Origins of Twin Cities Monthly Meeting: 1938-1969
Raquel K. Wood
presented for adult education on Oct. 29, 2006
In 1975 I became interested in documenting the early history of the Twin Cities Friends Meeting and the groups that were its predecessors. I read through the relevant portions of the minutes of meetings for business, newsletters and related materials of these groups.1 Over several years I collected letters and tape recordings from a number of Friends who had participated in early, informal Quaker worship groups in the Twin Cities from about 1938 to 1950. Lengthy descriptions from Grace Gibas, Howard Lutz and Jim Pinney provided basic information. (This paper does not include information about the Minneapolis Friends Church/Meeting, founded in 1863. The main relationship between Twin Cities Friends Meeting and Minneapolis Meeting developed after 1950).
In 1996 while researching the early histories of Madison and Milwaukee Friends Meetings for an essay on the history of Northern Yearly Meeting, I discovered a pattern similar to that observed in the genesis of Twin Cities Meeting: The approach of World War II brought together pacifists seeking to clarify their feelings, thoughts and questions. How would they respond to the probable draft? What forms of resistance might they use? Where would they find support for their nonconformist views? Many of these men and women were pacifists with a spiritual base. Not generally able to find the support they sought in the conventional religious bodies, they discovered what they needed in the context of unprogrammed worship in the tradition of Friends.
On discovering the common thread I realized additional first hand information could be gained from Jack and Mary Phillips, Alex Stach and Beverly White, all local Friends who had been in the Twin Cities in the late 1930’s and/or the early to mid 1940’s. Telephone interviews on February 1, 1996 with all of them gave me what I needed to develop the first draft
Part I. The Development of Informal Worship Groups
The Pre-World War II Years: 1938-1940
As a youth growing up in St. Paul, Jim Pinney showed unusual interest in the spiritual life. He encountered Friends worship at a student Friends meeting at Oberlin College in 1935. This led him to abandon his plan to become a minister. In 1938 while attending a summer school at Pendle Hill he became deeply committed to a lifetime of spiritual search among Friends.
On his return to St. Paul Jim Pinney shared his experience at a meeting of the Pacifist Action Fellowship, a recently formed group who wished to explore ways of responding to the threat of an outbreak of war. There was much soul searching going on, particularly by men who knew in the event of a war they would probably be facing a military draft. This was a time of personal preparation as well as group action. In addition to Jim, Beverly Werbes (White)2, Marion Eckholm (Peters), Alex Stach and Bob Berquist were active in the PAF and later joined the Society of Friends. Chester Bruvold and Arthur Sternberg, both long time Twin Cities pacifist activists, as well as some others who are no longer in the area participated in this group. Josef Brozek active in PAF, left, but returned to live in the Twin Cities in the late 1990s.
Several people who attended this PAF meeting and heard Jim Pinney speak of the sustaining experience of the simple, gathered worship of Friends suggested to Jim that they begin a worship group. In a letter to the writer written in June 1976 Jim recalled that the group first met the winter of 1938-39 in an apartment of two student sisters, Mina and Phyllis Vanderschaegen, at 10th and University S.E., Minneapolis. Lloyd and Phyllis Tyler, members of Minneapolis Friends “Church” as it was then known, Peg Calbeck, Phil Meighan and Dick Zumwinkle as well as a few “irregulars,” were the first participants. Beverly Werbes (White), Marion Eckholm (Peters) and Ruby Erickson (Moody) came in the spring of 1939 along with some other 2
Macalester students. Other meeting sites reported by Jim Pinney, Beverly White, Jack Phillips and Alex Stach were the S.E. Minneapolis apartment of the Tylers, the east wing of Macalester College Old Main, Friends Co-op House on University Avenue where Minneapolis and St. Paul city limits meet, and later in the mid 1940’s, the Wesley Foundation, Memorial Stadium and the 80 Arthur Ave. S.E. home of the Howard and Mary Alexander, Andrew and Grace Gibas and Marvin and Ruth Van Wormer.
Jim Pinney characterized the meeting in the following way:
“Invariably we sat in a circle, more often than not we joined hands to mark the closing, and I don’t think it would be exaggerating to say that at least one in three of the early meetings for worship were ‘deeply gathered.’ Certainly the love that grew among us was deep and abiding. All our lives were moved toward larger dimensions of contemplation and action, and despite the attrition of graduation and summer home-goings there is no doubt it should be classified as a ‘hardy perennial.’ ” 3
Jim Pinney deeply affected most of the people with whom he shared his interest in mystical religion. He had an intense personality, was very loving and encouraging to others on a spiritual path. Beverly White described him as “my hero.” Alex Stach said: “He was our guru.” Jack and Mary Phillips were also appreciative of his leadership. However, he did not see himself in an organizational role and even had questions of his own about whether he was a Friend.
