What Does the Community Development & Fund Raising Committee Think it is Doing?

–Richard Fuller
[Reprinted from the August 2013, TCFM Newsletter]

WHAT A SURPRISE! How like life! We, CDFR, were chartered a year and a half ago to raise funds for big-investment projects but learned we should do something else instead. And it all makes sense!

Meeting minutes March 11, 2012 …
#7. Nominating Committee, Gillian Martin.

A committee to raise funds for long standing capital projects has been formed, consisting of Richard Fuller, Lisa Day and Jeremy McAdams.

(Tami Swiggum has joined the committee and we are looking for others who are interested in the work. )

We intended to raise funds from the TCFM community for big projects like better weatherproofing for the windows in the old house. However, once our committee was formed and entered conversation with the Finance Committee, we discovered some obstacles. TCFM is having trouble meeting its general-fund budget, and might have more trouble with these regular contributions if CDFR started soliciting money from the community for special projects.

So what to do? Glad you were wondering about that!

BACK TO BASICS

#1) The core of TCFM is about community.

  • Community to support our spiritual practice, whatever it is.
  • Community to help us raise our children, whoever they are.
  • Community to discuss ideas with, helping us to grow in understanding.
  • Community members to whom we can offer support in times of need, sometimes moral support, sometimes financial.
    Or community to be supported by.
  • Community to take spiritual risks with, leaps of faith in personal relationships, for instance.
  • Community to help us re-center when some part of our life turns painful.

And much more.

#2) We share our treasure with others.

  • We have a building that supports our community activities. We share our lovely, environmentally-pretty-good building with the broader community at low rates, as a service to our neighbors.
  • Money members donate to TCFM goes on to other good causes. We give almost 25% of our yearly budget to causes that express our shared values like Friends School and Friends Committee on National Legislation. An affirmation of our larger community, a world community.

None of this is easy. Conflicts arise and have to be addressed. Priorities contend. Shouldn’t we be giving more to worthy causes? Don’t we need to keep the lower level rooms nearly mold-free?

CDFR does not have answers to these questions; that’s not our job. We see our job as encouraging y’all to see how valuable we are to one another. To appreciate the wide range of views we hold. To encourage discussion and humble decision-making that accepts that we can only do our best, within a context far beyond our understanding. A spiritual context.

BIG CHANGES?

And the context is big, folks. Many of us in TCFM see great disruptions to civilization’s status quo ahead. Climate, financial and food instability, challenges to the social safety net. CDFR wants to strengthen our spiritual community for the times ahead. Whether you personally feel surrounded by monetary, cultural and environmental challenges or not, most Friends in our circles agree that our Meeting community is a source of strength that helps us with the larger challenges in our lives.

HOME VISITS

Since early this year, pairs of CDFR members have been visiting people in their homes or favorite coffee shops. We do want to know about your relationship with spirit, though we probably won’t ask about that directly. We will ask you about your relationship with the TCFM community. Does TCFM support your spiritual life? How? Are there things you hoped to find in the TCFM community that you have not? Joys? Frustrations? Ideas for change? These are the kinds of things we want to know. If you haven’t had a CDFR home visit and are interested, please be in touch.

What are we learning about our community in these visits? People on the whole are happy and nourished by their relationships with TCFM, although, in the intimacy of their homes, Friends also share frustrations and painful experiences. Sometimes we take a step in healing. Some Friends wish the TCFM community was doing more to make a difference in the world, seeing that as a much higher priority than serving ourselves and maintaining our nice house. Others have very specific complaints or suggestions for improvement. It’s wonderful: simple, heartfelt sharing. It’s not CDFR’s job to “fix”anything and there’s no expectation that we will. Just sharing about a community that means a lot to us. And appreciation of our community, whatever the disappointments.

The members of CDFR believe the main value of these visits is the visits themselves, and we don’t spend a lot of time afterward discussing “what did THAT mean,”or trying to distill “the most important” points in a particular conversation. Still, we are trying to get a stronger sense of the community as a whole, and we talk about themes that seem to be coming up in more than one conversation. We will be presenting more of what we are doing and learning at an Adult Ed session this fall. We hope you will come, and comment on what we have to say.

FUND RAISING vs COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT?

And how is this related to fundraising? One of the themes we have heard repeatedly is a sensitivity about being asked for money. We’re not interested in competing with Friends’ other spending priorities just to see if we can be more important than other good causes.

We are interested in a strong spiritual community. This spiritual community. We like Friends for their non-dogmatic commitment to personal integrity and for our concerns about injustice and suffering in the world. We benefit from TCFM’s diverse community, with its range of social class, wealth and poverty, traditional values and new ways of thinking. We are glad to be part of a community that yearns for even more diversity, especially racial diversity. CDFR believes the diverse members of our community will each find their own proper level of financial resources to support our relatively modest needs.

Since the 1600s Friends have said “we strive do better than the mainstream culture we see around us.” Members of CDFR are glad to be part of a community that takes seriously the critique of mainstream society and tries to live the values of simplicity, honesty and compassion for self and others that Friends have traditionally embodied. In a mainstream culture preoccupied with money we feel it is important to distance ourselves from that preoccupation. Rather, we highlight that members of TCFM work together in the spirit of service to a larger Good. We open ourselves to each other’s peculiarities and gifts. We suspend petty irritations in order to be surprised and expanded by what others offer.

And yet we are not “a team.” Some of our extended family members want “teams” in their spiritual lives, and they are in the mainline churches. They have denominationally-determined coaches. They seek and receive direction from those with designated authority. It serves them well in many ways. The community of Twin Cities Friends Meeting is not like that. We are more guided by “listen to your still small voice.”And “what canst thou say?”We find wisdom for our lives in unexpected, unauthorized places.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF OUR COMMUNITY

But listening to the still small voice is not just a personal philosophy of each of us. And it is not just a matter of receiving individual guidance and acting on it. Members of TCFM have chosen to join our personal efforts of right living with efforts of others in this community. CDFR wants to develop our community by growing our sense of our community. We in TCFM are working together in that peculiar Quaker way, with rotating clerks, with committee memberships that may be demanding but are not experienced as a form of martyrdom. We have been doing that for over 50 years.

Because of this sustained effort over decades, each of our new relationships and new learnings grows out of a rich seedbed, the compost of years from other relationships, among people long dead and people we barely know. That’s community, something larger and more valuable than any individual could fully comprehend. And we recognize that we are a part of this community. Celebrate it! Support it, in the ways that seem right to you.

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes