9:00 am Meeting for Worship
10:00 am Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business David Woolley—presiding clerk, Stephen Snyder—recording clerk [Some names and information have been edited or removed for publication on the web—recording clerk]
1. Gathering Worship
2. Minutes of the November meeting for business were approved
a. Director of Ministry (No report)
b. Stewardship update– Thirty-six weeks into the fiscal year, contributions to date are $57,562 ($1,601 per week). Contributions were budgeted at $2,276 per week so Meeting is $675 per week short of meeting the budget. The checking account balance is $42,802.
c. Ministry and Counsel Committee Report Pat Jones will be back holding office hours this coming Thursday. There have been two Experiment with Light groups formed with about 20 people involved. Three “Light” groups will start meeting in January. These groups will be closed to new participants for six months. Ministry and Counsel Committee wishes to remind Friends that all who gather for worship here have not necessarily come to the same political conclusions. Especially in worship, partisan messages can be alienating for those whose opinions differ from what is offered. This is not to discourage vocal ministry. Sometimes, in obedience, words come forth that can speak to us despite – or because of – their political nature. Mindful use of language and speaking from your experience and your truth can help us be respectful of differences.
d. Worship Sharing about Beloved Community: Ministry and Counsel Committee has been considering what, if anything, it can do to encourage a sense of blessed community here at Minneapolis Friends Meeting. This question arose from an experience of shared worship in the summer and the feeling of connection it brings. M&C has presented brief written pieces and queries about beloved or blessed community to monthly meeting over the past year. Much of Quakerism encourages individuals to turn inward, to focus on the Inner Light, the seed of Christ, the divine within each of us. We strive to heed that inner voice and to let it direct our lives; to let go of ego and live in the embrace of divine love. As we learn to live with that inward focus, we are able to bring that focus on the inner Light into our outer lives. Together, we can be a community of support, encouragement, and accountability as we all strive to live in that divine center. We need each other’s help and example to shed our egos and live more consistently in that place of divine love, radiating that love outward. This is blessed community. Minneapolis Meeting has worked on envisioning what we want our Meeting to be in the future. This can be another description, perhaps, of blessed community. As expressed in the MFM Vision Statement, “Our Meeting is a place of refuge, renewal, prayer and growth . . . We strive to let those who come here 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.” During worship sharing, Friends were invited to hold and respond to the query on blessed community. Worship sharing was described as a process where Friends center themselves, listen carefully, tenderly, and patiently to one another, speak from their own experience and speak only once leaving a space of silence between offerings. Query: What makes you or would make you feel part of a beloved or blessed community?
- In my experience a beloved community only comes through worshiping together.
- Beloved community for me is based on a belief that there is that of God within each of us. There is no force or coercion in this religion. Sharing light in ministry and practice takes many shapes and forms in our community. I found my back going up some at the wording of the query as you can’t make people do things. What allows me or nurtures me to be the person, the Christian, the Quaker that I am led to be within community? I can only achieve this in community. All the activities offered by Meeting, of which I can be a part such as silent unprogrammed worship, testimonies, programs, music, potlucks, etc. contribute to my sense of being part of a gathered community.
- To be honest since I left the brothers and sisters of my tribe in New York, I have not felt part of a beloved community here in this Meeting. As much as Friends here reach out to me I don’t get to beloved community; perhaps I am not able to connect? My life is not the same as yours. When my views are different I feel judged. But I keep showing up. . I feel accepted but not a part of Meeting. At FGC recently, I felt more a part of that gathering than I feel here. We were all strangers among strangers — open to each other. Maybe it’s something in me. But perhaps we at MFM could all be more like strangers among strangers – more open to each other. In some ways we may all feel we don’t belong.
- For me I am not as introverted as the average Quaker here. Maybe it is our difference that is our gift to others.
- I am part of men’s group which is a beloved community within our beloved community. Every once and a while we have to recommit to being part of the group. Is this something we need to do as part of our meeting community?
- Many years ago I was so delighted to be invited to be a member of a book club which had many MFM people in it. We weave a community together by reaching out to others. I feel most part of beloved community when we worship together in the summer when our hearts a joined in worship together.
- It took me a long time to feel part of this community. What helped was laboring with others on committee work, being with each other, knowing something about others’ lives and work. This can bring a context to vocal ministry offered in worship, and can bring a weight and authenticity to expressions of care. It also encourages my own candid spiritual openness.
- Acceptance and belonging are important, but I think that community and the world are imperfect. We should not expect that everyone will make us feel we belong.
- Maybe we should consider blessed community as more than individual relationships to MFM. Maybe blessed community should be considered like a “sense of the Meeting”.
- I find it easier to connect in small groups than in a large group. I feel more a part of the large group when I feel part of these smaller ones.
- Community, like love, is not something we find by seeking it for ourselves. Rather it is what results or emerges from our commitment, love and service to one another.
- I struggle with the query as it is hard to know what beloved community means in our context. We are part of multiple communities. And there are wide variations on our expectations of beloved community. Some come with a need for beloved community, but others may come for different reasons. I experience, too, the community of Friends beyond this meeting. I feel part of the larger community of Friends across the United States and the world.
- What made me feel part of beloved community was getting to know others through committee work and service. Worship, though, is key. As a critical person, I often come feeling worship won’t work. But often I do have an experience of God’s presence in others during worship and prayer and in this I find certainty or reassurance that I have a divinity or soul that can carry me through darkness and give me joy.
Clerk, David Woolley closed worship sharing and thanked Friends for their very rich sharing.
4. New Business
a. Proposed schedule for December 25th As Christmas falls on Sunday this year, there may not be as many Friends attending meeting for worship. Therefore the Worship Planning is proposing Meeting have a single unified, unprogrammed worship at 10:00am with time to sing carols and socialize following the rise of worship. Communication of the schedule change may be a problem so Pat Jones will open meetinghouse at 9:00 am in case some friends don’t get the schedule change. Discussion: Friends expressed support for the plan to come together for worship, but there were differences about how to include music. Some felt there could be hymn singing before unprogrammed worship while others felt that music was an integral part of worship. One member noted that singing carols at meeting was the only time her children had to share in this important part of Christmas. Other members offered to make beverages for a social hour at the rise of meeting and to play piano for those who might want to sing additional Christmas carols after or before meeting. After much discussion, the clerk said his sense of the meeting was that worship include a prelude and a couple of hymns followed by unprogrammed worship ending with the usual handshake. Meeting approved the proposal for a single unified time of worship at 10:00 a.m. to begin with music followed by unprogrammed worship.
5. Follow-up- Decisions
a. Adult Program Committee name change proposal. The Committee recommended that the Adult Program be called the Mid-morning Progam. (See October and November minutes for background on this proposal.) Meeting approved this name change.
6. Meeting Adjourned at 11:00 am.