Minneapolis Friends Meeting

Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business, 10/13/2013

9:45 AM

Attendance: Ranae Hanson (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]

Clerk opened the meeting with a reading from: “Principles of the Quaker Business Meeting” by George A. Selleck. Request for a Monthly Meeting Greeter/Explainer – “whisperer”- to speak with newcomers to monthly meeting and to explain the process of Quaker business meetings. This is for today, only. Sandy O. and Rae C. volunteered.

  1. August Minutes were Approved – noting that there was no business meeting in September
  2. MONTHLY REPORTS 
    1. Director of Ministry – Patricia Jones:   Minutes should record the death of Nancy Peterson on August 17, 2013 and Rusk Anderson on September 2, 2013. Memorial Services were conducted at Minneapolis Friends Meeting for Rusk on September 15 and for Nancy on September 20. Both services were very large with attenders spilling over into the front lobby and even downstairs. Death and Memorial Committee can report on this later. It was a challenge getting sound to everyone, especially downstairs. Frank B facilitated this with remote speakers. If anyone feels they can write a memorial minute for either Nancy or Rusk they should contact the meeting clerk or the director of ministry and the names can be reported next month.   – Pat will talk with Chester M about making a submission about Nancy Peterson to Friends Journal.
      1. David Zarembka will speak on “Peacemaking after Deadly Conflict – Healing and Reconciliation in Rwanda, Burundi, Eastern Congo and Kenya” at 7p Wed Oct 30th at the meeting house and also at Kenwood Isles, 28th and Hennepin, on Oct 31 at 1PM.   Mary Snyder and Connie Archbald met him in Kenya. He graduated from Harvard and then has devoted his life to working for peace and healing and to transform communities in Kenya following the hardships of war. He is a strong advocate of Alternatives to Violence Project.
      2.  Exploring Together, a project of Friends General Conference, met at Twin Cities Meeting on 10/12. It is an initiative to unite Quakers in the region with staff, students and families at Friends School. Minneapolis Friends Meeting was well represented with 10-12 people.
      3. The first Quaker Quest public session is this Tuesday night.
    2. Ministry and Counsel (M&C) – Joanne Esser: This report covers September and October. M&C suggests that our Meeting start a book about “Our Elders,” both current and deceased. Such a book could contain photos and biographies/descriptions of our beloved elders so they would be known more widely by current and future Meeting attenders. If interested in furthering this project, contact Joanne, members of M&C or the Meeting clerk.
      1. A clearness committee has been formed to consider a request for Meeting membership.
      2. Adult program on Sept 15 reviewed the experiment this summer to combine the unprogrammed meeting and semi-programmed meeting into one service each Sunday. About 25-30 people participated in the review. The following feedback was gathered:  Liked having greeters at the door and having two closers at every meeting for worship. Appreciated the fellowship time afterwards and found it welcoming. Appreciated the good attendance. Liked experiencing the different styles and messages of speakers. A question was raised about disruption caused by music and standing-up during songs. Some liked alternating the styles of worship and others said they liked not having to choose between one or the other form of meeting each Sunday. Many enjoyed the 10AM start time. There was appreciation for the settled silence at beginning of Meeting when entering the meeting room. Some said they enjoyed the change during the summer but liked returning to the regular schedule in the fall. There was appreciation for the simplicity of the summer schedule. Many thought the single service contributed to a stronger sense of community – one that was more welcoming and that facilitated getting to know people better. There were no strong negatives.  
      3. This feedback is being forwarded to Worship Planning Committee.  After reviewing the feedback, M&C is making the following proposals: 1.  That Minneapolis Friends Meeting follow the same structure next summer, holding a single meeting for worship at 10:00 AM each week.  2.  Consider how our Meeting can provide opportunities for fellowship that would bring attenders of both Meetings for worship together during the regular school-year schedule.  3.  Have greeters at the door for both Meetings during the regular year. Stephen Snyder has agreed to organize this.
      4. Connie Archbald is organizing a committee to consider the care of unprogrammed meeting for worship
      5. An additional recommendation from M&C has grown out of the discussion about the Meeting needing to become more welcoming of newcomers. M&C would like to propose the following query for each Meeting committee to reflect on and incorporate into their planning and decision-making:   “How do we consider and address the needs of newcomers to the Meeting in our committee work?”   We invite each committee to talk about this query at their upcoming meetings, and send ideas related to welcoming newcomers to M&C. It will also be discussed at the clerks’ meeting.  One way to give attention to this topic is to devote the first half-hour of a committee meeting to considering the needs of newcomers. M&C plans to do this at our upcoming meetings.
      6. For consideration – designating one night a week as “group night”.  There are many small, self-forming groups in the Meeting, such as the Watson Reading Group, the Climate Stability Group, the Philosophers Group, etc.  Some people have also proposed additional new groups, such as a Bible Study group and a Prayer group. M&C discussed the possibility of designating one weekday evening each week as “group night” at the meeting house. All the various groups could meet on a regularly scheduled night to make scheduling simple. For instance, if “group night” was on Wednesdays, the Book Group could meet every first Wednesday, the Climate Group every second Wednesday, the Bible Study group every third Wednesday, etc.
