Minneapolis Friends Meeting

Minutes: Monthly Meeting for Business January 10, 2016

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

9:00 Unprogrammed Meeting for Worship

9:45 Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business

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

  1. Gathering Worship
  2. December Minutes Approved
  3. Reports
    1. Director of Ministry ­ Pat Jones  Pat asked Betsy S to update monthly meeting on the medical condition of Adolph B, a long-time member of Meeting, who recently moved to Texas and had a serious stroke on New Year’s Eve. He is out of intensive care and currently receiving palliative care. Ed S gave additional background for Adolph, reporting that Adolph had first started worshipping in our meeting house years ago, when it was a Lutheran Church. When Minneapolis Friends took over the building as its’ meeting house, Adolph remained with the building, becoming an active Quaker and participating in the major remodeling of the meeting house.  Pat expressed her appreciation to Ed and Betsy for reaching out to Adolph’s family and providing a bridge between them and our Meeting.       Pat encourages us to welcome and to get to know the new attenders to Meeting. There have been a number of new families worshipping with us and their children have been active in the nursery and first day school. Please help them connect to Meeting and to get to know each other . It would be helpful to get pictures of the newcomers with their names. And regarding the nursery, we need more volunteers, who have gone through the clearness process, to help Betsy with coverage in the nursery during both meetings for worship. We regularly have children during semi-programmed worship. Contact Betsy or Pat if interested. Thanks to Carolyn for hosting the recent Friends for a Nonviolent World event at the Meeting. And finally, let Pat know of positive or negative interactions with the online meeting directory.                       The minutes should reflect the death of Earl Kinley, a member who joined the Meeting in  1993 and was active for a number of years.
    2. Friends for a NonViolent World (FNVW) Holiday Fair Report – Bob Nechal   This was the most successful fair, ever. Highest level of traffic, ever. Warm friendly atmosphere. A great community experience. Revenues: $24,169 ($1,700 above previous high) Net Profit: $13,928 ($546 above previous high) The increase was driven by stronger vendor sales and high quality crafts.   Assessment and thoughts: The process of continuous improvement is yielding excellent results. Work has been simplified and better organized. Even with Rae C and Tom W absent this year, their previous leadership and organization showed in the successful way everyone came together to make the fair a success. There was an outstanding response and support from everyone. In the future we want to continue to simplify and improve the experience. One area of improvement would be to extend our reach into the neighborhood – the growth in traffic this year came from the Linden Hills neighbors. Feedback is welcome.                Discussion: Friend asked about the books left over from the fair. They still need to be picked up. Bob will follow up on that. Another Friend spoke encouragingly about the fair and how it is a good way to connect with the local community and to bring them into the meeting house. There was a request to consider staffing a booth during the fair to promote FNVW through interactions with fair attenders. Bob responded that this has been discussed but nothing has been initiated so far. Other suggestions included having buttons to identify Quakers who would be available for questions or to do more with “Quaker Speak” on LinkedIn, as a way to attract millennial groups. Another idea was to leaflet the neighborhood.                  Bob gave an update on the current status of Friends for a NonViolent World. Its work is going especially well with the Alternatives to Violence Project active in six prisons. The limiting factor has been not enough volunteers. He observed that FNVW has experienced a huge loss of Quaker participation, which has dropped 90%. The board is down to just four individuals. A strong Quaker presence is required; but to do this may mean re-inventing the organization to attract more millennials. They seem to have a different view of the world, which is evident in a lack of focus on foreign policy. While millennials are the most traveled generation, they seem to want to work on local issues that don’t require a long term commitment or a lot of time. There has been some consideration given to restructuring FNVW – to make it more virtual.
    3. Ministry and Counsel (M&C) – Carolyn VandenDolder  M&C is offering a series of queries on the beloved community. (see attachments for the entire query list) They focus on worship, on how we schedule activities outside of worship and on us as individuals nurturing the beloved community. Carolyn then read the queries. There are a number of ideas about how to use these queries – in adult education, during the upcoming friendly meals, or any time we are in fellowship with others in Meeting. There will be opportunity to share meaningful quotes at our next adult education hour.
    4. Stewardship (Quarterly Financial report) – Roland Barrett. At the end of the third quarter our income was $81,674. This represents 71% of the budget for the end of the third quarter – a slight decrease from the same period last year. This quarter we brought in $47,282, which is 41% of our yearly budget. This is good, but it still is slightly behind last year’s pace. Overall, we are in pretty good shape, except for workers comp, which went up a lot this year and the increase had not been factored into the budget. Books and literature are way up this year, but the total of the increase -$250 – is not a big factor, overall. The checking account balance stands at $58,132; and the Envelope Gift this holiday season was $2,590 – up significantly from last year ($1,700). We still have a way to go to meet our budget this year but, overall, we are ok.       Discussion: Where might we end up at the end of the fiscal year? While we still have ~40% of our expenses remaining to be paid, we have pretty good control of our operating expenses. The real variable is how much we actually take in by the end of the fiscal year and how much we ultimately spend on discretionary items. Our main expenses are covered, and that includes a new office computer, which will be funded by the Trustees and not out of operating expenses.
