Minneapolis Friends Meeting
Minutes: Monthly Meeting for Business March 13, 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,
- Gathering Worship
- February Minutes were APPROVED
- Reports Director of Ministry Pat Jones Pat reported on the Undoing Racism conference, co-sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), which was led by the People’s Institute for Survival. Seven people from Meeting attended. She is hopeful that information we learned will help us move forward for racial justice – something that many in the Meeting have been working on in their private and professional lives for fifty years, yet an area that continues to need our attention and the action of Meeting and of the Society of Friends. Pat wants us to recognize Carolyn V for her flawless coordination of Northern Yearly Meeting’s Interim Meeting that was held at our meeting house and all the others who worked to make it a success. Pat will be on vacation the last two weeks of March.
- Ministry and Counsel (M&C) – Carolyn VandenDolder A clearness committee on membership for Andrew and Elizabeth Showalter reported back to M&C. They and M&C heartily and joyfully recommend Andy and Elizabeth for membership. Meeting APPROVED the membership of Andrew and Elizabeth Showalter. M&C will make available the queries that were presented last month on the “beloved community”. They will be given to all committee clerks and made available to individuals to use both for individual deliberation and for guiding the committee’s work. The committee encourages all of us to reflect on these queries on a regular basis. [See attachments for a copy] M&C will be holding a workshop for their committee on eldering, in preparation for bringing the topic to Meeting for broad discussion in the fall. Raising the issue of eldering prompted a long discussion. Friend reported his discomfort with the word “eldering” which he feels is generally viewed quite negatively in the context of Quaker history. In the spirit of Quaker Quest, and the desire to make terminology more “Friendly” and universally understood, he suggests “mentoring” would be a better word to use, and it would be viewed as a positive term by a diverse population. His experience has been that people new to Meeting are apt to hear “eldering” as a very judgmental, and not very supportive, term. He was the recipient of “eldering” and found the process personally hurtful and it almost made him leave Meeting. He cares very deeply about Meeting and is asking us to re-examine the whole concept of who among us are the real elders and what the roles of elders should be. There were a number of responses to his concern. The Clerk of M&C thanked the Friend for sharing, acknowledged the concerns, and is mindful of the committee’s need to explore the issue of eldering, first within their committee and then with the broader Meeting community in the fall. Meeting settled into silence. A Friend thanked the speaker for speaking his heart and mind – for raising questions about the very nature of eldering and how eldering intersects with our desire to be supportive of one another. Another Friend, previously on M&C and part of a corporate action to elder an individual similar to the one mentioned, said he found it a very difficult thing for the committee to take on – filled with plenty of angst. There is an inherent heavy handedness with the corporate process of eldering. However, he also had the experience of giving personal feedback to a member that was warmly received. The committee clerk underscored that this is a fruitful, needed conversation and hopes that everyone will be part of this discussion in the autumn.
- Nominating Report – Jeannette Raymond This report is more complex than normal. The committee is recommending approval of the underlined names on the report. There are still fifteen openings that need to be filled, and they will continue to recruit for those committees; but it is becoming increasingly hard to find people willing to serve on committees. The pool of people is shrinking and we keep adding new responsibilities. 61% of meeting members and attenders participate on committees. New committees are relatively easy to fill, some committees are harder to fill. They are asking monthly meeting to consider laying down the Marriage Preparation Subcommittee. Marriage Preparation is a subcommittee of M&C and could be folded back into M&C. Discussion: Where is the biggest need? In three committees: social, semi-programmed worship, and nominating … Has there been consideration to add a young person on Camp Committee? Yes. We are trying to recruit two individuals, but they have not gotten back in touch with us … Clerk of Social Committee put in a plug for her committee saying they only meet twice a year and rotate potluck meal assignments (3 or 4 a year). The responsibilities are not onerous – but really a fun opportunity. The Meeting could simplify the tasks of Social Committee by reducing the number of pot lucks – maybe to every other month … Friend suggested that in Woodbrook Meeting in England they addressed the committee participation challenge by providing an option whereby people could sign-up for a three-month trial committee assignment to check it out before making a longer commitment. Another Friend liked that idea … Clerk of Nominating said that Nominating Committee checks with off-going committee members to see what they would like to do – including staying on the same committee. The basic problem is there are too many committee positions to fill and there are only 75-80 actively participating members/attenders. There are a number of individuals who serve on multiple committees. Of the 15 open slots, the committee has calls pending on all them but may have to prioritize the remaining unfilled positions. There are 6 or 7 committee openings that have the most urgency … Wasn’t the issue of our current committee structure and the burdens/rewards it in places on the Meeting supposed to be addressed in our long-term planning process? Yes. But there has not been clarity on how to move forward on this. We had hoped it would be done in time for this year’s round of committee nominations. It needs to be done for next time. Presiding Clerk: There are two questions for consideration: laying down Marriage Preparation Subcommittee and rolling them back into M&C. Pat spoke to the changes in the last 15 years that prompted establishing the Marriage Preparation Subcommittee, to the loss of its committee membership and to the diminishing need to have a separate committee, and to the fact that the long-term planning process has yet to resolve these committee challenges. Friends APPROVED laying down Marriage Preparation Subcommittee and folding it back into M&C. Friends also APPROVED the Structure of Service and Ministry Report for 2016-2018 with the changes that were reported today. Any additional names to fill the remaining open slots will be brought to April’s meeting for business.
