Parish Committee Meeting: June 2020

June 17, 2020

Members in attendance: Nick Covino (Chair), Chris Andrysiak, Priscilla Damon, Dwight Gertz, Carrie Marotta, Tim Moynihan, R.L. Smith, Jeani Welsh, Peter Hussey, Jane O’Rourke, Jessica Packineau

Ex officio: John Krzywicki (Treasurer), Jenny Rankin (Interim Minister), Sylvia Perry (Clerk)

Staff and Guests: Ralph Smith (Chair, Personnel Committee), Gina Halstead (Co-Chair, Transition Team), Chris Andrysiak, Mary Helen Lorenz (Chair Adult Programs Committee and Anti-Racism Task Force), Ken Hurd (Anti-Racism Task Force)

The PC met through ZOOM to discuss several important issues:

  1.  Carrie Marotta shared an Opening Poem:  “A Litany for Survival”, by Audre Lorde.
  2. Nick Covino introduced new Parish Committee Members and thanked retiring colleagues. Priscilla Damon, Ray Shepherd, RL Smith are cycling off of the Parish Committee.  Peter Watkinson is stepping down from the role of Clerk.   Nick expressed deep gratitude for these individuals for their service on the PC and expressed thanks for all of the work they have been involved with this year and throughout their time on the PC.  Nick welcomed newcomers to the Parish Committee, Peter Hussey, Jessica Packineau and Jane O’Rourke.  Collectively they bring experience and wisdom to the PC, and have been involved in the life of FPL in other capacities including YPC, finance, welcoming and hospitality committees, safe congregation committee, and personnel. Sylvia Perry is starting as the new Clerk.
  3. Motion made to approve Minutes from May PC Meeting, submitted by Peter Watkinson. Minutes approved.
  4. Interim Minister Jenny Rankin reported on Current Events at FPL.  She reports that we are in good shape as we head in to the summer and have held together remarkably as a community through this challenging time.  She expressed thanks for church staff and the safe congregation committee for all of their work this year, especially in managing the transition from live to online church.  She is grateful to all involved in the “staying connected” efforts including phone tree, Friday afternoon tea, and other programs.  FPL said goodbye to Meredith and Gert, and celebrated and honored the long tenure and contributions Gert made to the day-to-day operations of FPL. Summer services  will be led by Sarah, Margit and the Deacons. The Anti-Racism task force is very energized and will be active through the summer. Church Buildings will stay closed through Sept 1. Jenny said she will be working with the Deacons and Transition Team to gather feedback on virtual FPL, online services and programs, and try to evaluate what is working and what might be desired.
  5. Jeani Welsh provided an update from the Safe Congregation committee. A discussion was had around summer camp programming if the church is closed. We acknowledged that this is an opportunity to offer programming and a social community for kids when so much has been canceled.  The committee agreed they would need to hear a proposal with specific operating procedures in the next 2 weeks at which point Jenny is on summer recess. 
  6. John Krzywicki provided a Treasurer’s Report.  He reported we are running a bigger surplus than expected surplus because we are shut down.  We have 90% of pledges in at this point.  We are expecting a 96-98% rate of completions on the pledge drive by end June and this is consistent with past years.  We are aware of potential for market volatility given the current public health and economic crisis.  At the next PC meeting, John will provide a wrap up of the past 12 months. He also offered to provide a tutorial on the FPL budget for any PC members, old and new.
  7. Ken Hurd and Mary Helen Lorenz provided an update on the Anti-Racism Task Force and made a motion to display Black Lives Matter Banner on the front of the church.  At this year’s Annual Meeting and at the forum hosted by the Anti-Racist Task Force, we posed the question of what could The First Parish of Lincoln do to raise awareness and become part of the solution to purge the cancer of systemic racism that has metastasized throughout our society. We asked two questions: When folks look back 20 years from now, how do we want the First Parish to be remembered for what we did in 2020? What actions might we take to make a difference in our community and in our nation? The Anti-Racist Task Force would like to propose that, as a faith community, we seize the moment and fulfill our Call to Ministry by announcing to Lincoln that we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