      7. Action Item: Proposal to repeat a combined summer schedule next summer at 10A   Discussion: There is concern about the guidance monthly meeting is giving to Worship Planning Committee and a need to clarify their role in this matter. A suggestion was made to move summer meeting time to 930AM. A couple suggestions were made to defer the decision to January – after Quaker Quest. Combined meeting in the summer was very good for the Meeting – met a lot of needs for continuity and contact. Summer schedule occupies a significant part of the year (1/4 to 1/3). The summer experimental schedule affirms a real positive direction for the Meeting but came about only through a lot of work by M&C. It was mentioned that our current school-year schedule creates a very complicated calendar on the Meeting’s web page. One Friend appreciates attending both services on Sunday. Clerk spoke in favor of resolving the decision now; but there is sentiment that we should be open to the possibility for reconsideration as we move into the new year.  Proposal: Monthly Meeting agrees that Ministry and Council should plan for next summer’s schedule to be similar to this past summer schedule while remaining open to the possibility that further adaptation or reconsideration may be needed, especially after Quaker Quest. Any additional recommendations from Ministry and Council can be brought back to Monthly Meeting in January or February.  APPROVED
  3. REPORTS
    1. Nominating Committee Update regarding Peace & Social Concerns Committee (P&SC) – John Kraft, clerk. There are 3 people to approve for the new P&S committee. Two more are in discernment and may be recommended at a later time. Ranae H, Nancy H and Roland B were APPROVED
    2. Loaves and Fishes (Annual) – Ann Luce (not here) Sue Kearns reports that it seems to be going well. They usually have enough people, but they are not always from our Meeting.
    3. Metro Friends (Annual) – Jim Lovestar (Nancy H. out of town) Metro Friends Coordinating Committee coordinates activities among the broader community of Friends that included Minneapolis Friends Meeting, Twin Cities Meeting, Canon Valley, St Croix Valley and Prospect Park. The goal is to create events and opportunities to get to know one another. Past events have included summer picnics at Minnehaha Park, poetry and jazz events in the winter and a fall dance. In 2013 things are on sabbatical with some members having dropped off the committee; and the question for consideration is what should become of the committee and where should it go? There is a $75 budget item in our yearly budget devoted to Metro Friends Coordinating Committee that needs to be addressed.   Discussion:  The Exploring Together workshop yesterday shows there is a hunger for sharing our Quaker experiences in the broader community and we should support Metro Friends. There was general support for the goals and activities of the committee, but the lack of volunteer support has led to the sabbatical. It was mentioned that All Friends Day, sponsored by our Meeting in the past, used to have wide appeal. Our current focus on Quaker Quest has meant that we have not been able to commit to other large event sponsorship.
    4. Auditor (Annual) – Request to hold off the report until April. Auditor has been out of the country. He’s retiring and will have more time to do audit in March or April.  Discussion: Do we need to appoint someone else as auditor? This is key issue for Trustees and Stewardship. Can we afford to wait until April? – It is a major concern of the trustees to have in place a good on-going system to manage funds, and the Meeting needs to make sure our fiscal controls are adequate. – There is an audit every year. It has been a little over a year since it was last done. Auditor does this professionally; he knows how to do this. – He found a 5 cent error in trustee funds and tracked it down and solved it. We should take the concerns seriously and consider going to joint meeting of stewardship and trustees. – In the past auditors have made recommendation to Meeting in the past. Not sure if they have been implemented. Clerk: Do we ask the two committees to meet or do we instruct them what to do? Who is responsible? Clerk thinks it is Monthly Meeting. Consider asking for a recommendation that our current process is ok and whether or not if we need an audit before auditor can get around to do it. – Currently, individuals have considerable control over Meeting funds; and while there is not a risk that we have hooligans as trustees, there is always a risk of someone being too isolated. Having all the trustees review their stuff would provide the protection that we are indicating. –  Trustees don’t manage all the Meeting’s funds, and a year and a half is too long a time to go without an audit. – Audits only find issues after the fact. It is the internal controls that are most important in keeping things under control. – On Stewardship Committee, generally, those who handle money that comes in do not handle money that goes out; there are monthly checks on the process; and the committee is following what the auditors have told the Meeting to do. Three people handle the money: a receiver, a check writer and a reconciler. – Is the reconciler still writing pay check? – Yes.  Proposal: Monthly Meeting is directing Stewardship Committee and the Trustees to review the current controls that are in place and to report back to Monthly Meeting in January with the expectation that the regular audit will occur in March. APPROVED
  4. FOLLOW-UP DECISIONS
    1. Presentation and discussion of Minute on Equity as re-written by Jeannette Raymond “(DRAFT) Minute of Affirmation of All Family Types and Individuals”  [See addendum for full copy]  Jeannette took the August minute and tried to consider it in two parts: First, taking under care of the Meeting individuals and families who are asking for clearness; and secondly, addressing how the principles of marriage, by not extending to individuals, may have unintended consequences. The Minute would be stronger if we consider both parts separately.  The first section of the draft was read with a recommendation to remove lines 5 and 6 because it was unclear how to best describe the relationship, and those lines do not add anything or give clarity to all situations, such as an adult child moving back home. Friend: so why are we doing this? What are we solving with this minute since we have already done this? Are we trying to balance all the different interests to some extreme, and does this minute add any value if we do this anyways? Clerk shared a personal experience of her family and being under the care of the Meeting and the importance of a letter of support from the Meeting, adding it is important to support a variety of situations and individuals in the Meeting.
