Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia

Board of Trustees

Minutes of January 20, 2016 Meeting


Marc Drews & Patty Drews (Co-Presidents), Sandy Chubon (Secretary), Linda Brennison (Treasurer).  Members at Large: Richard Culler, Donald Griggs, Patrick Saucier, Janet Swigler.  Regina Moody (Past President), Joe Long (Chair Finance Committee), Rev. Jennie Barrington (Interim Minister).

Members Absent: Phil Turner, Tim VanDenBerg.

Guest: Peck Drennan.

Call to Order

Patty called the meeting to order at 6:30 PM.

Chalice Lighting

Janet Swigler lit the chalice and presented a reading.  The Trustees reaffirmed our covenant.

Approval of Minutes

The minutes of the December 16, 2015 meeting were approved with two minor corrections.

Staff Reports

Reports from the administrator and the DRE were accepted.

Interim Minister Update

Appraisal of Interim Process Update   Rev. Jennie shared her completed Appraisal Form which included some history and background about the congregation.  A block of time was spent discussing Rev. Jennie’s assessment.  Members’ forms were collected by the Secretary who will compile them to be submitted to Boston.  Her compilation will be shared with the Trustees before it is submitted.

Reflection on the Start-Up Weekend   Start-Up Weekend was held January 8-10, facilitated by Marguerite Mills.  First, Rev. Jennie asked what Trustees thought went well.  Comments were that attendance was good, better than expected; the meetings were well-facilitated, respectful; the food was good and the expenses were well under the budgeted amount.

Next Rev. Jennie asked what Trustees would like to change about the weekend.  Comments included: too much time spent on covenant, they wanted more small table discussions, some people could have spoken up more, there was a disconnect between Friday evening and Saturday morning, people felt they were expected to shout across the room their greatest joy or disappointments, it was not clear what the covenant was, the presentation/discussion about what kind of church we want to be was glib and an insult to the extensive writing which has been done on the topic.  Some trustees felt the process was ill suited for a group of that size, the open discussion left people feeling they didn’t get to make comments they wanted to, the process was described as too open democracy.  Surprise was voiced about the amount of time used to discuss music during worship services.  Some attendees thought Rev. Jennie’s sermon on Sunday was more helpful than all the discussions on Friday and Saturday.

Update on Ministerial Settlement Weekend  which is scheduled for March 5 & 6, 2016 with the Rev. Ann Marie Alderman as our consultant/facilitator.  She will meet with the board on Saturday evening to provide direction about our role in the process of searching for and selecting a settled minister, particularly our responsibility in working with the search committee.  On Sunday morning Rev. Alderman will preach and after service we will have a meal and she will explain the process of selecting a search committee and how the congregation participates in the search process.

Treasurer’s Report

Linda Brennison reported that the total revenue shortfall for the fiscal year to date is $5,505.31, a significant decrease over last month’s shortfall of $9,138.30.  Expenses are slightly under budget (2%).  Staff Compensation and Committee expenditures are under budget.  Operating expenses are on target.  The improvement in pledges received probably indicates that people donated more before the end of the calendar year for income tax purposes.  Statements were sent to members for calendar year 2015.

Pledge Drive

Joe Long reported that the annual canvass will begin February 28.  The Finance Committee is planning to have cottage meetings in members’ homes during the first half of March.  To date, he has 20 people who have committed to host a cottage meeting.  He will be asking trustees to attend the cottage meetings.

Building Renovations

Peck Drennan presented drawings and more information about building renovations.  He reported again that there is asbestos in the social hall ceiling and in part of the ceiling in the RE wing.  Both of these areas can be covered; sheet rock would be used in the RE wing and a dropped ceiling in the social hall.  New lighting is needed in the RE hallway along with new hardware for the doors and possibly some new doors.  An electrician is coming this week to look at the whole project and give suggestions about electrical updates.

Peck reported there are major air quality control issues in the RE wing.  There are several tests needed to test for substances (mold and spores) in the air (cost $1,400-$1,500).  The duct work needs cleaned; equipment will be placed in the air space to scrub it for three days (cost $3,425).

Another issue we will need to address is how to create separation between the sanctuary and the social hall.  Various kinds of dividers are available, curtains with acoustical properties which could be moved to various spots to vary the size of each space.  Peck suggested that we consider a glass wall with doorways on each side and in the middle; the one he looked at cost $14,500.  No decision has been made about how to use the sanctuary stage area.  It was suggested that space could be transformed into a crying room with one-way visibility and audio.

Questions were raised about how long price estimates will be good.  Peck thinks they are good for at least a year.  A question was raised about how long the work would take.  Peck estimated that it could be done in 8 months.

Committee Reports

Social Action Committee   Janet reported that Sej Harman and Cheryl Soehl are helping distribute/publicize our Statement on Syrian Refugees to the larger community.

Technology Committee – UUCC Website   Donald Griggs reported that Caroline Eastman plans to send the board, in the next week, some kind of time line.  Considerable frustration was expressed by several people because the new website is not up and running.  In her monthly report, Rev. Jennie commented that “UUCC needs a website that is accurate, up-to-date, easy to read and navigate, and that presents UUCC in a positive way to the congregation and wider community.”  The issues and delays with the website constrain her and other people’s ability to fully do their best work.  She expressed concern that our pledge drive and search for a settled minister will be less successful if these problems are not remedied soon.  Regina said the people working on the website are having difficulty figuring out how to adapt the framework UUA uses and we have adopted.  They need to eliminate some categories/headings and make other adjustments which require judgment about the template.  She strongly suggested that the Board name an Advisory Group to help make those judgments.  Other Trustees with previous webmaster experience insisted that the problems won’t be solved by an advisory committee which is another level of management.  After considerable discussion Linda moved that Marc and Patty select an ad hoc group to accelerate work to get the website up and running.  Richard seconded.  The motion passed with two votes in opposition.


UUCC-Hosted Events   This item on the agenda was deferred until the February meeting.


Congregational Poll    The UUA is asking congregations to vote on Congregational Study/Action Issues (CSAIs) to be added to the 2016 General Assembly agenda.  One will be selected and adopted for four years of study, reflection, and action.  The four proposed for this year are: a national conversation on race, the corruption of our democracy, climate change and environmental justice, and ending gun violence in America.  A ballot will be emailed to Board Members tomorrow and we are asked to respond promptly.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:47 PM.

Action Items

Below are the action items to be followed up at the next Board meeting.

  1. In February Tim VanDenBerg will present the recommendations of the ad hoc committee on UUCC-Hosted events.
  2. Marc and Patty will select and charge an ad hoc group to accelerate work to get the website up and running.

Minutes recorded by

Sandy Chubon, Secretary