The UUSM Board of Directors met via Zoom on Tuesday, December 12, 2023, to review monthly reports and discuss various church activities. Board Members present included President Eileen McCormick, Vice President Vilma Ortiz, Treasurer Rebecca Crawford, Secretary Larry Weiner, Members-at-Large Norm Richey, Linda van Ligten, Trish Brassard, Audrey Erbes, and Past President Barbara Kernochan. The Reverend Jeremiah Kalendae also attended, as did congregational member Karl Lisovsky.
Call to Order, Opening Readings, Check-In, and Opening Remarks
Eileen called the meeting to order at 7:04 p.m. Larry read the Fourth Principle, the Fourth Source, and the following message:
“Bringing more love to the world is the reason for this congregation. We work within ourselves to learn to achieve self-acceptance knowing that we cannot love others without first loving ourselves. We work among ourselves to learn how to create beloved relationships with our fellow congregants that honor our varying beliefs and our individual differences. This we call learning what it means to be human. We work beyond ourselves to use what we have learned to bring peace, social justice, and love to the world. If this work requires us to grow in ways we find uncomfortable we reach out to one another for support. Thus do we covenant with each other.”
Board members also did a personal check-in and answered a question relating to this month’s worship theme: “What has been your most successful means of encountering or staying open to mystery?”
Opening Remarks and Announcements
Eileen reminded participants to raise their hands and avoid cross dialogue, which she said they’ve been very good about. She also asked Barbara to be timekeeper for the meeting, and mentioned that the Board reviewed its covenant at its retreat last Saturday.
According to this month’s Membership Report, current membership is 253, with one new member – Tracy Schuster – added in December.
In the introduction to his monthly report, Rev. Jeremiah introduced this month’s worship theme – mystery – by describing several of the “wondrous stories and rituals of this holy season of mystery,” including “a menorah with only enough oil to burn for a day but it continues to give light for eight days; a child born to a poor mother who is still a virgin; gifts delivered down the chimneys of homes in the wintertime; [and] the final candle of the kinara lit in the name of Imani (faith) in hope of victory after the long struggle for justice.” He said, “We are invited to to wonder before mystery, to suspend disbelief to consider the seemingly impossible! All of these holidays invite us, as religion does at its best, to stretch our imaginations to make room for the miraculous and the wondrous…and I hope you will set sail with us from our small islands of what is known to the vast sea of the unknown in this season of lights. May the illuminations of the many holidays we honor this season help to guide us on our way.”
Jeremiah further reported that:
- We’ve offered four worship services since the last board meeting, incuding: Thanksgiving/Thanxgrieving: Antidotes to White Supremacy Culture (Part II), which continued our tradition of honoring multiples holidays including those with origins in Queer, Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities…The Bible, which continued a series on sacred text services and the ways the Bible has been understood and interpreted in our liberal religious tradition…A Place Called Home, from Rev. Kikanza and reflecting on the many meanings of home and those close to our hearts at this season…and the We Celebrate Light: All Ages Winter Celebration Pageant coordinated by Rev. Amelia as we moved into the holidays with a decorated sanctuary full of members, friends and plenty of holiday cheer.
- Jeremiah met with our Worship Co-Chair and the Worship Associates team in the past month to continue planning services and exploring ways to strengthen and refine the team’s efforts.
- Our Pastoral Care Team and Executive Team met, received pastoral care reports, and prepared for our annual holiday card mailing to members. Pastoral Associates also made themselves available during some of our more difficult services in recent weeks and we were pleased that members took advantage of this opportunity for care during and after services. The team also anticipated some of the fallout after the misconduct information was shared, and the co-chairs made themselves available to anyone in need of support following that distressing news. Finally, our Pastoral Associates began providing a ministry of hospitality and presence at the Celebrations of Life of our members.
- Jeremiah continues to provide spiritual counsel and/or pastoral support to multiple members of the congregation on an ongoing basis.
- Our Board had its annual retreat in December, including an ingathering worship, check-ins, ice breaker activity, mission and vision developmental ministry update, stewardship planning, and planning for settled ministry. Jeremiah thanked Eileen for coordinating the snacks and lunch and said it was a very productive event.
- The congregation gathered for its annual Thanksgiving celebration luncheon on Sunday, November 19th and an enjoyable time was had by all. There was even a multi-religious communion, thanks to Jila, and a great feast thanks to Julie Nyquist and many volunteers, members and friends.
- We now have a slate of candidates for Board appointment to the Mission and Vision Renewal Facilitation Team and have identified two co-chairs to lead this effort on behalf of the Board.