Beverly White described the Macalester College chaplain at that time, Milton McClain, as a pacifist, who, as part of his work invited peace movement guests as speakers on campus. Among these Beverly recalled: A.J. Muste, Norman Thomas, Ammon Hennacy, Muriel Lester, Kirby Page, and Walter Judd. 4 It is not a stretch to think that many in the larger Pacifist Action Fellowship also heard these well known radical peace activists.
Alex Stach reported living in 1938-1939 in the “Friends Co-op House” mentioned above with Josef Brozek, Jack McGraw, Phil Meighan, Lila May Porter and Hugh Reichard. Lila had married an African American, which was very unusual in those days, and the group supported them actively in the community. Alex also described how this group worked together with some Friends from the Minneapolis Friends Church at the Phyllis Wheatley House doing workcamp activities there. In early 1940 Alex was drafted, went to CPS, was disillusioned with it, and, as some others did later, went to prison in April, 1940. Alex was the first W.W.II conscientious objector to go to prison, serving a five year term.
The War Years: 1941-1945
With the war came changes in the lives of these young men and women. Some went off to Civilian Public Service camps, a few to prison and some others followed other paths. The Friends Worship Group seems to have been held together by Jim Pinney and Beverly White throughout these years. In 1943 Ancel Keys, of the Department of Physiological Hygiene at the University of Minnesota, began a series of studies using volunteer human “guinea pigs,” men recruited from the wider conscientious objector pool. Among several studies in human semi-starvation, Unit 115, as it was known, was sponsored jointly by the American Friends Service Committee, the Brethren Service Committee and the Mennonite Central Committee. 5 The participants came from a variety of church backgrounds and included several Friends who brought their more seasoned experience to the Friends worship group then meeting at the Wesley Foundation near the university campus.
Mary Peterson (Phillips’) early experience in the Methodist Church provided her first exposure to pacifism. Mary recalls hearing Jim Pinney speak as a guest at a Methodist youth camp about 1939. She participated in pacifist groups, including the Friends worship group at the Wesley Foundation, where she met her future husband, Jack Phillips, a participant in the Unit. At some point the Friends group moved to the South Tower at Memorial Stadium which housed the Unit. 3
Howard Lutz arrived on November 13, 1944 to be one of 36 participants in an experiment in human starvation. The purpose was to learn what diet would best bring people affected by war induced starvation back to “normal” health.6 Howard had been a student of Douglas Steere at Haverford College. He shared with the Friends Group at the Unit his deep and broad knowledge of the history and literature of the Society of Friends. Grace Gibas and others have spoken of the very devoted spiritual leadership Howard gave to the group in the experiment and to the Friends worship group as well. From his diary and additional material he provided, Howard reports:
“There apparently was a group meeting for worship according to Quaker practice in the unit, for on the first Sunday I was in Minneapolis I attended a Friends Meeting held in the Stadium south Tower (where our unit was housed and where the laboratory was located) . . . I went to the meeting which was held in a room on the upper floor in the stadium. There were only 6-8 there, but several people from outside our group [also attended]. We sat a long time in silence and then James Pinney said a few words in the true spirit . . .”7
Howard Lutz mentions the frequent times he arrived early to prepare the room for the meeting for worship. Several references are made to the felt need to change the location of the meeting: “The room was too hot, the air not fresh, the telephone rang . . .It was awful . . .I knew more surely than ever that we have to have another room. . . After meeting we sat and discussed plans to change the meeting time and place.”8 The house at 80 Arthur Avenue SE, Minneapolis, about a mile from the stadium came to have a significant role for the Friends group both as a meeting place and for the support its residents were able to give the volunteers. Howard and Mary Alexander, Andrew and Grace Gibas and Marvin and Ruth Van Wormer and several young children shared this house together. The husbands were involved in the technical part of the experiment, and were not among those being starved. Not all of these people were Quakers, but they did share many values in common with Friends. On February 3, 1945, the household hosted a retreat planned by the meeting at which Elise Boulding was a special resource person. From this occasion the idea quickly grew that the meeting might use their home as its regular meeting place and share in the spiritual search and support with their fellow volunteers in the experiment.9
The small meeting for worship moved to the Arthur Avenue house on February 18, 1945. The nucleus of worshippers from the Unit was augmented by seekers from the wider peace community and occasional students from the University. The group held regular Meetings for Worship. Its business was conducted informally. The group read aloud from Aldous Huxley’s The Perennial Philosophy and other religious writings. Another retreat was planned and held on October 20-21st at the YMCA Camp St. Croix. Other special visitors including Henry Cadbury, Leanore Goodenow, Teresina Rowell Havens, representatives of the AFSC and other peace movement groups traveled to observe the experiment and minister to the needs of the CPS men. They also worshipped with the Friends group at 80 Arthur Ave. The group had no ties to other bodies of Friends, although several were members of the Society of Friends, for example: by birth, Warder Cadbury, or by convincement, Howard Lutz.10
