Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes of Mount Vernon Unitarian Church

February 14th, 2017


Board members present:                                         

Doug MacCleery – Board Chair

Carolyn Dunlea – Board Vice Chair (via computer)

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

Sarah Soulliere – Program Council Co-Convener


Board Members Absent:

Helen Kitrosser – Youth Member


Others Present:

Kate Walker – Minister

Alice King – Interim Minister

Carol Graves – Church Administrator



Meeting convened at 7:33pm.


Kate shared the reading “One Wish” by Lisa Friedman.


Consensus Items were passed. (January BOT meeting minutes, program council report, minister’s report, administrator’s report, and financial report)


Overview of the Congregational Meeting & possible follow-up

            Over 100 members came to the meeting which was held right after the second service.  The overall tone of the meeting was positive.  The Declaration of Conscience passed unanimously.  Many good questions were asked about where the church is currently.  There was a discussion of church finances following an informative presentation by Al Robbert.


Several BOT members felt it was a good kick off for the Stewardship campaign just getting under way.  Talking about finances after the statement of conscience was a good plan, felt it worked well.

As a side bar to this discussion, it was mentioned that Tom Griffin has offered to teach anyone interested in running a meeting according to Roberts Rules of Order.  Carolyn said she was interested.  Other Board members suggested this could be useful to open up to church members, or even the neighboring community.  Tom would have to be approached with this idea.


Review of Membership Meeting and follow-up

            It was decided that Board members who attended this meeting needed more time to process the information received and that they will then meet again in a couple months to discuss.  Notes from the meeting will be sent out by Kate in the coming weeks.

A couple points were mentioned including the fact that it is important to understand that there is both an upside and a downside to congregational growth, and how those may apply to MOUNT VERNON UNITARIAN CHURCH’s situation.  Attendees felt it was a good, fact-based presentation — but the small group talks could have had more time for discussion.  There was a sense that the congregation has strong confidence in the current leadership of the church.  Many feel that all members should be pledging and that to help the pledging situation, an explanation of the costs of providing services should be clearly provided to members.   Currently, the bi-laws require a contribution of record.  Charging for children’s RE has not been well received, although there is some thought that charging for adult RE may be appropriate.

The current Stewardship campaign is well underway and of interest is the fact that a number of new members are making significant pledges to the church, which is helping to bridge the $20,000 gap between the budgeted and the actual numbers.  Rentals are also seeing a healthy increase of late.

The mailings have all gone out.  There will be no visiting stewards again this year.  Pledging is continuing to be dealt with as a part of new membership.  It is the existing members in the fourth quartile that need to be focused on now.  There is a lot of anxiety about the new approach to pledging by existing members which needs to be addressed.  There are approximately 30 families right now that do not pledge.


Update on the Fiscal Review Task Force

            All options put forth in the Pillars & Foundations report for fixing MOUNT VERNON UNITARIAN CHURCH’s finances have been discussed by the task force.  This task force mak-up may be a good template for a new form of the Resource Council.  It was mentioned that perhaps once a quarter or twice a year there could be a “super” finance committee meeting where additional people from Membership, Stewardship and Endowment would be invited.  Everything needs to be run through the Finance Committee anyway and perhaps this would work better than reviving a Resource Council as previously constituted.


Plans for the Board Retreat

            The annual Board retreat this year will be Friday afternoon/evening June 2nd through late afternoon on Saturday, June 3rd.  The Tinkers have offered their new home in West Virginia as a possible location for the retreat. The Board decided to vote on the location at a later date.


Fundraiser for Starr King School for the Ministry

            This school is one of only 2 UU seminaries in the country, and the school Kate attended.  MOUNT VERNON UNITARIAN CHURCH has been asked about donating the space to hold a reception and fund raiser in October with a presentation by the president of the Seminary.  Carolyn motioned to approve donating our space to be used by the Starr King School: motion was seconded and passed unanimously.


Status and Progress on BOT goals:

Champions of the main BOT goals were given a chance to update the entire Board on the status of the yearly Board goals.

  1. Healthier financial policy- This was discussed at last months Board meeting, good progress is being made.
  2. Congregational Growth – This was also discussed last month, good progress continues to be made.
  3. Evolve Leadership Development Process –

Pam is on the Leadership Development Committee and learning how it works.  Currently there is no overarching plan for leadership development.  Sometimes leadership training happens months or years before a member joins the board, so one thought it to have an “update” training during board retreats.

  1. Support Strong Outreach and Communications-

Have continued work on the website, see notes below.  It is not that expensive to advertise MOUNT VERNON UNITARIAN CHURCH on Facebook and Google ads, this should be looked at more, there just need to be a person willing to do it, someone other than Keith Brophy.



Status of update on MOUNT VERNON UNITARIAN CHURCH Website:

            The meeting went well, ideas and suggestions were well received and some implemented as possible.  There will be items needing action by the Board in upcoming weeks/months.  The next meeting for the website improvement group will be on Feb 20th.  Already the website is looking and running better.



            Pam, Angel Dean Collins and Suzanne Cleary Cohen are working together to brainstorm and plan a spring fundraiser for MOUNT VERNON UNITARIAN CHURCH.  Angel has taken the lead on this and it have been decided to hold a Rogers and Hammerstein musical night, using their program “Some Enchanted Evening”.  This would be held over a weekend, hopefully with 3 shows, Friday evening, Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.  5 dates were proposed, the Board narrowed these down to 2 dates that could possibly work, one in May and one in June.  There is a $750 fee per night for the license to use the music, which will have to be covered.  This plan was enthusiastically received by the Board and the group will continue to firm up plans.



            The dashboard is supposed to give an at-a-glance update on the sense of the health of the church in a clear, simple way.  This topic will be updated at a future Board meeting.


Planning for the Annual Meeting

The Annual meeting has been scheduled for May 7th and it is time to start planning for it.  Most important are the packets that need to be prepared and sent to every member the required number of weeks prior to the meeting Carol is looking for volunteers to help with this.  Every committee is required to submit a report of their yearly work.


Possible conversation with Steve Myles

            Doug received an inquiry from Steve Myles, a member of the Fairfax UU Board about getting 2-3 members of our Board and his Board together to talk about sharing resources.  It was not clear just what the purpose of this would be and Doug has not heard back from him.  It was agreed that we need more information about what he was wanting before pursuing anything.


Unannounced new business

Kate brought up a concerning issue with the security of the buildings.  Recently there have been a number of intrusions into building on church grounds, usually lights being found turned on and doors open and unlocked.  Most disturbing incident involved soiling of the men’s bathroom.  A brief discussion was held about ways to improve the situation.  Over the years, keys have been given to people and now there are likely hundreds of keys out there.  It would be best to have some sort of keyless entry system.  This is the most secure but also the most expensive.  A cost estimate is needed, both for a keyless system, and for simply changing all the locks, or putting up security camera’s.


Sarah took a moment to thank the board for giving her an amazing experience serving with them.  Although she needs to step down due to personal reasons, she wanted the Board to know that she has felt is a privledge to work with us all and has a great respect for the work the Board does.


Meeting adjourned at 9:16 p.m.



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