Church Council Meeting: October 30, 2019

Meeting Highlights

1. Committee chairs created a brief overview of their priorities for 2019-20. These are available for the interested reader.

2. The Shared Ministry Review was represented as a document that offered some important direction for First Parish. A brief summary of that document is available as well.

3. Responses to the question: “How is the transition is going?” varied. A number of members felt that the tone and tenor of the parish is much more relaxed and optimistic. Opportunities to contribute to parish life seem very present as is a greater sense of liveliness and fun. The Transition Team finds people willing to talk openly about their aspirations and the congregation seems to be engaged in the process of change. The awareness of the need to make changes around accepting and supporting more diverse points of view seems to be present.

On the other hand, some feel that there remain some challenging conversations to be had and differences of opinion within the congregation. These are particularly around spiritual values and congregational priorities. In addition, there is a sense of urgency regarding membership numbers and church finances that some feel, and others do not, but which need attention. These will be priorities for discussion by the Transition Team.

It is fair to say that the group had initial difficulty embracing this topic from a personal point of view. Eventually there was more open and personal discussion of how each member viewed their experience of the transition. The congregation will depend on this type of personal reflection to continue its preparation for the search for the new minister.

4. Opportunities for FPL to increase its engagement with the Greater Lincoln Community in order to increase membership are critical to identify. There was a sense of sadness and loss among a number of those present as they talked about those who have become disconnected or disenfranchised. With this, the group again addressed the challenge that FPL has with creating opportunities to encourage discussion and to resolve differences of opinion. The ‘centrifugal force’ noted in the SMR that invites members to spin off from the church in the face of disagreement seems to be a part of the church’s history from walking down the street to a new building to leaving Concord. Nonetheless, there was a sense that this dynamic doesn’t serve us well. Some thought will be given to how the church can reach out more to the diaspora to reconnect and, hopefully, to invite them back.

A good model for community engagement exists in the OWL program; it provides a necessary service for parents who enroll their young people. While this is not worship nor, exactly, religious education, the program engages the community around a need that they have in their family. There are more opportunities for this kind of engagement to happen around family life and parent concerns that could be developed into a regular series. Likewise, activities such as the music program, adult lectures on social and justice topics can be grouped into appealing series that could draw new people to the church. Some of these activities are happening, but they would benefit from greater organization.

5. This group agreed to convene again in early January and in the spring.

Nick Covino for the Parish Committee

Parish Committee: October 2019 Notes

The Parish Committee met on October 18, 2019.

Dwight Gertz and Tim Moynihan were unable to attend. Rev. Rankin, Peter Sugar (Facilities), Ralph Smith (Personnel), Sarah Andrysiak (Generous Giving), Gert McDermott (Administrator), Becca Fasciano, Chris Hamilton, Ken Hurd, Kathy Huber (Transition Team) were present.

Summary of Business

The PC voted to increase the hours of Sarah Klockowski to allow her to assume the responsibilities for Youth Ministry that had been budgeted in RE, but unfilled for some time.

The Personnel Committee has been diligently at work under Ralph Smith’s direction. This group was involved in the reworking of Sarah’s position and creating a methodology and process for evaluating our Interim Minister and Parish Administrator. As part of the latter, the job description and scope of the Parish Administrator will be updated and revised as appropriate. The PC heard productive reports by the Transition Team, Facilities Committee and Generous Giving.

Facilities

Peter Sugar (Facilities Chair) reported on several projects that the committee is managing. The playground project has work to be done in terms of visioning and scope. Questions about public versus private use need to be resolved first by the Playground Planning Committee. These have implications for equipment and cost. Design issues also need resolution. The Playground Committee needs to evaluate the possibility of a supervised ‘Community Construction’ project versus a professional one. Also, the PC will reach out to see if the town is interested in partnering in creating a public option. A meeting of the Parks and Recreation Committee will schedule a discussion for this.

The parking lot has one bid for its repair that is approximately $22k-28k. Three bids would be optimal, and the additional bids are being sought. The Roof Project is to follow the same process of soliciting three bids. The Facilities Committee will pursue that along with the possibility of bringing Air Conditioning into the Parish Offices.

