Minneapolis Friends Meeting

Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business, 1/12/2014

9:45 AM

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

Attendance: Ranae Hanson (presiding clerk), Tom Ward (recording clerk), Pat Jones (director of ministry)

  1. December Minutes were APPROVED
  2. Monthly Reports
    1. Director of Ministry – Pat Jones A lot of people are out of town this winter and we may notice their absence in worship and in other work of the Meeting. Most of what her focus has been this past month is covered in the reports that follow.
    2.  Ministry and Counsel (M&C) – Joanne Esser  Still looking for greeters at the door before both worship services – Steve Snyder is coordinating. There is a sign-up sheet. Property Committee is considering where and how to hang a small bulletin board to inform attenders on what’s going on in the Meeting. A social time will be hosted on Sundays when people are willing to coordinate refreshments.
      1. Yearly Meeting Affiliation– M&C was asked to take lead on educating the Meeting about our connections with Northern Yearly Meeting (NYM) – benefits and responsibilities. Carolyn VandenDolder is the Meeting’s representative to NYM. Ideas under consideration: surveying our membership, having a Q&A with NYM committee member(s), challenging Meeting attenders to participate in the next NYM Gathering, looking at our financial commitment to NYM and looking more closely at NYM’s Spiritual Nurture Program.
      2. Memorial Minutes – M&C is suggesting a couple questions to guide the writers of memorial minutes: how do we recognize the Spirit in the person’s life and what testimony can we give to the grace of God in the life of the person? Past memorial minutes will be gathered for reference purposes; and M&C suggests it would be more effective to have M&C approach individuals in private to write the minute rather than having a general request made at Monthly Meeting.
      3. New Members – the folder of materials and queries used by membership clearness committees will be shared with the prospective member in advance of their meeting with the committee.
      4. Welcoming Committee – Current practice has been to ask for volunteers who are not part of the clearness committee to host a social gathering to welcome new members. M&C is proposing a change to this process.
      5. Recommendation: to lay down the “welcoming committee”, to ask the clearness committee to take the lead, and to involve the whole Meeting in celebration of the new member.  Discussion: Friends spoke to the value of the current, more intimate, process of meeting in the home of the new member to welcome them. It seems more personal and appropriate than in the full Meeting. There was concern that clearness committees, occasionally, have only two people. It has been hard, sometimes, to get sufficient volunteers to form a welcoming committee. Friend spoke in favor of proposal but thought the ideal would be something less structured, relying, instead, on the initiative of people to take time in their lives to greet our new members. In the past a small welcoming committee has provided an important, personal and more private connection with the new member. Pat raised concern that the Meeting does not have a comparable welcoming process for Friends who transfer their membership from a different Meeting. Suggestion was made that there could be a group pre-selected to be the ones to welcome new members, but that would add another task on Nominating Committee. Sandy O. says there is a tie-in between this recommendation and actions that will be suggested in the Quaker Quest final report, which she is giving next. Clerks’ decision is to hold over action on M&C’s request until we hear the Quaker Quest report.
  3. Reports
    1. Quaker Quest (final) – Sandy Olson and Jim Lovestar
      1. Brief History – First all-day Quaker Quest (QQ) workshop November 2011. February 2012 decision made to proceed with QQ but to delay public sessions until 2013. Core group established fall 2012. To prepare for the public sessions a second all-meeting Quaker Quest workshop was held on September 8, 2013. Public sessions were held from 7 to 9 pm on Tuesday evenings October 15, 22 and 29, 2013 and from 3 to 5 pm on Sunday afternoons November 3, 10, and 17, 2013.   Themes of our sessions were: Quakers and the Divine; Quakers and Equality and Justice; and Quakers and Integrity.
      2. Finances ($6,000) – The first $3,000 comprised funds from: a one-time grant from Friends General Conference ($1,000), ($300) grant from Northern Yearly Meeting, ($1,000) from individual Quaker Quest sponsors and ($700) from Minneapolis Friends Meeting budgeted funds. The initial $3,000 was matched by an additional $3,000 from the MFM Seed Money Fund for the total of $6,000.
