They have organized 11 pot lucks this year and focus on maintaining a good-humored camaraderie while carrying out their tasks. The committee is looking for one or two more members and asks for, and greatly appreciates, any community support given during and after pot lucks. The committee thanks Friends who label the ingredients of all food items brought to pot lucks and reminds those of us who forget to please remember the needs of those who may have food sensitivities. Coming up this year: a major kitchen cleaning and developing a plan to honor Friends celebrating significant birthdays.
    4. Auditor (Annual) – Harv Busta reports he is not prepared to give report today – this will be carried over to a later meeting
    5. Stewardship (Quarterly)  Suzanne Ferguson  First quarter ended in June – general donations of $16,545 (14% of the annual budget -just about where we were last year at this same time), expenses of $20,986 (18% of the annual budget). $2200 has come in from personal donations designated for Quaker Quest (not from grants or seed money). Office supplies appear over budget right now – printer cartridges have gone up $50. Need to budget better for some computer needs.
    1. Draft: Minute of Affirmation of God in All Family-Types and Individuals  [see Addendum 1 for full text of Minute]  Clerk asked if we are ready to adopt this minute. Friend inquired about origins of Minute (Kickapoo Monthly Meeting) and if the intended audience and purpose has changed. Pat Jones thinks it is a good idea to include the extra historical notes from MFM’s  Minutes that address the issue. Jeanette R raised concern over three parts of the document:  1) 1st sentence that refers to “Minnesota voters” – that seems too narrow a focus now that the amendment has passed; 2) 2nd sentence of 3rd paragraph – text is so broad scoped it could be misconstrued to include incest; 3) 1st sentence of 2nd paragraph – she questions if Quakers do hold that there is that of God in all forms of life. She urges us to be careful to get the language right since this is a reflection of who we are, which we should not approve until the language is clear. Other Friends agree that there is no need to rush. There was further discussion on our Meeting’s intent to not discriminate against people because of their singleness – Quakers do not privilege some over others, and Minnesota’s recently passed amendment creates another group to be singled out for special treatment.  Friend said that the way the present Minute is listed under gender equity gets at only one part of the bigger issue – our Minute is not on equity.  Another Friend is getting a little impatient over our splitting of hairs and suggested we use photos to accurately depict the openness we are talking about.     Jeanette R and Allen G agreed to look at the Minute, make some revisions and bring it back to monthly meeting. Friends were encouraged to contact Jeanette or Allen with their questions or thoughts.
    2. Peace and Social Concerns Committee Establishment  [see Addendum 2 for full text of proposal]  Clerk – Last time Monthly Meeting approved general direction. Now we need to resolve next steps. He suggested having nominating committee begin selecting people to be committee members on Peace and Social Concerns and that those individuals would review the proposal and make recommendations back to Monthly Meeting. Discussion followed about the number of people to be initially appointed with general agreement that two to five would be reasonable, to begin with. There was no guidance for the actual size of the committee, leaving that recommendation to Nominating Committee. Friend suggested that the newly formed committee work first on priority items – the first being to set up a master calendar and that selecting the remaining committee members could wait until next year’s nominating process. The question of ex-officio members of other committees being on Peace and Social Concerns was raised, and the recommendation from the clerk was to defer resolution of that decision to Peace and Social Concerns Committee, especially since some of the suggested ex-officio individuals represent interests outside the committee structure of MFM. Proposal: Monthly Meeting is asking Nominating Committee to nominate a few people to re-establish the Peace and Social Concerns Committee and to let those people figure it out from there. Proposal was APPROVED.
    1. Quaker Quest announcement – Sandy Olson / Ed Souther. The publicity working group and Quaker Quest Core Group have been very active. A brochure has been developed and copies were handed out to Monthly Meeting attenders. The brochure will be a major push in advertising the Quaker Quest public sessions and they will be distributed in bulk at the meeting on September 8. Friends are encouraged to be creative thinking of ways to hand out the brochures. Other forms of advertising have been chosen, including advertisements in the “Current”, the “Southwest Journal” and the African American newsletter “Insight News”. These ads will funnel interested individuals to the webpage. Anne Lawton has created a Facebook event for each of the public events. Overall, this is going to be a big deal for our Meeting. Pat encourages Friends to go online and extend invitations far and wide.   Reminder: the special all-meeting preliminary Quaker Quest session is Sunday September 8 from 9:00 AM to 3:15 PM.
  6. COMMUNICATIONS   Annette S reports that Nancy P is not doing well and Chester is feeling the impact. He would appreciate notes but no phone calls.



