Category: Uncategorized

Apr 26 2017

Church Council April Reports

Committee Reports

April 4, 2017

Committee on Ministry:   CoM met yesterday (Friday, March 31). We started to plan the all-church retreat for Sept 30th (please help spread the word!) and we also began the discussion about handling Ellen’s review (a new process for this year).  The retreat details are just beginning but it will be led by Larry Peers who will work closely with Ellen to define the direction.

The Women’s Alliance met to discuss the Accessibility Building Project. We discussed the history of Women’s Alliance and what we can do to increase our presence in the larger church. We planned our table display for the Committee Fair. Another important topic discussed was the Accessibility Building Project and its impact on the items in the Alliance Parlor.

The Young Adult Group has two new members. We shared a meal together and then went bowling. Both events were well attended and great conversations happened. The Young Adults will be hosting a Seder this upcoming Sunday, April 9th in the Chapel right after the Evening Service. We will be hosting the Canvass Success Luncheon with the High School class’ help.

The RE Council met in March. We discussed the Committee Fair and what we would have on the table. Finally, we started to plan events for the upcoming months.

May Basket making is going well. We have extended to making them Saturday mornings in April. Additionally, we are selling them at coffee hour on April 16th and April 23rd. We need fudge to be able to fill the baskets for these two dates. Sign-ups for the May Breakfast have started. We need the most help with serving the day of and clean-up the day of.

Department of Interior Report to the Church Council

The Dept. of Interior is an ad hoc group of about 6 of 7 members of the church with an average age of well over 60. We came together about 2 years ago under the auspices of House Management to clean and organize within the church building. A number of these tasks were falling on the church staff so the Human Resource Comm. promoted this group to ensure volunteers were doing this work not our staff.   We attempt to keep order in the closets, clean the kitchens when needed, and scrub the sanctuary and vestry prior to the opening of church as well as other tasks.

It’s likely during the construction we will be called on to sort, organize, possibly pack and store any number of closets and shelves of “goods”. It may be that we can help other committees that store goods in the church.   If committees are packing up goods, it’s a good time to dispose of old or unneeded items and be sure to label everything.

Carlene Merrill and Deb Grad take the lead for this group.

The music committee met on Sunday, April 2nd. The March 25th concert raised $1000 for the for the UUSC (UU Service Committee).   There will be one more concert on May 20th. We are looking into a local charity for the funds raised. Steve would like to have a 1 hour choir before the church year ends. Music Appreciation Sunday will be June 11th.

The Worship Committee met last month and reviewed the worship schedule. It looks like we are in good shape for readers and chalice lighters for April and May, including Tenebrae on April 13th, though we can always use more. If you would like to do a reading, please feel free to contact Ellen Ford at [email protected]   We will have a table at Committee Fair on April 9th – please come by to see us! The Worship Committee is beginning to talk about ways the building project may impact Worship, and brainstorming ways to address those matters in advance. Plans are in the making for an all church retreat in late September – stayed tuned for more info as plans move forward.

Dec 18 2016

Church Council Dec. Reports

Committee Reports

December 2016

The Nominating Committee met on November 15th. We have been working on creating a list of candidates for the various elected positions in the Church. We also helped the Standing Committee, and were able to find a new Canvass Chair: Joan and Dennis Keane have agreed to step up and take over Canvass for this year. A GINORMOUS Thank You to both of them!

Deirdre 🙂

The Worship Committee met on November 22nd.  Readers have been scheduled for Christmas services, and chalice lighting slots are filled for December and all but one week in January.

The Worship Committee is beginning to replace the worn plastic signs with aluminum signage.  It’s a bit more expensive but looks great and will last much longer.  Plans for both temporary and more permanent improvements to the sound systems in the chapel, sanctuary, and vestry are in the works.


Membership Committee Report:


We are having another Newcomer Session this Sunday, 12/11.  We have a new UU World related magazine specially published for those new to UU.  Ask Theresa if you know anyone who might benefit from one.

The New UU class will be co-taught by Peggy Stephens-North and Justine Sullivan.  They are planning to begin near the end of January and run for 6 weeks.  They will be speaking with prospective students individually as this has worked best in the past.  We are considering child care for this class to make it easier for parents to attend.

The ongoing transportation issue was discussed with several ideas floated for further consideration.


