Category: Church Council Minutes

Jun 13 2017

Church Council June Minutes

Church Council


June 6, 2017


In attendance: Aggie Brennan, Joan Coyne, Jackie Diamond, Dee Halzack, Dolores Heredia-Wood (guest) Dave Kaffine, Caroline McMullin, Edith Murphy, Tom Wight, and Leslie Yauckoes


  1. Chalice lighting (5 min)

Leslie light the chalice.

Miscellaneous Announcements:

The Accessibility Building Project will start next spring. The all church retreat will be held on September 30th, location to be decided. Leslie read a thank you letter from the Lowell High School history class thanking us for our donation to the Gift Cards for Guns program.

  1. Faith in Action Grants   (have received one so far) (10 min)

There were 3 Faith in Action grants presented. The first presented was from Reverend Ellen in remembrance of the Bethel AME 9. This will go to the church where the memorial was held for these victims. Reverend Ellen recommended $300. Aggie made a motion for approval and Dee seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

The second FIA grant request was from Reverend Ellen as well for the UU church is Charleston, WV. This grant was to support repairs to the church including repairs to their entry ramp. They have helped support their community in many other ways in the past and now they need help. Reverend Ellen requested $200. Upon reading the information presented, the money has to be donated through, which is a UU crowd funding service. Joan investigated the online donation process and presented that each donation is subject to a 2.9% plus $0.30 fee. Due to these fees, Joan motioned that we increase the amount to $310, which would counter the fees. Aggie seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

The third FIA grant request was from the Welcoming Congregation. They presented a grant for $1,000 which would allow the church to be an exclusive sponsor at the Lowell Pride. The Lowell Pride parade is in its 2nd year and is a family friendly event as well. There are only 4 pride events taking place in Massachusetts including Lowell.

The $1,000 level would give us exclusive rights to have our logo on all staff T-shirts. There are approximately 20 to 30 staff members that will be at the event. Another benefit to this level would be a prime table location and our logo on a prime spot at the entrance. The Welcoming Congregation had a table last year and will again this year. Jackie will be MCing the event this year and will make sure to mention our church.

Finally, we will be give exclusivity on the website. The Great Lowell Health Alliance LGBTQ sub-committee organizes the event. The Great Lowell Health Alliance relies on grants, which due to the political climate are in jeopardy. This group is involved in many different Lowell events as well. For instance, they partner with LGH, who runs the House for Hope and the Alternative House. Dee is on the subcommittee and Jackie works with the organization. At the $500 sponsorship level the benefits change. We are not guaranteed a prime table location, a spot at the entrance, and no exclusivity online.

This is a local event right in our backyard; it could even be said this is out front yard. Diversity is an important message to send and it is important to know that the church supports diversity. Sponsorship of this event is an important message and it is an important organization to support. It was mentioned that Church Council has approved $1,000 grants before. Dave moved to approve the motion and Joan seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

  1. Transitioning to the next church year for committee chairs and members (15min)

Leslie asked for feedback about how to transition to the next church year with potential new leaders as well as how to get more participation from more committees. The members present wrote down which committees they represent and if they knew who would be the chair next year. It was suggested that a retreat similar to the retreat the Standing Committee holds before the start of church would be a helpful. It was suggested that instead of an official retreat we could turn part of the first meeting of Church Council into a mini-retreat. Another suggestion was to publicize the charter, which would help to highlight the existence of Church Council as well as what its role is. Leslie said that the charter would be publicized in the announcements as well as posted online. Another suggestion would be to send the charter to the new chairs. Another suggestion would be to hold a splashy Gala for our first meeting, which could take the form of a potluck. Finally, it was suggested that to be able to have an accurate list of chairs, Cindy could send an all church email stating only respond if you are a chair.

  1. Review of C.C.’s past year (10 min)

Leslie wrote an Annual Report for Church Council. The group noted appreciation for this as well as appreciation for the effectiveness of Church Council this year and in the last few years.

