Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes of Mount Vernon Unitarian Church

March 14th, 2017


Board members present:                                         

Doug MacCleery – Board Chair

Carolyn Dunlea – Board Vice Chair

Amy Venzke – Secretary

Tony Barkume – Board Rep to Personnel Advisory

Bill Gleason – Board Liaison to Stewardship

John Henrehan – Board Liaison to Finance

Jeanne Tifft – Program Council Co-Convener

Pam Koger-Jessup – Past Board Chair


Others Present:

Kate Walker – Minister

Carol Graves – Church Administrator

Al Robberts

Joan Darrah

Keith Brophy

Angel Collins



Meeting convened at 7:30pm.


Kate shared a reading by Marge Pearson.


Consensus Items were passed. (February BOT meeting minutes, Program Council report, Minister’s report, Administrator’s report, and Financial Committee report)


Geothermal Repair

            Joan and Al joined the meeting to talk about the geothermal situation.  They were both on the Board when the contract was signed to install it.  With the malfunctioning of one of the geothermal fields, they are proposing a special fund raiser for April to raise a minimum of $8334, which is the difference between the cost of a conventional unit and the geothermal one.  Al and Joan indicated that this really should have been repaired last year.  With summer approaching, the climate control in the building will start negatively impacting comfort in the Chapel, so it is important to get this fixed asap.


Concerns were raised over asking for additional donations from the congregation right after the annual canvas.  Kate mentioned the need to continue to shift the focus of the church to an atmosphere of giving for generosity and that this may be a way to continue.  There is a small time window in April to be able to drill the wells before a number of scheduled rentals.  The Preschool is already aware of the planned drilling.  Al and Joan indicated that they were so committed to the project that they would personally make up any short-fall if pledges do not total at least $8334.


Jeanne offered a motion to: 1) approve the geothermal project, and 2) initiate a special fund raising effort to raise $8334.  This motion was seconded and passed with one vote in opposition.


Reorganization of Resources Council

            There is a proposal for the organization of a new Resources Council.  The thought is that is would only meet 2-3 times during budget planning times.  It would assist in creating budgets by including members from the Endowment, Stewardship, Finance, Property, Personnel and possibly Membership committees.  There should also be a Board representative.  This new Resources Council work act as a conduit from the Board to committees.  For example, with the Activities Fair last year, not every committee knew about the plan for one in enough time to set up a table.  Tony and Bill are willing to work on how this Council would function, how often is best to meet, etc.


Fiscal Review Task Force

There was a recent FRTF meeting to go through all the recommendations from the Pillars and Foundations report to identify what has been accomplished and what is still waiting.  Among other things, Membership and Stewardship recommendations have been put in place and are working well, having a Volunteer Coordinator was not adopted, the Activities Fair has been implemented and ran well, coffee hour revamping is under way and there is money now set aside for this.  The FRTF will be working on a final written summary of the status of all the recommendations.



            While there is still a great interest and desire for the “Enchanted Night” fund raiser, there are no open dates for this to happen with the upcoming wedding season so it is being tabled until the fall or winter.  In its place, however, Angel Collins suggested a fund raiser to tie in to General Assembly.  This year the GA is taking place in New Orleans and Angel is proposing to have a one-time only event to raise enthusiasm for GA by having an authentic Louisiana crawfish boil at the church.  This would be an afternoon/early evening event, roughly 4 hours long, very casual, low maintenance, family friendly event.  She will arrange for crawfish to be flown up from Louisiana and either have the event catered fully, or do it ourselves.  The equipment need is minimal, (boiling pots).  There will be music, endless beer, lemonade, tea, etc.  There will also be a bar selling Hurricanes (cocktails) by the glass.  This will take place outdoors, in the gardens, one set price per person, for a couple, or for a family.  Cost would roughly be $20-$30 per person for endless crawfish, beer, etc.  Right now the timing is for early June on a Sunday afternoon.  This event would likely not raise more than a couple thousand but with the current state of the budget, we are already expected to draw even, this could be considered and “all fun” event.