      3. Expenses: to date $5,210 has been spent. $4,361 for advertising and promotions and $849 went to other expenses ($500 to FGC for facilitation, office expenses, child care and food costs).  Child care and food costs were less than initially budgeted, so $790 remains in the QQ budget.  The $4,361 for advertising and promotions was spent in the following:  $3444 for paid advertizing in the Southwest Journal, the Mix, Insight News and Minnesota Public Radios 89.3 Current Radio (website browsers were referred directly to the MFM website);  $377 for two banners;  $540 for two brochures – one for use during the public sessions, the other, 4,000 bookmark brochures that will be continue to be used for Meeting outreach.
      4. Special recognition: to David Woolley as the Meeting’s webmaster, to Anne Lawton who helped launch and maintain a MFM Facebook page, to everyone in the Quaker Quest Core Group and to all those who actively assisted with each public session. And a special thanks to Sandy Olson whose inspiration, energy and dedication carried the project through to completion. Thanks, also, to Friends who distributed brochures throughout the community and region including: Peace Coffee, Mayday Café, Hamline University, Macalester College, YMCA, Hampton Park Co-op, Linden Hills library and Co-op, Turtle Bread, Southdale and Rosedale Libraries
      5. How have we been changed by Quaker Quest? – Our reflections on the QQ experience can be summed up by a collective “wow” and a sense of awe. Amazement over how many gave so much time and energy. Process brought out the best in us. Warm hospitality, thoughtful and profound presentations, carefully-designed and appealing brochures, delicious snacks,  engaged participation by both newcomers and old-timers and deep, inspiring worship at the conclusion of each session. “I got to know members at a different level.” Another commented, “I was reminded that I really like who we are as a community.”  Through Quaker Quest we were all reminded that we truly are “written in one another’s hearts.” We are deeply grateful to the Spirit for tending to us as a whole Meeting and to Friends General Conference for gentle, thorough and loving oversight of our efforts.
      6. Recommendations: Quaker Quest Core Group is asking Monthly Meeting to consider two items so the energy and outreach of the Quaker Quest process can continue.    1) Create an on-going Outreach and Welcoming Committee to care for newcomers, to build community and to continue outreach. This committee could report to Ministry and Counsel, and most of the Quaker Quest Core Group have indicated interest in being part of this committee.  Discussion: There was a recommendation that M&C consider this proposal along with their previous request regarding the “welcoming committee”. Friend asked why we should prolong the process. Monthly Meeting could approve the initiation of the committee and have M&C clarify the details. Clerk of Nominating said his committee needs a clear charge before trying to fill the committee positions. Presiding Clerk recommends slowing down the process and digesting all the information from today’s business meeting.  Action: Friends agreed to have the recommendation for an Outreach and Welcoming Committee referred back to M&C to be considered and seasoned along with M&C’s request to lay down the “welcoming committee”, taking into account today’s discussions. 2) Quaker Quest Core Group also suggests that an ad hoc committee be appointed to select and implement a more appealing and more informative permanent meeting sign on our lawn. This group would need to seek input from Mayim Rabin.   Discussion: Jim H suggests that altering signage is a more complex issue than one may think. It involves city codes – location (a monument on the lawn or something attached to the building) – long term goal of having a sign on which information can be easily changed. Do we need an ad hoc committee? Or leave it with those most involved (trustees, property committee, Mayim Rabin)?  Pat added that signage is something people really care a lot about. We may need a threshing session. This is not a short process. There is a meeting, soon, with Mayim Rabin and this will probably be discussed.  Action: Friends APPROVED referring the request for a new sign – one that is more appealing and informative – to the Trustees.
      7.  General discussion on Quaker Quest:  Question: How many people attended all the sessions? About 120 in total. Karen S was new to Friends when attending Quaker Quest and she instantly felt that the true essence of the Meeting was revealed, that we did a good job and the outreach was well done. Another Friend reflected on the amount of effort that went into QQ and wondered if people were buying the essence of Meeting and if the beauty of the message was coming across? Pat felt the quality of the worship – the depth and centeredness – meant people did get it. Another Friend said there is a general sense within the community that by raising our profile other seekers can find us. Another remarked on the amount of curiosity and interest in the community about Quakerism and we need to tap into this. We underestimate the interest in us.