The Welcoming Congregation Committee put out safety pins for people to take, as part of the movement to show that we are willing to stand up for those who feel threatened by the post-election surge of hate after. Our first batch of safety pins was completely gone that day, so we put out more.
The Committee held its seventh annual vigil in observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance. One of our members was involved in helping Lowell observe Transgender Day of Remembrance, including locating a speaker for them. That speaker, Kelly Jenkins, also spoke at our vigil.
We had several attendees from outside our church community. One came because she saw the sign. One had come last year and looked us up to see what we were doing this year. We had our best attendance ever and even had to set out more chairs.

This year’s vigil included a procession on the Common. We checked with the police department and kept them informed. The Town sent a policeman to escort people across the crosswalk and he actually stopped traffic for us.
As a result of the vigil, and our speaker, who charmed the editor, there was a great front page article in the Independent. And we were mentioned the following week in an editorial in the Independent about standing up against hate.

Our next planned event will be a book discussion (Saturday, February 11). Book still to be determined.


Dee Halzack

Correction: the Independent editorial was in the same issue as the article on our vigil. Sorry.

The Music Committee met Sunday morning, December 4th.  The instruments are all tuned and working great.  The organ repair man will be coming in the next few weeks to do a general maintenance and tuning.  We discussed music coverage for the 3 weeks in January that Steve will be on paternity leave.  All 3 Sundays are covered.  Steve has left the option for rehearsals up to the individual choirs.  The bell choir will continue to rehearse without Steve, it is unsure as to what the other choirs have decided.  Our next meeting will be at the end of January after Steve returns.



CFAM – We finally met on Nov 13th.
WE have some new initialtives:
Rebecca Gore and Linda Horn are heading up a new Multicultural
Ministries group which will have it’s first meeting on Dec 11.
Aggie Brennan will be working with a New England UU group on concerned
with overturning Citizen’s United.  This group was formed by a member of
the Concord UU Church
We are only doing one  common read this year, and it will be the current
UUA Common Read: The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement is
Overcoming the Politics of Division and Hate by The Rev. Dr. William
Barber II and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove
We sent another shipment to the Cheyenne River Reservation
We have several other items in the works but not confirmed yet.

NOLA  – We have decided that we will work in Baton Rouge this year
instead of New Orleans.  Baton Rouge was hit very hard by flooding in
August.  Over 50,000 homes were damaged.  In New ORleans that week, they
have a lot of volunteers because it is Easter week, so they are running
2 shifts.  SBP asked  for groups to volunteer to go to Baton Rouge
instead.  SO far we have about 12 people confirmed.


The Young Adults meet last week at Brunswick Lanes in Lowell. We bowled and then we shared a meal. We had a great conversation about our generation and what we could do differently to change the attendance of the group.

The Women’s Alliance has not meet this month. We plan on meeting in late January.


The RE Council meet in November. We had a great discussion with Rose Lerer on how the new building plans will change the layout of the RE classrooms and the chapel. We decided that we need to have a table at coffee hour again. We are planning on setting up near the elevator in the same place as last year. Please direct any RE questions to this table and RE council members as needed. We will not meet in December as a holiday gifts to ourselves.


Thank you,

Caroline McMullin


Ushers: Dave is organizing the usher piece of the Christmas Eve service.  Ron Deschenes is going to cover the 2nd service for me and we are looking for youth ushers.


Parish Affairs: we were covered through 12/13 and I didn’t check today.  If we need coverage, I’ll ask Peter and Chris from the membership committee to look for volunteers at social hour.


Auction: Jeanette will be chairing (with Theresa?) and I will be helping where needed.  Jeanette says 3/18 is a good date.


Internship: we will be meeting 12/11 for lunch and check in.  As is apparent, everything is going well with Justine.





The Human Resources sub-committee of the SC (HRSC) met last Thursday.  We don’t always have a rep at the CC meetings so we will try to send a brief report about the work we are doing. Here you go.HRSC work We are beginning to explore how we can offer health insurance for our staff. The budgeting process impacts staff. We are recommending that the SC finance team have staff compensation as their top priority and work from there.  Our form of governing impacts staff on a daily basis. Turnover of leadership each year affects what the staff must “pick up” based on new leadership skills. We will work with SC to find ways to manage this.We reviewed the effectiveness of the performance evaluation process and polled staff for their input. Staff are satisfied and HRSC will maintain the current process with some small changes. Tom White, (HRSC and RE Council member) is on the interview team for a new RE Coordinator and has 2 interviews with candidates the week of Dec 5th.While the UUA has not changed the salary ranges for staff this year we are encouraged to continue offering raises to move staff further into their bands as they gain experience. Please call or email if you have questions. Thanks Deb

