MFM Monthly Meeting for Business Minutes  November 13, 2016

9:00 am           Meeting for Worship

9:45 am           Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business,–David Woolley—presiding clerk, Stephen Snyder—recording clerk, Pat Jones—Director of Ministry  [Some names and information have been edited or removed for publication on the web—recording clerk]

1.         Gathering Worship

2.         Minutes of the October meeting for business were approved

3.         Reports 

a.  Director of Ministry:   An error was made on the Structure of Ministry and Service listing of the clerk’s term of service.  David Woolley’s term should have been listed as a 3 year term serving until 2018.  Sydney Campbell has received the cremains of her husband, John Campbell, and has scattered them on the grounds around the meetinghouse.  Meeting was glad for this reminder of John’s presence and service to Meeting.  Terry H. was at the Standing Rock encampment recently and participated in the witness of about 500 clergy from many different faiths who joined in the protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Pat Jones was unable to attend but appreciated that Terry could be a Friendly presence at the encampment.

b.  Ministry and Counsel Committee:    Ministry and Counsel Committee offers clearness committees for membership, marriage and difficult personal decisions or situations.  Such clearness committees may be of help for members and attenders open to discernment around these matters.  M&C also offers pastoral care and support for persons confronting difficulties on life’s journey.  Ministry and Counsel Committee has also proposed that the agenda for Meeting for Business in December include time for worship sharing around a query about what it means to become part of and live in a beloved community.   

c.  Quaker Voluntary Service (QVS) Update:   T. W. reported that QVS Board in Atlanta, Georgia has enthusiastically selected the Twin Cities as the fifth site in the U.S. for its new QVS House and service program.  The local QVS House will be the headquarters and residence of the “fellows” selected for service. The Board was impressed by the energy and excitement they felt from all those they met during their recent visit to the three host meetings in the Twin Cities—Minneapolis, Twin Cities and Prospect Hill Friends.  Under the agreement to create this new site, the QVS Board holds responsibility for the financial care of the program with the expectation that the local meetings in the Twin Cities will collectively contribute at least $10,000 annually in support of the program.  The hope is to start the house and program by late summer of 2018.  The current startup working group will serve until January of 2018 when QVS will bring on a part time staff person and the Local Support Committee (LSC) will have been formed through the nominating process of the participating meetings.  The QVS local staff coordinator, with support from the LSC, will oversee the spiritual nurturer program as well as help organize/provide logistical, spiritual and programmatic support to the local QVS house and program.  Right now QVS is looking for a name for this new program that is both descriptive and “Minnesotan.”  Discussion:  QVS will want input about organizations that would like a “fellow” and can come up with $16,000 to support a full time fellow.

d.  Stewardship Committee:  The Meeting is 32 weeks into the fiscal year.  Total contributions to date are $50,922 or about $1,591 per week.  Budgeted contributions for this period of time were set at $72,832 or $2,276 per week so weekly contributions are about $685 short of meeting the proposed budget . The current balance in the checking account is $35,674. 

e.  Fall Camp report:   Sixty-two attenders, including 3 from Winona and 2 from International Friends Meeting in Brooklyn Park, enjoyed the 60th anniversary of Fall Camp this year.  Camp was filled with lots of fun, positive gatherings, delicious meals and lovely weather. Meeting for Worship on Sunday was soft and gentle.  Activities included a workshop on how to talk to people with whom one disagrees, All-Together Time  for games, a nature walk, mini-golf, dancing, making popcorn, swimming and a Variety Show that almost felt like a gathered meeting.  One innovation was conducting First Day School in the swimming pool.  The total cost of the Fall Camp, held at Camp Courage, was $4,036.30.   Donations totaled $1,005 leaving $3,031.30 to be covered from Meeting’s $4,200 Fall Camp budget.   Challenges this year included concerns about distances between events, mold in one of the sleeping areas, and food issues.  Looking ahead, Camp Courage is reserved for September 30-October 1, 2017, the latest fall date available.  Friends are invited to give suggestions for next year’s program to the Fall Camp Committee. And most important, plan to join Friends and be a part of the warm sense of community that this special gathering offers each year.  Discussion:  The committee was challenged to include activities that are more accessible to attenders in wheel chairs. Games need to consider accommodating those with different abilities.  Camp Courage is a lovely setting but the part of the camp we can reserve is not as nice as some facilities.  Perhaps Meeting needs to consider whether Camp Courage is a good one for the needs of Meeting.  When camp started years ago it was motivated by needs of families with children.  Demographics are different now and perhaps Meeting needs to consider whether Camp is still filling needs of members and attenders today. 

