Friends General Conference

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Early Planning for New Meetinghouse

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We engaged in a series of visioning sessions (led by Anders Matney and others) beginning in Sept. 2011

Over the last forty plus years, Cannon Valley Friends Meeting has housed itself in a variety of ways.  We have met in private homes and various rental spaces in the Northfield area, including the Northfield Arts Guild, Laura Baker School, above Jenkins Jewelers on Division Street, and back to the Northfield Arts Guild, where we continue to meet at the present time. 

At various times, the Meeting has investigated spaces that could better accommodate our activities and provide a more permanent location. We considered a former dental office, a former church, and two commercial properties in downtown Northfield.  In addition, we looked at a number of single-family homes in Northfield that might be used as a meetinghouse—one on Second Street, one on Ninth Street, and two on Union Street.  Throughout this search, we found that the properties available would  force us to limit the work we wished to pursue and/or the interactions we wished to have with the larger community, or else they would require a prohibitively expensive amount of renovation. 

The next logical step seemed to be to begin moving toward building a new structure rather than occupying an existing structure. In the spring of 2011, the sense of the Meeting was to begin planning for a new meetinghouse designed to support our values, activities, and community.  In June 2011 the Meeting found and purchased a home in very poor condition on a prime, centrally located lot at 512 Washington Street in downtown Northfield.  The house, along with a one-car garage in poor condition, was removed from the property.  The lot was filled in and grass, followed eventually by a row of hollyhocks, was planted. A second, two-car garage, which was in fair condition, was kept on the property. The garage is currently being used to store the Meeting’s library, along with some furnishings. 

In preparation for building a new meetinghouse, Cannon Valley Friends Meeting engaged in seven visioning work sessions from September 2011 through November 2012. We looked at pictures of exteriors and interiors of a number of existing Quaker meetinghouses, both traditional and non-traditional in style.  We took a field trip to the new Art Barn, a timber-framed building on the St. Olaf Campus.  We considered various basic shapes for the building, as well as how the new meetinghouse could best support the most important functions of Cannon Valley Friends Meeting.  Through this process the Meeting clarified its understanding of its history, accomplishments, and valued experiences, as well as the activities it is currently limited in its ability to support, its vision for the future, and its priorities.

The following statements are drawn from visioning session minutes: 

o We consider the Meeting to be permanent. We have the sense that there will always be 
people in this area who will have the vision of Quakers. We value our continuing history 
and find stability in it. 
o We feel connected to Quaker communities outside this area, such as other monthly 
meetings, service organizations, regional groups, and national organizations. We find 
comfort and security in the exchange and support offered by these connections. 
o We have considered our potential for growth. We have a desire for growth and consider our 
willingness to reach out, to offer service, to provide First Day School programs, and to 
engage seekers to be determining factors in realizing growth. We find clarity in the 
realization that growth is not necessary to provide service and have a presence in our 
o We note that although people have left and people have come, the Meeting has about the 
same number of attenders and members as it did twenty years ago. We are led to continue 
to strive for growth in service and growth in numbers, but plan to provide for a group about 
our current size.

***Please Note: In the upper right corner of this page, there is a slide show of pictures of CVFM's last two rental spaces  (the space above Jenkins' Jewelers in Northfield and the Northfield Arts Guild), as well as some of the images and floor plans we considered in early visioning sessions for the new meetinghouse.  In addition, there is a document listed under "Files" at the bottom of this page that contains drafts of some of the first building shapes that were considered for the new meetinghouse.