    Ken shared an artistic rendering of the banner and reviewed feedback received from congregants on this proposal. Overwhelmingly people (~57 people) were in favor but some (5) people were concerned about politicization of this  issue. It has been endorsed by a number of committees including Community Engagement Task Force, Deacons, Outreach, Welcoming, and YPC.
    Ken shared a November 1963 Resolution on Racial Injustice. On November 13, 1963 a Special Meeting of the Congregation voted for this resolution to the By-Laws of The First Parish in Lincoln:
    “Recognizing racial injustice as a major social problem, we the people of the First Parish in Lincoln reaffirm our faith in the ultimate dignity of all mankind, men and women of every race, welcoming them into the membership of our church; and, as part of the Service of All for which our covenant unites us, we resolve to devote our minds and efforts to the Christian task of correcting racial injustice and helping those whose lives have been burdened and limited for generations by discriminatory treatment.”  
    A Motion made to agree to purchase and display a Black Lives Matter Banner temporality until such time as church regroups in person.  Motion was approved.
  8. Gina Halstead provided and update from the Transition Team.  For the past two years, the Transition team has focused on welcoming and establishing the Interim minister, gathering feedback from the congregation, managing through changes brought by the coronavirus pandemic, and current events around racial justice.  Looking ahead to the next 2 years, the Transition Team plans to solidify and declare our values, hold more conversations around who as a congregation we want to serve and help, and establish a mission and vision statement to help guide FPL prepare for search for new Settled Minister. Goal is for Search Committee to be announced by April 2021 and to have a budget in place for the new minister salary  by June 2021.
  9. Chris Andrysiak highlighted some financial modeling work and strategic decisions around growth to get to sustainable fiscal model. He proposed a financial and strategic planning exercise in conjunction with the work of Transition Team.
  10. Ralph Smith provided an update on the new Parish Administrator.  Her offer letter will be mailed this week and we have put together a draft onboarding plan.  She will plan to be in the office 5 days per week and will be able to work with Gert 8 hours per week, split in 2 increments. Members of this committee will be asked to be part of her orientation.
    Ralph also provided an update on Sarah Klockowski.  Jenny reports that she has  decided to enter the ordination track to become a UUA minister.  We propose that FPL adjust her contract to include ministerial duties in addition to her current communications and tech role. This would be a Full-time, year-round position and Jenny endorses this proposal and financial commitment.
    Motion was made to make this change to Sarah’s position to fulfill duties both as a ministerial intern and continue in her other FPL roles in communications and technology. Motion passed.
  11. Tim provide a quick updated from the Facilities Committee.  The Roof, Driveway, and other grounds projects are all being worked on and in good shape.
  12. John Krzywicki provided update on 3 recent Outreach Committee requests for distributions:
    1. South Sudanese Enrichment for Families is a small Lincoln-based nonprofit with close FPL ties and a regular recipient of annual Outreach grants and the sole organization that serves the needs of one of the most under-resourced and vulnerable immigrant groups in eastern Massachusetts: the South Sudanese community of some 100-150 individuals.  Its programs and finances have been upended by the COVID crisis. The Outreach Committee therefore requests PC approval of a grant to SSEF of a maximum of $2000.
    2. $24,000 Preston Transformative Innovation grant to Massachusetts Rivers Alliance
    3. $5000 Preston Emergency grant to the Lincoln Council on Aging.
      Motion to approve $31,000 as requested for these 3 recommendations. Motion approved
  13. Nick proposed the PC reviews and revises FPL’s process for Outreach Requests and Charitable Distributions.  He also requests the current committee members consider church committees for which they will serve as liaisons, and that we examine the process for how we populate committees in general.

Meeting adjourned at 7:30 and the PC went in to executive session.

