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What the Heck is a Board of Trustees? And Do We Really Need One?

By Linda Fippin, President of the Board of Trustees

We have recently had sermons reflecting on what the heck a church and a congregation are and whether we really need them. It occurred to me that some people may be asking the same questions about the Board of Trustees.

For many of you, the main contact you have with the Board is at the annual congregational

meetings in March and May where we discuss and vote on the church budget and elect officers of the Board. Those are certainly important functions of the Board, but they are only some of the responsibilities. Our Bylaws state that “the Board shall have general charge of the property of the congregation, the conduct of all business affairs of the congregation, and control of the administration.” That certainly sounds impressive, but what does it mean?

Here are some of the things that the Board and its officers do that fall under that broad umbrella statement from the Bylaws.

In addition to developing and overseeing the annual budget, the Board evaluates and makes decisions on expenditures not specifically enumerated in the budget. You may have noticed that several dead and dying trees that were presenting a hazard to people, other trees and utility lines have recently been cut down. The necessity and cost of the tree removal was discussed and voted on by the Board.

In addition to leading the solicitation and collection of pledges during the annual canvass, the Finance Chair heads up the planning and production of the annual auction. Many thanks go to our current Finance Chair, Anne Harvey, with help from Laurie Valiga, Suzanne Molnar, Shirley Vogel, Jerry Thornton and many other volunteers from the congregation for their time, skill and effort in making this year’s auction a success.

The Board works closely with our minister, the Reverend Carol Bodeau, who submits a report to the Board monthly and attends all meetings, but is not a voting member. The Board is also responsible for evaluating the minister’s performance annually.

The Board makes decisions on other issues of concern to the congregation. One prominent example of this is the review and implementation of Covid-19 preventative measures recommended by the Reopening Committee. The Board will also be actively involved in soliciting congregational input on if and how Westside should engage in activities surrounding reproductive justice and formulating a plan to be presented at the annual congregational meetings.

So, an important part of the Board’s responsibility is responding to “issues of concern to the congregation,” but we can only respond to things we know about. I encourage you to let a Board member know if there is something about Westside that is on your mind. You can talk to me or another Board member in person (Board members are listed on the Westside website) or you can email me at

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