The UUSM Board of Directors met on March 14, 2023, to review monthly reports and other church activity. 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, and Siobhan Braybrook. Past President Beth Brownlie, Rev. Jeremiah Kalendae, and congregational members Teresa Castelli, Sarah Robson, Amy Brunell, Barbara Kernochan, Jacki Weber, Frances Tibbits, Trish Brassard, and Dan Nannini also attended. Board Member Abby Arnold was absent.
Call to Order, Opening Readings, and Check-In:
Eileen called the meeting to order at 7:03 p.m. Norm did a personal reading, and Eileen read the Seventh Principle and the First Source. The Church theme for the month is “Vulnerability,” so Board Members did a personal check-in by answering one of two questions: “Was vulnerability celebrated, encouraged, modeled, shamed, or punished in your family of origin?” or “What scares you?”
Opening Remarks and Announcements:
Eileen asked the people present to pay attention to process during the meeting.
Joanna Woods-Marsden passed away recently, so we now have 258 current members.
Standing Monthly Reports:
The monthly standing reports were noted, but not discussed. Norm made a motion, seconded by Siobhan, to accept the Standing Reports and the February Minutes as presented. The motion passed unanimously.
Minister’s report for March:
Jeremiah spoke of Women’s History Month, the Lenten season, the Spring Equinox, and the arrival of Ramazan. He also talked about the Launch of the Stewardship Campaign and acknowledged that we have been back in the sanctuary for a year now. He also reported that:
- The Soul Matters theme for the month is “vulnerability.”
- In developmental ministry, we were invited to “transform historical woundedness and the breakdowns in relational networks that sustain a congregation and beloved community into deeper learning, stronger bonds of affection, and a roadmap with which to navigate into a better future for all.” He spoke of using the reset that Ramazan provides to manage his energy and reset his priorities, and invited us to do the same.
- There were four worship services offered since the last meeting.
- The Pastoral Care Team met this month.
- A Special Congregational Meeting was held on February 26th to pass the refreshed bylaws that so many worked so hard to produce, along with he name change that allows us to call ourselves the “Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Santa Monica,” in addition to using our old name that includes the word “Church.”
- The Process Evaluations & Right Relation Team met multiple times to identify ways to improve congregational meetings and ensure meetings are guided by Right Relations principles.
- The Board Leadership Team will meet again to set the agenda for the upcoming Board meeting. This team is meeting weekly to plan and implement an ambitious Stewardship Campaign. (A big thanks to Jacki Weber for her work on this.)
- Jeremiah has met with Nurit, Vilma, Eileen and multiple Board members to do Budget Planning.
- We will be putting together a Spirit Level Grant Request to fund a Ministerial Specialist for Religious Education and Congregational Life. This will be a $30,000 matching grant request that should pay for 50% of the cost of this specialist.
- Jeremiah wrote an article on Ramazan for next month’s issue of the Santa Monica Star. It may become a regular column, given his work with the Interfaith Council.
- The Intersectional Anti Racism and Anti Oppression Commission (IARAO Commission) helped to launch the UUA Common read, Mistakes and Miracles, which will help get us ready for a discussion around the proposed 8th principle.
- The Committee for Shared Ministry did a deep dive into stewardship.
- Reverend Amelia did another Heart Opening: Embodies Spiritual Practice Circle.
- Jeremiah and Bettye Barclay held the first session of their “Mysticism and Spiritual Practice 4-Course Series,” which was attended by 20 members and friends.
- Jeremiah and Jacki Weber will lead the next session of the Leadership Development Series on March 18th.
- On March 29th, Jeremiah will present “Liberating the Theological Imaginations” at a Beverly Hills Bar Association “Combating Sexism Through Religion” webinar.
- Jeremiah is helping Rabbi Sira of Santa Monica Synagogue plan their Shavuot Celebration on May 26th.
- He continues to work with the Santa Monica Area Interfaith Council (SMAIC) and the UCLA Hospital Ethics Committee, which is currently considering new controversial policies and practices in medicine.
In conclusion, Jeremiah thanked the board members for all they do, and invited them to join him in “articulating new rhythms this Ramazan that serve our community in non-anxious, loving, spacious, and sustainable ways.” (Jeremiah’s full report is available here.)
Vilma reported that she is concerned about what will happen next year at the church. She and Jacki said stewardship is really more about “taking care of things around our beloved church” than it is about raising money.
Women+ Community Charter:
After Jacki solicited questions about the charter, Beth moved and Norm seconded that the Women+ Community charter be ratified. The motion passed unanimously.
Spirit Level Grant:
Board members discussed seeking a Spirit Level Matching grant for $30,000, to be raised over two years, to fund a Ministerial Specialist to help us with Religious Exploration and Congregational Life. Vilma moved and Siobhan seconded that we apply for a Spirit Level Grant as noted above, and the motion passed unanimously.
Jacki Weber presented a proposal for a robust stewardship campaign. She said every congregant will be involved, and we will have lots of conversations about the congregant’s comfort level with any deficit. Jacki also presented charts tracking our financial situation, including our expenses vs. revenues, over the last five years.
She said the path forward requires us to create a budget that reflects our congregants’ involvement and wishes. She also presented a chart showing our current levels of giving, and how many households are above average, near average and below average in their pledges. The aspiration, she said, is to have everyone still connected with UUSM pledge at the best level of their ability.
The Drive will run for five weeks starting March 26th. There will be messaging from the pulpit every week, and also a weekly email to all congregants. We will have 20 trained stewards. Every congregant will sign up for one of the following three events: a one-on-one talk with a steward, a cottage meeting on Sunday, or a facilitated house party on any day of the week. We will have a celebration on April 30th.
Jacki presented four questions that every congregant should consider:
- Are you giving your fair share?
- What will it take for you to get there?
- How generous can you be?
- Can you give a one time special gift?
She also offered a timeline leading up to March 26th:
- Starting now, budget drive materials will be developed and distributed.
- Starting now, we will recruit stewards and house party hosts.
- Starting March 19, we will begin 1:1 conversations.
- Steward training begins March 24 at Vilma’s.
- The Drive kicks off with Patio Chats on March 26.
Jacki also presented a sample newsletter article, and more ways to calculate a pledge that’s right for you. She then listed several commonly asked questions (“Can I volunteer instead of pledging?” “Can I earmark a pledge to a particular program?” and “Whom should I contact for more answers and information?”) and provided suggested answers for each.
Jacki wrapped up her presentation with a list of weekly activities from now through April 30, including weekly stewards’ meetings and logging progress on the pledge drive spreadsheet, weekly pulpit messages (TBD), the management of pledge forms by Esther, weekly updates from Eileen, Jeremiah, and Vilma via emails to our congregants, weekly newsletter articles by Sarah highlighting individual members’ stories, and planning of the April 30 celebration.
Shade Structure Repair:
It was reported that a vote on a motion to fund the repair of the shade structure covering was taken via email and passed unanimously.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:09 p.m.
Draft minutes used to create this report were provided by Larry Weiner, Board Secretary