It was difficult for people who were concerned about peace issues to live out their ideals and commitments during the Second World War. The informal Friends group provided a place for the CPS men and the seekers from the wider community to share and support one another. Writing of her own experience, Beverly White reflects thoughts shared by Howard, Grace and others:
“. . . I came to Friends meeting out of a sense of spiritual community with people who refused to participate in armed conflict, no matter what the cause; who were willing to bind up the wounds of all participants in any social or military conflict, and who respected every person for the Divine Person dwelling within. I came, too, to sit in the Silence with these people and to feel with them the mystery and awesomeness of life, and the joy of our faith in the Ultimate Goodness of every man [and woman]. The Silence, too, was strengthening because one could let loose, to a degree, at least, of one’s private and petty concerns as one felt the power of the group’s presence and single-minded focus of their 4 seeking for Guidance and Truth. . . Friends Meeting was always an experience for me of community in together for waiting upon the Spirit.”11
In December, 1945 the experiment ended. Participants dispersed to carry on post-war plans. Howard Lutz returned to the East Coast and then went to Finland with the AFSC. He returned to the University of Minnesota to pursue graduate studies in fall, 1948. As far as I can discern from written records and my memory of conversations, the small, informal Friends group ceased to exist during the period from Howard’s departure to his return.
[In this section I have used citations for specific information, written and oral. Much of what I know has come from conversations with my long-time friends and principal informants, Jim Pinney, Beverly White, Howard Lutz and Grace Gibas, all of who are no longer in this Life. My very deep thanks go out to them. Readers may note some changes as the narrative progresses due to my presence on the scene beginning in January, 1950, when I moved here to become a student at the University of Minnesota. I participated from January, 1950 to June, 1951, then with Frank Wood during the 1953-54 academic year and then beginning in August, 1956 to the present. Our memories of the development of Twin Cities Monthly Meeting are a major source of information for the rest of the paper.]
Part II. A New Start for an Emerging Friends Meeting: 1948-1956
Association with the University of Minnesota: 1948-1954
When he returned in 1948 Howard Lutz sought out some people who might be interested in a having a Friends meeting again from among individuals he met at a gathering of the local Fellowship of Reconciliation. With the encouragement of several individuals Howard arranged for a meeting time and place. In his diary Howard reports the first meeting for worship was on January 16, 1949 at 3:00 p.m. in Room 343 at Coffman Union at the University of Minnesota. The attenders were Gertrude Esteros, Marion Eckholm (Peters), David U. White and Howard Lutz. Following this meeting the group felt it would be worthwhile to continue meeting regularly. Howard had conversations with Richard Newby, pastor of the Minneapolis Friends Church/Meeting, who encouraged the establishment of a new Friends group in the University area.
Through the Student Activities Bureau an application for recognition as a University group was approved on March 8, 1949. The original application was signed by Gertude Esteros, Marian Eckholm, James Harkins, David U. White, David B. White, Dot Nagler, Howard Lutz and Florence Lewis.12 Through this first academic year those who attended varied a lot from one Sunday to another, and were small in numbers. The group often had to find alternate meeting places for a Sunday here or there, but being very small, they were able to make such changes easily…”13
In this way the University Friends Meeting was established. In the fall of 1949 Howard Lutz arranged with Dr. Henry Allen, coordinator of Student Religious Activities to use campus space in the Center for Continuation Studies (now called Nolte Center). During this period regular Meetings for Business were held and minutes were kept, although these early records were lost. In addition to the founders other attenders during 1949-1950 included the following people: Jim Pinney, Beverly White, Burnham Terrell, Robert Runkle, Anne Reece (Kangas), Elma Louise Thompson (Johnson), Alice Bell (Salo), and Raquel Kaufman (Wood). With a more satisfactory meeting place a number of new attenders, most of whom were Friends or from Friends schools, the group grew in size and began to have a little more stability and consistency. University Friends Meeting still had no formal affiliation with other Friends and functioned as a “Friends Worship Group” as defined by present day Northern Yearly Meeting criteria. Howard Lutz writes:
“University Friends Meeting 8 January – 12 February, 1950: During this period the meeting has grown quite a bit. We have now made contact with many who are interested in the Quakers. A month ago the number was around 12-15, now it is over 20. 5
“15 January: The whole group went to Circle Pines to hold meeting at the Gibas family and afterwards to go skating.