Grounds Report:

With a flourish Deb Grad, Elisabeth Valentine, and I finished bulb planting, planting grass sod down by Rte. 11, put down loam, and seeded patches.  We ask that parishoners use sidewalks when they can until snow falls.   I pruned trees today. We are basically at rest for the season.  We are very busy planning spring prospects and next season’s priorities.  Martha Sherborn

Dec 18 2016

Church Council Dec. Minutes

Church Council


Dec. 6, 2016


In attendance: Joan Coyne, Dee Halzack, Dolores Heredia-Wood (guest), Dave Kaffine, Caroline McMullin, Reverend Ellen Rowse Spero (guest), Leslie Yauckoes


  1. Chalice lighting (5 min )

Leslie lit the chalice.

  1. Mini-lesson on Accessibility Building Project (20 min)

Note:  Tom Coffey might not be able to come.  If so, this item will be tabled to the January meeting.

Please see note at bottom of report.

  1. Faith in Action Grants (3 proposed) (15-20 min)

Three Faith in Action grants were presented.

Reverend Ellen and Carrie attended the Greater Lowell Interfaith Leadership Alliance meeting that discussed the impact of election results in Merrimack Valley. Merrimack Valley Project and the Islamic Society of Greater Lowell shared their experiences. The minister of the Elliot Presbyterian Church in Lowell, which has a diverse congregation, proposed a lawn sign campaign. The campaign is titled “Hate Has No Home Here”. This campaign is also being done in Chicago.

Reverend Ellen asked for $500 to cover the cost of printing the signs (they need to be in color). There will be window signs available along with the lawn signs. The cost is roughly $5 per lawn sign and $1 per window sign. Reverend Ellen is planning on asking the Standing Committee is we can put two signs on our lawn. GLIA has some money, but the thought was that if a congregation wanted to participate they would give some money.

Joan said that she has a sign-up list on the CFAM table that congregation members have already started to sign up to take signs home. GLIA also wanted to know if we would could be a location for the public to come and pick up signs. Reverend Ellen said she would talk to Cindy about that, as she would have to be the one to take on that responsibility.

Leslie looked at the budget report from Rebecca and stated that we started with $4,900 dollars and we have only spent $500 of that money so far this year.

Joan made a motion and Dee seconded the motion. It was approved unanimously.

Dolores proposed a FIA grant to benefit the African Children Education, or ACE, project. ACE helps immigrant children from Africa. They are located in Worchester. They are having a holiday party for the children and have asked for shoe boxes with presents. The $300 grant is to be to buy gift cards so, the children (who are of all different ages) can buy something they want. This project was brought up at a local DRE cluster meeting. Many UU churches in the area are participating in the project. We have 10 children that we are making gifts for.

Joan made a motion and Dee seconded the motion. It was approved unanimously.

Leslie proposed the final FIA grant. Two of her friends, who are retired educators, started a non-profit about 2 years ago. The organization is called History Unerased. One project that they are working on is including LGTBQ curriculum in local schools. One of the friends is on a subcommittee of the Lowell Health Taskforce that focuses on LGBTQ issues. There will be youth from Lowell High School and Westford Academy that will be trained on the forgotten history of the LGBTQ community.  The students will bring the knowledge they gain back to their schools.

The $500 grant will go into a general pool that will help with supporting scholarships for the students that are trained. Leslie highlighted that this project is combining students from an urban and a suburban school district.  In addition the students are diverse in ethnic and gender identity backgrounds. This grant is supported by the Welcoming Congregation Committee.

Joan made a motion and Dee seconded the motion. It was approved unanimously.

  1. Revisit the Lowell transport issue (10 min)

Membership has started a conversation about how to address this issue. Reverend Ellen said she would be more than happy to use her discretionary fund in the beginning. We need to focus on the current people who need transportation and then work towards opening it up the larger community. Reverend Ellen believes that if you are giving someone a ride, the driver is covered under the Good Samaritan law as far as insurance coverage.

It is tricky to figure out how to coordinate all of the moving parts. At the same time, we need a practical system. Another future though was how to figure out a campus ministry at UMass Lowell. Another possibility is to connect with other local churches in some fashion. Joan said that she has room for a list on the CFAM table in January. We still need a person in charge of the list. This discussion will continue further when there is a larger group of people present.