Minutes submitted by Sylvia Perry, Clerk

FPL Council of Committees Meeting: April 2020

April 29, 2020

Attendees: R.L. Smith, Tucker Smith, Gina Halsted, Kim Buell, Larry Buell, Sarah Andrysiak, Joan Mansfield, Gary Taylor, Janet Boynton, Mary Helen Lorenz, Mimsy Beckwith, Stephen Brand, Dwight Gertz, Terry Green, Rosemary Lloyd, Deanna Laferriere, Peter Sugar, Ralph Smith, Nancy Henderson, Jennie Morris, Barbara Sampson, Margit Griffith, Jenny Rankin, Sarah Klockowski

The Council of Committees is a gathering of people who are ‘Chairs’ of major church working groups.  Some of these are the YPC, Welcoming, Outreach, Finance, Facilities, Personnel, Generous Giving among others. The aim of this group is to gather 3-4 times each year to share thoughts about the state of First Parish. While the main purpose is to facilitate communication about the life of the church, this group extends the governance functioning and oversight of the parish by raising issues that should receive greater attention.

At this meeting three questions were presented for discussion.

  1. How are we (First Parish/Lincoln community/ourselves) doing? What is going well?

A general feeling of appreciation was expressed to the Staff and Deacons for their creativity with online worship. It is comforting to scroll through names of attendees and it feels centering to be connected on a Sunday morning. Many people who were not attending pre-COVID or who have moved away are now attending Zoom services. Virtual Coffee Hour is going particularly well. The group, also, expressed their gratitude for the Ladies’ Tea, Music from the familiar Sanctuary, and the work of committees that is keeping the Parish business in order.

Dr. Stephen Brand reflected on the impact of the crisis on those in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, especially those that are understaffed and underfunded. Over one half of COVID-related deaths in MA have occurred in assisted living facilities. Discussion ensued about how the church might respond to this need. Suggestions included:

  • Expanding the successful phone tree to include those in nursing homes
  • Collecting gently used laptops and iPads for those living in isolation without means of tuning in to Zoom programs
  • Writing letters and postcards to nursing home residents.

Terry Green and others expressed concern for Lincoln youth, particularly our upcoming graduates. Dwindling of school year, lack of closure and commemoration, etc. What resources can First Parish offer parents looking for things to do with children at home? Jenny mentioned other vulnerable groups such as LGBTQ youth, young adults who have recently moved, etc.

Jennie Morris noted that she has seen visitors to our Zoom worship services and is wondering about how the Welcoming Committee and FPL in general can welcome visitors in a virtual forum. Larry Buell reported that the Easter Offering to be distributed to local charities was among the largest in recent history.

 If you have the ability to help with any of the above, Sarah Klockowski can be your first line of further information and volunteering.

  • What would we like to see First Parish do for summer activities/services?

The strong consensus of the group was to have some kind of Sunday Service continue throughout the summer. The Deacons are in the planning stages of this worship activity and they are open to creative ideas and help. Breakout rooms have been a successful vehicle for informal interaction and a livestream of the church has been comforting to some. A new initiative called “The Gathering Project” is in the planning stages, more Forest Bathing trips and outdoor worship services were proposed as ways to connect over the summer. Deanna Laferriere is the point person for offering ideas and help with delivery.

  • What work do we want to do internally this summer given the decision to extend the transition period?

This was the question that generated the greatest energy. The principal issues remaining for the Transition discussion, prior to the selection of a new Settled Minister, have to do with: Mission, Important Relationships in the Community, and Vision for the Future. In particular questions about: “Who is our neighbor?”, “What do we as a church stand for?”, “Why do we do church?” and “How has this pandemic influenced our future?”

A good number of points were made about how to move our priorities from discussion and occasional action to establishing roots and relationships with community partners and important issues like race, income inequality and poverty. There are important issues to clarify regarding the ‘right size’ of the congregation, what we can afford in the way of resources and what our financial responsibility to the church should be. Several felt that clarity about these issues of mission, vision and values will be important factors in securing the right Settled Minister and engaging more members.

Jenny reminded us that “people are watching us” to see where First Parish puts its feet and its money during the COVID pandemic. This is an historic opportunity to define the values of First Parish.

Contributions to this discussion should go to RL Smith and Gina Halstead who chair the Transition Team.