      1. This draft Minute is our Meeting’s response to a Minute from Kickapoo Monthly Meeting that we felt was too limiting since it addressed only same sex and heterosexual relationships. Pat Jones said that the words, “under the care”, are generally used only in the context of marriage and that the draft minute we are considering has a broader scope than just marriage. Jeannette said she was not present at some of the earlier background discussions. Do we need to take care of people who are not asking for us to take them under the care of Meeting?  Further discussion addressed limitations of the Minnesota Marriage Act which was focused entirely on couples – When do we honor and extend privileges to other forms of families and do we support partnerships in the variety of forms in which people can come together? Question was raised whether lines 1-9 really represented the Meeting, and it was suggested that a separate minute might be needed to address lines 10-14.  Friend noted that our testimonies state we are all equal. When do we have to write a minute for every circumstance when it is already covered in the testimonies? – Jeannette: it is not uncommon to use a minute to explain our understanding of the testimonies in light of current circumstances. – Doesn’t that make us seem more political than religious when addressing these issues?
    2. [Meeting for Business was halted so Meeting for Worship could start at 11:15. Meeting for Business continued following semi-programmed worship with fourteen people in attendance.]
      1. Discussion continued on the Draft Minute on Affirmation of All Family Types and Individuals:  Kate Coon reported she could draft a response to Kickapoo Meeting that is more about inclusion than they had in their Minute and bring it back to Monthly Meeting. Friend reported on her insight from worship: that while she has some discomfort with the wording in the Minute, the discussion is important to have – especially with people feeling marginalized in Meeting. Also, when becoming a member we and our children are taken under the care of the Meeting. Maybe the language just needs to be more transparent. – There are others in Meeting who have felt excluded by being single or by being in a failed marriage. Our young people should not feel that they have to be married to have value. – Another Friend said she feels her concerns have been heard, and that has made a difference in how she feels included by the Meeting. – We are doing many of the things we have been talking about today with our youngsters downstairs, and we are doing our best to be a welcoming community for everyone, for all types of family configurations.  Action: Kate and Jeannette can write a response to Kickapoo Meeting and we will table our Minute until a later time. APPROVED
  5. NEW BUSINESS
    1. Referral of White Envelope Gift proposal to Peace & Social Concerns since one of their tasks in the most recent committee description was to consider suggestions for the White Envelope Gift.
    2. Clerk sought ideas for handling the microphone during monthly meeting for business. There was support for the Clerk asking for volunteers each meeting to carry the microphone and for someone to greet newcomers and briefly explain business meeting to them.
  6. COMMUNICATIONS
    1. Thank you notes
      1. Sharing Healing Justice for AFSC. We do not have a line item – our check went to AFSC and that is what they did with our check.
      2. Center for Victims of Torture for hosting annual staff retreat
      3. Earlham School of Religion for our gift to their annual fund – Mandy Ford
      4. Center on Conscience and War for $100 gift – Maria Santelli
      5. MN Healing Justice Program for gift or $980 – Sharon Goens
    2. Transfer of membership for Betty Firth to Duluth/Superior Meeting. She has asked for a clearness committee there. Letter accepted and Clerk will write a letter from our Meeting. Suggestion made to have letter re-read again next month.
    3. Right Sharing has asked each Monthly Meeting to designate a representative as a Meeting contact for them. This was referred to Peace and Social Concerns.
    4. Barton Sutter of the P&SC from Duluth/Superior Meeting sent a letter and statement in opposition to taconite mining at the Gogebic mine in Wisconsin. This was referred to Peace and Social Concerns.

Adjourn

ADDENDUM

(DRAFT) Minute of Affirmation of All Family Types and Individuals  – Presented at Monthly Meeting for Business 10/13/2013   

  1. Our belief in that of God in every person leads Minneapolis Friends Meeting to
  2. affirm and joyfully embrace the diversity of individuals and those in committed
  3. partnerships within our religious society and within the broader community. We honor
  4. and support each person – those who are single and those who join with others to
  5. create various forms of family. We affirm the goodness of partnerships between
  6. committed, loving, responsible adults and the rights of all couples to marry.
  7. We offer to take all such individuals, families, and households that participate in
  8. our meeting community under the care of Minneapolis Meeting if they request
  9. such care and seek clearness with us.
  10. We note with some concern that the privileges, rights, and honors attendant to
  11. marriage are not usually extended to other forms of family households – (for
  12. example, to single adults living with aging parents, single parents living with
  13. children, aunts and uncles caring for children of family members, brothers and
  14. sisters maintaining family homes.)

 

 

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