  1. Calendar items (5 min)

April 9th is the Committee Fair. The Auction is more than likely March 18th. The Capital Campaign team for the Accessibility Building Taskforce is hosting a kick-off on January 8th. There will be other events related to this throughout January.

Leslie motioned to close the meeting and Dee seconded.

*We moved the agenda items around as Tom Coffey was not available to teach the mini-lesson and we had low attendance.


Nov 30 2016

Church Council November Minutes

Church Council
Agenda and Minutes
November 8, 2016
In Attendance; Aggie Brennan, Carla Corey, Dee Halzack (guest), Dolores Heredia-Wood
(guest), Caroline McMullin, Edith Murphy, Teresa Popoloski, Jeanne Thompson (guest), Leslie
1. Welcome and centering (5 min)
Leslie lit the chalice.
2. Mini-class on the Board of Investment by Jeanne Thompson (15-20 min)
Jeanne came to give us an overview of the Board of Investments. This is a committee that is a bit
mysteriously to some people. Jeanne wanted to stress that the endowment is meant to be used as
appropriate based on mission; the committee is not holding onto the money into perpetuity. But,
holding onto the endowment has its benefits, as it makes the congregation stretch and come
together to reach a goal. If we use the endowment needlessly or too much at once, the
community could negatively suffer. She has been on the board over 15 years. They hold four
one-hour meetings a year; every quarter. Four people plus treasurer (ex-official member) make
up the committee. The members are nominated and voted in. Current members include Bill
Newhard, Don Hayes, Sally Seekings, Jeanne Thompson, and Rebecca Gore (treasurer), as well
as Dave Kaffine who answers questions.
This committee is the steward of the endowment money with the purpose of looking to the future
generations. The endowment has come into play due to improvements in the building. The
committee is focused on prudently investing this money. The mission is to preserve the impact
and purchasing power of this money and use income growth of fund prudently and meet
investments and other issues. They check each investment each quarter – have goals of what it
should be and if they waiver they make an adjustment at the meeting. Overall, things have been
going well. The tough job has been to pick a firm to help manage their funds. We currently have
Wells Fargo and it was confirmed that the investment company we use is different from the
Typically, in January they reexamine the mix with the broker. They are tasked with accurate
record keeping as well.
Every 5 years they meet with the broker to make sure no conflicts exist with gun lobbying as
well as looking for green investments (not always possible) and then choose the best case as
possible; 1% to 5% of the choices may be not appropriate. They are choosing funds to be socially
responsible without them being explicitly set up that way. They will be looking again in
December. There may be other investments that they are looking into through the UUA as these
investments have improved recently.
Once a year they make a recommendation for 4% of fund to go into operating income. They pull
the money out based investment return and inflation rate. A step drop or rise sometimes affects
the 4% too much. They now use a 3-year rolling average to determine this. The 4% part has been
done for at least the last 15 years; the rolling average is more recent.
They manage special gifts and funds for stipulated usage – such as a building improvements.
These are reported to the congregation in the Annual Report. The Fisk fund has money that is
earmarked for just capital improvements; this can be used if congregation approves to pull the
money from the endowment. Other funds that are not stipulated, called unrestricted funds, go
into a general fund. Growth of these funds depend on the year. The stipulated gifts stay in a
separate fund and the interest generated from them go into the general account. Most of these
gifts have been left in a will.
They will make a recommendation to Standing Committee about withdrawing money; they have
recently been asked for that regarding the Capital Campaign. Their unofficial recommendation
regarding the $500,000 currently needed is to get a loan from a bank and use the endowment as
collateral with an interest rate of 3%. The Standing Committee would have to approve any
withdrawal from the endowment. This recommendation is made with the understanding that any
withdrawal from the endowment will change the dollar amount given to the operating budget.
The money from the Lowell UU church that closed is not in the endowment any more. The
flower fund is no longer a stipulated fund. The endowment is doing well due to the market and
good guidance. The profits from selling the parsonage went into the endowment. Reverend
Ellen’s housing allowance comes out of the operating budget.
Justine has talked about money and finances previously and hearing from the Board of
Investments was very helpful.
3. Discussion of transportation options for people who cannot get to church (10 min)
Carla requested this to be put on the agenda as she wanted to brainstorm thoughts on this issue.
Sometimes Cindy will get a request for transportation especially because there is no public
transportation on Sundays. Cindy passes it along as possible, but it is haphazard.
This needs to be more than an individual person. Additionally, both the ride here and back needs
to be considered. Sometimes it is viewed as uncomfortable to ask the same person consistently.
Another question to ask is where it should sit (what committee). Membership has talked about