Nick Covino, for the Parish Committee

Parish Committee Meeting: April 2020

April 15, 2020

Members in attendance: Nick Covino (Chair), Chris Andrysiak, Priscilla Damon, Dwight Gertz, Carrie Marotta, Tim Moynihan, R.L. Smith, Ray Shepherd, Jeani Welsh

Ex officio: John Krzywicki (Treasurer), Jenny Rankin (Interim Minister), Peter Watkinson (Clerk)

Staff and Guests: Gert McDermott (Administrator), Ralph Smith (Chair, Personnel Committee), Gina Halstead (Co-Chair, Transition Team)

The PC met through ZOOM to discuss several important issues:

  1. Appreciation was expressed to Rev. Rankin and, especially, the staff for their creative response to the healthcare crisis. In addition to maintaining a pastoral presence in our community, we have benefitted from a creative response to Sunday worship that has provided connection and comfort for members with a good deal of imagination and innovation. Jenny proposed that the PC consider a more engaged summer program for the church, given the disconnection that the coronavirus crisis has created. She and the staff will present a few ideas to the May meeting.
  • A detailed Audit on the First Parish Playground was completed by consultants from Beals and Thomas. Their analysis revealed numerous structural concerns and safety hazards in the current playground. Although the playground is “Closed” it can easily be entered by a motivated person who might become injured on the fragile structures. They, therefore, recommended: “the playground should be closed for the foreseeable future and access should be prevented. The playground should not be re-opened until the identified hazards are addressed with the necessary repairs, or the playground is reconstructed, and equipment replaced entirely.”In keeping with this recommendation, the Parish Committee Voted to allocate sufficient funds from the Capital Budget ($18,000) to remove the current playground structures to mitigate the potential danger to the public.
  • Mr. Ralph Smith reported that the search for a new Parish Administrator is ongoing, but it is challenged by the current crisis. The committee has the assistance of a recruiting firm and the position will be posted this week. Mr. RL Smith has been working with a small committee to collect relevant documents from members that should be part of an official record of the church. Ms. Gert McDermott is working with RL to ensure that her files are passed along to the new person. In addition, Ralph is working with the Finance Committee and Treasurer to review the parish’s benefits package for its employees. A recommendation on this is expected at the next meeting.
  • The Facilities Committee asked the Parish Committee to Vote to continue to keep the church buildings closed until advised by the Governor.
  • Treasurer Krzywicki reported that pledges seem to be coming in well and that FPL will most likely end the fiscal year with a slight surplus. All committees and administrators have been working to conserve the church’s capital while attending to the needs of operations and the community as appropriate.
  • The Parish Committee voted in favor of the Charter for Task Force on Community Engagement and Service. This ad-hoc Committee will serve throughout the current health crisis to evaluate ways in which FPL can respond to the needs of the greater Lincoln community.
  • The majority of the meeting in Executive Session was devoted to the Search for the Settled Minister. The Parish Committee Voted to extend the Interim Ministry period by another year.

Several factors influenced this action. The COVID-19 crisis has impacted the work of the Transition Team, even though that group has been working diligently for the past weeks. Several issues remain to be discussed that many felt would benefit most from face-to-face discussions. Travel restrictions and sheltering-in-place requirements were seen as potential limitations on the ability of the Search Committee to review and evaluate candidates. Some, also, felt that the health crisis might artificially limit the pool if ministers decide to stay-put. With these conditions, it seemed prudent to allow additional time to complete the Interim work of the parish and to position the Search Committee for greater success in the selection of a new minister.

Rev. Rankin is committed to helping FPL to complete its Interim work and position FPL to conduct a proper search for a Settled Minister. With this important work still to be done, she is not interested in deviating from her current role. Discussions with Rev. Kron, Transition Director for the UUA, have supported this direction and Jenny and the Personnel Committee are in discussion about extending her Interim Ministry for another year. The plan is to form a Settled Minister Search Committee next spring.

Meeting adjourned at 8:35 p.m.

