Beth Sandidge, President, Board of Trustees firstname.lastname@example.org
"I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making
new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're
doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're doing something." ~Neil Gaiman
2015 is welcoming us to begin a new adventure. I feel the momentum of our collaborative efforts becoming stronger in revitalizing Westside. There is still much to do and it will take some time to get done, but we know how to have faith in each other and persevere.
My apologies for not getting a report out to you all for the past month. I had every intention, but time slipped away from me. November and December have also been very busy months for Westside. The November meeting was well attended, while the December meeting was on the same day as the Festival of Lights. In addition, Rev. Morris was not able to attend due to the loss of his brother in Virginia. Nonetheless, we were able to get some good business done with the congregation in mind.
Rev. Morris provided us with information on events and happenings with the cluster and the other local UU churches. Most importantly is the upcoming workshop, Compassionate Communications
(http://www.seduua.org/events.html). This two day event scheduled for the 30-31 of January is designed to help participants learn how to speak effectively using nonviolent language. I plan on participating so that I may develop awareness of my language when I am speaking to others regarding any number of topics. Please plan on attending if you would like to serve our community by learning nonviolent communication strategies.
Our church's mission and vision is being expressed through our continued good works and collaborative efforts. Spectrum West provides a safe place for LGBTQIA youth who need support and safety. We are able to host this program twice a month. Our congregation continues to voice support for our participation in the Family Promise program. We are hosting several times a year for one week periods. This December's Family Promise was difficult to staff. Please take time to mark your calendar for our next host week in May. Many hands makes light work, but when only several are involved, the task becomes a burden. We are a small community. The end of December is a busy time of the year. Despite this, we need to commit to serving the program or find a creative way of broadening our support base. Through support of these programs we will strengthen our church and our church's ability to do good works for the broader Knoxville community.
Share the Plate is one of our ongoing activities where we are able to support our ideas through action. Many suggestions are being placed in the box and we, the board, takes a look at the suggestions as each quarter changes. If suggestions are not chosen, the names go back into the box. Please make certain that the suggestions are for charitable organizations which are listed as 501c3. Despite the many individuals and smaller groups who are deserving of support, our current financial practice is strongest when we donate to 501c3's. This month the Child Advocacy Center of the Ninth Judicial District of Tennessee (http://www.kidsfirsttn.org/) was selected as our share the plate partner. This organization serves children that have been identified by the Department of Children’s Services as having been severely physically and/or sexually abused.
Good governance is of utmost importance. Our board has several documents in place to ensure our actions are for the good of the congregation. Every year during the board retreat, members sign a covenant. Signing and agreeing to uphold a covenant is standard practice for good leadership in any organization. The phrase "one voice" has led to some questioning and discussion. With research we discovered good information about the "one
voice" phrase at www.carvergovernance.com. They write "after fair debate, if there are not enough votes to pass a measure, then the board has not spoken. If there are enough votes, the board has spoken." This is the "one voice" our board agrees to uphold. "One voice" in no way indicates we are all of the same thought or opinion.
The October congregational meeting was one of learning for myself. We had compiled several topics worthy of your input, most notably voting in Rev. Carol as our new minister. Two other proposal which did not pass were based on changing our bylaws. The first was to vote in a super majority in regards to issues of calling a new minister. This idea was proposed by Rev. Alderman, our UUA consultant in our finding a new minister. Based on your input and vote, this is not a change our congregation is comfortable making. The second change put to
congregational vote was to remove the power from the board in regards to WUUC property ownership and place this decision into the congregation's hands. This idea is one we are still willing to discuss. We feel it will empower the congregation to take a more active role.
Again, many thanks to Debbie Schlieffer and her team of auction heroes. It is unfortunate for us that she and her husband Keith have moved. Their support of this church will be missed. They were fully involved with their time, talents, and treasures. I wish them all the best in their new endeavors. The auction brought in good money, but did not meet the goal which we needed to make our budget. The finance committee will be advising us on how to proceed with staffing and support to our church and the community.
Building upkeep is of high interest. We will be looking into the ways we can find the funds to refurbish the sanctuary and floors.
Due to the shortfalls in our budget, the board will be focusing our efforts on increasing Membership. We have had times of growth and times of contraction. We are looking for a new way to grow our community so we may be able to offer more. Currently we are doing well for a congregation our size, but most all of us are feeling taxed with the overlapping commitments within our church. The board's membership task group compiled a review of past members and tried to attract them to return. This strategy has not been as successful as we had hoped. Currently the board's hope is to get our past leaders Kathy Spoon and Loraine Darwin along with Linda Morrison to collaborate and gather together information and research from successful efforts. With their guidance we hope to find a full time Membership Committee Chair who is willing to proceed with the important task of raising our membership numbers.
Additionally, there has been some discussion in regards to hiring a new music minister. Based on our budget, we may have to consider some new ideas like sharing a music minister with FUUF and ORUUC. This decision will be put on hold until our finance committee has made their recommendations.
Many thanks to Jerry Thornton, Cindy Arnold, Craig Brandt, and Rev. Morris, our Ministers' contract committee, in compiling and reviewing the interim contracts for both Rev. Morris and Rev. Carol. We are officially in the transition period and on our way to having our next settled minister.
If you have not noticed by now, please take some time to stop by the construction of the Linda Kraeger Memorial Fountain. Many thanks to all who have helped and are still helping Duane Krager get this project completed: Linda Chavez, Brad Kurtz, Dave Goforth, and Robert Darwin. Congratulations Duane on collecting the funds, getting the designer, and implementing this project. It will be a beautiful addition to our church grounds.
Last, the 2016 Camp Lackadogma reservations are in the works. Mark your calendars now for both November 2015 and November 2016. Come have fun at this relaxing retreat.
Thanks to all who have given feedback or offered suggestions on ways to improve our church and community. I want to remind you all that the board's first job is to run the business of the church. We are working to see that the organization and practices are kept in good working order. Please keep your comments coming in. Without the congregation's voice, we would not have a direction to follow.