Meeting for Business Minutes, September 17, 2017
9:00 am Meeting for Worship
9:45 am Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business
Attendance: David Woolley—presiding clerk, Thomas Ward—recording clerk, Pat Jones—Director of Ministry [some names and content have been edited or removed for publication to the web.
1. Gathering Worship
2. Minutes from August were APPROVED
a. Director of Ministry—Pat Jones [this is Pat’s final report to Meeting as Director of Ministry] I want you all to know that the celebration last week is something I will carry forever. I wrote to someone yesterday and said, “I feel supremely acknowledged and very happy to leave with such a blessing.” Great inspired planning and a lot of work and some worry went into it, but the time together was kissed by something more, I’d say Divine love, that made it complete. I needed the silence of worship and it was there. The Program, too, seemed like worship. What a lovely, lovely gift and goodbye to me as Director of Ministry. Thank you for all your parts.
So how do I say goodbye to you? To me the right time and place is now, at monthly meeting. My position has been Director of Ministry of the Minneapolis Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends. My job description has laid out various work areas and expectations, one of which was to attend to the Spirit’s leadings. I have had incredible latitude in interpreting and shaping my work and ministry, and I have had the benefit of the wisest and widest mentorship imaginable from people in the Meeting, and, for the last fifteen or so years, the close-by, helpful querying and counsel of Carolyn.
Last Sunday at lunch I sat for a while with an occasional visitor. The person said, ”Every time I come here I cry.” I thought about others over the years who have said the same thing. Then he described what he finds in the people at Meeting – integrity, authenticity, people who are present – I’m not sure exactly what the words were, but I know he said, “people who think, feel, and act.” I have often said the Meeting is rich in people and even wondered on occasion if it is right to have so many gifted and powerful people in one religious congregation. He went on to say something like, “You may have worked it well but you had a really good lump of clay to work with.”
At times over the years I’ve thought, “Who gets this, this life, this work, with these people?” I know how rare it is to have such a life and such work and how unlikely it really was that I would. I name this life I’ve had at MFM “treasure”. To have been so close to so many, generations of MFM people, you here now and those who have died or moved on to other places, hearing your stories, witnessing your lives, seeing you, your warts, your souls, worshipping together and living it as we are able. Again, “Who get this life?” I have. Thank you for, as a Meeting, overcoming the Quaker ambivalence towards paid Meeting work and ministry, and keeping me on for four decades. Thank you for the freedom and leeway I’ve enjoyed to do the work as I have been able and felt called to do. God knows and you do too, I’ve made mistakes and had loud shortcomings. Altogether, though, it’s been a great run.
Following Pat’s comments meeting settled into a period of reflective silence.
b. Ministry and Counsel (M&C) report M&C is recommending Julie Busta for membership. Meeting APPROVED Julie Busta for membership. Welcoming and Outreach will hold a reception for Julie in the future. M&C approved a name change for Semi-programmed Worship Committee to “Care of Semi-programmed Worship Committee”. Discussion on the summer schedule of worship is being postponed due to today’s long agenda. Bill H. will generate a thread on Google group to generate some feedback on the summer program. Remainder of report consisted of the annual report for M&C and three subcommittees: Death and Memorial, Care of Unprogrammed Meeting for Worship, Care of Semi-programmed Meeting for Worship. Discussion: Linda C. explained the role of Trustees in managing the large section of burial plots that the Meeting owns in Lakewood Cemetery. These plots are available to Meeting members. Friend wanted to know if the process to contact Death and Memorial Committee will be in place before October 1, when Pat retires. Yes. It is expected that most people will initiate contact via the office phone number, which M&C has arranged to be monitored on a daily basis when Carolyn is not in the office. Next, in order, would be to call the clerk of Death and Memorial, clerk of Ministry and Counsel and the presiding clerk of Meeting. The intent is to have backups for each of the three positions, and Death and Memorial would like to provide this information on a wallet card to be distributed to family members anticipating the death of a loved one.
c. Stewardship Committee At 24 weeks into fiscal year to-date contributions are $46,267 (average weekly contribution of $1940) Weekly average needed to meet budget is $2185, so we are a little behind. Checking balance = $46,550. Historically, we usually run behind in the first part of the budget cycle. Quarterly report will be next month.