Also a fine lunch. A happy occasion.
“12 February: Today we met in a larger room and found it quite pleasant. The former room was getting too small. . . Now we are looking forward to Douglas Steere’s visit next Sunday and hope that many Friends will be there. . . David White and I spoke in meeting. Jim Pinney has also spoken often. Beverly White spoke once when I was away. In general the meeting has been quiet, but also good.” 14
Some of the new attenders during the academic year 1949-1950 were Burnham Terrell, Alice Bell, Robert Runkle, Ann Reece (Kangas), Elma Louise Thompson (Johnson), Jeanne Mansfield and Raquel Kaufman (Wood).
Howard Lutz gave leadership and continuity to the University friends Meeting from late 1948 to July, 1951. Howard typically arrived early to straighten up the meeting room, arrange the chairs and distribute the contents of his briefcase on a nearby table. The briefcase held the meeting library-Pendle Hill Pamphlets, several basic Quaker books: Fox, Woolman, Brinton, etc., the current issue of the Friends Intelligencer, and other material or correspondence he thought the seekers might be interested in. Howard always greeted people and kept track of the names, addresses and phone numbers of attenders, and did whatever communicating was necessary. To the extent there was business, Howard acted as clerk. From the material I have drawn from the diaries and my comments from memory regarding attention to mechanics, the reader may conclude that it was principally through Howard Lutz’s role as a multi-faceted facilitator that the meeting was initiated and maintained. Through this role Howard provided the basic structure which enabled the true life and spirit of the group to emerge. However, Howard had other gifts to share too: Howard’s scholarship in the history and literature of Friends and his teaching skill to help others learn; his own deep spiritual search – the testing of ideal philosophy against very challenging, difficult life experiences; his enthusiasm and commitment to the way of Friends. If it were not for those aspects of Howard’s leadership, all the effort given to the mechanics of the group would have been for outward form only. Fortunately in later years Howard continued to share his gifts in the Eau Claire Friends Meeting and with the wider Friends community, as well.
In January, 1950, I arrived to study at the University, joining my friends from William Penn College who had come in the fall. Attending the University Friends Meeting became an important part of our experience during these student days. Going to meeting brought us into a fellowship of seekers sharing a non-conforming view of the religious life and working out its implications for our lives. But there was great variety in our individual outlooks, and it took many kinds of experiences in worship, discussion, work and recreation to integrate our several parts into an emerging group whole.
A typical Sunday morning began at 9:00 a.m. with meeting for worship with eight to twenty people gathered. Following meeting for worship we had a discussion, sometimes planned sometimes spontaneous. Bob Runkle, a regular attender, lived as a caretaker at the University YMCA in the old days when there was a coffee shop in the space we later called “the lounge.” Bob often invited us over to the Y and opened the shop and perhaps six or so would sit and talk and continue with interest the discussion held earlier.
Few special events were planned. I recall an all day retreat at the Gibas home in Circle Pines on January 28th, 1951. This was my very first pot-luck and it seemed as bounteous then as our large ones do now! Most of us were students living away from families and how we enjoyed and appreciated the warmth and hospitality of a family!
In the fall of 1950 we arranged to work on the farm of a farm friend of the several (F)friends living around Circle Pines. About ten of us spent a hard, warm October Saturday picking rutabagas. By the time we shared supper with the folks there, every pore was sandy and every muscle ached. Our meeting for 6 worship the next day is remembered now for a new level of communication in our search together, reaching deeper and knowing one another more completely than we had.
Saturday, May 18, 1951 found us helping the Mansfield family by digging the area for a basement for their house on land adjoining the Wahl-Harvey-Lees communal home in Circle Pines. Later this became the home of Jay and Edith Whitson before the Wahls and Harveys moved to Lake Elmo. This workday was much more fun and much less overwhelming than the day we spent picking rutabagas.
Each year saw some members of the group move to other places and new people begin to participate. The small size and intense feeling about the goals and practice of the group continued to be characteristic. A few years later Jack Ross described this period (through 1952) as “Sect” – strong commitment to its ideal and resistance to becoming institutionalized. The movement toward “establishment” came as several couples, some with children, began to take a more active part. The following quotation describes this period well:
The first regular set of minutes was dated March 1, 1952. The main item of business was that of affiliation with some other Friends group – an item which reappeared in some form in practically every record for five consecutive years. The [conflicting] issues seemed to be: the felt need for independence in worship; a need to gain strength through affiliation; financial stability; loyalty to Minneapolis Friends Meeting and [shared] common values with them but rejection of their affiliations. A feeling of isolation from the Society of Friends was repeatedly expressed, with the wish to gain what it had to offer, while being unable to participate in its activities because of practical problems typical of students.
