Transitional Steering Group Meeting Notes – April 26, 2018

April 26, 2018


Present: Tom Duke, Gail Anderson, Erich Rutten, Naaima Kahn, Jessi LeClear-Vachta, Jeff Sartain, Kevin Schill, Curtiss DeYoung, Rabbi Spilker, Mary Pickard, Ben Connelly, David Cournoyer, Prabhat Tekriwal

Introductions/networking – “What’s happening in your organization or one you are involved with?”

Update on process:

  1. This is third meeting (January, March and now April; the second was really two meetings of different people who couldn’t meet at the same time.) We’re continuing to recruit, especially for more diversity. We see these meetings as preliminary with the task of discerning how we go forward, with formation of a board/steering group as well as with the whole initiative. More below.
  2. Formation of a Transitional Operations Group. The SPIN-TCIN Exploration Group which brought us this far has now discontinued operation as it is handing the baton to these new groups. TCIN and SPIN will soon each decide about their own futures; TCIN is not likely to continue. Healing Minnesota Stories is moving out of SPIN to the Minnesota Council of Churches, so SPIN will at least be much reduced in size. Kevin and Gail will soon convene people interested in operations task areas such as: staff plan, communications, technology, budget, fundraising, network weaving/affinity groups, annual event, etc.

Discussion of Roles and Responsibilities paper distributed earlier:

Reflections on vision of the initiative and this transitional steering group

  1. It is a table where people can meet and change the world.
  2. We are thinking the “Transitional” phase may take a commitment of 2 years – that was a surprise to some. There was conversation that one person thought it might have been six months – and said that we need to ensure the group looks and operates the way we want it to operate early on because habits get formed. As people join the group, we need to remember to provide background information on the history of SPIN/TCIN and why this is a next step. The point was made that the SPIN and TCIN aren’t sustainable as they now exist and the multitude of multi-religious work done in Minnesota could be more impactful.
  3. We’re in the messy part of creating a new effort – it’s fluid and we all need to commit to “the dance,” as one participant said.
  4. We’re creating a nest with some eggs (metaphor for the network) – everyone has an egg that needs to be nurtured in the nest. If Erich has an egg that’s ready to hatch, we help him with that.
  5. How do we relate to the general public? We should be visible to the general public, not just to each other. We need to bring in the unexpected people – those who aren’t currently involved in multi-religious work.
  6. Our goal is to “deepen the impact.”
  7. We’re not necessarily trying to get people involved in OUR new effort – we’re creating a space where people can find other organizations where they can do this work and participate. We’re facilitating others to do – we’re bringing the relationships together. So – deepen the impact through collaboration, networking. We’re an access point, not destination.
  8. Vision statement could be more succinct with less verbiage: “The multi-religious network for social change.” (And we had said we should put something like “alleviate suffering” into vision.)
  9. We’re talking about the nature of the “nest.” What are the values that drive us?
  10. The Steering group is the keeper of the relationships. If the relationships are strong – then we get the magic of a jazz ensemble. It’s essential to be clear about our values – how the nest operates is critical. We should pick some eggs soon – then document how we’re working on this – then tell people about it so we can ask them to join us.
  11. We need to be willing to work a different way – relationships are most important as we deepen our understanding of each other and move toward common action.
  12. Tension – how much time for relationships vs. activities – that will always be a tension. The convening, e.g., Feb 1 Interfaith Harmony event was good.
  13. Question: What does inter-faith have to do with equity? How do our values relate to equity? I trust the people in the nest, but what are we trying to do to move beyond the choir? We have many groups working toward equity – should we tap the groups who are already doing that? How can we help them expand their impact?

Comments on structure:

  1. Should we pay people to do the work? Answer is yes – otherwise we will always only have white people doing the work; and yes because the work needs to get done. Regarding hiring, we need to have:
    (roles/job descriptions):

    • A person who does relationship building – someone of color and from the non-Christian community.
    • Someone who makes everything happen (operations)
    • Administrative support for the nuts and bolts
      This may be similar to how some arts institutions have been organized – artistic director and operations director).
  2. Bremer Foundation is doing some funding of networks.
  3. Perhaps need a temporary fiscal agent, but then a 501c3 would be good.
  4. We need to get to the organizational piece to make this happen – move quickly so we can apply for funding. We need some structure
  5. Do we have some components that are core – 4-5 or a dozen of component organizations as a place to start? Rather than being an umbrella, we are helping from below – in a support role. What are these groups doing for social impact? Is there a way to help them – to leverage their work – to learn from them? OK to get absorbed in the support role.

What kind of commitment is each person able to make? What strong interest?

  • Want to be part of a mini-revolution to make real change, especially re equity.
  • Promotion of diversity within the nest itself—not a separate thing, but the thing itself.
  • Still excited about this process – the network – we need to trust a little more – a leap of action. We need to build it and they will come – we NEED this. It’s good enough. Push on. Do a day-long Feb. event next year.
  • We need to structure, yes, but we need it to be very fluid. Task groups rather than standing committees. Personally, I need to know what is the value from the perspective of those we would support. We need to talk more to those in greater Minnesota. What would they see as value?
  • We’re (MCC) here – we’re not going anywhere. We have to stay in partnerships. Although we are one of the largest Christian organizations, we need to be just one of many. To be the most successful, we need to be many faith groups and ensure that we’re not seen as just one more group; have to demonstrate inclusion This can be in tension limitations of communities who have limited numbers and resources.
  • There are a lot of people who want to plug in somehow – how do they learn about us and get involved in one of the organizations? The web site structure and data base – how can that be done? We need to get more young voices into the process.
  • Equity is important. We have a lot of tribalism right now—our politics is “us against them.” Don’t underestimate the power of encounter and dialogue – of knitting people together. One of the most powerful things I have experienced is bringing religious leaders together for prayer – part of the World Parliament of Religions. Let’s do something in Minnesota like that. The convening is good; it’s subversive power to pray for peace. Maybe piggyback on IRG – do some speakers. Have a whole day of respectful conversations. Heads of local communities – covene them – dialogue and encounter can happen. Maybe connect with what Ibo Patel does – create service opportunities and advertise it – or work with the groups he has formed.
  • Like the “The network…”Diversity – who’s making the nest? We need diverse age, function, and organizational representation. The field has been shallow – we should really push the field so people are really engaging in an interfaith way. Create collective impact – push/challenge the individual organizations to be challenged to do more and more in-depth. Push the value of interfaith to make the state a better place.
  • Like idea of organizing events, doing a Minnesota Parliament, while it’s a messy process, we can do some concrete things. I think he said he’d help recruit people to volunteer.
  • We should pick a day now for a day-long conference in February of next year.
  • Interested in the magic of convening people around common interests and seeing how collaboration can happen.