January 2023 Board Highlights

UUSM 2023 Board of Directors

The UUSM Board of Directors held its first monthly meeting of 2023 on Tuesday, January 10, via Zoom. Board Members attending included President Eileen McCormack President, 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 Developmental Minister Jeremiah Kalendae also attended, along with members of the congregation Teresa Castelli, Trish Brassard, and Karl Lisovsky.


Call to Order, Opening Readings and Check In

Eileen called the meeting to order at 7:03 p.m.  Larry read the Fifth Principle, the Fifth Source, and an additional selection. The Church theme for the month is “finding our center,” so board members did a personal check-in and answered the question “What are three things you are doing now to center yourself?”

After the check-ins, Eileen reminded board members to pay attention to their process and highlighted her own tendency to be “conversational.”  She asked for a little more formality, less crosstalk, less dialogue, and also that attendees use Zoom’s raised hand feature to signal when they want to speak.  



Norm announced that member Susan Marsh has passed away.  We now have 259 members. 


Standing Monthly Reports and Approval of Minutes

The standing reports were noted but not discussed. Norm moved and Larry seconded that the standing reports and December minutes be accepted as presented.  The motion passed unanimously.


Minister’s Report

Jeremiah began his report by mentioning many of the things we’re working on as we come out of the pandemic and back into normalcy, including dealing with an “extreme degree of change with unprecedented community adaptation.”  Discussing Worship, he mentioned holiday services and acknowledged Kikanza Nuri-Robins and Michael Eselun for their contributions.  He also spoke of “comfortably full” sanctuaries and seeing more members, friends and visitors each week. 

Jeremiah also reported that:

  • The Pastoral Care Team met this month and members developed their skills while sending greeting postcards to our congregants.
  • The Bylaws Refresh Task Force is working on aligning our Bylaws with policies needed to make procedures clear…and a Congregational meeting will be scheduled to approve the Bylaws and policies. 
  • Setting up a Healthy Congregations Team may be the best way to resolve conflicts in our congregation.
  • He met with Eileen and friends to help plan the next Board Retreat, which will held be on Saturday the 14th.
  • The IARAO Commission is working on anti-racist and anti-oppressive communication tactics to improve our church image, and also reaffirmed our focus on the 8th Principle, Beloved Conversations, and the UUA’s Widening the Circle of Concern Report. 
  • Reverend Amelia Mumina continues to provide Heart Opening: Embodied Spiritual Practice Circles after the service, and 12-16 people learned about Sufi dancing. 
  • Reverend Emerita Judith Meyer will visit on Sunday, January 15th and a reception will be planned.
  • Staff members had a Winter Holiday Party and all were grateful for the acknowledgement.
  • Karl and Jeremiah met to discuss the design of the new Welcome Signs for Sunday services. 
  • It was decided to experiment with informational slides to be displayed during the service as a recruitment effort for church groups.  The hope is that members will see the slides and jump in to volunteer. 
  • Board input would be appreciated on the placement of the Congregational Award Plaques and the Congregational Painting.
  • Jeremiah continues to meet with the Santa Monica Interfaith Council, suggested that we join with the local Jewish temple for a Purim celebration, and offered our campus for the event.  He also continues to serve on the UCLA Hospital Ethics Committee as a clergy representative and to help with emergency consultations.

In conclusion, Jeremiah acknowledged the Board for its continued wisdom, and predicted good times ahead.


Treasurer’s Report

Vilma reported that income is good, with a couple of large directed and partially-directed donations. She also said expenses are close to predicted levels, and that she now thinks our deficit will be under the budgeted amount of $40,000.



Beth presented letters to go out to the congregation asking for volunteers to be part of the stewardship effort.  


Bylaws Update

Jeremiah said the policies that are being added to the bylaws should only need minor tweaking, and are simply a way of “cleaning up” the bylaws so people will know how things work.  A meeting to approve the bylaws and policies will be held before the annual meeting.  


Youth RE

We will have to decide about hiring a nursery school teacher to provide care for the youngest kids.  If we do this, we would like to see a commitment from parents to bring their children.


Developmental Goals Survey

Board members were asked to fill out their surveys ASAP.


Board Retreat

After a brief discussion considering both COVID-19 and weather issues, the Board decided to hold its upcoming retreat via Zoom.


OWL Fees for Members

After a passionate discussion, Jeremiah noted that many congregations charge their members for OWL.  The consensus was to allow the OWL committee to make the decision.


Reverend Emerita Judith Meyer’s Visit

Judith will visit on Sunday, January 15th.  Linda will organize the food and Eileen will get the ingredients for the Bellinis.  A prayer was offered to the “Fabric God” for the timely completion of Judith’s gift.  


New Business

The Camp de Benneville Pines Committee asked the Board if the weekend of June 9-11 would interfere with the Annual Meeting.  The Board’s consensus preference was that the camp be kept in September because June dates might cause problems for families with children in school.



The meeting was adjourned at 9:10 p.m.


Notes for this report were provided by Larry Weiner, Board Secretary