Nick Covino

For the Parish Committee

Parish Committee Meeting: March 2020

March 18, 2020

Members in attendance: Nick Covino (Chair), Chris Andrysiak, Priscilla Damon, Dwight Gertz, Carrie Marotta, Tim Moynihan, R.L. Smith, Ray Shepherd, Jeani Welsh

Ex officio: John Krzywicki (Treasurer), Jenny Rankin (Interim Minister), Peter Watkinson (Clerk)

Staff and Guests: Gert McDermott (Administrator), Sarah Klockowski, Margit Griffith, Meridith Jeremiah

The agenda of the evening covered two important areas:

  • How are we helping and how do we help the parish and the greater Lincoln community to manage this health care crisis?
  • What are the business/organizational issues that require the attention of the governing body? 

Less pressing issues were tabled to concentrate on the above.  With other groups available to meet the pastoral and community engagement issues of FPL, the PC focused first on the business/organizational issues that are its primary responsibility in this dual healthcare and financial crisis.

Staff were first invited into the meeting to let the Parish Committee know how they are doing.

Rev. Jenny expressed her gratitude for the staff who have been working around the clock to figure out how to work in a whole new world. Gert is work is working well from home and is managing the business affairs as well as can be expected. Margit said RE without a classroom is challenging, but she can engage children and families to connect and to learn from home. Sarah feels blessed to be working with this congregation and has been busy with providing communication and tech support for the Sunday service and other responsibilities.

Business and Organization

John K (Treasurer) provided a 30-minute outline of our current financial position, the forecast for FYE20 and a brief look forward to the budget planning process. The key elements of his presentation were:

  • FPL will most likely end the fiscal year with a slight surplus.  Magic Garden is closed and there may not be revenue from them, in the near future. Revenue from Sunday Collections will be down due to the move to the online church service, although people are free to contribute electronically. Nonetheless, the church operating budget looks like it will finish positively.
  • The investment accounts of the church, as with the rest of the country, are significantly depleted. This argues strongly that the PC acts to preserve the invested funds.

The PC moved to take every appropriate action to preserve the parish’s financial capital until further notice. Action on this motion means that:         

The Facilities Committee will refrain from projects that are not urgent or that do not have a signed, binding, contract. The rationale for this is both to preserve the value of FPL’s invested funds and to undertake construction when prices will likely be more favorable. The Roof Project is both necessary and under contract, but the Playground and some of the smaller projects will continue to be planned so that we can move to construction when prudent. Mr. Sugar (Facilities Chair) has been consulted and will work accordingly.

Priscilla Damon who is the PC Liaison will be joined by Jeani Welsh to meet with the Outreach Committee to review its plans for distributing financial awards this spring. The aim of this review is to balance any acute need for support with the opportunity to defer awards until the stock market makes a correction.

Even with the need to preserve capital, the PC moved to continue payment to its RE instructors and several Independent Contractors through this crisis. While several of our instructional programs are suspended (e.g., OWL) it was felt to be respectful and right to continue to honor these smaller contracts to dedicated professionals. A small token payment was authorized to thank the Sunday child-care workers, if necessary. The fact that the current year has been managed well and that it is forecast to have a positive balance at year-end allows for this generosity.

The PC moved to create a Document Collection Initiative to gather all relevant FPL governance, organization and business materials into one place. RL Smith has been charged to lead a small team to collect documents and to create a central filing system. PLEASE send what you have on your computer along to him; this is a most important element in preparing for both a new Settled Minister and, especially, a new Parish Administrator.

While not formal votes, the PC agreed to delay the survey to identify the Settled Minister Search Committee for a month to acknowledge the attention needed for COVID-19 work.

Ralph Smith and the Personnel Committee have been proceeding with a plan to hire a temporary administrative person to assist with the May transition of Ms. McDermott.  Ralph and his group are considering whether this person could both become a ‘temp to hire’ and, potentially, begin to work this summer. Gert has offered, if needed, to be available in a contract position to help with some of the bookkeeping functions.

There was a good deal of discussion about whether to lock the doors to the church. Understandable positions on both sides included a desire to keep the church safe from theft and potential infection versus allowing access to someone who may feel a significant need for sanctuary. The PC voted to leave the doors of the church unlocked, even while maintaining the status of the church as “Closed.”  

