Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia

Board of Trustees

Minutes of October 21, 2015 Meeting


Marc Drews (Co-President), Sandy Chubon (Secretary), Linda Brennison (Treasurer).  Members at Large: Richard Culler, Donald Griggs, Patrick Saucier, Tim VanDenBerg.  Regina Moody (Past President), JoeLong (Chair Finance Committee), Rev. Jennie Barrington (Interim Minister).

Members Absent: Patty Drews, Phil Turner, Janet Swigler.

Call to Order

Marc Drews called the meeting to order at 6:33 PM.

Chalice Lighting

Regina Moody lit our chalice and provided a reading.  The Trustees reaffirmed our Covenant.

Approval of Minutes

The minutes of the September 16, 2015 meeting were approved with correction of some typos.

Electronic Voting

Early in October Columbia was struck by massive flooding.  UU churches began collecting offerings to send to us.  Questions arose about how to handle that money and other donations for flood relief.  Via email discussion we reached consensus to tell people to put “Flood Fund” on their checks; those monies will be placed in the Minister’s Discretionary Fund so they can be readily disbursed when needed.

Staff Reports

Reports of the Interim Minister, the Administrator, and the Interim DRE were accepted.

Treasurer’s Report

Budget   Linda Brennison reported we continue to have a revenue shortfall.  The negative variance has increased from $5,371.57 last month to $10,793.73 this month.  At this point last year we had a positive variance of $13,835.63.  We have not had any fund raisers during this fiscal year.  Suggestions offered to address the problem: Look at records for the first quarter to see if some members are no longer donating; Encouraging fund raisers for the general fund; Advertising the availability of our rental space (on our website).

UUA Retirement Enrollment   We are beginning the process of participating in the UUA Retirement Plan.  All of our employees (8 individuals) have been informed of this and were given copies of the required enrollment documents on October 11, 2015.  Each employee must fill out a detailed enrollment form and mail it to TIAA-CREF.  On that form they indicate whether they choose to participate.  Each year all employees must complete a salary reduction form which is kept on file at the UUCC.  Rev. Jennie, Keitha Whitaker, and Andrea Dudick are eligible for the employer contribution (6% of their salary).  All employees may contribute as much as they want; we withdraw the amount they designate from their salary and send it to TIAA-CREF.  After everybody sends their forms in, Linda will set up a remittance calendar, setting the dates for us to pay into the retirement plan.  Linda anticipates difficulty in getting employees to complete these required forms which are rather lengthy and contain much personal information.  Questions were raised of whether this is an appropriate activity for the Treasurer.  Should it be done by the Administrator or the Personnel Committee?

Reports of Committee Liaisons

Building and Grounds Committee   Regina Moody reported that the Committee has recruited Peck Drennan (a member of the congregation who is a certified architect) to inspect and evaluate various projects (from the Facilities Assessment Task Force Report) and to give a cost estimate for each project.  After review by the Board, specific projects will be presented to two or more contractors to solicit bids for the project.

Peck Drennan and Carolyn West have conducted an initial inspection of the building.  Mr. Drennan’s initial evaluation is (1) The height and space available in the basement are NOT sufficient to warrant the cost and effort necessary to provide a finished basement.  (2) What is needed in the RE Wing is a modernization of the appearance which might include new lighting and wiring to support it, removal and replacement of flooring, renovation of restrooms, refurbishment of ceiling tiles and additional furnishings such as curtains consistent throughout the annex and rugs in each room.  Priorities would be developed with assistance from the CYRE Committee.

Questions arose during the discussion of this report.  Is Mr. Drennan being compensated?  Is a capital campaign contingent on resolving our negative variance in the budget?

Membership Committee    The New Member Dinner and Joining Service scheduled for October 10 and 11 were cancelled because of the lack of potable water and other aftermaths of the flood.   It will be rescheduled sometime early in 2016.

Social Action Committee   People come to the church on Sundays and weekdays asking for money.  Janet Swigler has proposed setting up a food pantry for needy people.  Nonperishable food that will not attract bugs will be stored somewhere in the kitchen to be given to needy people on Sundays.  The Board requested more information about this proposal.  Questions were raised about whether the food could be stored somewhere other than the kitchen because that area gets very congested on Sundays.