    2. Peace and Social Concerns– Nancy Helfrich   Nancy reminded us that Peace and Social Concerns is not a “doing” committee, it is a “coordinating” committee. There are three topics for consideration today: 1)The committee wants approval for the three focus areas they have chosen for the 2014 calendar year: 1)racial justice, 2)  economic justice, and 3) climate justice. They plan to have two sessions or events per topic.   Friends APPROVED the three focus areas.
      1. Doug Herron, the Meeting’s representative to Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), is asking if he can send a one-time email to everyone in the Meeting Directory, asking if they would agree to share their email address with him to be part of a FCNL Meeting notification list that he would maintain. His goal is to screen the frequent FCNL email alerts/messages and forward the most urgent or pertinent ones to those on the list. According to FCNL there are about fifty people from Meeting signed up for their alerts. After some discussion it was clear not everyone supported using the Meeting’s email list in this way. Friends APPROVED putting announcements in the bulletin about Doug’s request to compile a MFM FCNL email list. The bulletin is already sent to an email list of attenders and it is readily available online. And Friends can continue to sign up during Monthly Meeting for Business.
      2. Would the Meeting like to have a presentation about the White Privilege Conference that is scheduled in Madison, Wisconsin March 26-29?   Liz Oppenheimer, from the Laughing Waters Worship Group, is an excellent resource on the topic and is promoting the conference. Friends are comfortable with asking her to come and share with us. Suggested dates – the 1st Sunday of either February or March.
  4. Follow-up Decisions
    1. Nancy Peterson Memorial Minute – Judith James and Nettie Smith    It is being worked on but is not ready to be presented at this time.
  5. New Business
    1. Northern Yearly Meeting relationship with MFM (a brief history) – Carolyn VandenDolder. Deferred for now. Will do at another time.
    2. Long Range Planning – Ranae Hanson  Proposal: to create an ad hoc group to consider a process to manage long range planning in the Meeting. It would report to Monthly Meeting on quarterly basis. This process will not be quick. It could take a year or so. Some of the topics for consideration: the financial underpinnings of the Meeting, the physical building, transportation and parking, changes in Meeting leadership, committee structure, relationships with outside groups, emergency planning, i.e. bad weather, etc., issues to follow up from Quaker Quest, volunteer projects, Northern Yearly Meeting Spiritual Nurture program, environment and green products. Those who are interested are asked to give their name to Pat or Ranae.  Discussion: This is an “exhausting” list! The purpose of the ad hoc group would be to plan the process, not to do the actual long range planning.  Friends approved formation of an ad hoc planning committee to look at the long range planning process.
  6. Communications
    1. A letter from Jean Watson McCandless, George Watson’s daughter, announcing a gift of books for our First Day School. The books have been received and the Presiding Clerk will send a thank you to Jean.
    2. A letter and Minute from Duluth-Superior Monthly Meeting regarding copper-nickel mining for us to consider.  [See attachment for the complete minute].  This is a time-sensitive issue as the comment period at the state level is going on right now. This is a topic that we have not had a chance to talk about very much as a Meeting. The Presiding Clerk expressed concern about how to best facilitate moving forward on the discussion since the mining debate directly impacts her family and she finds her objectivity compromised. Friend spoke with concern that PolyMet Mining Company is launching an aggressive media blitz minimizing the risks of mining.  Friends APPROVED the following response: Sandy Olson will bring this to adult program committee. Recording Clerk will attach the Duluth-Superior Meeting Minute to the business meeting minutes and distribute them as soon as possible to all attenders of the business meeting. In addition, notices will be put in the bulletin and links to the resources cited in Duluth-Superior’s Minute will go in the bulletin.
    3. Betty Firth’s transfer of membership has been accepted by Duluth-Superior Monthly Meeting



