Church News and Announcements

Board Report for June 2018

Sunday, July 01, 2018

From Your Board of Trustees

The 2018/2019 Board of Trustees held its first meeting on June 20, 2018. Board President Martin Schmidt introduced new Board members Eleanor Mayfield, Lynne Porterfield, and Scott Smith and welcomed visitors Ebe Emmons and Joe Jencik from the Healthy Congregations Collaborative. Martin expressed his appreciation to Audrey Masalehdan for her service the past two years as Board President.

New Church Building Security Policy

Claus Makowka reported on a recent security incident that had caused some concern among church staff. Since the Board’s decision to reduce security hours, the security person has been departing at 9:00 p.m. even if church-affiliated groups are still in the building. Recently, a covenant group continued its meeting after the security person’s departure. He had advised the group that he was leaving and that they would need to ensure that the building was locked and the lights turned off. The following morning, however, Business Manager Rita Gates arrived to find lights on and a door not properly locked and closed.

To ensure the safety of church staff and the church building and to develop a culture of self-sufficiency in regard to securing the building, the Board voted unanimously that, going forward, one of the following will be required when a church-related group is meeting in the church:

  • 1.The group is meeting at a time when security is normally scheduled and attendees agree to leave when reminded of the time by the security person.
  • 2.The Minister or the Lifespan Religious Education Director (LRED) has approved security outside normally scheduled hours for the group to meet.
  • 3.A staff member is present and working with the group (e.g., Minister, LRED, music staff, etc.)
  • 4.The group is meeting on a Sunday or a weekday when a staff member is present (sexton, Sunday Host/ess, Business Manager, Program Assistant).
  • 5.The group includes a person who has accepted responsibility for securing the building, has been trained, and is approved by the minister, the LRED, or the Board.

Please contact Claus Makowka ( if you have questions about this new building security policy.

Vision, Identity, Mission (VIM) Update

Cathy Rohrer reported that, as part of its ongoing charge to engage the congregation in envisioning our future as a church, the VIM team is developing a three-year strategic plan and has proposed two broad priorities for the 2018/2019 church year:

  • Create a strong sense of belonging for all who enter our doors.
  • Explore paths to the formation of a long-lasting and meaningful First Unitarian community partnership.

Board members will strategize further about how to achieve these goals when they meet for the annual Board retreat on July 11.

Please visit the Achieving Our Vision page on the church website to learn more about the VIM initiative and to sign up to participate in a future series of small-group conversations about the church’s vision, identity, and mission.

Music Program Leadership

The departure of Director of Music Emily Pinkerton will bring changes to the music program during the coming year. The Board approved a position description for a Director of Instrumental Music and unanimously voted to hire Ellen Gozion, effective July 1, to fill this position for one year with the possibility of renewal. Last year Ellen served as artist-in-residence and was a frequent accompanist at Sunday services. Board President Martin Schmidt is developing a position description for a Director of Vocal Music, with the goal of making an appointment to this position, also for one year with the possibility of renewal, in time for the start of the new church year in September.

Committee Reboots

  • Sarah Benson reported that she is working on relaunching the Bridge Team and reactivating First Church’s social action partnerships with the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network (PIIN) and the Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Action Network (UUPLAN). If you would like to be part of this effort to reinvigorate the church’s involvement in social justice issues, please get in touch with Sarah (
  • Board President Martin Schmidt reported that several people had responded to a request he had sent out to reinvigorate the Garden Committee. Additional volunteers are welcome! If you are interested in volunteering to help to maintain the church garden and grounds, please contact Mary Kostalos (

Volunteer Opportunity

The Board was informed that Assistant Comptroller Gordon Hargreaves intends to retire from this position at the end of January 2019. As a result, the Board is now looking for a new volunteer to fill this important role. Experience in human resources and payroll management is helpful but not required. For additional information, please contact Board Treasurer Claus Makowka ((

Safety Policy

LRED Erica Shadowsong requested that the Board generate and publish an overall safety policy. Currently, certain safety duties are assigned to certain staff members – e.g., the LRED has been responsible for fire drills, the Business Manager for filling first aid kits – but an overall institutional policy that assigns responsibility for all safety-related tasks is needed. The Board took this request under advisement.

Oakland-Shadyside Connector Update

The Board noted an email from Pittsburgh City Council Member Erika Strassburger announcing that the Oakland-Shadyside Connector project has been indefinitely postponed. One of the proposals under consideration as part of this project was the introduction of bike lanes on Ellsworth Avenue. Ms. Strassburger wrote that in response to concerns raised by community members, the city had decided to “step back, regroup, and begin the process again in the future.”

Day of Service

The second annual Day of Service on Sunday, May 20 was a success. Board member Sarah Benson reported that 58 church members and friends had signed up for 11 of 17 available activities. One group participated in animal care, three in environmental activities, three in community support, and four in church support. The event went off with only minor glitches. Stay tuned for an announcement about plans for the third annual Day of Service in 2019!

Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism

The Board voted unanimously to support the UUA Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU) campaign, a commitment to fund black leaders in our denomination to support ministry to black-identified UUs. The Board pledged to make a financial contribution of approximately $3,000 ($10 per church member) and to schedule a BLUU-themed worship service later this year. The financial pledge will be supported through Share the Plate collections. The BLUU-themed worship service is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, September 30.

Interim Minister Search

Board Vice-President Alison Schwartz reported that the Interim Minister Search Committee had held its first meeting and that the position notification, with a January 2019 start date, has been posted on the UUA recruitment website.

Fall Stewardship Campaign

Mark your calendars for the kickoff of the annual stewardship campaign/pledge drive on Sunday, October 7. Watch this space for further details.

Approval of Minutes

Minutes of the Board’s May 16 meeting were approved and minutes of the Finance Committee meeting on June 6 were accepted.

Next Board Meeting

The Board’s next regular meeting will be on July 18 at 7:00 p.m. in the Schweitzer Room. All are welcome to attend.

Board Members 2018/2019

Martin Schmidt, President (2020)

Alison Schwartz, Vice-President (2019)

Claus Makowka, Treasurer (2020)

Eleanor Mayfield, Secretary (2021)

Sarah Benson (2020)

Audrey Masalehdan (2019)

Lynne Porterfield (2021)

Cathy Rohrer (2019)

Scott Smith (2021)

Eleanor Mayfield, Board Secretary


Latest Announcements




Share Your News
Every day we are making a difference in the community. We want to share your story so it can inspire others. Share your stories with with the Share Your News Form!

Come to be moved and held in mutual embrace. Come and be made whole.
First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh
605 Morewood Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
(412) 621-8008     Map and directions
Worship Services
10:30 AM
Office Hours
9:30 AM to 4:30 PM
Tuesday - Friday
Stay Connected
Sign up for our Weekly News Email
Read The Chalice, our monthly newsletter