Transition Team

The Transition Team met with the PC to review their plan and to discuss avenues for collaboration, in addition to the timeline and outline that was distributed. The group thought that a discussion of Parish Finances, Settled Minister’s Salary, Parish membership and size, and the use of FPL’s financial resources would be important to address. This will be scheduled in keeping with the TT’s outline for discussion.

The TT feels very engaged with the Parish as it moves forward to select a new Settled Minister. They feel the enthusiasm of the congregation and its openness to examining ways to improve and to evolve. The TT would like the Search Committee selected by May, 2020, and they would like the compensation package for our new minister in the same timeframe. This falls to the PC to accomplish.

Generous Giving Plans


Sarah Andrysiak presented a thoughtful and thorough plan for Generous Giving that relies on creating multiple ways of engaging the congregation. A number of parish members have volunteered to advise and collaborate with Sarah as she creates opportunities for visiting, meeting in small groups and listening to the parish about their various ways of supporting the growth and work of FPL.

The parish will soon learn about the Generous Giving plans for the year.

Church Leaders Meeting

In an effort to increase collaboration among church committees, a meeting of the Church Committee Leaders will take place on October 30 at 6:00pm. This meeting will hear about the priorities that each committee has before them and discuss how each can further the general aim of engaging the greater Lincoln community in order to increase church membership.

Personnel

In addition to increasing Sarah Klockowski’s hours to include responsibility for youth ministry, the Personnel Committee has developed a structure and method for evaluating the job performance of both Pastor Rankin and Gert McDermott. The latter will also address the questions about the Parish Administrator’s job definition and scope in that were raised in the Annual Report. The Personnel Committee is, also, working on rewriting the Personnel and Policies Handbook.

There is one open position on the Parish Committee that is being addressed.

Meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m.

Respectfully,

Nick Covino for the Parish Committee

Parish Committee: September 2019 Notes

The Parish Committee met on September 18, 2019. Dwight Gertz and Karin Levy were unable to be present and Rev. Rosemary Lloyd filled in for Dwight to present an update on the Governance Task Force. Rev Rankin, Gert McDermott and Sarah Klockowski were in attendance.

As mentioned earlier, the PC is making an effort to connect more regularly and easily with the parish and its committees.  The list of PC Liaisons is below. Should you have business related to one of these functions, please be in contact with one of these members who will bring relevant concerns to the PC or to the relevant party. 

Committee Liaisons

Finance                 Chris Andrysiak
Personnel                                                                          Carrie Marotta
Youth ProgramsJean Welsh
FacilitiesTim Moynihan
Deacons, Music, AdministrationNick Covino
Generous Giving, Transition TeamRL Smith
OutreachPriscilla Damon
Membership and Community EngagementKarin Levy
Governance Task ForceDwight Gertz

The PC met after church on Sunday September 22 to hold an Open Meeting with the Parish

Summary of Business

The PC voted to returnthe title of the current “Membership Committee” to its original “Welcoming Committee” to reflect its current function.

The PC Voted to receive $60,000 of excess funds from FY19 Operations (i.e., last year’s budget) and transferred this total to the FY20 Operating account.

Treasurer

Mr. John Krzywicki (Treasurer) reports that the first two months of the fiscal year have been right on track.  With Generous Giving pledges last spring finishing short of what is required to cover the budget; a new position in Community Engagement likely to require additional funds to be successful (note; it did not exist last year when the FY20 budget was prepared); and the usual uncertainty regarding pledge collections, John has proposed some guidelines to manage a tight budget. Small (<$500) requests/requirements for funds to cover expenses not included in the budget (exclusive of Capital Expenses) can be presented for review to the Treasurer or the Parish Administrator. Those that seem to be ‘one time’ and that do not establish a ‘precedent’ for future funding will be seen in a favorable light. Larger items will be examined in light of available funds, rebalanced from other lines where possible and against the need to finish the year with a positive balance. The PC has authority to exceed the budget by $25,000, but it aims to keep expenses in line with the Parish Approved Budget.

John’s analysis of unused funds from prior years finds, not surprisingly, that the majority of the excess funds were from unspent salaries from unfilled positions. These positions are currently filled (e.g., Student Minister, RE, Community Engagement/Adult Programming) which means that the Treasurer, Parish Administrator and PC must manage this year’s budget very closely. It also means that next year’s budget is highly likely to be larger than FY20.  

