Another issue that arose out of the October, 2005 Jubilation Day of Discernment was what is the optimal size of Twin Cities Friends Meeting. This was explored at various gatherings early in 2006, and is summarized in the Clerk’s Report submitted for the June 12, 2006 Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business (MWB).
DECISION AGENDA DOCUMENTS
CLERK’S REPORT — SIZE OF MEETING
This report summarizes TCFM’s process thus far with respect to the recent Jubilation questions of what size our Meeting should be. We come back to the last query considered in our 2005 year of discernment — “What are the best structures to support our ministries at TCFM?”
At January 8, 2006, MWB: Friends participated in worship sharing on the idea of hiring paid staff at TCFM, simply as a way to begin to address the Jubilation issues one by one, in manageable steps. In the midst of this, Friends wondered about the overall size of our Meeting and the special challenges and opportunities posed by having so many families with young children.
“Friends agreed that the committee clerks will discuss this concern at their meeting on 29th First Month and will bring further input to the business meeting. Friends are encouraged, as individuals and as small groups, to continue to discuss, gather information, pray, and otherwise actively play a role in helping the Meeting decide how to go forward.”
At the Committee Clerks meeting, 1/29/06, Committee clerks discussed both paid staff and size of Meeting, as requested by MWB. An initial “job duties” list for a potential paid staff was developed. Regarding size of Meeting, overall Friends noted that there were more advantages than disadvantages to having a large Meeting. Committee work is enhanced by having more Friends to draw from. First Day School is richer for having more people resources and organization. Listening to God is more important than size of Meeting. One disadvantage is that newcomers sometimes get lost in our large Meeting. Helping newcomers get settled in small worship circles and committee work helps them get grounded.”
At fourth month MWB, Friends participated in worship sharing regarding paid staff. However, the first few and several subsequent sharings centered more around size of Meeting, though that was not the stated focus. These sharings are summarized:
1. One Friend noted our seasoned elders and First Day School leaders, and that the risk of bud Meetings would be loss of diversity — of ages, spiritual approaches and sexual preferences.
2. Another Friend felt that it should be the small group who should ask to become a bud Meeting, not initiated as a large group.
3. As the oil empire grows, we will be relying on small community-based groups more and more — bud Meetings at a community level. The original vision (at TCFM) was a large and embracing home that could support and nurture small neighborhood groups — so perhaps there’s no incompatibility in having both. And traditional Quaker structures, such as a quarterly meeting could accommodate that.
4. Historically at TCFM the impetus for development for bud Meetngs came from individuals, not from the Meeting. When Prospect Hill started, it was around an issue — not wanting to own property. We may find if we move forward with paid staff that some individuals may choose not to move forward and may initiate a bud Meeting.
5. Forming buds should be a matter of individuals discerning God’s Will to do something different.
What is God’s will for TCFM? What are the structures that support the ministries at TCFM?
At the June 12, 2006 MWB, Friends participated in worship sharing around the topic of “Size of Meeting”. The following was minuted:
Clerk’s report: Clerk Marianne Clinton-McCausland read a report summarizing our journey in response to our 2005 year of discernment query, “What are the best structures to support our ministries at TCFM?” We picked up our exploration of the interrelated questions of hiring paid staff, facing our identity as a large meeting and how comfortable we feel in that identity and how to best address the needs of the many children amongst us. We responded in worship sharing to this query: What is God’s will for TCFM? What are the structures that support the ministries at TCFM?”
A deep and meaningful worship sharing featured a recognition of the joys of rich community available through our large meeting and a commitment to respond with creativity and strength to addressing head on the challenges of what changes we need to make to reduce the stress that comes with being a large meeting.