Sight Lines – May

Hello Everyone:

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with May. This is the month where the dreariness of winter is replaced by lush vegetation and beautiful blooms of all varieties and hues. It is also allergy season, and for me that means shorter times outdoors to prevent runny nose, watery and itchy, red eyes, scratchy throat, and fatigue-inducing medicines that make me appear narcoleptic during the day. Still, the blooms are beautiful.

As I write this, the Commitment Drive, led by Cynthia Rosengard and Joe Fisler, is on track to exceed last year’s pledge income. It’s a significant accomplishment thanks to their leadership, the Commitment Drive team, and all of you who pledged.

The Budget Committee is developing a draft budget for the next fiscal year using the prioritization list we compiled earlier this year. They will unveil the draft budget during the Congregational Conversation meeting on Sunday, May19. It is an opportunity to hear how much pledge income was raised and how we plan to fund church programs, staff salaries, and projects of interest to our church. I hope to see there.

Last fall, we hired a sound engineer to assess our sound system and provide recommendations. The Prudential Committee (PruComm) reviewed and approved the recommended sound system design. The Sound System Team, led by Neil Bartholomew, is reviewing cost reduction options and determining what portions of the design to put out for bid. We are also exploring a variety of funding strategies to cover the approximately $50,000 it will cost to implement a new sound system to meet our current and future auditory needs.

We made progress toward our goal of hosting facilitated Congregational Conversation meetings during the next church year. The primary objective of these meetings is to create an environment where members can share and be receptive to each other’s perspectives on issues of importance to the congregation. We were assigned a facilitator from the New England Regional Facilitators Group, and we have formed a coordinating team to work with the facilitator. Planning activities will start this month.

Action on Staff Assessment Recommendations

During our April meeting, the PruComm made decisions on the recommendations in the staff assessment report, which was done by a consultant from the New England Region. The report covered the impact of our growth on the staff: how they have been doing a fabulous job supporting the growing needs of our congregation, even while working with outdated technology, tools, and equipment.

The recommendations included:

  • hiring an assistant pastoral care minister;
  • increasing, over the next two to three years, the working hours of nonsalaried staff members and the salary levels of all staff to UUA levels for a “large church”;
  • upgrading staff performance-assessment processes;
  • implementing formal volunteer staff positions for office administration and buildings and grounds; and
  • upgrading our technologies, including software and hardware for the staff, and capabilities for virtual meetings and remote working.

The recommendations also included required reading for the staff and PruComm and an assessment of the congregation’s giving capacity so that the PruComm has a realistic picture of available financial resources as the church grows.

The PruComm approved the addition of three items to the budget process: the hiring of an associate minister for pastoral care, books and materials for staff and PruComm reading, and conducting an assessment of the congregation’s giving capacity.

As the church year winds down, there are still social activities and ways to get involved. Your contributions of talent and time make a difference in the life of our congregation.

John Simmonds
President, Prudential Committee