Community Engagement/Adult Programming Coordinator

Sarah Klockowski joined the PC meeting to introduce herself and to speak a bit about her programs. Sarah has both an MA in Biblical Languages and an M.Div. degree with a specialty in Social Ethics. A former Youth Pastor and High School Educator, Sarah is already working to fulfill the Shared Ministry Review’s charge to create more ‘outward facing programs.’ Moving to her new home in Medford, she is excited to begin her work with First Parish.

Rev. Jenny will be Sarah’s supervisor and a small advisory group of Carrie Marotta and Chris Andrysiak will provide a sounding board as this position evolves.

Facilities

The Facilities Committee has been very active.  Unfortunately, there are three significant projects that require repairs that are likely to exceed $200,000.  These are the Parish House Roof, the Play yard, and the parking lot. In addition, Tim Moynihan reports that the committee identifies another 6-8 smaller projects (e.g., doors).  There are limited Capital Expense funds (near that $200,000 level) to cover these repairs.

Next month, Facilities Chairman Peter Sugar will report on the scope of the necessary work and present the plans and costs acquired from the relevant construction companies for this work.

Governance Task Force

Rev. Rosemary Lloyd presented an update of the work of this committee. The group has been meeting through the summer, reading Hotchkiss’ Governance and Ministry. They echoed the SMR findings that there is need to clarify roles, responsibilities and authority as well as to codify committee charges, volunteer roles, staff responsibilities and church policies. These members will make their report and recommendations to the Parish Committee next month. These ideas will be sourced through the parish in a thoughtful manner before coming to the PC for any required ratification.

Transition Team

Throughout this year the Transition Team will be exploring with the congregation questions like: Who & What is The First Parish right now?; Who are our neighbors? and What is our mission and the core values that will guide us into the future?

These will be the foundation for the document that the parish prepares to introduce itself to potential Settled Ministers.

The SEARCH COMMITTEE will be selected by the end of this year and it is the likely author of this document. At this point, the PC intends to ask for recommendations from the parish of members for a Search Committee and it will appoint three additional members to ‘round out’ a team of 7.  More on this to come.

Personnel Committee

This committee has been hard at work preparing job descriptions; recruiting, interviewing and hiring new staff; creating processes for a review of the Minister and FPL Staff. Several of these reviews have been completed by Rev Jenny with input from relevant others.  The question raised in the Annual Report regarding the scope and responsibilities of the Parish Administrator will be examined by this committee with assistance from several parishioners, Rev. Rankin and the Parish Committee. The parish is in debt to Ralph Smith, Carrie Marotta, Gus Browne and Jane O’Rourke.

Concluding Thoughts

  1. The FPL Green committee did a significant service for the Parish.  They built a proposal in keeping with the most popular priority from the survey of the parish of two years ago: Addressing Climate Change and the Environment. Their proposal for Solar Panels was impressively written and researched (with demonstrated cost-savings for the action) was presented clearly at two PC meetings. This team coordinated closely with the Generous Giving committee, including holding an evening meeting to discuss how to partner. FPL Green volunteered to fundraise for the project in a manner that did not compete with the Annual Pledge Drive. They raised funds from non-church colleagues, made personal gifts and, thus far, has raised about 60% of the cost of the panels.  This effort was not required. These members have been stewards of an important value of the parish and responsible partners with the church in conducting business and developing an asset that will save money and the environment.  The congregation says: “Amen.”
  • Volunteers are needed. The Religious Education program still has too few teachers. if you have the ability to share your values with our young people, please contact Elizabeth Kelly (Youth Programs Committee) or Margit Griffith, (Director Religious Education) as soon as possible.  The Touch of Christmas Fair has ONE LEADER who needs a partner and committee members for this important event.  Mentoring is available and the commitment to lead this effort can be limited to This Year only.  Please let Karin Levy know if you are able to help. Focused Task Forces always need help to gather information and deliver short products.  A Review of the “Safe Congregation Policy” that might include a talk by the Lincoln PD on Active Shooter Actions and a variety of updates to parish documents needs helpers.  Let me know if you are interested and have time to write, talk, and help.
  • The PC will hold a Leadership Retreat in October to draw committee chairs and other parish leaders together to discuss goals and strategies for the year.  This will be planned in the next two weeks.

