Minneapolis Friends Meeting

Minutes:  September 13, 2015 Monthly Meeting for Business


10:00 Semi-programmed Worship

11:00   Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business

Attendance:  David Woolley – presiding clerk, Tom Ward – recording clerk, Pat Jones – director of ministry

  1. Gathering Worship
  2. August Minutes APPROVED
  3. Reports:
    1. Director of Ministry ­ Pat Jones:  Now is a time of transitions for the Meeting and we enter the fall with a feeling of strength in the Meeting.  During the summer people have stepped up to fill roles – facing bench, closers, refreshments, etc.  Tending the flower gardens on first and third Thursdays has been ongoing with special help from Betsy, Clifford and Rae.  Attendance has been strong at meetings for worship, even with so many regulars out of town.  Now people are returning from summer vacation, and next week we expect to see more families with their children.  A number of children are signed up for first day school with a wide range in ages, but we will continue to have just one class. We will split the group, where needed, for age appropriate activities.  Adult program will sponsor a four-part series this fall based on Doug Gwyn’s, “A Sustainable Life: Quaker Faith and Practice in the Renewal of Creation.”  Pat will be on vacation September 23-30.    There will be a lot of use of the meeting house this fall; and we are still looking for people to sit on the facing bench and carry the mic during unprogrammed meeting for worship.
    2. Ministry and Counsel (M&C) ­ Carolyn VandenDolder: One of the functions of M&C is the oversight and nurture of worship at Meeting.  Mayim Rabim will have a meditative music program played on stringed instruments of traditional Jewish music next week at 2PM. We are invited to participate with them.
    3. Stewardship (brief update) – Roland Barrett:     In the 23 weeks since the fiscal year began, donations to the Meeting have been $30,549 – which represents about 60% of the scheduled budget for the period.  We have been averaging ~ $1300 a week – about $900 a week short of our budgeted needs.  This is a better pace than last year but still below budget.  Friends are asked to continue their giving.
    4. Welcoming and Outreach (Annual Report) – Sandy Olson:  Their mission is to create an open and welcoming community with a particular focus on visitors, new attenders and new members. Accomplishments this year include: developing a mission statement, revising the “welcome to all” banner, sponsoring friendly home potlucks, recruiting welcomers at the door before each worship and hosting new member welcoming receptions for new people.  The committee’s challenges include: finding enough welcomers, finding an alternative to the current guest book and looking for ways to address the lack of diversity in the Meeting as a whole.  Upcoming points of attention: hosting the next new member reception on November 1, 2015; supporting our visitors, many of whom are young adults, and encouraging them to attend fall camp; upgrading the front lawn sign; exploring ways to use social media to raise the profile of the Meeting; and sponsoring additional friendly home potlucks February – March next year.  Discussion: Friend asked if one of the home potlucks could be scheduled later in the year.  Answer: Yes.   There was another question regarding web sites that people could access to discover what religious community they would best fit in.  Answer: Google “what denomination should I be in” to get some answers.  Friend noted that replacing the outside lawn sign is expensive and asked if we were coordinating the replacement with Mayim Rabim. Answer: the final decision on replacing the sign will be decided by Monthly Meeting and Mayim Rabim is working with us on this.  Friend thanked the committee for all the work they have done.
    5. Social Committee (Annual Report) – Diane Barrett: Their main responsibility is to organize the Meeting’s monthly potluck gatherings.  In addition, they support other Meeting events such as new member welcoming, special speakers, staff appreciation; and they occasionally support Death and Memorial Committee functions.    Accomplishments: organized 12 potlucks, assisted community members with set-up and supplies for social hours and other occasions, organized winter kitchen cleaning, maintained good humor and camaraderie while completing their tasks.  Challenges: the committee has at times been short-staffed, committee members would appreciate more assistance from other community members – especially during potluck clean-up, Friends are reminded that all ingredients need to be listed on potluck items, and Friends are encouraged to bus their dishes promptly at the end of potluck meals so all dirty dishes are included in the general wash-up.  Upcoming Points of Attention: There will be a kitchen clean-up in February; the committee appreciates additional help anytime but, especially, with the newcomer’s welcome, memorials and special events; they will be requesting one or two additional committee members from Nominating. The committee feels that the potlucks have proceeded very well this year, have been well attended, and there has been generous support with the after lunch clean-up.  Discussion: Friends thanked Diane and the committee for everything they have done, and the general feeling is that the potlucks have been well run.
  4. Follow-up Decisions:
    1. Northern Yearly Meeting (NYM) – Carolyn VandenDolder: She reviewed the schedule of NYM activities.  NYM has requested to have an Interim Session here at our meeting house in 2016.  This  requires a commitment from people in our Meeting to help put this on – mostly to provide hospitality on Friday night (some attenders may also want to stay Saturday night). While there is no specific date given for the Interim Session, it will be in late February or March, 2016.  Five people indicated interest in volunteering to help with the Interim Session and Friends APPROVED the request for our Meeting to sponsor the Interim Session of NYM.
  5. New Business
