Minneapolis Friends Meeting

Minutes: Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business

1/11/2015    9:45 AM

Ranae Hanson (presiding clerk), Tom Ward (recording clerk)

 

Gathering Worship – Clerk reviewed the process for submitting agenda items for consideration by monthly meeting. In general, items for discussion are first brought forward to one of our committees where they are reviewed before being presented at monthly meeting.

I    December Minutes were approved

II  Monthly Reports

      A –  Director of Ministry – Pat Jones is absent so there was no report

      B –  Ministry and Counsel (M&C) – Judith James

  • This month the Clerk of Death and Memorial Subcommittee gave a report to M&C on the activities of Death and Memorial over the past year.
  • M&C received a new request for membership, one request was withdrawn, and one was postponed.
  • On January 18 there will be an Adult Program focused on the nature of gathered meeting for worship – ways to strengthen corporate worship – our experiences in centering in the silent worship and our discernment process in speaking from the silence.
  • M&C is carrying a weight of concern for harmony in the Meeting and lifting up those who might feel disappointed, frustrated or feel a dissonance between what they believe and Meeting decisions.

III  Reports

       A –  Welcoming Committee (annual) – Sandy Olson Began the report with a review of committee’s charge. The committee was created to facilitate follow-through to Quaker Quest and to coordinate efforts to inform the general public and seekers about Minneapolis Friends Meeting, Quaker worship and Quakerism in general. They also coordinate efforts to make new attenders and members feel welcome and included in our community. They work closely with other committees including Adult Program and Social Committee. Some of their accomplishments include: connecting with visitors and newcomers; introducing the idea for friendly potlucks, which will be held February – March; recruiting welcomers at the door before each worship and contacting visitors within one week; facilitating a gathering for young adults; and hosting two new member welcoming receptions. K H is coordinating the pot lucks and people will be notified of their assignments in the next two weeks.          Continuation of discussion on diversity: Clerk posed these questions: What do we mean when we discuss diversity or inclusiveness? What is God leading us to do? As individuals, do we want to work together, surrounded by and engaged with people who think differently from us?          * As Quakers, we do a good job inviting people to develop a direct relationship with God through our worship; but it is a bigger challenge for us when it comes to encouraging people to engage in the wide range of activities offered by the corporate life of the Meeting. The speaker has had the experience of God moving powerfully in a group that is more diverse and wonders if the absence of a breadth of diversity in our Meeting could keep us from discerning the Truth, as best we can.           * At Pendle Hill diversity is blessed by the presence of many students from other cultures – notably Korea. Sometimes worship looks like worship in Minneapolis, sometimes it is quite different. The question is how we invite people to our meeting from communities who differ from us.          * Others observations: We may need to take the initiative and join other organizations rather than requiring someone else to take the first step. One Friend’s experience of diverse communities suggested that people of color would like us to go to their houses for dinner instead of us inviting them to our house for dinner.

  •           * Friend shared his experience living for over 25 years in a diverse neighborhood and being very involved in the local community; yet he has few close friends there and asks the question, why is that. He believes we have the tendency to do what we are accustomed to do – on an individual basis as well as on a group basis. Vibrant spiritual life requires being uncomfortable over and over again. He invites himself and the Meeting to be uncomfortable.
  •           * Another Friend added that the challenge of diversity is not unique to our meeting, but is common in other religious organizations. Why is it that Quaker meetings and many other churches all look the same? If we truly want to be different than something significant must change, and do we really want that?
  •           * One Friend spoke of some reservations they had when considering inviting someone of a different ethnic background, i.e. wearing a hijab, for fear that we would overwhelm them in our attempt to embrace someone from a different cultural background.
  •           * Friend shared his experience with Quaker Quest and how it energized the Meeting while raising a sincere desire to address issues like diversity and to attract new people to the Meeting. He senses some organizational tension, now, as we try to come to terms with new ideas and thoughts that can be disruptive and can cause some push back.
  •           Question: Friend asked how the Meeting was considering the role of diversity when we think of making the Meeting a welcoming place. Are we yearning for diversity? What do we want? If we are not intentional about this, everything will remain the same. Is there time to discuss this in business meeting or should we consider a threshing session? The clerk announced that a fuller discussion of the topic can occur after we finish our main agenda …

 

           B –  Care of the Future of the Meeting (from Long-Range Planning preparatory ad hoc committee)Jeannette Raymond and Gayle McJunkin   (See Attachments for full details)            

       Outline of Proposed Process: Specific dates and events will be advertised with adult program hour being a main time to meet, to discuss, and to plan.