The records for 1952 reveal the attempt to develop a structure similar to that of other Friends meetings. The clerk was so designated and a small Committee on Ministry and Counsel was created. A full committee structure was planned, but often undermanned. A variety of social reform and service projects were undertaken and the attempt was made to make regular financial contributions to a variety of Friends groups and pacifist organizations. On April 26, 1952, the name “Church Street Meeting was adopted. The attendance records of business meetings became more frequently to show names of married couples, faculty members and other nonstudents. In the fall of 1954 the affiliation with the University was dropped, the group moved to new quarters at the University YMCA [at 1425 University Avenue SE] where children could be [better] cared for. A First Day School was instituted with three teachers. A finance committee was organized and the transition to an established sect was definitely underway. 15
The following families were among the participants during 1952-1954: Jack and Dottie Ross, Ross and Rosalie Wahl, Elmer and Mary Alice Harvey and Mary Alice’s parents, Edith and Jay Whitson, Mary Jo and Walter Uphoff, Peggy and Walt Taylor, Agnita and Charles Wright, Frank and Raquel Wood, David and Beverly White.
Part III. The Movement toward Monthly Meeting Status: 1954-1956
As the group life matured there was a strongly felt need to gain independent monthly meeting status. Many individuals who were active in the meeting wanted to be able to join the Society through the Friends Meeting in which they were deeply involved. Others, holding membership in meetings where they had lived previously, wanted to transfer their membership to the meeting where their identity now lay. The growing number of families with children added impetus, as parents wished for a more permanent and stable community in which to grow.
By the early 1950’s informal relationships existed with many Friends in the Minneapolis Friends Church/Meeting, so that it seemed to be a natural place to begin to develop more formal ties. The congeniality which we felt with Minneapolis Meeting on an informal level was difficult to transfer to the organizational level, due to the structured, pastoral style of worship and the socially and theologically 7 more conservative outlook of the Iowa Yearly Meeting (Five Years/FUM) to which Minneapolis Meeting belonged at this time. A Preparative Meeting relationship was developed in 1955. During this time talks were also occurring with Illinois Yearly Meeting (FGC). When it appeared that the preferred joint affiliation with Iowa Yearly Meeting and Illinois Yearly Meeting would not be feasible, Church Street Meeting chose to request affiliation with Illinois Yearly Meeting. This was granted, along with Monthly Meeting status in August, 1956. It was a difficult decision and it did place a temporary strain on the relationship between Minneapolis and Church Street Meetings. But Friends from both meetings recognized how much we shared in common and sought to build a fellowship among Friends in the Twin Cities apart from formal ties. (This theme is developed later in the paper) See Appendix A for what I think is the first list of members and attendees of the new monthly meeting. Perhaps this was first developed as part of the process of becoming a monthly meeting.
Part IV. Further Growth: 1956 to 1969
Increasing Participation, Increasing Space Use:
The most obvious sign of growth was the increasing occupancy of the University YMCA. As Church Street Meeting grew we received the willing help in meeting its increasing space needs from Lyndon Cederblade, the director of the Y. In the beginning we used the upstairs “Board Room” which required moving heavy tables to the end of the room and arranging stately chairs in an elongated circle. Child care was provided in a room across the hall. A large hallway closet housed our growing collection of toys, port-a-crib, materials and library.
About 1958, after a Japanese American church group moved out of the first floor of the YMCA, we began to use the lounge. Again, this required some early arriving Friends to air out the room, pick up the trash, rearrange the chairs, and of course to empty out the ash trays, especially before Jay Whitson arrived. In time we needed much more space for children’s activities and began using the basement area. This had, among other things, an even larger storage closet our accumulating collection of things for child care and education, shelves for the growing library and pamphlets and our sign.
From 1952 to about 1962 the small size of the meeting enabled us to have a very close, intimate relationship to the total meeting community. It was easy enough if plans for location or time of business meeting needed to be changed to call everyone up and change it. Perhaps an infrequent visitor might find “the meetinghouse” all locked up on the monthly First Day when we held meeting for worship and the meeting for business at the home of a member. It was usual for practically all the families with children to be involved in the planning and work with children. Everyone who attended was pulled into helping support the meeting in taking on one responsibility or another. This may have been a factor in the slow growth of this period. We seemed to go from one small or medium sized crisis to another and did not need a newsletter or a fellowship committee to keep people in touch with one another. A December, 1958, newsletter is the first record of one I was able to find. For some of us this was a very rich experience in the quality of relationships we shared and in our personal and group growth.
Some additions to the meeting during this period were Lois (Laura Phoenix) and Orin Doty, 1958, Ed and Peg Stevens, 1959; John and Fran Martinson, 1961; Mac Brasfield and later Sue Brasfield; Janet and Ralph Hofmeister, 1963 and Bob Beach.