- Stewardship: Approval of 2016-2017 Meeting Budget Report – Roland Barrett First, there is an update for our current budget year that ends March 31, 2016. As of 3/6/2016 – week 49 – the year-to-date contributions are $97,980. The budget total for the same period (ending week 49) is $108,212. This leaves us short by ($10,232). We need to receive $16,858 in the remaining 3 weeks to meet our 2015-2016 budget of $114,838. The 2016-2017 Budget proposal. Looking back over the history of our yearly donations, he sees no trends in the past 6 years that would indicate a trending up or trending down; so it is difficult to project what our income might be for next year based on these trends. Also, Stewardship Committee has conferred with the Trustees regarding two of the budget items that pay into reserve funds – Sabbatical Savings and Mission Service Fellowship. The reserve funds are at an adequate level, but the Trustees suggest we continue to include those two reserve funds in the yearly budget with the understanding that if we do not have the money, we will not make a transfer to the Trustee funds at the end of the year. Most of the rest of the budget covers operational expenses to run the Meeting – there is not a lot of wiggle room. The biggest remaining expense is discretionary – Contributions on line 8 – which account for $10,700. These would be paid last, if funds are not available. We should not be contributing to other organizations from our deficit. The suggestion from Stewardship and the Trustees is that we go with the 2016-2017 budget as proposed. If we run short at the end of the year we would not pay into the reserve funds. If there is still a deficit, we would reduce our contributions, relying on input from Peace and Social Concerns Committee to help guide our management of any discrepancies in what we could give. Discussion: Question about whether Liaison and Review had done a comparative analysis on the Director of Ministry salary. Yes. The increase requested in the salary was based on a comparison with other non-profit salaries. Based on this comparison, the increase could have been greater, but they decided to limit the increase to 2.5%, or $1,440. The Director of Ministry works ¾ time. Friend asked if Right Sharing of World Resources is a Quaker organization. Yes. [It is a Quaker micro-credit organization that supports grassroots income generating projects in developing countries led by women, many of whom are making less than a dollar a day. www.rswr.org] Friends APPROVED the 2016-2017 Proposed Budget.
- Priorities for Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) – Doug Herron Doug is the Meeting’s representative to FCNL. He has lobbied in Washington and continues to meet with our national elected officials here in Minnesota, as well as to attend local peace process meetings. On March 6, during an adult program hour, the Meeting was asked to discern its priorities for FCNL to pursue over the next two legislative years. Twenty-one people participated – 18 in person, 3 via email. These are the priorities selected: 1. Climate change and sustainable energy (our Meeting’s top suggestion); 2&3. Continue advocacy on Native American issues – tied with Palestine / Israel resolution; 4. Unlock the gridlock in congress; 5. Reduce influence of money on politics and promote voting rights; 6. Reduce poverty, income inequality and promote economic justice. Friends APPROVED the list to be considered by FCNL for its’ National Legislative Priorities.
