Board Update – April 2024

The Board of Trustees met on Tuesday, April 9, 2024 with all board members and the Finance Committee Chair present.  Two church members also attended the meeting.  

Highlights From Minister’s Report:

Rev. Ian reported on Ministry.  He introduced the next sermon series for the season called “The Awakened Life.”  This topic builds on the last series which explored “What has to Die For You to Reborn?” and addressed “the theme of asking what needs to be let go of in order to make room for the new church you are becoming.”  [link to pages announcing these series on websites]

Rev. Ian shared two resources on change and change management from the Alban Institute at Duke Divinity School. One is a tool called the  Rollercoaster of Change which “ is a model that identifies a natural sequence of feelings and relationships that are a part of change.” He also shared a short video in which the Rev. Dr. Gil Rendle outlined this model at the UU General Assembly in 2007. The Board reviewed this video and recommends both of these resources to members of the congregation.

Rev. Ian reported he has been working on budget planning and adjustments with the Board, Finance Committee and Compensation Task Force to bring Lora Powell-Haney on board as a full-time Interim DRE, to hire a Children’s Choir Director, and to bring all of our staff up to the Fair Compensation standards recommended by UUA.  

Rev. Ian also reported that Tami (Church Administrator) has been working with our landscapers to prepare the grounds for the wedding season, helping Board member Robin Roberts prepare for the arrival of River Farm Forest School in June, coordinating with Board member Jan Speakman for the upcoming Congregational Meeting and dinner on May 19th, and helping with planning of the In Full Bloom Auction on May 11, 2024 with Auction Team leads Karen Delmonico and John Speakman. 

Board Action Items:

The board voted on three items:

  1. Finance Committee Chair Al Robbert presented a budget proposal and three different employee compensation alternatives.  The Board voted on and approved the alternative proposed by the Board’s staff compensation task force that uses UUA’s geoindex 5 salary guidelines for the coming budget year. Next year we plan to move to the geoindex 6 guidelines. The Board notes that the Endowment Bylaw change (below) would need to be approved by the Congregation to access the $103,104 from the Endowment Fund allocated in this budget.  
  2. The Endowment Committee proposed the following bylaw change to the current bylaws:

Expenditure of Endowment Funds as authorized by the Board 
a. The Board of Trustees may authorize use of principal or earnings of the Endowment fund for general church operating or capital expenses, except that:  

1. in any fiscal year, such use of funds may not exceed 4% of the total value of the Endowment Fund as of December 31 of the previous calendar year; and  

2. the use of such funds may not reduce the total value of the Endowment Fund to less than $1,500,000.  

3. Either or both of these restrictions may be suspended in any fiscal year by an affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of voting members present at a congregational meeting convened in accordance with Article 5 of these bylaws. 

This language would replace two clauses in the current bylaws.  This change allows the use of endowment funds for operating and capital expenses with specific guidelines.  Here are the two sentences it replaces:

Annual appropriation, for use by the church, of appreciated assets (if any) after adjustment for inflation.
In addition, the committee shall be specifically restricted from transferring to the church any part of the adjusted principal of any endowment fund.

The proposed Healthy Relations Team Charter was approved by the Board. The inaugural membership of this team: Lisa Napier, Neil Parekh, Renee Yuengling, Jamie Scholzen, and Brian Lounsbury, participated in a course provided by UUA last fall. This work has been undertaken as part of MVUC’s efforts to grow into a safe and healthy congregation. “Safe Congregation” policies began to be put in place at MVUC starting well before the pandemic and work has continued through our interim ministry years and into this new era of ministry and (hopefully) growth. (For general information about the importance of safe and healthy relations work in a congregation, see: https://www.uua.org/safe/handbook.)

MVUC’s new Healthy Relations team will be responsible for educating the congregation on how to access their insights and services and what sorts of questions or issues the Team is designed to help with. The purpose of this team is the following:

  • To serve as an educational resource to support the development and keeping of MVUC’s Covenant of Healthy Relationships.
  • To facilitate the well-being of the MVUC community by fostering benevolent relations, and “creative conflict skills” within the membership. 
  • To be visible and available as a listening ear to provide facilitated conversations with willing congregants of MVUC who experience interpersonal conflicts. 

Note that healthy relations work in UU Congregations is focused on relationships between church members and is not meant for addressing governance or ministry issues with the Board, professional staff, or Minister. 

Other Board Discussions:

Governance Model Rollout 

The Bylaws Task Force team has started meeting informally with various church groups to review how the new bylaws are designed to help with smoothing the transition to a more organized Policy Governance model. This transition has also been underway at MVUC since well before the pandemic and started under our previous settled minister. Plans are to meet with each Committee, Council, and Team to share information about this model. Having a good understanding of the model will help members better understand the proposed changes to the MVUC bylaws that will be voted on in the fall.

River Farm Forest School

River Farm Forest School (RFFS) will start occupying Hollin Hall in June, with classes starting in August. We look forward to welcoming this community to the hill and to finding ways to engage with them whenever our missions and programming overlap. 

Reserve Study

Several years ago, the Board began regularly reviewing a property update and maintenance plan based on Reserve Study that was done years ago by Ralph Stump. This reserve study needs to be updated so that the church can get a better understanding of upcoming (and unavoidable) property expenses and develop a plan for meeting them. The Board noted that current members of the Building and Grounds committee would be useful in helping with this task.  The development of a taskforce charter and possible team members who could carry out a new Reserve Study will be discussed at the next Board meeting.   

Next Meeting Tuesday, May 14, 2024 at 7:00 PM in the Commons.