    5. Loaves and Fishes – Ann Luce  Ann and Sue Kearns are our coordinators. MFM participates in Loaves and Fishes about four times a year, whenever there is a 5th Monday in the month. Volunteers arrive at 2:30PM to start cooking and at 4:30PM to prepare for serving which starts at 5:15PM. Cleanup starts at 5:30PM. Fruit donations are gratefully received although Loaves and Fishes no longer hands out cookies to their clients. In the last few years about 8-15 people from MFM have participated each time. We need at least 15, which means we often come up short. Twin Cities Friends usually have more volunteers than we do. It has been suggested that we do something to re-energize the meeting members and our youth to take part in this opportunity. Expenses are split between Minneapolis Friends Meeting and Twin Cities Friends. The 2015-16 budgeted share for MFM is $850 and we will most likely be under budget. The projected cost for next year is expected to be similar. We always serve chili and a salad. Consideration is being given to offering a vegetarian chili. This is a great outreach activity for the Meeting. There is power in a family meal with great conversation and many chances to participate. Discussion: Is this open to children? Yes. It is a great opportunity for younger people of 10 years of age or so. It is a very positive experience for them. We have had more young people participating, of late. Kids can participate during any shift, although it is not appropriate for younger children. Pat suggested we publish a list of regular participants from MFM and the shifts they work as a way to encourage others to get involved. Normally, a signup sheet is put out a month before the meal and it is announced in the bulletin.
  4. Follow-up Decisions – none 
  5. New Business
    1. Nominating: Unprogrammed Worship Committee – Jeannette Raymond    Nominating committee recommends that Keitha H and Carol B be appointed to begin a small Unprogrammed Worship Committee to care for the spiritual life and tasks of unprogrammed meeting for worship. Nominating is still looking for more individuals to assist with the needs of unprogrammed meeting for worship. There was little discussion. Friends APPROVED the appointments. Also, Nominating is requesting that Friends please return their phone calls, if you receive them, so that they can move forward putting together the committee assignments for the coming year.
    2. Peace and Social Concerns Committee (P&SC) – Black Lives Matter (BLM) sign proposal: Elizabeth Showalter          Last month, Monthly Meeting approved a proposal to have Black Lives Matter  receive a portion of the Envelope Gift. There has been discussion about displaying a large sign or banner in front of the meeting house, but there was also concern about how a banner would be perceived by the wider community. An alternate plan being proposed is to secure 50 small yard signs that would be available for purchase. One of those signs could be placed in front of the meeting house.         Discussion: A Friend expressed concern about the focus given by media coverage of BLM and that not enough emphasis has been given to their commitment to non-violence. Elizabeth responded that she has been very involved in recent events and has witnessed their commitment to ensure their actions are peaceful. There has been a calming presence provided by older people that was evidenced when a motorist ran through the group, and some elders encouraged a non-violent response. There are individuals who are intent on acting out, but the organization does not endorse those actions and really tries to promote a non-violent resolution …. Another Friend encourages Meeting to do a banner as well as lawn signs, since doing so would lead to an important discussion and having a banner is a public statement that would be good for us to make. If we, as a Meeting, do not agree, then that is a reason to not do it; but if we are just being sensitive to a variety of motivations and interpretations that may be elicited by displaying a banner, that is not enough to not display it …. Another Friend stated she is not in unity with BLM because of the all the division that has been created and she would not support a banner. She would rather we displayed a banner dealing with poverty, gender fairness, etc. However, if P&SC wants to buy lawn signs, that is a good way to proceed …. A different Friend spoke to the issue of confrontation and conflict and how Martin Luther King said that the conflict is there already. The strategy of BLM is to make this conflict visible, but is BLM leadership asking white churches to put up banners?   Elizabeth: She does not know if BLM leadership wants churches to display banners, but there seemed to be a surge of interest focusing on lawn signs and going door-to-door to engage people in discussions …. There was a suggestion that P&SC would have a chance for adult program to have a presentation involving BLM leadership …. Another speaker commented that blacks want us to go to them, not have them come here to us …. Friend appreciates the report from P&SC and feels we are doing what this committee wanted – discuss the topic! …. Question: is it the recommendation from P&SC to have Meeting approve purchasing the lawn signs? Answer: No, the committee can purchase the lawn signs. The request is for approval to put a sign on our lawn …. Friend strongly supports putting sign in front of the meeting house as long as this is not all we do regarding this …. One Friend shared this experience. Some months ago there was a proposal by BLM to be confrontational, which he thought was ill advised. It was pointed out to him by a younger person that as a 70 year old white guy maybe it was time he should listen to what blacks are saying. Ultimately, the BLM group changed their tactics after authorities had conceded to some of their demands, and he realized his earlier assessment was wrong. He wants a lawn sign and wants a sign placed in front of the meeting house and does not think it is worth developing our own message … Other comments: person feels we do need to have this discussion but there are differing feelings in the black community; Friend has conflicted feelings and does have a question about displaying a sign for this purpose. In Minneapolis the attention is about the particular incident that happened and there is tension with people speaking with assumptions that we do not know – what that slogan means locally versus what it means nationally.   Presiding clerk concluded that we will not be able to resolve the entire issue today, but asked if the Meeting was in general agreement to put a small yard sign supporting Black Lives Matter in front of the meeting house. Friends APPROVED placing a small BLM lawn sign in front of the meeting house. 
  6. 10:40 AM  Meeting adjourned