  1. Future role of Church Council Discussion continued (15 min)

Church Council has discussed their charter over many past meetings. Leslie wanted to reevaluate one piece of information listed – how many times Church Council meets during the church year. Leslie felt that if we did not meet every month this would help to deter burnout, as many of the people that attend Church Council are leaders within the church and represent many different committees. Leslie recommended that Church Council meet only 5 times, sticking to the first Tuesday of the month. Additionally, if there is a Faith in Action grant request that has a deadline and needs to be approved before the next meeting, we can vote on it over email. It was suggested that October, November, February, April, and June would work as the best months to meet, however these are not cast in stone. At the October meeting these other 4 meetings will be determined. While it was not necessary to officially vote on this change, Leslie wanted a vote to make it official. The vote was to change Church Council from meeting every month to meeting 5 times and to change the charter to reflect this. Edith moved to approve this motion and Aggie seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

  1. Calendar items (5 min)

June 10th is the 10th anniversary of the church become a Welcoming Congregation and it is Boston Pride. The July 4th will be help on Tuesday, July 4th this year. The Worcester Pride Parade this year will be held on September 2nd, which is before the start of regular church services. September 9th, REC has tentatively planned a start of church kickoff potluck. They hope to team with Membership, as they did last year.

Jun 13 2017

Committee Reports June

Welcoming Committee:

May has been a busy month for the Welcoming Congregation Committee. On May 19 the Committee held its annual LGBTQ-themed Movie Night. The Committee has chosen to hold this event on the Friday or Saturday closest to May 17/May 22 because May 17 is the anniversary of Marriage Equality becoming legal in the state and is also International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia. This year we showed the movie Pride, highly recommended by one of our youth. The story of an unlikely alliance between a group of LGBTQ activists in the UK who decided to support a miners’ strike. It was a very good movie. The Committee found the movie particularly appropriate since it was also an early example of the worldview that sees the benefits of people from separate communities organized around narrow concerns coming together in support of mutual interests, much as Black Lives Matter, the Occupy movement, the Women’s March, and some environmentalists have advocated in recent times. It also exemplifies the inclusive approach that’s consistent with being a Welcoming Congregation. On May 21, the Committee hosted Social Hour in honor of Harvey Milk, whose birthday was May 22. Harvey Milk was the first nationally recognized openly gay politician, one who was early to see the benefits of cooperation among various diverse interest groups; he too created an alliance between unions and the gay community. The Committee is grateful to the R E Council for switching Social Hour dates with us so that we could continue this annual commitment. The Committee has been tabling to sign people up to participate in the Boston Pride Parade. The Parade is always held on the second Saturday of June, which this year falls on June 10. June 10 just happens to be the tenth anniversary of the vote that made First Parish a Welcoming Congregation, so the Committee thinks it’s a great way to celebrate that anniversary. Warren Flewellen is again one of our two required Marshals. Warren Flewellen has worked hard to pull together a float after we lost access to the trailer we used to use; the float is an important part of our participation because it allows us to share some of our musical talent with the community and it allows the mobility-challenged in our congregation to participate with the marchers. We are grateful to Cheryl Wilson, who has stepped forward as our second Marshal, replacing Tim O’Hara, for whose several years’ service as Marshal we are also grateful. Finally, the Committee has been actively talking to people to pull together a team to work on renewing the church’s Welcoming Congregation designation. The UUA recommends that churches that have been recognized as Welcoming for more than five years apply for renewal of the designation. They recommend this partly because the LGBTQ world is constantly changing. When this church became Welcoming, the label for the community it was learning to be welcoming to LGBT. Since then, the label has changed to LGBTQ or LGBTQIA+. The UUA also makes the recommendation as a way to make people who have joined the congregation since the Welcoming Congregation vote can be made aware of what the church’s commitment to being Welcoming means. The intention is to pull together six to eight people who represent a cross section of the congregation, from among new members, long-time members, seniors, youth, families, LGBTQ and heterosexual, Committee members and other interested members. Over a span of six to eight meetings, the Team will examine what the church committed to when it became Welcoming, consider how it could be more welcoming, and make recommendations to the Standing Committee. Our last piece of news is that our leadership, and therefore the organization of the Committee, is changing. Warren Flewellen is stepping down as Chair of the Committee after several years of service. We are grateful to Warren for his leadership but recognize that it is time for him to step back from such intense involvement. He promises that he will continue to be involved with the Committee, with the renewal of our Welcoming Congregation designation, and with our Pride activities. Since none of our members is able to serve as sole chair, we have discussed possible co-chairs (still to be confirmed) to fulfill church chair administrative functions (budget, signing off on expenses, Church Council, calendar, etc.) and encourage different members to take responsibility for specific events and Committee meetings related to those events. The Committee has functioned this way in the past at times. Dee Halzack will continue to be involved with organizing our TDOR vigil and our advocacy efforts. Frances Killam has volunteered to organize our annual Book Discussion.   Respectfully submitted, Dee Halzack