In the mid-sixties after years of slow growth, the size of the meeting suddenly accelerated. Although we lost several key families in 1964, a number of new families moved here who had experience in other Friends meetings and who were able to give stability and leadership during a period when the needing was experiencing new growth. Moving away were the Rosses, Uphoffs, Wrights, Harveys and Jay Whitson. (That was seven adults and 14 children in all)! During 1964 to 65 came the families of Don and Betty Irish, Annalise and Charles Tooker, Robert Arthur, Emil and Emily Slowinski, Delores and Merrill (Jake) Jacobson and Ed and Eleanor Strait. During the later 1960’s the following were among the newcomers to 8 the meeting: Dorothy and Eugene Ackerman, Richard and Helen Kain, Robert and Grace Lucas, Marilyn and Peter Leach and Gloria Longbotham. I have cited individuals who made significant contributions to the life of Twin Cities Friends meeting. Some left us, others came.
When we could no longer fit into the lounge — 40 or so – we arranged to use the Great Hall for our meeting for worship and the lounge became the meeting place for the teen-aged group, now numbering about a dozen or more. Throughout these years we had the cheerful help to plan and meet our physical space needs from “Lindy”Cedarblade. The Y and Lindy always tried to accommodate to our needs and our limited budget. As a result of our rapid growth, talk and movement toward the acquisition of a permanent meetinghouse began to develop about 1965.
In trying to examine the sudden growth which occurred from 1965 to 1969, I believe there are three principal factors operating: The development of the local AFSC programs and office, the Vietnam War and the gradual stabilization of the internal functioning of the meeting. Modest programs of the AFSC had heavy involvement and support from Church Street and Minneapolis Meeting Friends from 1958 to 1961 when a formal Minnesota AFSC area office with an executive committee were formed. In 1961 Lois Doty became the first part time secretary. John and Fran Martinson developed the office from their home in 1965. The meeting used their address and telephone number listing for several years. Then the office moved to 807 SE Fourth St with John as Executive Director and FRIENDS became visible in the community. Many people seeking draft counseling and a support group sought out Friends from their contact with AFSC. The pressures building from the escalating Vietnam War brought seekers to the AFSC and to both Friends Meetings. Each seemed to reinforce the other.
Friends from both meetings continued to participate in the development of the AFSC programs and office and gave it their ongoing support. Each meeting had its own strong, active programs and concerns and there had been more and more movement in common directions. For a number of years the annual family camp on Labor Day weekend was a joint activity richly shared experience for Friends of all ages. Many children of both meetings became friends as well as the adults. The searching during those years concerning war, conscription, the earth’s resources, lifestyles, etc., brought people from the two meetings together. A genuine community of Friends developed in the Twin Cities area.
In 1960 the meeting changed its name again. Twin Cities Monthly Meeting was gradually acquiring a body of experience in the ways of Friends which enabled us to undertake a broader program. We developed strong programs for adult education and the Quaker nurture of children. We gave some attention to social and peace testimony concerns. We always met our budget with a sufficient surplus to spend hours deliberating its fate. There were growing relationships with Minneapolis Friends Meeting, AFSC and a growing Friends community in outstate Minnesota and Wisconsin. Many individuals received help and support in times of stress in their personal lives, in relation with the draft, aging, health or other problems. Friends were learning the skills needed to be more effective in helping the meeting go forward.
Faced in 1964 with the departure of families who had given enormously of themselves for the growing and struggling meeting, those of us left behind wondered how or if the void could be filled. As has been demonstrated in other groups, this became an opportunity for new growth and openness to a wider circle. It was not an easy time. It was difficult for the smaller group of “old Friends” to absorb the larger group of “new Friends,” some of whom had extensive experience in other Friends meetings. There were also many visitors and new attenders who did not easily find niche for themselves, and with the “old Friends” so occupied with sustaining the functions of Meeting, it was often difficult to even get acquainted. We were swamped. We were facing conflicts in life style, personalities, and issues and even in challenges to the power structure of the meeting. We probably were so busy with each week’s activities and needs that we did not examine these dynamics in this context. However, in the course of the years new identities were established, new friendships grew, new leadership emerged. The underlying faith in Quaker process 9 and our sincere caring about one another helped during that period to move toward unity with a large and diverse group of Friends.
Meeting for Business:
For Church Street Friends, as for Twin Cities Friends, the Meeting for Business was a vital part of the life of the Meeting. The pot-luck supper, so frequently a part of the occasion, gave us the needed time for fellowship together. With so much diversity in the meeting we needed opportunities to reinforce and build our community. The first ten years saw business meetings always in the homes of Friends, though the pattern of some Sunday meetings and some evening meetings was established early as a means of meeting the needs of most people. On Sundays we always had children to plan for in homes, so the times when we met evenings were freer and easier. In those years the children outnumbered the adults, so we had to plan for them.
