MFM Monthly Meeting for Business Minutes —  January 8, 2017

9:00 am           Meeting for Worship

9:45 am           Meeting for Worship with Attention to Businessm  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 December 11, 2016 meeting for business were approved 

3.          Reports

a.  Director of Ministry  Peace and social concerns committee is sponsoring a documentary film, “The House I Live In,”Wednesday, January 11th at 7 pm.  Members are encouraged to post flyers and encourage attendance.  The Peace and Social Concerns Committee meetings are open to anyone who wants to become involved.  The committee meets the 3nd Thursday of month at 7 pm and is exploring the new sanctuary movement and what it might mean to be involved in the movement.   Pat thanked everyone who helped cover her tasks while she was on vacation.   Pat offered to give new and old attenders a tour of the kitchen to learn how to make coffee and get the general layout of the kitchen.  She also invited members to shadow her when she opens and closes the building to become informed on tasks such as operating the furnaces, locking, unlocking and “dogging” the doors, etc. It would be helpful to have more members and attenders informed about use of the kitchen and building.

b.  Ministry and Counsel Committee   M&C has been laboring during the past year over the meaning and practice of eldering and has found it difficult to find common language members could unite around.  Committee members have become acutely aware that any broad conversation about eldering would take considerable time, attention, and energy – things that are already in demand as the Meeting faces other challenges and change. There is a summary of ideas the committee has discussed over the year in with Ministry and Counsel Committee minutes.  Interested Friends can request a copy from the clerk or Ministry and Counsel.  Friends who would like more information about Friends practice of eldering can contact the Director of Ministry who will guide you to the many resources available.

M&C continues to explore how Friends deepen a sense of beloved community.  At the December meeting for business, M&C led worship sharing around the query:  “What makes you or would make you feel part of a beloved or blessed community?”  The responses to this query are included in the December MFB minutes.  M&C wants to thank everyone who shared around this query.  Advices, along with queries, have been used in various forms since 1668 to encourage and strengthen Friends and Friends’ communities. Advices are seen as an articulation of gathered wisdom and experience.  In that spirit M&C would like to offer the following advice drawn from the responses to the December query.

Friends, be mindful that beloved community arises out of and is nurtured by faithful worship, loving, committed service together and relationship.  Be faithful in attendance at meeting for worship and gladly offer your gifts in service to the community.   It is through such worship, service and casual fellowship that we come to know and affirm the presence of God within one another and the gathered meeting.   Welcome the “strangers” in our meeting—not just those who are new attenders, but all those we may perceive as different, or who may feel different or separate from the community.  Remember that as Friends we are part of a blessed community that extends across the world, across faith traditions and across time in our memories and in the written word. 

c.   Report on Threshing Session  Forty nine friends gathered on January 7, 2017 to consider the future of meeting after the Director of Ministry retires in September of 2017.  The Liaison and Review Committee is very appreciative of the work of those friends who planned and facilitated the session.  The session began by reviewing some objective facts and realities facing the meeting followed by sharing in small groups about feelings about the future.  A whole range of feelings were expressed ranging from grief, to sadness, to fear, to excitement.  The last segment of the threshing session focused on what needs to be done to move toward decisions about the future of leadership in the meeting. The threshing session helped members of meeting face the fact of Pat’s retirement and has started reflection on how meeting might move forward toward consensus about leadership and structure in the meeting.  Hopefully everyone will remain open to change as this process proceeds.  Discussion:    There were many responses from Friends to the report.  The responses were mostly related to the following points.

  • Much gratitude was expressed for the work of L&R and other Friends who organized and executed the threshing session and earlier events leading up to the session.
  • There are two issues that should be separated out as Friends plan for Pat’s retirement.  First there needs to be a process put in place to celebrate and grieve the loss of Pat Jones’ ministry, leadership and service. And second, there needs to be a process put in place to plan for a future without Pat’s leadership.  It was suggested that M&C consider a way for the Meeting to address the grief attendant to Pat’s retirement and that a committee be formed to plan a celebration of Pat.  Rae C., Tom W., Judith J. and Sandy O. volunteered to form a Committee of Celebration.  Meeting approved the formation a committee to celebrate Pat Jones retirement and those who volunteered to serve on the committee.
  • In planning for the future, many felt that the Liaison and Review Committee would be best informed to lead this planning.  However, the L&R Committee made it clear that they do not feel they can take on this task and are turning the planning back to the monthly meeting where there can be broader participation.  There was concern that new members and attenders be included in some way in the process going forward as very few were at the threshing session.

Various suggestions were offered as to how to move forward.  1)  Consult with Friends from Northern Yearly Meeting about the experience of other meetings.  2) The present structure of meeting provides a framework for going forward.  Nominating Committee can seek out leadership for these committees in light of tasks that will need to be done.  As we use the existing structure over the coming year we will get a better idea of how leadership is working, where there may be gaps and what our true needs are. Let’s not rush to decisions but allow meeting to be informed by time and experience over the next year or so.  3)  There needs to be some kind of transition committee to plan for the future.  Suggestions included:  having Clerks of Meeting, the M&C and L&R Committee constitute a transition team or have all the committee clerks serve together as a transition team.  Appoint a committee of 3-5 persons to plan a process for moving forward and not put this on the clerks who are already busy.

Following this and additional discussion over who might serve on a transition committee the Clerk offered the following minute for consideration:  The sense of the meeting seems to support formation of a transition committee composed of members to be chosen by the Clerks of Meeting, M&C and L&R.  Meeting approved the minute.  After approval of the minute, Friends were reminded to move forward with trust and faith that the Spirit will guide us in this process

d.  Friends For a Non Violent World(FNVW) Holiday Fair Report  The FNVW fair went smoothly and there was a great ambience.  The vendors are very pleased with our venue and the warm atmosphere and look forward to returning each year.  Thank you to all the many volunteers who made this event possible and many thanks to Meeting which made the meetinghouse available.  The fair was a financial success with net income of over $13000.  The vision for the future is to simplify planning, work on involvement of younger friends and children and expand marketing in neighborhood.  Crafts are a good item for increasing profit as all the money goes to FNVW.  Discussion:   Some friends expressed disappointment at having invested time and money to support making crafts only to find they don’t sell.  Another friend encouraged children to make cookies again. It would also be good to get feedback on the food so that service can be even more effective next year.

e.  Stewardship Committee    $2670 was the amount collected for annual Envelope Gift.  At the end of the 3rd quarter (April 1-Sept 30), donations to the meeting totaled $79,929 or 68% of the budgeted amount.  Expenses for the 3rd quarter were $66,585.   Costs for carpet cleaning, fire extinguisher service, furnace maintenance and copier supplies were higher than budgeted.  Fall camp came in under what was budgeted and camp donations added $1,225 to the income for the period.  Overall this year’s income and expenses are fairly typical of past years.  The current balance in the checking account is $60,880.

f.  Google Group Report A copy of the Google Group Guidelines was distributed and is available from the group administrator.  The Google Group is being initiated to facilitate communication among members of the Meeting.  Participation is voluntary.  There will be an opportunity to learn more about the group at the Mid-Morning Meeting next Sunday, January 15thMeeting approved Roland B. to serve as primary administrator of the Google Group with David W. handling administrative tasks when Roland is unavailable.  Requests to join the Google Group should be sent to Roland B.

4.          With the conclusion of meeting for worship with attention to business, Friends began the transition to the 11:15 am meeting for worship.

 

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