The next official meeting of the Parish Committee is October 16 at 6:00.  The PC will hold a planning phone call on October 3 at 2:15.

  • Nick Covino, Chair, for the Parish Committee

Parish Committee: August 2019 Notes

The Parish Committee met for the third time this summer to address some of the pressing business of First Parish and to queue up some of the work for the upcoming year. As we wrote in June, the PC will be making a strong effort to communicate its work with the parish.

A note such as this that summarizes some of the main themes of the discussion will follow each meeting. There are point people from the Parish Committee assigned to key committees within the church. Should you have business related to one of these functions, please be in contact with one of these members (not the PC Chair!) who will bring relevant concerns to the PC or to the director of the small committee.

Committee Liaisons

a. Finance:  Chris Andrysiak
b. Personnel:   Carrie Marotta
c. Youth Programs:   Jean Welsh
d. Facilities:   Tim Moynihan
e. Deacons, Music, Administration:   Nick Covino
f. Generous Giving, Transition Team:  RL Smith
g. Outreach:   Priscilla Damon
h. Membership and Community Engagement/Adult Programming:  Karin Levy
i. Governance Task Force:   Dwight Gertz

Summary of Business
The PC voted to appoint Peter Sugar to become the Chair of the Facilities Committee and Thornton Ring as a new member. It, also, approved the hire of Sarah Klockowski, M.Div, MA as the church’s first Community Engagement/Adult Programming Coordinator.

Community Engagement/Adult Programming Coordinator
Sarah Klockowski has joined the First Parish as our first Community Engagement/Adult Programming Coordinator. Sarah has both an MA in Biblical Languages and an M.Div. degree with a specialty in Social Ethics. A former Youth Pastor and High School Educator, Sarah has a passion for faith-based community engagement, spiritual development and community building. The Personnel Committee, in keeping with the recommendations of the Shared Ministry Review to create more ‘outward facing programs’, expanded the ‘Communications’ role that Kathy Harvey-Ellis filled so well to provide leadership and a resource to help FPL be more connected to the greater Lincoln community with hopes to increase church membership. Rev. Jenny will be Sarah’s supervisor and a small advisory group will provide a sounding board for them as this position evolves into the right shape.

You will learn more about Sarah and her work shortly. Please welcome her to this new leadership position.

Parish House Playground
A combined Task Force with members from the PC, YPC, Finance, RE and a few parish experts will work with the Facilities committee to create a plan to renovate the church play yard. At this moment, the play yard is closed for safety reasons while the committee envisions a renewed space and develops a budget to support it. There are structural as well as design issues that preclude ‘clean-up/fix-up’ self-generated initiatives. The Task Force will move as swiftly as it can, but this project will take, at least, several months to design and several more to build.

The PC has asked for a monthly report from the Task Force and it will share the progress of this Task Force with the congregation.

Outreach
Larry Buell provided a review of the activities of the Outreach Committee last year. In addition to the energy of the FPL Green initiative that brought Solar Panels to the Parish House Roof and raised 2/3 of the funds to pay for them, there were a number of community engagement projects (Capital Improvement and Transformative Innovation grants) that were detailed in the Annual Report of First Parish. Larry added a final tally of the financial disbursements from Outreach for 2018-19 that were not completely covered in the Annual Report due to timing. Gifts to the community from the Preston Fund totaled $81,240. Larry and Melissa Brooks created a report to the Parish Committee that we will find a way to archive and make available. The PC began a discussion that it will have with ALL committees around how each can contribute to the goal of more closely engaging the greater Lincoln community with hopes to increase church membership.

Communications
Jennie Morris has generously agreed to help us to both train Sarah to be able to deliver the important “Communications” vehicles of First Parish and to help us to maintain the Web. This will be a bit of a work in progress as Sarah’s position will be focusing on programs and helping FPL to connect more vibrantly to the greater Lincoln area. Jennie, Rev. Jenny and the PC will continue to monitor the church’s needs in this area. Thank you to Jennie for her flexibility.

The PC voted to approve $4,296 for web design and maintenance for this year.

Treasurer
Newly elected Treasurer John Krzywicki reviewed the budget for the end of FY19 and looked ahead to FY20. With help from Gert McDermott, they identified the historical Over/Under areas of the budget for the past four years. While the variances are quite small, they can total as much as $50,000 in a year with ‘unfilled positions’ leading the way.