The letter quoted below from the Meeting newsletter of March, 1961 reveals how consistent Friends have been about another aspect of the meeting for business:
I have been concerned about the length of our business meetings, and have been wondering of there are ways we can expedite the handling of our business affairs without losing the essence of our manner of conducting business.
Two concrete suggestions have been made which we might try on Saturday. One is to omit routine committee reports and have the committees take the initiative if there is something to come before the Meeting. Another is to reverse our usual order of business and consider our weightier and more time consuming problems first.
Still another helpful thing would be for Friends who are presenting ideas to the Meeting to ask themselves if the purpose of their remarks is to inform the Meeting of something or to request a response or action from the meeting. If it is the latter a clear statement of the proposed Meeting action would be helpful.
If Friends have other suggestions, perhaps they can be discussed on Saturday. I hope we can preserve an atmosphere in which each of us feels able to discuss freely, and yet control our time so that business meetings are refreshing, and not harassing, affairs.
Agnita Wright, Clerk 16
Joining the Wider Circle of Friends:
The 1956 decision to join Illinois Yearly Meeting (IYM) brought the small struggling Church Street Meeting into fellowship with a wider body of Friends, most of whom had long experience in both their individual lives and as Friends’ communities. Few Friends were able to drive the 700 mile distance to McNabb, IL to attend Yearly Meeting but delegates from Church Street Meeting were able to attend the Fox Valley Quarterly Meeting held in the host cities in Chicago, Madison and Milwaukee. At the 1960 session of IYM Northern Half-Yearly Meeting was set off as a “Quarter,” thus providing Friends from Twin Cities, Madison and Milwaukee the opportunity to develop a fellowship which was more geographically accessible. After a few years the “Halfly” began to meet in a weekend camp format which made the gatherings more available to more people. Twin Cities Friends usually hosted the fall meetings and many members had opportunities to be involved in the planning as well as attending. As we began to participate fully in our “local” division of Friends, we developed mutually nurturing relationships with 10 other Friends. These experiences helped the Twin Cities Meeting to grow inwardly while we were growing in numbers in our home meeting.
Also beginning in the late 1950s was a concern to relate to several “scattered (isolated) Friends” not near other Quakers or smaller groups trying to establish a Friends presence in Duluth, Northfield, Rochester and Eau Claire. A number of Church Street/Twin Cities Friends made visits to these Friends, laying a foundation of assistance which encouraged the development of new meetings.
Purchasing a Meetinghouse:17
As the nineteen sixties progressed, there was increasing interest in or felt need for the Twin Cities Meeting to give serious thought to acquiring a meetinghouse structure of its own. The meeting was acquiring materials as the First Day School increased in size and programming. There was much to set up and put away at the closing of meeting for worship. Some people felt the meeting would acquire more stability in its own space. A number of the newer members and attenders had formerly had the experience of worshiping in Friends meetinghouses and felt a loss of groundedness in rented quarters.
However, not everyone agreed on the need to move in the direction of ownership. Advocates for purchase of a building argued that a meetinghouse would provide a tangible focus in the community and stimulate growth in the Society of Friends. Others felt that problems related to the ownership of property would distract Friends from their worship and social concerns, that a meetinghouse was not necessary for meeting purposes because of the availability of unused space on First Days, and would tend to increase the size of a meeting that was already losing a sense of community as a result of size.
During 1967-68, a committee established by the Monthly Meeting was engaged in actively seeking property that might meet the needs of the Meeting. Eventually, this committee recommended that an offer be made to purchase the property at 295 Summit Avenue. An impasse developed between those Friends who wished to proceed with the purchase and those who felt the step would be unwise. Those favoring the purchase felt disturbed that the Meeting had approved their search efforts but now hesitated. Those opposed to the purchase felt themselves as pressured by a determined pro-meetinghouse faction. Both groups talked seriously about withdrawing from fellowship with the other.
After a heavy meeting for business on 5/24/68, and following numerous discussions with other Friends, Frank Wood, then clerk, drafted the following minute on which he hoped all Friends might unite:
The Meeting proposes to consider carefully the recommendations of the Meeting House Committee on the purchase of a meeting house. Discussion of any recommendations will focus on the suitability of a building for meeting house purposes and the financial resources available. The Meeting indicates its readiness to proceed to the purchase of a meeting house as soon as a suitable building is found. Friends recognize and accept the existence of sincere differences regarding the extent to which they as individuals wish to contribute to the purchase and maintenance of a meeting house.