  •           G M discussed background and the context for the discussion. The general issue has been addressed before, and an ad hoc committee was formed. They convened three times this fall and winter to consider a format and to set the tone for long-range planning in the Meeting. Some assumptions and values were chosen to inform the process as we move forward. The assumptions and values were read (see attachment). Active meeting–wide planning will commence in April 2015 and should wrap up and inform the structure of Meeting in 2016. While there is an end point in mind, the process will continue for as long as it is needed. The outcome of the process would be a set of statements that put forth the vision – not just one statement. A work plan would be designed that will extend out for five years; and we need to establish an action plan that needs to be realistic – based on our capacity. All committees will be asked to contribute to this process; and the small ad hoc group would continue to shepherd the process. The entire community will be part of the development of the plan, but the final decision will rest with monthly meeting for business. If the long-range planning process isn’t working for us, we will lay it down.
  • April 2015 there will be a brainstorming session.
  • May – we will convene to draw conclusions from our discussions.
  • June/July – there will be a 2-3 hour special session to draw up a vision statement that will be presented to monthly meeting.
  • August/September/October – develop and prioritize some major goals to move the Meeting toward the vision.
  • November/December – create an action plan to accomplish the goals.
  • 2016 (January – April) – new staffing descriptions will be developed, a revised committee structure created, and new committee members appointed.
  • April 2016 – implement the new plan.

          Discussion: What prompted this action? Answer: A number of things prompted the Meeting to want to consider this. Liaison and Review had questions as they reviewed job description for the director of ministry; the current structure of meeting did not support actions to decide if we could purchase property next to the meeting house; and Nominating asked for guidance on laying down committees.

* Has there been a meeting vision statement before?  No.  And we are unsure if other Meetings have vision statements.

* Friends asked for clarification on the role of business meeting and the terms “active members and attenders” used in the planning process document. Answer: The description of active members and attenders in not significant and was supposed to be edited out of the document.  Much of the discussion will take place during scheduled programs and work sessions. Monthly meeting will approve the vision statement and will consider and prioritize the strategies that are developed.

* Friend asks that the ad hoc committee be represented by more than one gender.

* A couple Friends asked for clarification on the phrase “maintaining staff support” and the implications of the planning process on potential changes to the status of the director of ministry. Answer: The intent is to keep open whether or not we continue to have a director of ministry.

* Friend wanted to see something addressing young people in the document.  That may be incorporated in one of the objectives.

* Another Friend spoke in praise of the process and spoke to the importance of being open to the continuing revelation within the Meeting while balancing new ideas brought by those who are not steeped in meeting history with those who value our Quaker traditions and culture.

Clerk asked if Friends were ok going ahead with the process while still being open to input.  Friends APPROVED going forward with the process.

IV    Follow-up Decisions

        A –  Liaison and Review – Suzanne Ferguson  A survey has been created to review the performance of the director of ministry. The survey is online and a link to it will be in the electronic bulletin on our website and will be included in the printed bulletin. We are not sending out a mass mailing advertising it. The link will be open only for 3-4 weeks since we are charged for the survey, although it is not a great expense. In the past, about 60% of meeting households have responded when the survey was given. While Liaison and Review does not have a specific goal for the number of responses, it will monitor the process and will encourage other ways for people to respond if they can’t follow the electronic links. One respondent said the process took them about 18 minutes to complete. Clerk encourages everyone here to look for the link and to complete the survey. Each household may submit more than one survey if more than one individual in that household wishes to complete the survey.

V      No New Business

VI    Communications

  •  Roger and Doris T have requested a transfer of their membership from Minneapolis Monthly Meeting to Tempe Monthly Meeting in Arizona. This has been done.