With the help of the Finance Committee, John will look to identify several budget areas to monitor more closely.

Concluding Thoughts

1. This year’s budget is quite tight. We are programmatically blessed with a full complement of staff and we are fiscally challenged with very little discretionary revenue for the upcoming year. Not only is it unlikely that there will be funds available from unfilled staff positions, these new, key, positions will require additional financial help to be successful.

The Transition Team and the new Community Engagement/Program Coordinator, in particular, are engaged in critically important work for the parish that will require additional funding to be successful. The Parish Committee will draw upon the small reserves from FY19 operations, as discussed at the Annual Meeting, but we see a need for the Parish to make time this year to review its relationship with finances.

2. Volunteers are needed. The Religious Education program is about to begin and there are too few teachers. While we will make an effort to address this in a more strategic fashion, if you have the ability to share your values with our young people, please contact Elizabeth Kelly (Youth Programs Committee) or Margit Griffith, (Director Religious Education) as soon as possible. The Touch of Christmas Fair is, also, looking for two leaders for this important event. Mentoring is available, but it will be optimal to have these positions filled by the next month.

3. The main goal of this, and the next few, years is to increase membership at First Parish. This is only going to happen over time and as a result of some intentional work.

There is a great story to tell about the strengths of this congregation that needs to be shared. By becoming a stronger part of the work, values and cares of greater Lincoln, we can have an opportunity to make a difference and, hopefully, invite our neighbors to worship and to work more closely with us. This is a priority for all members, leaders and committees. The PC will convene a longer meeting to invite parish groups and parishioners to plan this out, sometime in the fall.

The next official meeting of the Parish Committee is September 18 at 6:00.
Nick Covino, Chair, for the Parish Committee

Parish Committee: Summer 2019 Notes

Dear First Parish:

The Parish Committee (PC) met on July 31 and invited the FPL Deacons to discuss our common work.

Present were Nick Covino (Chair), Chris Andrysiak, Priscilla Damon, Karin Levy, Carrie Marotta, Tim Moynihan, Jean Welch. John Krzywicki (Treasurer), Peter Watkinson (Secretary) and Gert McDermott (Parish Administrator) were also present, along with seven Deacons including the Chair, Deanna Laferriere. Dwight Gertz and RL Smith were unable to attend.

What follows is a summary of some of the discussion.

Deacons
Among the strengths of FPL is the energy that individual members are willing to invest in supporting the parish community. The discussion was divided between a focus on strengthening the Deacon’s role and increasing FPL’s investment in community engagement.

As is the case with many of the committees and positions at First Parish, there is little written information to orient, direct or guide the work of the Deacons. The ‘job description’ is only a few aspirational sentences in the By Laws and the functions are, largely, transmitted through oral tradition. While the lack of structure is appealing to some and much of the work can be intuited or managed, it leaves newcomers without a sense of direction and an absence of ‘process’ when challenges present. The members feel a responsibility to ‘support the minister’, but there is no ‘contract’ for that relationship nor are there policies and procedures in place to resolve differences when they emerge.

Some deacons expressed wish to serve First Parish in a more pastoral role. Several reported that the position can, often, feel limited to event production and providing impressionistic PR reports to the pastor, rather than engaging in something spiritual. While this role needs some definition and, perhaps some funds for training, they point to the significant demands on a solitary minister in a sizeable parish, and the opportunity to add value to the spiritual life of the church as opportunities to rework the Deacon’s role.

The Deacons will take these issues up within their group and with Jenny for further development. The Deacons remained for the PC meeting and their input on Community Engagement will be included below. The minutes from the Deacons monthly meeting will now be shared with the Parish Committee.

Playground
The Task Force on the church playground (with membership from the YPC, Facilities, PC and RE) has decided to pursue a “repair” option rather than an expansive and expensive rebuilding effort. Appraisals to refurbish the space are being gathered and they are scheduled to be presented to the PC at its August 28 meeting.

