Discussions of the 2017 Budget and the progress of the Annual Budget Drive Campaign have dominated Board business for the past month. Randy Weinberg, Chair of the ABDC and our most recently appointed Board Member has faithfully updated us on Pledge progress, and as of last evening we have received pledges of ~ $414,000. While this leaves us with a projected deficit (estimated to be~ $40,000) we have confidence that with new member contributions and outreach to those members yet to pledge that this gap can be narrowed. Consider what Unitarian Universalism and 1st Unitarian means to you and decide if you can be part of closing the gap.
The December 30 meeting reviewed the Finance Committee’s recommendations for the budget. The primary questions revolved around whether the savings of going from a full to ¾ time Lifespan Religious Education Director (LRED) would offset the potential detriment to our recruitment of our new LRED and subsequent diminution for our RE programs. The Board chose commitment to quality programing that is so important to the future of our congregation, and confidence in our members stepping up to improve our financial situation. However, there is also serious consideration to moving to a balanced Budget within the next few years.
These and other issues were discussed with a reasonable contingent of the congregation at the Congregational Budget Meeting on December 11. Congregants expressed frustration with the fact that we do not present a clear picture of the outreach we do as a congregation in our community, as these ‘social justice’ activities are not reflected in a budget line item that can be found in our financial reports/statements. Assistant Treasurer, Bari Roman is in the process of gleaning this information and preparing simplified monthly reports that clearly show our outreach activity. Some of the items that will be enumerated will be records of Share the Plate, the Alternative Gift Market, monies for the Khasi Hills School, funds raised for the Coming of Age trips, projects/activities funded through our 4 project Endowed Funds (for Social Justice, Children and Youth Education, Campus Ministry, and Music and Arts), disbursements from Marion’s Purse, and other activities as they occur. Check the bulletin board downstairs in January for this information.
Increasing our membership and assuring new members ‘get connected’ and not so new members ‘stay connected’ were also discussed. Rev Herndon and Board Member Joan Harvey are reconstituting the ‘Membership Committee’ as the Connections Team with intent to accomplish this important work. However, it is the responsibility of all of us to welcome and ‘friend’ new folks as the visit and join our congregation. A suggestion was made to post specific, limited time opportunities for volunteering rather than expecting people to join a ‘team’ or ‘committee’ with their formalities that may not appeal or be possible for many of us.
The value of publicity in bringing people to the church was also mentioned, with the note that we have received a great deal of publicity from the vandalism of the temporary ‘Black Lives Banner’ on Nov. 23. With the new banner on the bell tower, we can hope for more positive publicity for activities that will ensue as we attempt to live the sense of this slogan, which is work to “erase systemic racism.”
The Board Meeting on December 14 included discussion of these and other suggestions from the Congregational Meeting. As Audrey said, ‘Keep these good ideas coming’. Bob Mitchell and Cathy Rohrer presented background to their development of the Board’s work for Strategic Planning. Plan to attend facilitated group discussions of ‘who we are’ and ‘who we want to be as a congregation’ early in the New Year. Your concerns and ideas from these meetings will be used to guide development of a long range plan by the Board and Staff in the coming months.
Comments on our revised Bylaws were received around noon on Dec. 14 from our UUA consultant Rev David Pyle. Although they were minor, it was concluded that they best be considered by the Bylaw Task Force before bringing the final version to the Board for approval, now scheduled for our January meeting.
Steven Mead reviewed his recent communication of the convening of Learning Teams and Council which will facilitate coordination among those supporting the Learn component of our Mission. David is responsible for the Councils for Connect, Inspire, and Serve and is beginning to schedule joint meeting of the teams involved in these areas of our Mission.
A Banner Installation celebration will be the core of the service on January 29, with a community celebration scheduled for March 11. No information from the vandalism of Nov 23 has been received from the Pittsburgh Police. Estimates are being gathered for a security system that would aid resolution such activity in the future.
Brian Junker suggested that we may need two additional screens for the sanctuary video system, increasing the cost to ~$66,000 (funded from existing capital monies). He, David, and Emily will be attending a workshop in April on ‘Theatre of the Sanctuary’ which may prompt additional changes to the original proposal.
A gathering at the church the evening of January 20 will kick off our ‘1st 100 days’ response to the inauguration of the new administration in Washington, D.C. It will coincide with gatherings across the city with a theme of Hope and support for the values of patience, kindness, and love.
Minutes of the November 14 and 30 and the December 11 Congregational Budget Meeting were approved and are posted on thelarge pillar just outside the library and may be found on our Church website. The Board’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be on January 18, 2017.