Stewardship Campaign

This is now finished, with roughly $480,000 in pledges.  There were approximately 200 pledge units.  48 increased their pledges, 6 decreased.  Of note is that 19 new people pledged and some of these pledges have been quite generous.


Living Our Values

            There is a desire now to have an open conversation to energize the congregation after the statement of conscience last month.  This could help “Now what?” or “How do we build on this?” questions.  Topics to discuss would include social justice issues and opportunities.  Remind the congregation that this is an important election year for commonwealth positions and that there will be re-districting in Virginia this year, which makes the election even more important.  We can be active in voter registration and need to persuade people to get out and vote.  There should be more of a commitment to VOICE, more members going to meetings and keeping abreast of what they are doing.  There is also a desire to involve the congregation in supporting an immigrant family and to sponsor them.  There should be a conversation about what it means to be a sanctuary church.  Finally, Alice hopes to set up a Racial Justice task force in the coming months.


Update on Website

Jeanne, Bill, Doug, and Keith met last month to work in website issues and have asked us to look over the changes made thus far to the website.  The extra eyes have been very helpful and appreciated, there are always things missed when spending ones time in creating a website.  There are several new things that Keith wants to try now, and they are working more on the mobile device access.  All acknowledge that the website must be an ongoing process to keep it current and updated, but also something that does not inordinately consume Keith’s limited time.  They continue to work on a balance of this to draw in new members and satisfy the needs of current members.  The Board expressed its great appreciation for all of Keith’s hard work on the website to date, while also noting that there is still a need for more volunteers to be extra eyes for the improvements.



            This topic will be discussed more at the April meeting.  Snap shot reports from all committees are needed to be sent to the Board, which will then be reviewed and comments sent to Pam about how we think they could be improved.


SBA projects

We were presented with a comprehensive list of all the proposals for projects to be funded by the Susan B. Anthony fund.  After reviewing them, Tony offered a motion that all SBA projects be approved, which was seconded and passed unanimously.


Annual Meeting

Carol continues to work on this, with Jeanne’s help.  They are compiling annual reports from each committee.  All these reports need to be submitted to Carol by March 23rd.  The Program Council is in charge of the annual awards and is looking for nominations.


Karen Rassmussen

            Karen Rassmussen has asked to become an affiliate Minister to MOUNT VERNON UNITARIAN CHURCH.  She is hoping to become a “minister at large.” In order to do this she does have to be affiliated with a UU church.  There would be several small things that she would do at MOUNT VERNON UNITARIAN CHURCH, including a sermon, and filling is as minister for emergency needs when Kate is away.  Actions by the Board is needed to approve this.  Kate simply wanted to introduce the idea to the Board now for us to think over and address at a future   There also needs to be a chance to educate the congregation about how her affiliation will work.  It is important to note that Karen would not be considered a staff member.



This will be postponed for Board acton at the April meeting —  please review and either email or bring questions to Carol.


Kornfeld Estate

Jamie Bobotek, of the Pillsbury law firm will represent us for the transfer of the estate and properties, which may happen in the next few months.  Then the congregation will need to vote on selling the rental properties.


Board Retreat

It was officially decided that it will take place at Wolf Run 2 on June 2-3, 2017.


Reminder of Membership and Stewardship meeting

There is a link from Kate to a drop box where all the documents and notes from the previous meeting are.  Doug also stated that he would bring snacks.  The meeting will be on March 18th at the church.


New business

Kate brought up the question about how much interest is there in officially renaming the church.  There is a movement nation-wide to drop the word “church” in an effort to appeal to the population that does not see themselves are “religious” but rather “spiritual”.  The suggestion has been made to add the word “Universalist” and to change to “Congregation” instead of church.  The idea of renaming MOUNT VERNON UNITARIAN CHURCH is not a new one, this has popped up every so often throughout the history of the church.


Meeting adjourned at 9:21 p.m.



Respectfully submitted, Amy Venzke, Secretary of the Board of Trustees