The UUSM Board of Directors met on Tuesday, December 13, to hear reports from church staff and committees, and to discuss various aspects of the church’s operations. Board Members attending the meeting included President Eileen McCormack, Vice President Norm Richey, Treasurer Vilma Ortiz, Secretary Larry Weiner, and Members-at-Large Michael Monte, Linda van Ligten, Siobhan Braybrook, and Abby Arnold. Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae also attended, as did congregation members Teresa Castelli, Amy Brunell, Roberta Frye, James Witker, and Jila Tayefehnowrooz. Past President Beth Brownlie was absent.
Call to Order, Opening Readings and Check In
Eileen called the meeting to order at 7:03 p.m. Jeremiah read the Fourth Principle and the Fourth Source, and a reading of his choice. The Church theme for the month is “wonder,” so Board members did a personal check-in and responded to a prompt to “Share an early experience of wonder and how you might let more wonder into your life.”
Norm read our new members Victoria Nichols, Mathew Sugden, Supriya Knair, and Rafael Ibay into our membership rolls. He also announced that Philip Siddons has resigned his membership. We now have 260 members.
Standing Monthly Reports
The Standing Reports were noted but not discussed. Abby made a motion, seconded by Norm, to accept the Standing Reports and the November Minutes as presented. The motion passed unanimously.
Jeremiah began his report noting that “wonder” was the month’s worship theme, and then spoke about the holiday season and how thriving congregations are finding a way to do what is most needed and important.
Addressing Worship Life, he gave a brief overview of the five services we have had since the last Board meeting, and praised the Worship Associates’ Retreat that was held on December 3rd.
Jeremiah also reported that:
- The Pastoral Care Team met and is planning a holiday card outreach.
- The Bylaws Refresh Task Force recommended adopting the latest version of the Bylaws.
- This month’s Leadership Development seminar was led by Jacki Weber and himself, and they talked about the difference between spiritual leadership and other forms of leadership.
- We now have a newly formed Committee for Shared Ministry, which met this month to finalize its charter.
- The Intersectional Anti Racism and Anti Oppression Commission (IAROC) met to discuss many things, including the 8th principle, Beloved Conversations and the UUA’s “Widening the Circle of Concern” report.
- We are beginning to plan in earnest our Stewardship Drive for the coming year.
- There has been discussion about Administration Planning, and identifying the needs and limitations for future staffing and our staff transition in the new year.
- About a dozen members and friends seemed to enjoy Rev. Amelia Mumiana’s “Heart Opening” Embodied Spiritual Practice Circle.
- We are once again meeting to do Staff Appreciation and Birthdays.
- Jeremiah also continues to meet with the Santa Monica Interfaith Council, and he will serve on the Holocaust Remembrance Committee this year. He also continues to serve on the UCLA Hospital Ethics Committee.
In conclusion, Jeremiah wished everyone a happy holiday season and a blessed New Year, and expressed his and the congregation’s gratitude for the Board’s leadership.
In her report, Vilma said our finances remain on target, though the ongoing loss of rental income continues to be a concern.
Norm announced that a generous donor plans to give us $5,000 for Youth RE, because she so appreciates the religious education her children received in the program years ago.
We are now within $3,600 of fulfilling the Spirit Level Foundation Matching Grant for the Arizona Avenue entryway project, and we are keeping extra cash on hand to pay the contractors as the work progresses.
The end of the year stewardship letter has gone out to church members. Eileen said she has requested that Board members each agree to call 10 members of the congregation, and — using a script that will be developed for the calls — chat about how people are experiencing their relationship with the church and church activities. Board members also discussed requesting assistance from the Nominating Committee and the Membership committee. Callers will use the membership spreadsheet to keep track who has been reached, along with comments from those members.
The Board discussed presenting the Bylaws revisions to the congregation, as well as the fact that policies still need to be created for areas where they are mentioned in the Bylaws but not currently approved.
Larry moved, and Norm seconded, that the Board 1) affirm the Bylaws committee’s recommendations, 2) send the recommendations to the congregation, and 3) schedule a special meeting in January or February to discuss the recommended Bylaws with the congregation. The motion passed with one abstention (Linda van Ligten).
Youth RE Update
Beth could not attend the meeting but submitted a report.
Developmental Ministry Goals
Board members were asked to fill out a questionnaire on this topic, so it can be discussed at the Board Retreat in January.
The group also discussed the January visit from our Minister Emerita, Rev. Judith Meyer, and agreed to make it a very special occasion with gifts.
Board Liaison reports
Roberta Frye, from the Peace and Social Justice Committee, encouraged the Board to move forward with having the congregation affirm the UUA’s 8th Principle, and to vote on the matter at the annual meeting in June.
James Witker said the Adult Programs Committee is looking into offering a workshop by Professor Shelley Tochuk, who would speak on her highly acclaimed book, Witnessing Whiteness: The Journey into Racial Awareness and Anti-Racist Action. He also reported that the UUA Common read for this year is a book called, Miracles and Mistakes, about building a multiracial, antiracist congregation. James said the Adult Programs Committee will also look at creating a program around this book. Both offerings, he said, will empower members of our congregation to be clear about what is at stake when they vote on whether or not to adopt the 8th Principle.
Committee for Shared Ministry Charter
Abby moved, and Norm seconded, that the Board establish this committee and accept its charter. The motions passed unanimously. This will be an advisory committee, and so far Jeremiah, Jacki Weber, Kikanza Nuri-Robins, and Bettye Barclay have stepped forward to serve. Others will be invited, too.
Gratitudes were expressed and the meeting was adjourned at 9:15 p.m.
Notes for this report were provided by Larry Weiner, Board Secretary