- Jeremiah has been meeting with Consulting Minister Kikanza Nuri-Robins at least monthly to plan worship, prepare for rites of passage, and consult on issues of congregational life. He has also been meeting monthly with Ministerial Specialist Rev. Amelia Mu’mina Marie at least monthly to coordinate congregational activities, explore religious education program development, and plan worship….and meeting with our Senior Leadership Team and Kikanza to receive reports, explore issues facing the congregation, identify pastoral needs, and plan for the future.
- The Committee on Shared Ministry met last month, welcomed Leon Henderson MacLennan into the fold, and explored areas for strategic synergy in the life of the congregation.
- The Intersectional Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression Commission met and is implementing its consulting services to LDNC and RE.
- The work of the Board Policies Team is ongoing, and Jeremiah is consulting with the team.
- Jeremiah met with Beth Rendeiro and they are working to get the Right Relations Team off the ground after the other co-chair had to step back from this work. They have another planning meeting scheduled for the end of January.
- Jeremiah and Eileen prepared and shared, with the help of other local congregations and the UUA, an all-congregation email sharing the recent Ministerial Misconduct Notification, and arranged for pastoral support for members if needed.
- We planned the launch for our fundraising campaign for the Spirit Level Matching Grant for our Ministerial Specialist this month, including a letter to congregants.
- The Santa Monica Area Interfaith Council and Leadership Team met, but Jeremiah was unable to attend due to a bout with the flu.
- We are continuing to explore the possibility of shared space with the Santa Monica Synagogue, and conversations with senior leaders of both communities are ongoing.
- The UCLA Hospital Ethics Committee continues to meet for two hours per month to consider complex ethical cases facing healthcare providers in our community and hospital policy related to ethical matters. Jeremiah has met with the Committee once since the November board meeting.
In conclusion, Jeremiah thanked board members for their “efforts to care for the many dimensions of church life as we heart/brainstorm together and provide strategic leadership to realize our mission and developmental goals,” and said “It was so good to be on retreat with everyone last weekend!”
The Rev. Amelia Mu’mina Marie, our Ministerial Specialist for Religious Education and Congregational Life (MSRE) did not attend the meeting, but her report for the month of November is available here.
In her Treasurer’s Report, Rebecca mentioned that year-to-date pledge income is ahead of schedule, which means there’s also a potential for lower income later in the fiscal year. Dining for Dollars income is also low, she said, and this could wind up being a problem. On the other hand, Rebecca reported, rental income is on track for the moment, but we will need to brainstorm ideas for increasing it once the Forbes Hall entrance is completed. Finally, Rebecca also said Nurit is working on the draft budget proposal for 2024-2025.
Common Read Discussion
This month’s discussion of the UUA Common Read, Mistakes and Miracles, focused on the following questions posed by Eileen and Jeremiah:
- What is the most challenging aspect of All Souls’ story for you and your congregation? What is the most exciting aspect?
- All Souls discovers resources for deepening cross-racial conversations and relationships through the local YWCA. To which organizations in your wider community can you turn for inspiration, accountability, and resources? What steps do you need to take to build your relationships with these community partners?\Does your congregation have a formal commitment to antiracism and/or multiculturalism in the form of a mission or vision statement? How does the presence or absence of this formal commitment affect your work?
- What support systems, either formal or informal, exist for People of Color in your congregation?
Facilities Committee Report
Karl Lisovsky reported on the Committee’s plans to adorn the courtyard with a chalice-shaped planter where the fountain used to be. There will be no cost to the community.
Also, regarding chancel accessibility, Larry moved and Norm seconded that the Facilities Committee prioritize making the chancel more accessible for those with mobility limitations and/disabilities. The motion passed unanimously.
Mission and Vision Task Force
Audrey moved and Trish seconded that the following members be confirmed as members of the Mission and Vision Task Force:
Kikanza Nuri-Robins (Consulting Minister), co-chair
Julie Nyquist, co-chair
Larry Weiner (Board representative)
Sara Rose Robson
The motion passed unanimously.
Forbes Hall Repair Update
Vilma reported that we are getting much closer to completing this project, but are still waiting for city approval of the area leading up to the door. The issue is the slope of the entry and making sure it is accessible.
Board members agreed that they had great discussions at the recent retreat, got a lot done, and that it was a pleasure to actually meet in person.
Endorsement for Amy Brunell
Larry moved and Audrey seconded that the Board authorize sponsorship of Amy Brunell’s seminary training, agreeing to follow UUMA ethical guidelines and to develop a covenant with the minister. The motion passed unanimously.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:36 p.m.
Draft minutes used to create this report were provided by Larry Weiner, Board Secretary. Documents distributed and reviewed at the meeting can be found here.