The PC voted to create a Community Engagement Task Force that will coordinate the efforts of the various groups of First Parish (e.g., Outreach, Deacons, Membership, PC, Staff) to identify and respond to the needs of the people of greater Lincoln, during this time. A significant amount of time was devoted to considering some options for this Task Force’s work. Rev. Jenny and Sarah K will coordinate this effort.

The PC was unanimously grateful to the staff of FPL for their creative response to the parish’s needs at this critical time.

Meeting adjourned at 8:25 p.m.

Nick Covino

For the Parish Committee

From the Parish Committee On COVID-19

March 15, 2020

Dear First Parish,

I hope that you all are well and safe. This has been a very dramatic and uncertain week. The downturn in the stock market and the evolving news about the COVID-19 virus have been very worrisome concerns for many.

The PC has been emailing and calling each other and it is in close contact with Rev Rankin. We will meet by phone this Wednesday to review our public health situation as well as current church business. If you have something of importance to discuss, please send it along to Gert for the agenda.

The church has been very well-served by its staff during this time. These professionals have been charged with evaluating our members’ needs for safety and pastoral care; protecting our facilities and maintaining a healthy work and prayerful environment; anticipating needs in the absence of policy; continuing with transition responsibilities; and they have found time to arrange a creative response to our spiritual needs with a streaming service. This has required a good deal of discussion and creativity. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated and creative staff.

Rev Rankin asked for a Task Force to advise her on immediate actions that must be taken on behalf of the parish. Thank you to those members who have stepped forward.

The PC has been asked to vote on certain major changes, but it has empowered Rev Rankin to do what she and her consultants deem to be prudent regarding day to day activities of FPL.  The urgency of this situation requires leadership and quick decisions; her judgment and problem solving talent have been spot on. FPL is very fortunate to have this experienced and thoughtful pastor.

Looking ahead, we will find time after addressing the first wave of this challenge to address ongoing needs. We will remember that this church and our country have weathered many significant challenges and we will manage this one as well. It is unusual to do so by keeping distance and sheltering in place; we ski to church in blizzards and gather on the Commons. But, this  situation calls for us to use technology to maintain a connection and to trust those whom we have empowered to lead us by taking thoughtful, quick and effective action on our behalf.

Remain calm and connected to each other. There is a First Parish, even if it is serving ‘virtual’ cookies on Sunday for awhile.

Nick Covino
for the Parish Committee

Message from Rev. Jenny and the Safe Congregations Task Force about COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Dear members and friends,

This week the Parish Committee formed the Safe Congregations Task Force to help plan and prepare as our community responds to the coronavirus. The members of the task force are Andy Clark, Jane O’Rourke, Ray Shepard, Jeani Welsh, Margit Griffith, and Jenny Rankin, with Deanna Laferriere and Sarah Andrysiak consulting.

We are in close consultation with Lincoln town officials, including Trisha McGean, Public Health Nurse, and Superintendent Becky McFall. You can read their respective letters to the Lincoln community here: http://www.lincolntown.org/1169/Coronavirus-Covid-19, and here: https://www.lincnet.org/covid19.

As we work together to keep our community strong, the Safe Congregations Task Force have made the following recommendations, which the Parish Committee voted to approve on Wednesday, March 11:

  • We will not hold “in-person” worship on March 15, 22, and 29. Staff are working to offer a “live stream worship” option on these Sunday mornings. We will re-evaluate after 3 weeks.
  • The Parish House and Sanctuary/Stearns Room will be closed until April 1 for the safety of our community and staff. Staff will work remotely from home.
  • Other classes, workshops, committee meetings, and small group ministry will meet off-site or online at the discretion of their leaders.

We ask for your help in following these recommendations, as we all do our part in working to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our vulnerable friends and members.

However, at First Parish we are concerned with both the physical and emotional safety of our congregation and community. This is an opportunity for us to get creative in thinking of how we can care for one another, connect with one another, and serve the wider world. Being mindful of this we offer the following information and guidance at this time:

  • FPL Phone Tree: We are creating a phone tree for our First Parish community. If you would like to volunteer to make calls, please email the Care Committee at fplcares@fplincoln.org.
  • Deacons Check-In: As part of their mission to provide spiritual care for the community, the deacons are setting up a way they can be a “listening ear” for you during this time of uncertainty and anxiety. They are still working out the details, but they aim to create a phone line which you may call during certain hours to speak to a deacon. You may also email them at deacons@fplincoln.org
  • Social Media: We encourage everyone to stay connected by following the church Facebook page and Instagram account. These are both useful tools to share announcements and encouraging words.

