Minutes: Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business

11/9/2014           9:45 AM

David Woolley (acting clerk), Tom Ward (recording clerk), Pat Jones (director of Ministry)

I      Gathering Worship

II    October Minutes – Approved

III   Monthly Reports

  1. Director of Ministry – Pat Jones is leaving Tuesday morning and will be returning on the 18th.
  2. Ministry and Counsel (M&C) – Judith James– M&C has received two requests for membership. After reviewing the experience with the summer schedule, M&C recommends keeping the current format of two different services during the rest of the year – unprogrammed at 9AM and semi-programmed at 11:15 AM. Dates have been set for the photo sessions by LifeTouch to upgrade the meeting directory – Friday January 2 (1P-8P) and Saturday January 3 (10A-4P).       Please schedule a time on the sign-up sheets that will be posted. If you are unable to come on those dates, you may show up at any church where LifeTouch is scheduled to take pictures. The office will have info on the options and you may submit your own photos. Pets may be included in the photo sessions.

IV   Reports

  1. Fall Camp (annual)Allen Gibas gave the report on behalf of the committee clerk.  Fall Camp was held at Villa Maria for the second year in a row. The cost of Villa Maria this year was $3900 ($600 more than the $3300 budgeted). The final cost will be around $4,000 with an additional $100 or so for snacks and miscellaneous expenses. Attendance: 35 for Saturday lunch, 47 Saturday supper, 44 stayed overnight, 45 Sunday brunch, 39 Sunday snack. Friends attended from both Winona and Menominee, and we had three teenagers – but no young children. The assumption is that we will most likely return to Villa Maria next year. Villa Maria provides only 3 meals (Camp Courage offered 4), but clean-up responsibilities are less at Villa Maria and they provide bedding. Some observations: we need to communicate better with newcomers; we need to be mindful of what needs to be done and when; we need to balance free time with program activities; and we want a workshop with a spiritual theme next year. The committee clerk shared that it has been a challenge at times to keep up with everything, since she lives out of state; but this did not seem to significantly impact either the camp experience or the committee.      Discussion: Since there is no swimming pool at Villa Maria, could that explain the absence of children this year? No. The problem is there are so few young people coming to Meeting right now. Fall Camp occurred over MEA weekend when kids are home from school a couple extra days. Could the dates be changed? Yes. Pat commented that people have expressed concern about the differences at Villa Maria relative to Camp Courage. Two concerns mentioned regarding Villa Maria were the lack of fishing opportunities and some people complained their bedrooms were cold. Villa Maria staff know about the temperature issues and had space heaters available. Most Friends spoke favorably about this years’ experience. “Camp was wonderful.” “There were some couples there who are new to Meeting and camp is a good opportunity for new Friends to get to know our community.” Friends seemed to appreciate the walking trails and special mention was given to the flash Bible quiz. One Friend said she could have worked harder to bring her granddaughter, but the absence of a pool and the prospect of not many other kids attending made her reluctant to push the issue. Bike riding was suggested as an activity that might attract younger people.
  2. Stewardship (quarterly) – Roland Barrett   This report covers first the two quarters. To date income has covered only 26% of the budgeted amount for the first two quarters. Historically, at the half-way point, contributions generally average about 35% of the budget, so we are behind expectations. We are doing ok with regular expenses (salaries, etc.) and are controlling our expenditures relative to the budgeted amounts, but we do show a cash deficit of income to budget $6,558. While the holiday season at the end of the year is typically the time when the Meeting receives a large percentage of its yearly donations, we are behind where we would like to be. The bigger issue is long term strategic planning – how are we going to fund the Meeting going forward when we have about 90 contributing members, with the top 10 individuals contributing about 40% of the total budget and those contributors are all aging members. Question: What is our cash cushion? It is in the $30,000 + range.c.
  3. NYM (interim session report) – Carolyn VandenDolder The interim session happened a couple weeks ago with a greater number of Friends attending from Twin Cities Friends Meeting than from Minneapolis Friends Meeting. We are excited to announce that the annual Gathering of Friends General Conference (FGC) will take place in 2016, at the College of St. Benedict in St Joseph, Minnesota. This event attracts hundreds of Friends from around the country and offers many opportunities to explore and to share with other Quakers. Friends in our region will be asked to help before and during the Gathering. Some of the committees include: local arrangements, high school, worship, workshops, communications, and young adults. There will be many ways to serve. John Kraft is clerk of Local Arrangements Committee for the 2016 Gathering and Connie Archbald is on the Development Committee. If you are interested in attending the next Gathering, the 2015 Gathering is in Ashville, NC.   Carolyn closed with two queries: How do we connect and support one another? How does the Truth prosper in your life?