d. Religious Education Coordinator annual report for 2016-17 term The Meeting has a tremendous support network for our youth and a great group of volunteer teachers who have stepped forward to provide their time, energy and love to the great group of children participating in First Day School. New families are joining all the time. Twenty-three children from preschool through 8th grade were registered, with approximately 1-15 participating regularly. In addition to the nursery, there were enough school-aged children to create an elementary class and a middle school class. Eighteen adults served as volunteer teachers. The curriculum for the younger children focused on what does it mean to be a Quaker and on Quaker stories. The older children focused more on comparative religions. Other activities we participated in include Feed My Starving Children, overnight activities, visiting other places of worship and participating in a middle school retreat with Friends General Conference. An ongoing challenge is recruiting and organizing the weekly volunteers. The committee is hoping to sponsor an intergenerational worship activity for the three 5th Sundays (October, December and April). More Friends are needed to bolster the ranks of the adult volunteers. It is a wonderful opportunity. Please consider helping. Discussion: Friend encouraged folks to help with the teaching for the need is right now. Also, it would be wonderful to include teachers who would be representative of a younger demographic. What are the age groups represented in the classes? K-5th grade, and grades 6-9. There are 2 boys in 6th grade who are still meeting with the k-5 group, so it is really K-6, right now. Friend praised the organization provided by Sue and Julia and mentioned how their structure makes it very easy for newcomers to teach and to be successful. Volunteers do not have to commit for the whole school year but can help for shorter periods of time.
e. Peace and Social Concerns Coordinating Committee (P&SCC) Annual report The committee is open to everyone and meets every third Wednesday of the month. The mission of P&SCC is to coordinate activities that focus on five actions: 1. Propose recipients for the holiday Envelope Gift (formerly the “White Envelope Gift”; 2. Serve as a clearinghouse for peace and social concerns requests that come to the Meeting; 3. Allow for, support, and offer (if asked) clearness to groups and individuals who take on peace and social concerns actions in the Meeting; 4. Propose the annual contributions budget allocations to the stewardship committee; 5. Help the Meeting select one to three peace and social concerns focus topics each year and to support groups within the Meeting to create events or activities for each of the chosen topics. The committee’s focus in 2016 was to assist people in the Meeting to discern, follow and share their leadings as to peace and social concerns issues and ways forward. Some accomplishments in 2016: led a number of midmorning discussions on current justice issues, discernment, and on following one’s leadings. They held a Memorial Service for Loss due to Climate Change, installed a new bike hitch along the street, and presented four evenings of documentaries at the meeting house with refreshments and discussion. The focus for 2017-18 will be Embracing Diversity. This theme will encompass immigration/sanctuary, religious diversity, cultural diversity, racial justice and diverse opinions. P&SCC’s biggest challenge is deciding on what to spend their time and energy given the large number and extent of potential projects and the limitation of available, willing hands. Discussion: Friend praised the committee for sponsoring the documentary film series.
f. Mid-morning planning committee: The committee is tasked with planning the program time between the two meetings for worship with the intent of bringing the two meetings for worship together and providing for spiritual deepening and learning. They see their role as assisting others in the meeting in sharing during the program time while supporting the Meeting through Pat’s retirement, bringing the two meetings for worship together in spiritual deepening and sharing of personal experiences. They will schedule out 2-3 months, leaving some open dates for flexibility until they are closer to the date. They regularly evaluate the program offerings based on three main topics: personal experiences, Quaker spirituality and social justice. Some of their challenges: small committee size, balancing urgency and flexibility with their need to have a plan, uncertainties about the desires of Meeting and how it reflects on attendance levels, and balancing the desire to meet the needs of adults while being welcoming to all ages. Please talk to committee members if you have an idea for a program. Discussion: Has the committee posted the schedule on the meeting web site? Not yet, but they would like to. What is the average attendance? It ranges from 5-40 people. The difference in attendance from week to week is stunning and it has been difficult discerning the reason for this. Friend offered her appreciation for Google group announcements of the documentary film series, suggesting this might be another venue for advertising upcoming midmorning programs.
g. Shepherd Scholarship After many years of investment solely in certificates of deposit, the Scholarship Committee invested in various corporate bonds and a limited number of well-regarded corporate stocks. This strategy resulted in an immediate and large gain in value in early 2016. Since then, market values of the funds assets have risen and fallen periodically, but the return on investment has stabilized at a rate slightly in excess of 4%. Consequently, this year there was about $9,000 coming in to the fund that was stable and we awarded 2 grants of $2,000 each, totaling $4,000. In the previous two years we had been able to award just one grant each year of $500. Since its inception, the Shepherd Scholarship Trust Fund has awarded $208,414 in scholarships grants.
4. Follow-up Decisions
a. Nominating Committee – Assistant Clerk Position Robert R. has agreed to continue on the Child Welfare Committee and is willing to be clerk. There is still need for one more member of the Care of Semi-programmed Meeting Committee. Please let Nominating know if you might be drawn to serve in this capacity. The Nominating Committee nominates Linda C. as Assistant Clerk. In so doing, we recognize that Linda has the love and support of meeting, and that she may request the addition of another assistant clerk, if needed. Meeting APPROVED the two nominations. Friend asked for confirmation that the assistant clerk position is unpaid. It is, indeed, an unpaid position.
5. Communications: Note was read from Pat regarding her retirement celebration last week.
6. Transition to 11:15 Meeting for Worship