Be watching for more updates on our website; you will find a link to our latest messages on the homepage. We encourage everyone to be in communication with other members of the community (friends, small groups), and with church leadership.

I (Jenny) need to tell you that I am so heartened and appreciative of the hard work of our staff this week, and the collaboration and partnership of the Deacons and Parish Committee as we worked together to get to this point.

I’m also so appreciative of the close bonds that exist within this community.  I know these are not easy times, but if we reach out and stay connected to one another, I am confident we will join together to help buoy this community through these turbulent waters.

In faith,
Rev. Jenny M. Rankin, Interim Minister 

and 

Safe Congregations Taskforce
Ray Shepard, Jeani Welsh, Jane O’Rourke, Andy Clark, Margit Griffith, Jenny Rankin

Personnel Announcement

Dear First Parish Community:

It is with mixed feelings that we share the news with you that Ms. Gert McDermott will be ending her many years of service to our church in June of this year.

Over the past twenty-three years, there are few parishioners who have not been touched by Gert’s extraordinary administrative skill. As Parish Administrator she has played a key role in the church’s finances, facilities, community engagement, and operations. Budget preparation, Generous Giving, the Lenten Booklet, facilities upkeep, scheduling, communications, Order of Service, special services, UCC/UUA relationships, First Parish history, and the numerous church committees and activities have all relied upon her wisdom, intellect and professionalism. Gert’s gifted ‘Institutional Memory’ has informed the work of our pastors, staff and volunteers who have relied heavily upon her advice in creating and implementing policies and programs. Often the first to receive a call from a family in need or someone with a proposal or a problem, Gert has played a central role in supporting the First Parish community and facilitating its mission. We are all grateful.

Gert will take the next several months to transition to a new phase in her life. She will work with the Personnel Committee to create a successful transition for her successor and the leadership of the Parish. Her competence and grace will be greatly missed and we are happy for her that she has so much to look forward to. There will be an official ‘Thank You’ event in the upcoming months to recognize her service and this transition, but please feel free to join us in thanking Gert for her extraordinary and numerous contributions to First Parish in Lincoln.

Nick Covino, Chair

for the Parish Committee

Rev. Jenny Rankin, Interim Minister

Settled Minister Search Committee

Introduction

As we approach the mid-point or our second transition year, we are at the time to create a Search Committee that will select and engage a new settled minister. This next step of forming a Search Committee requires thought and involvement from the whole congregation.

The last Search Committee was appointed by the Parish Committee in keeping with our Bylaws and prior practice. This year, the PC has met with consultants from both the UCC and UUA, Rev. Rankin and the Transition Team, and reviewed several successful selection methods from other churches. Following these deliberations, we are presenting First Parish with a blended model that will recommend a Settled Minister Search Committee for a vote at Annual Meeting of First Parish that have several members nominated by the congregation and several appointed by the Parish Committee.

The Plan

Our goal as a congregation is to be in a position to elect a seven-member (7) Search Committee at the Annual Meeting in June. Candidates for this important position should possess the following characteristics:

• Committed to and actively involved in the church through membership, presence at worship, committee/community participation and financial support;

• Willing to make this responsibility a high priority;

• Trusted and respected by the congregation;

• Open-minded with a positive attitude (no grudges nor personal agenda);

• A sense of integrity and respect for others;

• Ability to maintain absolute confidentiality;

• Capacity to listen, to participate in a group, and to come to consensus.

The committee members will be selected as follows:

· Four (4) members will be nominated by the voting members of the congregation via popular vote. Nominations will be received though an online survey with paper ballots available for those who require them.

· Three (3) members will be nominated by the Parish Committee. This process allows the PC to balance the Search Committee with individuals who can represent constituencies of the church that the popular vote may have missed.