General Business
The Parish Committee has appointed each member to be a liaison person to the larger of the church committees and organizations. Anyone with business that should come before the PC or who wants a consultation from it should work with the following:

Church Committee PC Liaison Church Committee PC Liaison
Finance Chris Andrysiak Youth Programs Jean Welch
Personnel Carrie Marotta Facilities Tim Moynihan
Generous Giving RL Smith Deacons, Music Nick Covino
Outreach Priscilla Damon Transition Team RL Smith
Governance Task Force Dwight Gertz Membership, Communications Karin Levy

The PC voted to:
a. Endorse the appointment of Becca Fasciano to the Transition Committee;
b. Allocate up to $1,000 to procure free standing air coolers for parish offices.

The Transition Team hoped that Becca would serve the term of a departing member and she has agreed. Since the request for office air-conditioning was not included in the budget and it would require significant construction to account for the inability of the office windows to accommodate a unit, approval was given to obtain a few free-standing cooling units from the limited general funds. The Governance Task Force has been collecting information, reading and meeting through the summer. In a brief report to the PC, it noted plans to bring a Draft Document on Revised Parish Governance to the August 28, PC meeting and to hold listening sessions with the parish in September. This Task Force has lost a member due to time demands from other sources, but since its work will be completed in a month, a new member was not appointed. The Personnel Committee has interviewed several excellent candidates for the Adult Education and Community Engagement Coordinator and it expects to have a person in place to begin work by the end of this month. [Ed. Note: An announcement about the hiring of Sarah Klockowski for this position went out with the August 7th News Brief.]

The Parish Committee will meet monthly at 6:00 PM in the Stearns Room and it will hold a telephone conference call in between sessions as needed. The schedule for the regular meetings for the upcoming year is:

August, 28

September 18

October 16

November 20

December 18

January 15

February 26

March 18

April 15

May 20.

The PC, and an occasional committee partner (e.g., Deacons, YPC) will meet after Sunday services at 11:30 on September 22; November 10; January 26; March 22 and May 17 (with Finance Committee).

Community Engagement
The balance of the meeting was given to discussion of Membership. There was agreement about both the need to prioritize Community Engagement as the path to increasing membership and that this effort will take several years to be successful. Several themes emerged from an hour’s discussion:

• How can the church increase the happiness of our member families?
• Can the Touchstone Services return with more frequency, structure and an accessible schedule?
• There are several opportunities to attract people to the parish (e.g., Live at Lincoln Center, Family Dinners, METCO/MCC function) and it would be optimal to have a strategy for more successfully ‘engaging’ those who come.
• Can FPL’s ‘story’ and ‘offerings’ be better told to the community?
• Can FPL both become better about sharing its benefits within the community (e.g., small groups, Outreach) and renew its energy to join and partner with existing town organizations and causes?
The PC will continue this discussion with leaders of the various committees in early September.

Volunteers Needed
Two or more leaders are required to head the Touch of Christmas Fair. There are experienced ‘coaches’ available to provide direction. Most standing committees, especially Facilities, are in need of help from those who wish to serve.

The next meeting of the PC will take place on August 28 at 6:00 in the Stearns Room.

Respectfully,

Nick Covino for the Parish Committee

Nominating Committee: Nominating Slate for 2019-2020

Nominating Committee Slate

The Nominating Committee is pleased to present the following slate of members to be elected at the Annual Meeting of our church on Tuesday, June 4, 2019.

Officers

Moderator 1 year Barbara Sampson
Treasurer 1 year John Kryzwicki
Assistant Treasurer 1 year Mary Briggs
Clerk 1 year Peter Watkinson

Board of Deacons

Member 3 years Gus Browne
Member 3 years Heather Ring
Member 3 years Tom Risser
Member 1 year Andy Clark
Chair person 1 year Deanna Laferriere

Parish Committee

Member 3 years Priscilla Damon
Member 3 years Dwight Gertz
Member 3 years Karin Levy
Chair person 1 year Nick Covino

Nominating Committee

Member 1 year Tom DeNormandie
Member 1 year Alexis Jette Borggaard
Member 1 year Sylvia Perry
Member 1 year Barbara Sampson
Member 1 year Ray Shepard

(Note: Elected members in mid-term are not up for re-election; their names are not included above.)

Submitted by the Nominating Committee: Tom DeNormandie, Alexis Jette Borggaard, Sylvia Perry, Ray Shepard and Barbara Sampson