11:15        Semi-programmed Worship

Attachments:

 

Care of the Future of the Meeting

Planning Process

Shared with Monthly Meeting 1/11/2015

 

Assumptions – We will continue to

  • Worship after the manner of Friends at 44th and York,
  • Maintain our affiliation with Northern Yearly Meeting and Friends General Conference,
  • Do business after the manner of Friends,
  • Maintain staff support that enhances our worship, programs and committee work,
  • Make Quaker worship and Quaker Faith and Practice available to the community
  • Maintain our outreach ministry and ministering community,
  • Maintain an appropriate committee structure with vibrant member participation.

Values – We strive to

  • Be an inclusive community
  • Support the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of our regular community and members and attenders,
  • Be a public presence for peace and justice,
  • Maintain member ownership of meeting for worship,
  • Use Quaker Faith and Practice,
  • Base leadings on individual and corporate relationships with God and the Divine Light,
  • Be a participatory worship community instead of primarily a consumer community,
  • Balance our budgets and operate the Meeting within our financial means,
  • Encourage people to participate in ways that use their gifts and contribute to the Meeting’s needs and leadings,
  • Nurture leaders who bring Quaker-like witness and leadership into the wider world.

What can the meeting expect as the outcomes of the care of the future process? 

The products of this process could include:

  • Assessment of the current conditions and opportunities facing the meeting
  • A set of conclusions drawn from these conditions
  • A set of vision statements to frame our hopes for the meeting in the next 15 years
  • The adoption of a few major goals that the meeting can work on over the next 5 years that will move us towards our vision

These sets of shared understandings and commitments will provide a frame for meeting operations and action.

  • We will develop an action plan to implement the few major goals.
  • We will develop a revised committee structure that will support meeting efforts to implement the action plan and can function within the limits of the meetings capacity.
  • Nominating committee will propose committee membership to ensure that committees with direct responsibility for the major goals have the needed people power, commitment, skills and abilities.
  • All committees will consider how their work can help move the meeting towards the set of vision statements and report on committee activities related to the care of the future of the meeting in annual reports.
  • Liaison and Review will develop a new position description for the director of ministry to support the implementation of the action plan.

Decision making

While the entire meeting community will be invited to participate in the development of the plan, the final decision on the major goals and the plan for reaching them will occur in monthly meeting and be made by involved members of the meeting.  While it is anticipated that the long range plan will energize and motivate many active members and attenders, this plan needs to be grounded in the discernment of those who have made the commitment of meeting membership and are most likely to be present to implement the plan.

Proposed Process

 

April 19, 2015 – Step 1: Active members and attenders of the meeting will be invited to brainstorm the current strengths, challenges, risks and opportunities Minneapolis Friends Meeting faces.  This will be conducted during adult forum; however, Friends will have an opportunity to add ideas through an on-line survey and in phone calls to member of the Ad Hoc Care of the Future of the Meeting committee from April 19th to May 5th.

May 18, 2015 – During a second adult form, the strengths, challenges, risks and opportunities lists that were generated will be reviewed, and those in attendance will be asked to draw conclusions from this assessment.  These conclusions and the brainstorm lists will inform the rest of the planning process.

June/July, 2015:  During a two- or three-hour special session, active members and attenders of the meeting will be invited to initiate the creation of a set of vision statements that will articulate our hopes for Minneapolis Meeting in 2030.  These vision statements will be revised for clarity and then presented at the July monthly meeting session. Discussion may be carried over to the August monthly meeting if necessary.

August/September/October, 2015:  Given the vision statements, active members and attenders of the meeting will develop and prioritize a few major goals to move the meeting toward the vision.  These strategies will be considered and prioritized by monthly meeting.

November/December, 2015:  We will develop action plans for the major goals. Because the meeting has strength and experience in creating action plans and meeting goals, current committees will likely do much of this work although ad hoc groups may need to be established.

January, 2015 – April, 2016:  New staffing position descriptions will be developed, a revised committee structure created, and new committee members appointed.

April 2016: Action plans will be implemented and all committees will shape their work towards realizing the set of vision statements and the major goals.

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