From Ministry and Counsel: Queries on beloved community

Around worship:

  • What is the relationship between our current schedule and creating and maintaining a sense of the beloved community of one MFM body?
  • In today’s world where life pulls in so many directions, what is the relationship between member and attender consistency in attending worship and creating and maintaining a sense of beloved community of one MFM body?

Around how we schedule activities outside of worship:

  • Are we encouraging members of the MFM community to pick and choose things of interest to them so we seldom have the sense of a whole-Meeting event?
  • How does the Meeting set its priorities for activities?
  • What is the assumed commitment of individual members to whole-Meeting, not-on-Sunday-morning events such as marriages under the care of the Meeting; Fall Camp; Loaves and Fishes; the Holiday Fair?
  • How does our practice of programming and setting activities affect our sense of the beloved community of one MFM body?

Around us as individuals nurturing the beloved community:

  • Do I engage and extend invitations to people less well-known to me at Meeting?
  • Am I tied to old habits or particular language and resist changes at Meeting or dismiss language I have previously rejected?
  • Do I show up for others – attending their events and forums – even if their area of passion is not mine so that I might better know and nurture them?
  • Do I risk sharing my spiritual journey with others in Meeting so they might better know, nurture and support me? What in me may block my feeling part of a blessed community?
  • Do I hold space – in myself and in my calendar – for spontaneity and Divine inspiration or insight in my interactions with other people from Meeting? Do I approach my time spent with people from Meeting with the sense of expectancy similar to what I bring to worship?

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