At the Friends Forum of Sunday, October 27, the Community Development & Fund Raising committee (CDFR) did some community development by sparking a conversation about Meeting’s finances.
Tami Swiggum led off by highlighting some of the themes our committee has encountered during our home visits and in other conversations. She reported that many of us were asking “How am I loyal to my individual spiritual commitments, and how do these fit with the TCFM community?”
Also, we often heard “We value of care and upbringing of youth and children, and caring for the new people who come into our midst.” (Richard shared a FF 10.27 Handout that named these themes and another, along with a “rant” about fundraising events like bake sales.)
Then Lisa Day led us through a period of introspection. We asked ourselves
- How is spirit nudging you as you balance commitments to your beloved relationships, engaging with the wider world, Twin Cities Friends Meeting and your other passions?
Then, in pairs, we shared thoughts with one another.
Lisa further asked us to consider
- How is spirit moving our spiritual community as we balance caring for our children and newcomers, stewardship of our meeting space and engagement with the wider world?
Again, after introspection, we shared some of our thoughts in pairs.
Then Richard led the group in looking forward, asking for comments about
(1) What individuals might feel led to do, as a contribution to the welfare of the Meeting, in the coming months.
(2) Changes to the life of the community we would like to propose.
(3) Specific suggestions to CDFR, for the months ahead.
Rob Axtmann, Clerk of Finance Committee, spoke first in this section, saying he felt TCFM was in a risky situation, financially, and that we needed to shore up our reserves, rather than letting them dwindle further. Until we pay off the mortgage in 2017, or significantly increase donations, we need to be very conservative in our spending, for things within the Meeting, and in our support for external organizations and initiatives.
Many other ideas were shared, in a fairly coherent conversation. The dominant theme was a response to Rob’s points of “careful,” and “cautious,” saying that if spirit calls us to it, we need to be “reckless” and “extravagant.”
Friends, this is a fine example of the process of community development. These views have been expressed before, in private or in the rather formal setting of Meeting for Worship with attention to Business. In the setting of Friends Forum, many people had a chance to express opinions and hear the opinions of others. We were not trying to make a decision. We were hearing what the community thinks. This is an important preliminary to conversations we will be having in 2014, about the size of our reserves and how big a budget the TCFM community is ready to support. We will be needing YOUR answers to these questions. Please, over the holidays, be noticing the place of our TCFM community in your life, and please keep an eye out for where you can bring your point of view to the conversation in the months ahead.
(We had originally thought this conversation would occur in the course of making decisions about the 2014 budget, but the MWB Clerk’s Team wisely decided the issues are too big to be jammed up against a 1/1/2014 deadline, so the budget that will be presented for our approval at MWB on December 8 will be based on the same assumptions as our last several budgets.)