Technology Committee   Donald Griggs reported on the UUCC website.  The Committee has not met to discuss that subject yet.  Donald did receive the disk from Devon Hicks.  They will consider his plan plus some other templates that are available (one from UUA).

UU Coffeehouse   Tim reported that he and Patrick have had discussions about ways to proceed.  The team who are running the Coffeehouse now recognize that things have to be done differently.  Tim thinks they are on track to get something done before the end of the year.  The changes to be made are subtle but significant.  We will revisit this issue later in the meeting.

Personnel Committee   They have five good candidates for the DRE position.  They are looking at references; they may be ready to make a decision later this week.  The final decision of who to hire will be made by the Board.

Worship Committee   Marc Drews reported that they have received some complaints recently about the worship services, the choice of outside speakers, etc.  The committee discussed the complaints.  They do try to offer views from a variety of sources; they use our mission statement as a guide.


Goals for Fiscal Year 2015-2016   The current document has been circulated to Trustees who are asked to share more feedback, more of our thinking about goals and priorities.  We will discuss these further at our November meeting.

UUCC-Hosted Events   Questions have arisen about our liability for injuries that occur during an activity which we sponsor, even if it does not occur on our property.  Sometimes events are advertised as being sponsored by the UUCC when those events are actually created and hosted by a member/friend who invites other members/friends to attend.  Linda Brennison will investigate the Church Mutual (our insurer) website to see what direction they give.

Update of Section of the Budget   Linda Brennison offered the following motion to update a section of the budget.  I move that for purposes of clarity and transparency, the Budget line item, Minister’s Professional Expense, be broken down into individual line items for Salary + FICA, Housing, Insurance, Pension, and Professional Expenses.  There is no monetary change to the budget; some of these numbers were not known when the budget was written.  Richard Culler seconded.  The motion passed.

UU Coffeehouse    At our June 15, 2015 Board Meeting we agreed to suspend the UU Coffeehouse Program Group effective December 31, 2015.  After more recent discussions Tim and Patrick think there are additional options to consider.  Tim presented a motion:  To rescind the decision to suspend UU Coffeehouse Program Group to allow time to further investigate the implications of retaining the UU Coffeehouse within the UUCC entity.   The motion passed.


Start-Up Weekend   This is a UUA-recommended event to set the stage for our interim ministry.  The weekend (January 8-10) will be facilitated by a consultant from the UUA.  It is expected that meetings will be held with the consultant Friday evening, Saturday, and then we would participate in services Sunday morning.  The consultant can help us review the history of our congregation, what parts of it make us feel proud, things we wish we had handled differently, recurring problems, etc.   We will also discuss the appropriate roles and responsibilities of ministers, staff, committee chairs, etc.  We would hope to set the time line for our ministerial search process.  Board members may not need to attend all of the meetings in the weekend but Rev. Jennie asked us to clear our calendars for those dates.

UU Common Endowment Fund   The UUA is changing the legal structure of the UU Common Endowment Fund (UUCEF) to provide a safer investment vehicle for congregations.  This is where our Endowment Fund is invested.  Currently the UUCEF is part of the UUA.  When congregations invest in the Fund, they actually give their assets to the UUA subject to the contractual obligations enumerated in the Subscription Agreement.  This is a risk factor for congregations.  If the UUA were subject to a major claim on its assets, a court could determine that congregational assets be used to satisfy the obligation.  UUA’s legal counsel and auditors recommend that UUA set up a separate legal entity to hold the assets of the endowment, insulating congregations from this risk.  To remain invested in the UUCEF each congregation must sign a new Subscription Agreement and an Operating Agreement by November 30, 2015.  Linda moved that the UUCC give the required consent to continue our investment in the Common Endowment Fund.  Tim seconded.  The motion passed.

Standing on the Side of Love   The UUA is planning to establish a trademark for the Standing on the Side of Love slogan/logo.  They are asking for a one-time payment of $50-100 from congregations using that symbolism.  Trustees agreed to pay the fee.


The meeting was adjourned.

Minutes recorded by

Sandy Chubon, Secretary