V     Follow-up Decisions

  1. White Envelope Gift – Nancy Helfrich for Peace and Social Concerns       (Tentative report) – They are still working on a local recipient and are inclined to recommend an international organization working with Ebola in Africa, such as Doctors without Borders. The final recommendation will be made in December. Two ideas for a local recipient were made: the women’s program in Duluth with which J S is associated and Open Arms – a meals program for people with AIDS and cancer.

VI   New Business

  • Contributions Budget – Jeff Naylor for Peace and Social Concerns (P&SC) – Peace and Social Concerns has been asked by Stewardship and monthly meeting to review the list of recipients to which the Meeting contributes about 10% of the annual budget. This has been under discussion a long time and is just a proposal, but will be considered when next year’s budget is approved.    
  •       Rationale for the proposed changes: The list of organizations has been long and some of the smaller contributions have been reduced to small, almost token, amounts.
  • Two organizations (Loaves and Fishes / Four River Friends) have been moved within the budget from “Contributions” to “Programs”;
  • A principle guiding their deliberations was to support established programs (Friends Committee on National Legislation, Friends General Conference, Friends World Committee on Consultation, Right Sharing of World Resources) or ones with which the Meeting has ongoing involvement, so we have more immediate feedback;
  • National and local priorities have changed over the years, and this proposal is an attempt to reflect some of those changes while responding to the interests and passions within our Meeting, today.
  •       Summary of proposed changes:  Drop the following organizations from our contributions list: Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches, Joint Religious Legislative Coalition, Center on Conscience and War, Quaker House, Peace Tax Fund, Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers;
  • Loaves and Fishes and Four River Friends will come under the oversight of other committees in the Meeting and will not be under “Contributions”;
  • Increase contributions to Northern Yearly Meeting and American Friends Service Committee (there is now an AFSC office in the Twin Cities and the national AFSC contribution gets forwarded to the local office);
  • Reduce our contribution to Friends for a Non-Violent World while designating the FNVW funds toward Alternative to Violence Project (we continue to make a major contribution in time and energy to FNVW through sponsorship of the annual Holiday Fair);
  • Set aside a substantial amount ($1500) under the heading “Voluntary Carbon Tax” which could be dedicated to organizations like Quaker Earthcare Witness or Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light.

Discussion: Friend would like to see a larger amount going to Minnesota Friends School since it is important to invest in our youth.   Several Friends commented that this proposal does not reflect the passion of some in the Meeting around racial justice and poverty issues although it is very supportive of climate concerns.     There were a variety of responses regarding the voluntary carbon tax – from it being too arbitrary an amount to an individual feeling uncomfortable with the concept of a voluntary carbon tax payment being made as a contribution, to linking it more closely to our utility bills, to making it a white envelope gift, to using it support organizations that plant trees, to applying it to making environmental changes to our meeting house (more efficient appliances or eco-friendly carpeting).    This a great process – should do this every few years. Another Friend strongly supported the proposed contribution list and praised the discernment shown by the committee in their deliberations.  Another suggested that our contribution to the Holiday Fair has never been properly appreciated and wondered if there is a way to put a dollar figure on it – the utility costs for that weekend, alone, are equal to one month of utility bills for the meeting house.  Another stated that contributions to Northern Yearly Meeting and Friends General Conference should fall under programming expenses and not contributions, since these are both affiliates of the Meeting. Friend encouraged us to think globally but to act locally – and the Friends School is an important local resource to be supported. Another felt it unwise to cut all payments to the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches and the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition and that we should give to them even if it is a very small amount. Question: If we take some organizations out of the contributions list and include them in the program budget, how does that impact our commitment to give ~10% of our total budget to contributions?  Answer: Going forward, if we redistribute the amounts, we will keep in mind that we have a 10% goal. The bottom line is we are not done with this process and we need to rethink the carbon tax idea.  We can still support these organization on our own.

VII   Communications  

  • Transfer of membership: A letter was received from Dover Randolph Monthly Meeting in New Jersey transferring the membership of Robert Raymond to Minneapolis Friends Meeting.
  • Trustees – Jim Haefemeyer – Central Air Company is slated to begin work on Monday, this week, to replace three furnaces and install A/C for the entire meeting house.
  • Clarification of the Welcoming process – New members will be welcomed in an all-meeting celebration sponsored by the Welcoming Committee.

Announcements:  Doug Herron handed out material from AFSC/FCNL on “Shared Security” to help us prepare for his program next week. Additional information is available at www.sharedsecurity.com.  He is meeting with Representative Ellison next week.

11:15        Semi-programmed Worship

 

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