May 13 2017

Committee Reports May

Committee Reports

May 2, 2017

The Welcoming Congregation Committee has reviewed and consolidated our “stuff” in storage. We are donating extra copies of books from past book discussions, recycled obsolete papers, and moved stuff out of the closet that will no longer be used. At least we THINK we got it all. If you run across anything you think might belong to us that isn’t in the closet in the chapel in a bin labeled WCC or at least labeled WCC, please let us know. We do have a lot of stuff, but one whole bin, plus two boxes, are supplies for our annual TDOR vigil.

On Friday May 19, at 7 pm, we will be hosting our annual Movie Night. We hold Movie Night this weekend because May 17 is the anniversary of Marriage Equality being legal in Massachusetts. It is also International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.  The movie is PRIDE, a true story about an unusual gay-straight alliance formed when U.K. gay activists worked to help miners during their lengthy strike of the National Union of Mineworkers in the summer of 1984.

We continue with plans to participate in the Boston Pride Parade, which will be on Saturday June 10, Our two marshals are Warren Flewellen  and Cheryl Wilson. We plan  to carpool from the church to the T.

The Standing Committee approved our suggestion that we apply for renewal of our recognition as a Welcoming Congregation. We did this because we’re coming up to the 10th anniversary of being recognized as a Welcoming Congregation and the UUA recommends that churches that have been Welcoming for more than 5 years apply for renewal. They recommend this because there are constant changes in the LGBT+ world and because people who joined the church after the Welcoming recognition need to be brought into the church’s commitment to being Welcoming. In fact, the acronym itself has changed significantly since the church went through the process of becoming Welcoming. The process of applying for renewal consists of forming a Team to review how the Church’s original commitments have been met, what has changed that needs to be addressed, and what the Church could do to be even more Welcoming. The Standing Committee empowered the Welcoming Congregation Committee to form the Team, which should be composed of a cross-section representing young, old, new, and long-time, gay, and heterosexual congregational members. It is expected to take 6 to 8 meetings to complete the work of the Team, which will probably begin in the fall. The  WCC has already reached out to former members of the Welcoming Congregation Committee, who guided the church through the process. If any of you would be interested in participating, please talk to Warren Flewellen ([email protected])or Dee Halzack ([email protected])

Respectfully submitted,

Dee Halzak

The Grounds Committee is in full swing. Thank you personally, Nancy and Linda Horn for helping me to prepare Westford St for May Breakfast. There are still quite a few projects to go: some weeding designing the bed around our newly planted Fringe Tree, which blooms in June. It is our replacement for the Maple. The donation was made by Samantha Sager. We need a little more help for mowing season.   Martha

Parish Affairs: Coffee hour is going well.  We replaced the leaking coffee pot on Sunday and I’ll be interested to hear what people think of the new taller one we have.   I will probably buy another one if it gets a good response, so that we have a backup. Thanks, Edith

The Nominating Committee completed our list of officers for the 2017-2018 church year and submitted it to the Standing Committee.

