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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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