    1. In 2016 Friends General Conference (FGC) would like to use our meeting house for a committee meeting October 30 – November 1 (Friday afternoon to Saturday evening). We would need to provide a host to open and close the building, make coffee, etc.  There may be a need to host some visitors and to assist with meals, although they may order out for food. Friend inquired why this request is coming to monthly meeting since we have a system in place to manage the use of the building. Pat said that some years back the Meeting decided that when there is a request involving hosting, food preparation and when additional help might be needed, the request would be best handled by monthly meeting.   Another Friend reports that at other FGC meetings she has attended the food preparations have been marvelous.  The meeting calendar is open on those dates.  Friends APPROVED the use of the meeting house for an FGC committee meeting.
    2. Peace and Social Concerns (P&SC) – Jeff Naylor  P&SC wants to send a letter to our two Senators acknowledging their support of recent legislation on the nuclear agreement with Iran. The brief letter of support was read and Meeting was asked if it wanted to support the letter.  Discussion: Suggestion was made to include Representative Keith Ellison, since he has also been supportive of the legislation. Another Friend thought that, in general, it is the Meeting and not a committee that should be taking a stand by sending a letter of support. Another suggested that if we approve the letter, the letter should be sent to the local newspapers.  A different Friend spoke against our speaking politically since, as a religious organization, our stance is with God acting as God would act – the Religious Society of Friends should not be a political action committee – and he is not sure this legislation is the correct thing to do.  Another Friend shares the same discomfort and is against taking action at this time. Others spoke in support of Friends taking political stands, saying Friends have never shied away from political action and are known for taking strong anti-war positions; and Friends Committee on National Legislation and American Friends Service Committee have called for action on the Iran nuclear agreement and have thoroughly studied the issues and have asked us to thank our representatives when they take positions consistent with our testimonies. Another Friend agrees Friends have often taken political action, but he feels he does not know enough to take action. It is important to make it known what we stand for, but he is concerned about the impact the legislation will have on our Jewish friends.  Pat thought that the Meeting would want to take a stance on this.  In the past we have written letters and taken positions on anti-gambling and peace issues. Our Meeting is generally in sync with Friends General Conference. Another Friend spoke to the need for any letter we write to reflect our values. Supporting one position without including our reservations is not necessarily reflecting our values. And another suggested that by not taking a position we are, in fact, taking a position.  Our Meeting’s representative to FCNL said he has spoken to Senator Klobuchar about issues and where Quakers stand. He recommend we write, as individuals, to our representatives and say you are a member of MFM.  Clerk: it sounds like we are not ready to move forward in agreement on sending this letter at this time and this matter should be referred back to P&SC for further discernment.  There will not be a meeting for business in October, so to facilitate the discussion, Friends are invited to the next P&SC Committee meeting which is this coming Wednesday at 7PM.
    3. Care of the Future – Jeannette Raymond    On August 1 about 20 people gathered to produce a vision statement of what we hope for the future of the Meeting. The vision statement consists of seven statements and has been posted on the Meeting web page along with a survey for suggestions to improve the statements.  The committee reconvened and revised the vision statement.  If this version meets with monthly meeting approval it will be used during Fall Camp next month for further discussion and exploration – directing our actions going forward, describing who we want to be, not who we are right now.  The Draft Vision Statement was read and then the meeting was opened for discussion with a committee member recording the comments.   Discussion:  There was a lively mix of clarifying questions and comments covering all seven statements. The committee hoped the comments would help the committee move forward to make this vision statement become reality.  They recognize that there are limits to what we can do and that the more we add to the statements, the more we will have to do.  It would be helpful to know if there are things that can be removed. Jeannette asked if the committee could get approval from monthly meeting for the direction the committee is going with the document and that, if it was close enough to the Meeting’s sense of this vision, we can move forward at Fall Camp with implementing the vision.  A Friend had hesitations about approving the vision statements right now but agreed we should focus on action at Fall Camp.  Another Friend suggests we approve this as a working document to be further articulated at Fall Camp.  Questions arose about how the comments from today’s discussion would be incorporated into the document.  Jeannette: there will be a revised draft document that we will try to post before Fall Camp. The planning at Fall Camp will be based on a revised draft vision statement from today’s discussion. Friend suggested we can accept the report and the comments from today and move on.  That is not approving the document.  Others agreed, while some questioned the pressure to get approval from Meeting before Fall Camp. This is long range planning and the deadlines are self-imposed. Jeannette: if we delay the process to make additional revisions and then bring it back to monthly meeting, it won’t be until January that we can really move forward.  Pat said they had reserved time during Fall Camp to move to the next steps in the planning process, but could, instead, continue the discussion on the revised vision statement.  It will not be a business meeting, but we could move the process along.  Discussion was brought to a close without further clarification of additional actions to take.
  6. Due to the extended period of discussion three agenda items were postponed: NYM Request, a membership transfer, and Communications. There will be no meeting for business in October since Fall Camp occurs on the same weekend.
  7. Meeting Adjourned at 1PM

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

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