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

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