April 2023 Board Highlights

UUSM 2023 Board of Directors

The UUSM Board met on Tuesday, April 11, 2023, to review monthly reports and discuss other church activities.  Board members attending included President Eileen McCormick, Vice President Norm Richey, Treasurer Vilma Ortiz, Secretary Larry Weiner, and Members-at-Large Michael Monte, Linda van Ligten, Siobhan Braybrook, and Abby Arnold.  Past president Beth Brownlie and the Reverend Jeremiah Kalendae also attended, as did congregation members Teresa Castelli, Sarah Robson, Jacki Weber, Trish Brassard, Karl Lisovsky, Beth Rendeiro, and James Witker.


Call to Order, Opening Readings, and Check-In

Eileen called the meeting to order at 7:04 p.m. Abby did a personal reading from Martin Luther King, and read the First Principle and the Second Source. The Church theme for the month is “Resistance,” so Jeremiah invited attendees to provide a personal check-in, followed by an answer to the question, “How has art shaped your social/political resistance?”


Opening Remarks and Announcements

Eileen reminded attendees to be kind to one another.


Membership Report

Norm reported that we have 265 current members.


Standing Monthly Reports

The monthly standing reports were noted but not discussed. Norm moved, and Larry seconded, that the Standing Reports and March Minutes be accepted as presented.  The motion passed unanimously.


Minister’s Report

In his monthly report, Jeremiah spoke of the emergence of spring and the activity happening around our congregation, including our robust stewardship drive.  He reminded us to breathe, give space, and protect and nurture our relationships to each other.  He further reported that:

  • Our Soul Matters theme for the month is “The Path of Resistance,” including how resistance can be about both obstacles and about bringing new things into being, and it is important to walk this line with good process.
  • We have had four worship services during this holiday season since the last board meeting.
  • The Pastoral Care Team met and received the monthly caregiving reports.  Committee members also talked about ways to provide better hospitality to all as we planned for a Celebration of Life for Helen Brown, which will be led by Kikanza on Saturday, April 25th at 2 p.m. in the sanctuary.
  • The Stewardship Campaign has hit the ground running, thanks to the energy and vision of Jacki Weber and her stewardship team.
  • We have proposed a Spirit Level Grant Request to help fund a Ministerial Specialist for Religious Education and Congregational Life, who will help rebuild the RE program and the congregation coming out of the pandemic. We are looking for a $30,000 matching grant to pay for 50% of this position over two years.
  • Jeremiah was part of the Beverly Hills Bar Association’s Empowering Women Panel, speaking about what was and is unique about UU theology in its support for women and other gender minorities.
  • Jeremiah wrote an article that was published in the Santa Monica Star on “The Blessings of Ramazan.” 
  • The IARAO Commission is helping to publicize and market the UUA Common Read, “Mistakes and Miracles: Congregations on the Road to Multiculturalism.” The Committee is also continuing to explore the adoption of the 8th Principle and the UUA’s Article 2 Study Commission’s recommendations.
  • Jeremiah is working to identify leaders for a reconstituted Right Relations Team.
  • The Committee for Shared Ministry (COSM) is taking a deep dive on stewardship.
  • Reverend Amelia continues to provide her Heart Opening: Embodied Spiritual Practice Circles, which are being enjoyed by many.
  • The Mystical Traditions class continues, co-led by Bettye Barclay and Jeremiah.
  • We are looking at sharing a Shavuot celebration with Santa Monica Synagogue on May 26th.
  • Jeremiah continues to meet with the Santa Monica Area Interfaith Council and the UCLA Hospital Ethics Committee.

In conclusion, Jeremiah thanked the Board for its attention to the work and process of our community as we move towards sustainability, regenerativity, and wholeness in our community during these unique times.  


Treasurer’s Report

Vilma said there were almost no fiscal surprises this month, but there will be an added expense for lighting for the Forbes remodeling. There will also be Zoom meetings for all members to discuss the church budget at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 17 and Monday, April 24. (Vilma’s full report is here.)


Forbes Hall Repair

Abby made her final report before she moves to Sonoma. She said the day-to-day management of the Forbes Hall repairs – and future reports to the Board – will be handled by Johnny Canales. Abby also reported that:

  • The lighting has to be completed before the drywall (the original lighting specs were not to code).
  • There will need to be inspections for disability issues involving the sidewalk and the steps.
  • A display case for the area will come later.
  • The windows on the left side of the doors have been ordered, and will be metal-framed for durability.

In short, she said, there are inspection and supply chain issues, and the bottom line is we need to be patient.


Youth RE

Beth made this report and then spoke of the OWL class camping trip to Ojai this coming weekend.


Peace and Social Justice

James Witker talked about the upcoming LA Interfaith Solidarity March, which will be held on April 30th in the early afternoon. (UUSM was involved at the inception of this event in 2016 to help stem hate crimes in LA.) Rides will be provided for those who want to go. 

The Pride Parade will be held in June and will be another event we can support. 



Jeremiah is working with the Rabbi Shira of Santa Monica Synagogue to create an event for our two congregations to celebrate this Jewish holiday together on May 26, most likely around 7:30 p.m. More details will be provided soon.


Membership Engagement Council

Norm presented the program that is being used at Boulder Valley UU Fellowship in Colorado, which is designed to supercharge a congregation’s membership efforts. The program includes Hospitality Teams, a Buddy Program, Membership List efforts, The Inquirers Series, and Small Groups, which help engage new and old members alike. (Jacki was involved in the research on this.)

During discussion of the subject, many attendees said we need a new culture of engagement, particularly for new people coming to our doors.

Finally, Norm read seven new members into our membership roll: Thomas Hamilton (reinstated), Bronwyn Jones (reinstated), Michelle Demers, Caeli Lynch, Mahdiyyah Ba Wright, Wendy Northup, and Lisa Moran.



Jacki reported that we now have 25 stewards working on the team to talk to all members and empower their relationship to the congregation. 136 people so far have had conversations about this and pledging, and we currently have 30 pledges, representing 40 people, as of last Saturday. The goal is to reach out to everyone on the membership spreadsheet. Jacki asked for volunteers to help with the effort.


Forbes Hall Solar Panels

The board added into the minutes its March 29, 2023 vote by email on the Forbes Hall Photo Voltaic Panels Project.

Beth Brownlie moved to authorize the Board to do an email vote, and the motion was seconded by Vilma Ortiz. It passed unanimously.

Beth also moved that the Board of Directors approve the $24,343.00 contract from Opulent Power Solutions, LLC, to install the 7.49kWdc rooftop solar photovoltaic system.  Vilma seconded the motion, and it passed by a vote of 7 in favor and 1 opposed.


The meeting was adjourned at 8:52 p.m.


Draft minutes used to create this report were provided by Larry Weiner, Board Secretary