Cannon Valley Friends Meeting State of Society 2014
This has been a year of building for us, both literally and figuratively. We held a groundbreaking ceremony for our new meetinghouse in the fall, and then we watched the building take shape during the winter and spring. Tremendous progress has happened, and the project is nearing completion. As this very visible, concrete work was happening, our members worked hard to shepherd the project along, meeting with financial, business and governmental agencies. As we have responded to unexpected challenges in this work, we have tried to live into the testimony of integrity, and to exercise sound spiritual discernment. Doing this phase of building, we feel as though we are growing our meeting from the inside out and sending roots down into the ground. We reviewed all the ommittee functions and made adjustments necessary to make our organizational structure ready for the tasks of caring for and using our new building.
While the meeting house has been taking shape, we have been renting space at the Arts Guild, several blocks away. We are grateful to have a welcoming place to meet dear Friends face to face for worship. Still, we look forward to the day when we will be in our own building and won’t need to set up our chairs and put them away every week. We will also look forward to a time when the energy we have been spending on building can be rechanneled into the some of the various community activities that we have enjoyed in other years.
Our members have known celebration, grief and struggle this year. With great joy we celebrated a lovely wedding in the fall. We also held a memorial service for a regular attender who was an important part of our meeting. Many of us worked, both in and out of the court system, to help a member of the meeting have a stable, loving home and community as well as the ability to attend Meeting. Some of the elders of our meeting are more house-bound now, and we work to provide ministry and support to them while being grateful for their work in founding and strengthening the Meeting over time.
Meetings for worship on an average First Day are attended by 20-25 people. This fall, we welcomed several first-year students from Carleton and resumed meeting for worship every other week on that campus starting in January. Before construction began, we also held mid-week worship at the site of our new meetinghouse. As our young people have matured, several have opted to join the adults in worship. We offer a traditional first day school once a month, and once a month we also invite a speaker to talk with the young people about how their faith has guided them. We welcomed 2 new members by who transferred membership from another meeting.
Starting in August, new legislation allowed same-sex couples to be legally married in Minnesota. In response, our meeting joyfully decided to offer legal marriage to couples who want to be married under the care of the meeting. For the two previous years, our community offered only religious ceremonies and refrained from participating in the legal aspect of weddings because we were not able to legally marry all couples.
We also feel the need to reach out to that of God in others to address environmental problems. Members of meeting participated in the Northfield Climate Summit, and then we discussed that summit during an Adult Forum. We have also provided education and activism related to Copper Nickel Mining.
Our community continues to engage in what it means to be a Quaker, and how we are called to live out our faith in the world. We considered these questions at an adult forum on Quaker structure and process. Also, three people from our meeting attended the White Privilege Conference in Wisconsin and were warmly welcomed and housed by members of the Madison Meeting.
On the technical side, we have transitioned to a new Website through the FGC service and are pleased with the transition. We continue to look for new ways to use the website.
Looking ahead, we anticipate moving into our new meeting house and the many changes that will bring, including a more visible presence in the Northfield community. Perhaps we will be welcoming new families to meeting before we gather with you again next year at yearly sessions.