Addendum 1: Draft Minute of Affirmation of God in All Family-Types and Individuals

Minneapolis Friends Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) supports the action of Minnesota voters who chose to affirm the equality of family types.

          Quakers believe that there is that of God in all people, indeed in all forms of life. In witnessing the truth of God’s love to the wider community, we notice actions that give freedoms, rights, privileges or power to one group while excluding other groups. We recognize that marriage laws, as currently enacted, privilege legally-married couples above unmarried individuals, above same-sex couples, and above families that are not built on a dual-adult pattern. We call for thoughtful, respectful consideration of ways to honor all responsible, loving individuals and families, especially those with dependent children or adults.

          Minneapolis Friends Monthly Meeting joyfully recognizes the diversity of individuals and commitments within our religious and broader community. We affirm the goodness of committed, loving, responsible people, whether their consensual commitments are to adult partners, or to other family members, or to children, or to single lives and vocations, no matter what their sexual orientations or choices may be.

          We take all such individuals, families, and households under our care if they request such care and seek clearness with us.

          While we affirm the rights of all couples to be recognized as couples if they so choose, we note with some concern that the privileges, rights, and honors attendant to marriage are not usually extended to non-traditional households (for example, to single adults living with aging parents, single parents living with children, aunts and uncles caring for child family members, brothers and sisters maintaining family homes). We honor same-sex couples equally with different-sex couples; however, we also honor gay and lesbian and straight and other individuals equally with our coupled brothers and sisters.


[The following are previous minutes recorded by Minneapolis Friends on marriage equity and equality.] 

July 11, 1990 Monthly Meeting Minutes:

“We affirm that our belief in that of God in every person embraces all persons regardless of sexual orientation; we affirm that we welcome to our meetings for worship and to all occasions for fellowship attenders who are gay and lesbian, and we affirm that we welcome and encourage full membership in our Meeting for lesbians and gays who are or wish to become Friends. We do this without regard to whether such persons choose to speak to any or all of us of their sexual orientation.

“Further, we commit ourselves to educating ourselves and others in the Religious Society of Friends about the condition of those who are lesbian and gay in a society that is frequently hostile to them and about prejudice toward and discrimination against people who are lesbian and gay in the Religious Society of Friends and in society at large.”

 August 14, 1991 Friends approved the following minute:

“Minneapolis Friends Meeting will witness and celebrate same-sex relationships and take them under its care. This includes the Meeting’s clearness process and a ceremony to celebrate the union.

“While this minute does not represent an end to our efforts to reach clarity, Minneapolis Friends desire to record the sense of the Meeting at this time in our on-going process. The Meeting does not have unity in regard to the use and meaning of the term ‘marriage’. However, with this minute, we officially take same-sex relationships under our care.”

 March 9, 2003: The Meeting approved language change to support marriages of same sex couples rather than unions.

 August 2011: Minneapolis Friends made a statement of support for the Resolution against the Constitutional Amendment to Ban Marriage for Same-Sex Couples.

Addendum 2:   Proposal for Peace and Social Concerns support from Minneapolis Friends Meeting

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. Friends are asked to read it and consider it as a possible way forward.

          “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.

          Traditional Responsibilities

* 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.

            New Responsibilities

* 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 and possibly advising about lobbying and political activism.

* Holding, and communicating, answers to the question: How do we do political and activist work as Quakers?”

Process of ad hoc group: Met one time and did email follow-up. Lot of spontaneous bubbling up of energy around issues – don’t want to restrict this – there may be role for committee to assist in the process

Main Conclusions:

  • Reinstate P&SC as standing committee with clerk and 3 year term appoint by nominating
  • Combine traditional responsibilities – point of entry for people outside meeting and seasoning of statements, provides many opportunities for activity, supports activities of other groups, brings forth suggestions for Christmas “white gift”, a locus within meeting for what people are doing about peace and justice.
  • New responsibilities – maintain master calendar meetings / events of what groups are doing. Consulting /advisory on how to bring proposals forward to lobby for political activism 3) holding and communicating about how we do political and activist work as Quakers.






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