Sunday, March 01, 2015

Meeting on Grand Avenue

I joined Bridge City Friends for singing and worship this morning.  I joked that I have a beautiful internal voice that sings along, right on key, even if I'm the only one who hears it.  Such is the nature of internal voices.

Given this was the first First Day (Sunday) of the month, a query was read from Faith & Practice about participation in the life of the meeting.  Do we make strangers welcome in our midst?  Or, as I would put it, do we serve the general public thereby earning our 501(c)(3)?  We're not a church, lets remember, even though we're treated as such.  We can't use "needing to tithe to pay our pastors" as an excuse for having an untaxed income.

During worship I shared how Quakerism, seen as a role playing game (like a board game but more immersive) is definitely a great public service.  People come to our playground of counter-balanced committees and learn what it means to run a business with no one person in control, given we're not organized in a pyramid apexing in pastors so much as in a geodesic sphere, well rounded.  We have a structure for learning and exploring self government, with real money and real property.

As I wrote to a SMADster recently:
I think of Quakerism as a "jungle gym" (lots of puns) in that we offer the public a rather unique infrastructure:  a watchworks of inter-balanced committees, with State of Society Report, committee reports, lots of infrastructure.  As a software engineer, I stand back sometimes and muse about what "shrink wrapped Quakerism" (with open source versions) might look like.  Quakers!  The Game:  sustains a nonprofit business, up to and including sound systems, air conditioning, heating, telephony.  Lots of silence expected.  No voting, but lots of communicating.

Multnomah is such a gym, and we the public go there to work out. 
At the rise of meeting, Timothy Travis mentioned he was on Nominating Committee and gearing up to fill out next year's slate.  I asked him if Peace and Social Concerns Committee was being restored.  He said they're thinking about it.

I mentioned that Multnomah's Nominating Committee was in hot water for having inappropriately sourced a proposal to drop ours (nominators should not be in the business of proposing to drop the very roles they're charged with filling, as they also have the power to simply refuse to nominate, their strategy from June to January, making any "proposal" more an "announcement" as in "done deal" -- Oversight never agreed to this strategy).

In Bridge City's case, the Business Meeting approved reducing the slate to a single Coordinator.  Our Business Meeting roundly rejected that idea, both because we're a much bigger meeting, more of a flagship, and because of where it was coming from (an inappropriate committee).

We like to steer newcomers towards Peace and Social Concerns as a hallmark Quaker institution.  It's what the general public expects of us:  to be walking our talk, practicing Quakerism, speaking truth to power and all that.

In terms of role playing, PSCC is one of our most important committees, one could say the raison d'ĂȘtre for all the others.  It's where the rubber meets the road.

it was at the June 22 Meeting for Business
that we stood up to the "shelvers"
(those eager to shelve PSCC)