Duluth-Superior Friends Meeting

Minute on Copper-Nickel Mining in Northern Minnesota

As Quakers, we are called to live simply, to care for the creation, and to husband resources. In light of that calling, we have been concerned to understand the implications of copper-nickel mining proposed for northern Minnesota by PolyMet, Twin Metals, and other corporations.

Our research leaves us deeply troubled. Traditional mining in this state has been very different from the copper-nickel mining now proposed. Iron ore deposits in northern Minnesota were so rich that originally iron was, essentially, just scooped out of the ground; the copper nickel deposit, by comparison, is exceptionally poor.  About 99% of the rock from which the metals must be extracted would be waste, and much of it would have to be ground to the consistency of powder.  This waste rock bears sulfide.  Sulfide-bearing rock exposed to air and water yields sulfuric acid, producing forms of pollution (including mercury, arsenic, lead and other toxins) that, according to PolyMet’s own documents, will last at least 500 years.

Proponents of copper-nickel mining argue that our current way of life demands these metals, that opening these mines will provide high-paying jobs, and that new technology will prevent pollution. All these claims weaken drastically when scrutinized.

Yes, our current way of life requires copper; however, since copper scrap already provides half of U.S. annual demand for that metal and the U.S. provides 23% of the world supply of recovered copper, recycling holds tremendous potential for fulfilling most of this nation’s needs.  Given the devastation that copper-nickel mining commonly leaves in its wake, we are also led to question the wisdom of our current way of life.

The argument that copper-nickel mining will boost the regional economy seems a half-truth at best. Typically, mining companies import their expertise from elsewhere; only half the jobs promised by the mining companies are apt to go to local residents; the highest-paid positions will be taken by outsiders, who will leave the area once the mine has been exploited.  Mines are also subject to shutdowns when market prices drop.  The metals extracted from these mines will likely be exported; the profits will go to shareholders around the world rather than the residents of northern Minnesota.  History predicts that once these mines are exhausted, their owners will declare bankruptcy and absolve themselves of responsibility for damage left behind.

The argument that new technology will prevent pollution is little more than wishful thinking. Sooner or later, copper-nickel waste rock creates acid mine drainage, which often eats its way to ground water. New technology remains experimental, untested on an industrial scale, while exploratory drill sites in northern Minnesota are already leaking acid.  Even if technology can be developed to treat copper-nickel pollution effectively, who will pay for, operate, and maintain this technology twenty-four hours a day, day after day for 500 years or more?  Corporations come and go; so do governments.

We understand the hunger for jobs in northern Minnesota, though people have lived here for thousands of years without depending on paychecks from multinational corporations.  Over the past two decades, while the mining workforce shrank, the economy diversified and grew less vulnerable to the boom-and-bust cycle of the mining industry.  We support continued diversification. We support selective, sustainable-yield logging and the development of value-added forest products.  We support farming and local food production.  We support outdoor recreation, an industry worth billions of dollars every year. And we support iron mining, which is undergoing a revival thanks to new methods and products, although we think this industry requires stricter regulation.

We believe enthusiasm for copper-nickel mining is short-sighted. We are reminded of the Old Testament story in which Esau, entering his father’s tent, ravenous from his hunting expedition, sold his birthright for a bowl of stew.  Copper-nickel mining, always risky for humans and their environment, is least dangerous in arid settings; but northern Minnesota, the site of three major watersheds, is one of the richest sources of freshwater in the world.  Such wealth requires our most careful stewardship.

After months of study and reflection, with regard not only for ourselves but also for our neighbors and those creatures great and small with whom we share this region, the Duluth-Superior Friends Meeting declares its opposition to copper-nickel mining in northern Minnesota.

Approved by D-S Friends Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business, 1 Dec. 2013

Sources and Suggestions for Study

Bertossi, Teresa and Gabriel Caplett, eds. Headwaters News: Special Issue: Mining, Land & Water (Spring 2010). Print

Carter, Bill. Boom, Bust, Boom: A Story about Copper, the Metal that Rules the World. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012. Print

Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. The Scrap Recycling Industry: Nonferrous Scrap, 2011. (fact sheet) Print.

Myers, John. “PolyMet Study: Water would need 500 years of treatment.” Duluth News Tribune, Oct. 5, 2013. Print

Precious Waters: Minnesota’s Sulfide Mining Controversy at www.preciouswaters.org. Video

Save Lake Superior. Minnesota’s Sulfide Mining #1: What’s Wrong With PolyMet’s NorthMet Mine? (fact sheet) On-line and Print.

Save Lake Superior. Metallic Sulfide Mining #2: Track Record: Can sulfide ores be mined safely? (fact sheet) On-line and Print.

Save Lake Superior: Metallic Sulfide Mining #3: Sulfide Mining Projects in Minnesota. (fact sheet) On-line and Print.

Save Lake Superior. Metallic Sulfide Mining #4: Is Northern Minnesota a good location for sulfide mining? (fact sheet) On-line and Print.

WaterLegacy. What are the Facts? PolyMet and Copper Sulfide Mining in MN, 2011. (fact sheet) Print.

Some Websites and Organizations worth Consulting

Friends of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness: www.friends-bwca.org

Mining Truth: www.miningtruth.org

Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness: www.nmworg.org

PolyMet: www.polymetmining.com

Save Lake Superior: www.savelakesuperior.org

Save Our Sky Blue Waters: www.sosbluewaters.org

Twin Metals: www.twin-metals.com

WaterLegacy: www.waterlegacy.org


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