Threshing Session on a Proposal to Purchase or Lease a Meetinghouse


Responding to Query #4, “When considering the idea of our meeting purchasing a building or leasing a space on a full-time basis, what are your greatest concerns? If possible, please offer suggestions about how your concerns might be resolved satisfactorily,” the following responses were evoked.

Friend “A” agrees with looking at other space. The concern: do we have the family resources to undertake long term leasing of other space? This project could take an enourmous amount of psiritual time of our members. It is a major undertaking. This is the only major concern he has. It would be useful to have more information. We need more information aand we need to look at other options (e.g. Interfaith Center proposal).

Friend “B” likes the proposal and has two concerns. 1) Do we have the resources to maintain the building? 2) The process of finding the finances. This friend has been part of two building drives and they turned unspiritual. Pressure is on people to give more than one is able. This friend is uncomfortable with such an approach. We would need a commitment to each other to go step-by-step and really listen to each other.

Friend “C” finds an appeal to the rootedness and stability that having a building could offer. The concern is spiritual. Material details consume a lot of time and many responsibilities. Having a building doesn’t let you focus on the spiritual. This friend fears being weighed down with the trivia of maintenance.

Friend “D” agrees with most of the written proposal for good reasons. We would need unity on this question. Without unity we’d have a lot of conflict. She feels it won’t have an impact on the meeting if we don’t move forward.

Friend “E” likes the current facility. What nonfinancial objections might there be to owning a facility? No argument if we find a great stone farmhouse (like Mt. Hebron!).

Friend “F” thinks we need to look on the horizon five to ten years ahead.

Friend “C” disagrees. God will give us the building if we need the building. We need to keep our eyes open, but there’s not just one chance.

Friend “G” would support a building fund. Our meeting is a gift to the community as well as to each other. What is the cost-benefit analysis? For a $600,000 non-interest loan, it would cost the meeting $20,000 per year (or $500 per household if we had 50 contributing households). In contrast, we’re paying $2,500 per year for Mt. Hebron. There needs to be a proceeding with unity. We don’t want friends to resent a decision to go forwrd. A crisis could happpen and leave us “homeless.” It is prudent to be prepared. This friend wants an exploratory committee that is genuinely open to leadings of the spirit and to being thorough, balanced and complete and also open to put efforts on the shelf if that is the leading. This committee should pursue on an exploratory basis with no presumptions as to the outcome. And this friend would miss Mt. Hebron House.

Friend “H” is most concerned about losing unity. We must work through a spiritual process and not leave anyone behind along the way. This friend is not comfortable with pressure to give financially. She feels in unity with the concept of tithing for herself personally–even though she feels no pressure to do so and wouldn’t want to pressure someone else to do so. More people will feel good about coming to meeting with appropriate space for children. Leasing might be more appropriate.

Friend “C” agrees that the space for First Day School definitely has limitations. It is not an ideal space. This friend is worried about feeling like a second class citizen if she cannot contribute as much financially as others.

Friend “D” wants to draft a proposal to have an ad hoc exploratory committee that people will commit to on a completely voluntary basis. Might be a building fund. But a building fund wouldn’t require anything of her.

Friend “E” was at a conference recently with a lot of confusion–until one person make a clear proposal. It got everyone behind it. This friend is troubled by business meetings: that a few of us can make decisions for the entire meeting seems curious. What if we decided something minor but outlandish? . . . . Would anyone take issue with it?

Friend “H” considered the idea of establishing a building fund and raising the money every year and then sending it elsewhere where there is more need, such as Africa.

Friend “G” referred to the above problem regarding difficulty getting input from the general meeting community. What if the proposed ad hoc committee made an effort to visit the homes of people who don’t come to business meeting and see their input? Maybe we should do this with other matters.

Friend “I” provided notes to be shared with the meeting in lieu of attending the threshing session:

“Although I will not be at the threshing session, I am concerned about buying/renting a building for our meeting. I like where we are and I like what we do there. I feel our meeting is currently doing so much as it can in so many areas of growth. I am concerned that all the energy it would require to expend in this new directions would dilute our current efforts. As a Quaker I would prefer to limit our ownership of material goods as much as possible. I am concerned about taking on further financial obligations, be they for a committed mortgage or an increased rent. Regarding growth, I feel we need to address the issue of how big a meeting we wish to become, rather than just responding to more members by increasing our space. Perhaps this is the biggest issue.”

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