how expensive it would be to get a van and then create a route. The logistics are complicated,
including insurance.
Asking a random person over and over can be uncomfortable as well.
There are not many people in the congregation who live in Lowell, but the majority of people
who needs rides live in Lowell.
There are two different segments of people – people who want to check the church out at least
once and people who need a ride on a regular basis. The regular basis people will typically find
someone that will dedicate their time to driving them.
A contract with a cab company is a possibility. A volunteer list would need to be publicized; it
may be for a sudden need. Creating a list by town, however, requires an individual to be
responsible. The Caring Connection does transportation for medical services. Another suggestion
is to check into Uber. We could use software which we could put onto the website where people
say that they can drive and have number of seats. Then people that need a ride could ask for it
there as well. This would solve the regular people issues.
People need to be given an option to drive, as some people may not realize this is an issue. It can
make people more organized as they are responsible for another person.
For now an email could be sent out to create a list. It was questioned if Leila could be used to
monitor this list. The organizer could be someone who needs a ride, this takes some of the
obligation of the service away. It could be uncomfortable to the organizer if they benefit from the
Carla from the perspective of Nominating – we have to be deliberate with our time and talent;
this needs to be shared. This may need a fund – potentially a line item in the operating budget.
Most UUA churches are in suburban areas but they serve urban areas where people may not have
a car. This could be considered outreach. If we use a voucher system it will involve book
keeping. This may help to get people involved that are not otherwise. Membership will look into
organizing the list for now. The conversation has been started – the details will be ironed out
Action Items (pull it together – where do we want to go from here)
Faith in Action grant to pay for Uber rides/cab rides. This will help in the beginning and then
will potentially be turned into an operating line item.
Look into voucher system.
Research a list of people who are willing to give rides.
4. Faith in Action Grants (10-15 min)
There was only one Faith in Action grant request. Dee presented it on behalf of Warren. It was
for the Standing on the Side of Love with Hopewell Baptist Church in Mississippi. Warren asked
for a range of $500-$700. It was supported by Welcoming Congregation. The church was
vandalized and it was definitely a hate crime. Any amount is great as a stand for love. Warren
asked that it be paid directly to the church and not the Go Fund Me page. The church was burned
and defaced. It was so badly burned that they are not using the same address; they are not
functioning from church. The church’s stand on LGBTQ issues was questioned but in the end we
decided to stand on the side of love no matter what. It is important even if we do not agree with
them, it does not mean we should not support them. We looked at this as a good role model/good
example to reach across differences. Leslie was not sure what the Faith in Action budget was.
She believed it was roughly $4,000. Edith gave a motion for $500. The motion unanimously
5. Any calendar items or committee report items (10 min)
A hardcopy was available at the meeting and was emailed out. Nominating did not send a
committee report. Nominating is looking for a chair for Canvass even though it is not an elected
position. Dee reiterated about the TDOR vigil and that a procession was added. There is a
congregational meeting on November 20th. The Auction may be on March 18th. Committees
need to step up for social hour. Membership will be hosting a new UU class that Justine and
Peggy will be co-teaching. It will start in January and last for 6 weeks; once a week session.
Leslie is the Liaison to the Building Design team for the Accessibility Building Project. She was
asked to speak to committees that have “stuff” in the building to remind them that there may not
be able to be housed in the future. The guest speaker next month will be Tom Coffey.
Teresa gave motion for adjournment
*****Low turnout due to election as well as changing the meeting date.

Jun 11 2015

Next Steps Phased Architectural Plans

Phased Architectural Plans

Standing Committee

The Standing Committee is the Church's governing board. The Standing Committee works to ensure the vitality of our community of faith. There are 10 members of the Standing Committee – nine voting members elected by the congregation and the minister, who is a non-voting member of the Committee. Standing Committee members serve a 3 year term.

The Standing Committee meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 7:00pm. Time is set aside at the beginning of every SC meeting as an open forum for members to bring forward any issues they would like to discuss.

The Standing Committee is responsible for the health and well being of First Parish. This includes maintaining communication among members and committees, managing Church property, and planning for the Church's short and long-term future. And of course members of the Standing Committee develop and manage the budget approved by the Congregation at the annual meeting.
The Human Resources Committee is a sub-committee of the Standing Committee.