· Following this nomination process, those with the greatest number of votes will be asked to confirm their willingness to serve. The next in line will be queried should the need present until the slate is full.

· All seven (7) candidates will stand for election at the annual meeting.

Important Considerations

Only voting members of the Church will be able to take part in this selection process and the vote at the Annual Meeting. Please verify your membership status, if you are in doubt.

The candidates with the most popular votes, who are willing to serve, will become the nominees.

Timing

The selection will take place in middle March.

Parish Committee: February 2020 Meeting

The Parish Committee met on February 26,2020 with all members present, save the recuperating RL Smith. In addition, Treasurer Krzywicki, Secretary Watkinson, Rev Rankin, Ms. McDermott, Ms. Griffith and Mr. DeNormandie and Mr. Johnson from the Governance Task Force joined.

The PC approved several important items:

1. A temporary allocation of ten hours of additional staff time to support the administrative work of the parish until the fiscal year end;

2. A model and process to select the Settled Minister Search Committee;

3. $11, 000 from invested accounts, at the request of the Outreach Committee to be dispersed;

4. $16,000 from invested accounts to cover additional expenses for the Parish House Roof Repair and to fund the Design Phase for the Playground;

5. Approval of the updated Personnel Manual, Personnel Committee Charge and the creation of a new Minister’s Consultation Committee.

The decisions above were informed by the work of several committees.

The Personnel Committee spent several months in review of the job description of the Parish Administrator. This complex position has many requirements and functions with products that must be in place as the church recruits a new minister. The Personnel Committee recommended that ten hours of additional administrative time be added to support the work of the Administrator as well as to offer some assistance to the pastor and other staff as available. This addition is financially possible this year, due to the prudent budget management of Gert, John and others and it will be reviewed along with other items as the FY21 Budget is prepared.

For some time, the church has felt that it would benefit the minister to have three or four close advisors to speak openly and feely with about his/her work. This group of consiglieri would play no evaluative role nor would they represent constituencies, but their commitment would be to become a confidential sounding board for the pastor. The charges for this committee are attached below. The Personnel Committee has completed, more created, a Personnel Policy and Procedures Manual to guide our work. In addition, they have been very actively involved in creating, consulting to and conducting reviews on the Pastor and staff. This is the first time that such a process has been conducted at FPL in many years.

The Treasurer indicated that 80% of this year’s pledges have been paid (versus 60% last year). Expenses have been less in this year, due to budget management, the mild winter (snow removal) and both increased revenue and decreased expenses for the Touch of Christmas Fair. John is forecasting a surplus in operations of $20,000. Predictions on the return on our invested funds were sober, given the activities of the week.

Membership in the Parish was discussed with particular attention to the upcoming Settled Minister Search. Voting at First Parish is reserved for members. The size of the congregation influences formula such as the minister’s salary that require a more accurate ‘count’ than currently exists. The church has a process for reviewing ‘potentially lapsed’ members which is being conducted by the PC to prepare for the upcoming votes. In particular, PC members volunteered to make calls to inactive members who have

already been asked twice in writing to indicate their preference regarding membership, but who have not been heard from.

Settled Minister Search has been the object of a good deal of discussion has resulted in a plan to select a 7 member Search Committee for the new Settled Minister. The outline of that process is attached to this report. In short, unlike the last search, the PC will ask the Parish to nominate 4 members of the committee who will stand for election at the Annual Meeting and it will appoint 3 members to balance the slate of candidates. This will be discussed more at the PC/Parish meeting this Sunday after services.

Governance Task Force has been working diligently and it presented a 40-minute preliminary report on its work to the PC. This work will be reviewed with PC feedback during the upcoming weeks and another round of discussions on changes and models for Governance. This work of this Task Force will be instrumental in the successful transition to the new minister.

Summer Spirit is a novel idea by our RE Director and the YPC. It came before the committee for permission and funding, yet it needed neither. The program is covered by FPL’s insurance, can be managed within the current budget guidelines and it has the support of staff and the YPC. It would be optimal to have some Outreach support for scholarships for Lincoln area children which will be pursued by Margit and the Outreach Committee. This creative option is being pursued by the staff.