f.  Peace and Social Concerns– Envelope Gift:   Each year Meeting collects a special envelope offering before Christmas which the Peace and Social Concerns then gives to one international and one or more local community service organizations.  This year the envelope offering will be divided equally among three organizations—the Doctors without Borders Haitian Relief work,  local support for the protest at Standing Rock over the Dakota Access Pipeline, and Urban Home Works which rehabs old houses in North Minneapolis and helps finance homeowners to purchase them. 

g.  Peace and Social Concerns Committee Annual Report:   The mission of Peace and Social Concerns Coordinating Committee is to:

  • Propose Envelope Gift recipients (formerly the “White Envelope Gift”
  • Serve as a clearing house for peace and social concerns requests that come to the Meeting. 
  • Offer support and clearness to groups and individuals who take on peace and social concerns action in the Meeting. 
  • Propose a P&SC annual budget to the stewardship committee. 
  • Help the Meeting select one to three peace and social concerns focus topics each year and encourage and support Meeting events and activities related to these topics.  

The three focus topics for 2015 were climate change, racial justice and economic justice.  In response to climate change the committee sponsored a climate change memorial service, coordinated installation of a bicycle rack and selected recipients for the voluntary carbon tax.  It also sponsored a forum on racial justice and printed and distributed Black Lives Matter signs in support of racial and economic justice.  The focus for 2016 is to assist people in Meeting to discern, follow and share their leadings and way forward on peace and social concerns.   Committee members have been challenged to find times to meet together, and struggle with feeling called to do more than they are able.  But they have also felt uplifted and led by the spirit as they meet together in doing this work.  Friends expressed deep gratitude for the many activities organized by Peace and Social Concerns. 

h.  Child welfare Committee:  The charge of the Child Welfare Committee is to assure the welfare of all children and youth participating in Meeting sponsored events and activities, including protecting them from all forms of abuse.  In pursuit of these objectives, the committee defined and described the entire process of clearing adults to work with children and prepared documents to utilize throughout this process.  Using this process it cleared five new persons and updated an earlier list of adults approved to work with children in the Meeting.  In addition the committee investigated Meeting’s legal obligations for child protection and mandated reporting.  Challenges have included finding meeting times both for business and the clearness process and restarting the committee with so many new members.  The committee plans to review the clearness process in the coming year to make it work more smoothly.  Committee meetings begin with a period of silent worship open to leading of spirit.   Members have gained a greater appreciation of the value of children in the Meeting, and the Jacob Wetterling memorial service was a reminder of the value of the committee’s work.   Discussion:   The committee was encouraged to work more closely with the Religious Education Coordinators and to explore with newly cleared Friends the ways they are led to work with various age groups in the Meeting.  Friends expressed appreciation for the good work of this revived committee and for the support provided by the Director of Ministry.  

4.         Follow-up Decisions–  Adult Program Committee name change proposal:  Adult Program Committee proposed changing the name of the 10:15 am Adult Program to Meeting for Learning with the goal of being more inclusive of parents with children.  The title “Adult” program seems to exclude children from participation in this important part of the First Day morning programming. The proposal generated considerable discussion around the following points: The proposed name change would have little meaning or appeal for prospective attenders looking at our web site. It is important to provide programming geared for adults in the Meeting as well as for children. It would be good to have more intergenerational programming at Meeting, but the proposed name change does not address this need.  Is there really interest among the children in Meeting in attending activities during the 10:15 am program?  There needs to be more reflection on an appropriate name and programming for this time. Lacking a sense of support for the proposed name change, the Clerk suggested that Meeting continue to use the name “Adult Program” until such time as there is clearness around a different name.

6.         Communications:    Terry H. presented a report on his visit to the Standing Rock encampment in North Dakota The Standing Rock encampment is part of a coordinated non-violent effort by Native Americans from across the United State to protect the waters of the Missouri River from the risk of oil spills from the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Terry went on the MN bus to the site of the camp where he participated in a gathering of about 500 clergy representing many different denominations and faith traditions.  Hundreds of other people from around the country and world were also present at the encampment.  It was a profound experience of prayer and ceremony.  A key part of the ceremony was the renunciation of the “doctrine of discovery” which was promulgated by a Papal Bull in the 15th Century and by European monarchies in order to legitimize the colonization of lands outside of Europe on the grounds that these lands had been “discovered” by Europeans.   The U.S. Supreme Court made this doctrine into public law in an 1823 case and in subsequent cases as recently as 2005.  There was a symbolic burning of the doctrine of discovery at the conclusion of the ceremony.  Terry also joined other volunteers in construction and other projects at the encampment during his 4 day visit.  Friends thanked Terry for his presence at the encampment.

7.  Meeting Adjourned at 10:55 am.

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