At the same time, the Meeting recognizes the importance of encouraging the development of small group meetings for worship at the meeting house and elsewhere. It is hoped that one or more small group meetings can be established in the community to meet on First Days prior to the meeting for worship in the meeting house. In the meantime, such meetings shall be considered regularly constituted meetings for worship of this Monthly Meeting if so approved at a meeting for business, and if such meetings are held in rented quarters, the cost of the rental shall be considered a regular meeting expense. (Wording and spacing from June-July Newsletter, 1968.) 11
This minute was adopted at the meeting for business in June 1968. The purchase of the property at 295 Summit was completed during the winter of 1968-69. After rehabilitation the Twin Cities Friends Meeting moved to its new home in June, 1969.
In retrospect it seems plausible that a failure to unite to support those Friends who felt a meetinghouse was essential would have divided the Meeting and prevented at least temporarily the purchase of a meetinghouse. The minute’s first part gave them the support they hoped to receive. There is no evidence that any of those who agreed to it failed to support it in both letter and spirit. Many Friends today are unaware of the second part of the minute, and among those who remember it, differences exist regarding its meaning and importance.
Part IV. Conclusion
The writer has shared from her memory and that of her informants of the way in which pacifist seekers search for a spiritual identity brought them together, at first in small groups in the World War II era. This was followed by the period of association with the University of Minnesota from 1948 to 1954, during which time a small group met and developed a rudimentary structure. This led to becoming a monthly meeting in 1956. Subsequent growth in the spiritual life of the meeting combined with organizational growth and a slow increase in membership changed in the mid-1960s with the advent of the Vietnam War and the development of an AFSC office in the area. The period of establishment of Twin Cities Meeting came to its end with Friends decision to purchase a building suitable for a meetinghouse of their own.
- Minutes of Twin Cities Monthly Meeting and other materials are housed at the Minnesota History Center.
- Where the writer knows the current married name, it is designated in parenthesis: Beverly Werbes (White), Raquel Kaufman (Wood), etc.
- James Pinney in a letter to Raquel Wood, June 20, 1976.
- For those not familiar with all of these names: A.J. Muste of the Fellowship of Reconciliation; Norman Thomas of the Socialist Party USA; Ammon Hennacy of the Catholic Worker Movement; Muriel Lester, an English Friend and leader of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation; Kirby Page, a churchman, and leader in the pacifist movement in the 1930’s; Walter Judd, a Minnesotan, a medical doctor and missionary in China who led a boycott against Chinese silk. Judd later became more conservative and served in the US House of Representatives.
- Jack Phillips by telephone interview, 2/27/02
- For those who would like to know more about this experiment the following resources are available: The University of Minnesota Library has the laboratory reports as well as books on the subject. A paper on the subject was written in 1994 by Princeton University senior Shoshonna Matney, a member of Minneapolis Friends Meeting. Her paper places the experiment in the context of conscientious objection during WW II. Karen Hibbard-Rode, a member of Twin Cities Friends Meeting, prepared a high school history project on the experiment in 2000. This project won a “first” in state and national competitions. The project is kept in the library of the Minnesota Historical Society.
- Howard T. Lutz: Some Notes Relating to My Early Experience of Quaker Meeting in the Twin Cities, 1944-45, taken from a diary kept during those years. Some of those entries were copied for the record. I also have an interview on tape from August 2, 1975 at Howard Lutz’ home in Eau Claire, WI. In this account as in Jim Pinney’s letter, the names of many people who attended the worship groups are mentioned.
- Howard Lutz, op cit, Dec 17, 24, 31, 1944 and January 7, 14, 21, 1945
- For some years the house at 80 Arthur Ave. SE was shared with several Friends/peace movement people: The Families of Grace and Andrew Gibas, Murray and Geraldine Braden (Murray was Grace’s brother), Howard Lutz, David B. White, Dot Nagler, Beverly White and Fred Blum. This home was a center for peace minded people from about 1945 to 1955.
- Howard Lutz and Grace Gibas were primary sources for information about 80 Arthur Ave. during this period.
- Beverly White: Letter to Raquel Wood, August 6, 1975
- Howard Lutz, op cit
- Howard Lutz, op cit
- Howard Lutz, op cit p.4. with minor deletions by RKW.
- Jack C. Ross: Traditionalism and Charisma in a Religious Group: Membership Careers and Role Contingencies of Quakers, Ph.D. Thesis, 1964, University of Minnesota. p. 97 See this for interesting material about the development of the meeting in a sociological interpretation.
- March, 1961 Newsletter of Twin Cities Friends Meeting.
- This section contains material from notes written by Frank Wood from memory in 1973.