After nearly 40 years as Director of Ministry at Minneapolis Friends Meeting, Pat Jones is retiring as of the end of September 2017. A festive retirement celebration was held on September 10. At our Meeting for Business on September 17, she delivered her final Director of Ministry report.
Director of Ministry report, September 17, 2017
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 awhile 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 gets 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.