- New Business
- Report on Northern Yearly Meeting (NYM) interim session – Carolyn VandenDolder. The interim session was held here at our meeting house, this past Friday and Saturday. There were three items of interest: 1) The Northern Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice (over 30 years in the making) is completed but will not be available in printed form until the NYM annual meeting in May. All chapters are available on the NYM website. 2) NYM’s Communications Committee is going to recommend that NYM join the Quaker Cloud. This is a digital service offered by Friends General Conference (FGC). It offers easily customized websites for Meetings and worship groups, allowing different people in different roles to have different access or permission when visiting the website. Friends General Conference’s vision in developing the Quaker Cloud is to enable cloud members to easily do searches across meetings and yearly meetings to find resources such as first day school curriculums in use or child safety policies. The cost will be $50 a month. The communications committee would like feedback from Monthly Meetings about difficulties, questions, or ideas related to the website and easily getting the NYM information you might seek. 3) A huge thanks to everyone from Minneapolis Friends who helped host the interim session – a list of 18 names was read. Registration packets are available for NYM annual session as well as for the Friends General Conference. Also, Elizabeth Showalter, from our Meeting, is the new editor for the NYM newsletter. She has space in the newsletter to fill. If you are so inclined, she would love to have short articles and poems to include.
- Adult program – Elizabeth Showalter The Adult Program Committee wants our feedback about their programs. They are handing out feedback slips today at both meetings for worship and they have created a URL link online. They seek our responses by April 2 and hope that everyone will respond.
- Brainstorming for 2016 State of Society Report for Northern Yearly Meeting – David Woolley. Friends were asked to submit topics to be included in the State of Society report that each meeting in NYM is asked to provide each year. The goal is to have it completed by the end of April. Clerk asked for ideas: Care of the Meeting and Future Planning Process; P&SC topic for the year has been climate change – we have accomplished a lot on this; all the new families and children new to Meeting and participating in First Day School; passing of Adolph Burckhardt; upgrades to the meeting house and furnace – including new AC; great participation of volunteers with our dynamic religious education program with lots of new kids; praise for how the work of Meeting is getting done with lots of grace and presence; since Quaker Quest our Meeting has been more outgoing and welcoming; the Meeting supported a member attending the Quaker European Council last spring; we are missing the great musical contributions of some members on whom we can no longer rely for regular music Sunday morning – we are working on solutions; we appreciate the leadership provided by Andy and Elizabeth S in meeting with Friends and friends outside Meeting to work on social causes; we held a service of remembrance for those who experienced recent loss; and we are holding a memorial service in the manner of Friends for losses due to climate change on April 24.
- Communications At the rise of Monthly Meeting in April, Pat Jones and David Woolley will meet with all committee clerks who will be clerking beginning April 1, 2016.
- Meeting Adjourned at 11:10 AM
Becoming a Beloved Community
From the Vision Statement:
Our Meeting is a place of refuge, renewal, prayer and growth . . . We strive to let those who come feel they can share their hearts and experience belonging . . . We demonstrate care for one another and, together, have a vitality that counters difficulties and brokenness.
Douglas Steere writes in his introduction to Quaker Worship: “We know one another as people, with personal problems, political views, with special ‘concerns,’ and in the course of time we come to know the weaknesses and the strengths of one another in the affairs of this world. On Sunday we gather “to know one another in that which is Eternal.”
He goes on to say, worship allows him to let “go in the intimacy of this friendly company and in the intimacy of the Great Friend who is always near. . . I do not know what takes place here. Often I am sure it is nothing at all. But there are times when a certain slowing-down takes place, a certain healing seems to go on, certain tendering, a certain ‘dependence of the mind upon God.’
When this tendering happens in a meeting, one feels knit very closely to one’s fellow worshippers, and a particular sense of our common ground in the Spirit and of our life in ‘holy obedience’ to it often develops.”
around worship: Worshipping together; being knit and bound together by our shared experience of God – by knowing each other in that which is eternal – is at the heart of our MFM community.
What is the relationship between our current schedule and creating and maintaining a sense 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: Individuals come to Minneapolis Meeting at different places in their spiritual journeys. In responding to that and to the different circumstances and interests of those in Meeting, organizationally, we try to offer a variety of opportunities in programming, education, and activities.
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 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 scheduling 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 Meeting people less well-known to me?
Am I tied to old habits and resist changes at Meeting?
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, blocks 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 expectation, similar to what I bring to worship?