Jubilation, 2005 — year of discernment
Charged by TCFM Friends, the Jubilation Committee first met in 2005 on January 14. At this point, committee members included Elizabeth Barnard, Jean Hammink, Jenny Larson, Jodi Sandfort (clerk), and Bob Schmitt. Mary Ellen Shaw, as TCFM Assistant Clerk, acted as liaison with the TCFM Clerk’s team. The committee reported at the January MWB.
Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business
Jubilation Committee, ad hoc Committee on Nominations Concerns A new ad hoc committee has been formed by the clerks team to carry forward the work of creating a plan for the TCFM to engage in a process of discernment during 2005 around two questions:
- What are the ministries of the Twin Cities Friends Meeting?
- What are the best structures to support these ministries?
The group is comprised of Elizabeth Barnard, Jean Hammink, Jenny Larson, Jodi Sandfort (clerk), and Bob Schmitt. We have decided to call ourselves the “Jubilation Committee,” to capture the joyousness that we see infusing all aspects of the process. In our first meeting, we decided to lay down the formal concept of a “Jubilee Year” because of the ambiguity of the term and the uncertainty it evoked. We will try to embody the process with glee throughout, with the name of this committee, the use of symbols and celebratory events.
The committee would like to propose that the first part of 2005 be spent exploring the first question in many different forms and forums. Then, we will later turn to the second question.
In our planning, we considered both what could be done to explore the first question and how it could be done. We decided that Queries are a powerful tool to assist the community in discernment. We agreed that we would posit a particular Query every month or two for the community to consider. For January and February 2005, we will first ask, “What is the core of a Quaker Meeting for you?” We discussed exploring this question in a number of different forums:
- January 9th Friends Forum
- January 23rd Chili lunch being organized by the First Day School committee
- January Inter-generational Worship
- Other ideas are being explored with other members of the meeting, including members of Ministry & Counsel and Advancement committees.
In general, it is the goal of the group to utilize many different gathering of Friends and focus on the various queries as they are developed. The committee will develop a way of “gathering up” information shared by these gatherings to help each inform the larger process of community discernment. As noted above, the whole group is committed to having a feeling of celebration permeate this whole process. We realize that we are facing these structural challenges because of the success of the community – TCFM has grown more than our founders could have imagined. We now need to revisit how we are organized to take advantage of the energy and skills that so many newcomers bring to our community, yet preserve the sense of intimacy and deep spirituality that drew so many in the first place.
Mary Ellen Shaw plans to attend committee meetings to assure ongoing coordination and communication with the clerk’s team.
The first assigned question for discernment, “What are the ministries of the Twin Cities Friends Meeting?” was approached via two queries:
- What is the core of a Quaker Meeting for you? and
- How do you experience and care for the Light within you?
Over the first few months of 2005, a number of venues were used to allow as many TCFM Friends as possible to hold these queries in the Light, and to collect this wisdom. Venues used included: scheduled worship sharing, potlucks, intergenerational worship, Friends Forum, First Day school lunch, and February Meeting for Business. The spirit of Jubilation was punctuated with colorful posters and balloons. The Jubilation Committee presented their experience and progress at the April, 2005 MWB:
In January, a report was brought to MWB about the work of a TCFM ad hoc committee, the Jubilation Committee, formed by the clerks team to carry out process of community discernment in 2005 around two central questions: First, what are the ministries of the Twin Cities Friends Meeting? Second, what are the best structures to support these ministries? In that report, the committee explained that the first part of the year would be spent on the first question, using Queries as a tool for collective discernment. That report also highlighted a number of strategies for presenting the Queries for community consideration.
In this report, the committee would like to update the Meeting on our progress to date and our plans going forward.
Progress to date
During the first three months of this year, we formed the Queries and laid out a plan to guide our collective discernment process to better understand the ministries of the TCFM community. We also established a data-base that allows us to collect people’s responses and analyze them for themes. This will prove invaluable in the second half of the year when we turn to considering the best structures that support these ministries.
We began by asking a first query, “What is the core of a Quaker Meeting for you?” during January and February through a number of different forums. We held worship sharing at Friends Forum, First Day school lunch, inter-generational worship (January), and February meeting for business. We prepared informational packets for committee clerks and asked that they hold worship sharing with their committees. We made weekly announcements and included information in the community newsletter. We had a community-forum exchanged be created on the TCFM web site. To reach attenders who are not currently involved in the Meeting structure, we made posters and encouraged people to fill in sheets with their responses to the Query. We also tried to make the overall process visible by having a colorful logo, information sheets widely available, and by having celebratory balloons at potluck during January and March.
During the middle of March, we introduced the second query to the community, “How do you experience and care for the Light within you?” Using the same mechanisms as described above, we will work to assure this Query is explored by community members until mid-May. Worship sharing about this Query will occur at the April Meeting for Worship with attention to Business.
Plans going forward
In mid-May, we plan to begin to explore the final set of queries: How do you share your spiritual gifts with the community? What do you need from the community to share these gifts? Again, we will plan to explore these questions in as many different settings as possible to allow for maximum community input.
As noted above, the results of this discernment is being collected in notes. All notes are being entered into a database that allows for complete cataloguing; it also will facilitate the analysis of major themes. This information will be combined with other information, most notably the current survey being conducted by the Nominations Committee about people’s willingness to serve on committees, to fully flesh out how the community defines our ministries.
The Jubilation Committee plans on facilitating a day-long gathering on Saturday, July 30th (from 9:00 to 3:00) to discuss these findings with the community and begin to turn to the question of how to create structures that support the ministries. While the specifics have not been decided upon, our initial thinking is that we would work with Nominating Committee, the Clerk’s team, Ministry & Counsel, and representatives from all existing committees at this gathering. We intend this process to be as inclusive as possible.
We will plan on making another report to MWB with more details about that gathering as the date grows nearer.
Jodi Sandfort (clerk) on behalf of the committee comprised of Elizabeth Barnard, Jean Hammink, Jenny Larson, and Bob Schmitt. Mary Ellen Shaw has also regularly attended our meetings to facilitate communication with the clerk’s team
In order to approach the second overarching question in the Jubilation process — “What are the best structures to support these ministries?” — two more queries were introduced in the second half of 2005:
1. How do you share your spiritual gifts with the community? and
2. What do you need from the community to share these gifts?
Over the next several months, it was unclear whether or not energy was waning among TCFM Friends to pursue these important questions. Nevertheless, a Day of Discernment was held on October 29, 2006 to explore what had been learned in our year of discernment to that point. A large and enthusiastic group of TCFM Friends gathered that day, affirming that this year of Jubilation and discernment had been an important and formative one. A report of this gathering was presented at the December, 2005 Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business.
This report, with the support of the TCFM community, was then used as a “roadmap” for further exploration and experimentation in 2006 to answer the query, “What are the structures which support the ministries at Twin Cities Friends Meeting?”