Women’s Alliance is waiting on information from the Archives to proceed with cleaning the Alliance Parlor. Additionally, we have set-up a meeting with the Accessibility Building Project Design team leader, to figure out who is moving first and what is going where.

The Young Adult group hosted a successful Canvass Success luncheon this past Sunday. The YA’s teamed up with the High School youth Sunday morning during class to prepare. We had a great time listening to the service while we worked.

RE Council is starting to wind down this year and plan for next year. This Sunday we will be helping Dolores with the Milestone service. The RE Council is hosting Social Hour after the service. We will be having our May meeting after Social Hour where we will be discussing the last few events of the church year as well as starting to brainstorm for next year.

May Breakfast: I with help purchased a new fryer that will be debuted at this year’s May Breakfast. I am hoping that the increased capacity will lead to more sales. If all goes well, we will be using it for the July 4th Breakfast as well. We have not determined if we will need the old fryer as well; this depends on volume. We sold May Baskets at two coffee hours already with success and plan on selling them at May Breakfast. We have had many people donate fudge which is a huge help and this year we started selling flowers as an alternative with success as well.



May 13 2017

Church Council May Minutes

Church Council Agenda

May 2, 2017


In attendance: Dee Halzack, Dave Kaffine, Caroline McMullin, Tim O’Hara, Martha Sherburne, Leslie Yauckoes


  1. Chalice lighting (5 min)

Leslie light the chalice.

Leslie wanted it noted her appreciation to the Young Adult group for hosting a friendly and social Canvass Success Luncheon. Added to this was that our visitor was impressed with our event and it helped bring people to the budget hearing with full stomachs.

Rebecca Gore is encouraging committees to review their spending up to now and review what they have left keeping in mind that there are only 2 more months of the church/fiscal year. Additionally, she wants everyone to review their budget requests for next year and make sure that they truly need the amount of money requested. If they need more, now is the time to figure this out. June is too late to make an addition.


  1. Mini-lesson by Ministry of the Interior regarding relocation of committee items prior to construction (15-20 min)

Debra Grad did not come to the meeting. However, Dee was able to speak to this matter. The most full closet is in the Chapel to the left if you are looking at the altar. There is mainly fundraiser and pageant stuff stored there. Some of this will have to go somewhere else. Caroline speaking as the chair of May Breakfast and July 4th Breakfast expressed concern in the possibility that some of the fundraiser items may have to be stored off site. Dee did not have an answer as to whether this would have to happen. The closet that has the heater in it going up to stairs cannot be used as a closet after construction due to the heater. It was never supposed to be used as a storage area according to the architect. Finally, the closet in the Sanctuary should be reviewed as it tends to collect random items left in the Sanctuary. HR wants to remind the greater church to not underestimate how much stuff will need to be cleaned. They ask that this not be left solely up to the staff. Another question that was considered was how to handle donations and items that are stored at church unnecessarily. There was no clear answer to this question; it was mainly food for thought. This discussion lead to a question about what shelves in the back room of the kitchen are for the church to use and what are for Table of Plenty and Community Table. It was suggested that the fundraiser chair(s) speak to a representative from these groups to hash this out. There is an additional shelf unit in the boiler room that may work in the back room.


  1. Faith in Action Grants   (have received one so far) (10 min)

Reverend Ellen Rowse Spero brought forth a Faith in Action grant to purchase gift cards as part of the Guns for Gift Cards program. A civic class from Lowell High School sent a letter to local religious communities asking their support. Gift Cards for Guns run by Generation Citizen is an interfaith, community program that is a gun buyback program, which also includes turning in ammunition. When a gun is turned in no questions will be asked and the person will receive a gift card to a local business. Reverend Ellen asked for $300. Dave moved to pass the motion and Dee seconded. It passed unanimously. We have approximately $2,000 left for Faith in Action grants.

  1. Debriefing from Committee Fair for April 9th 5-10 min)

The group agreed that is was more fun, friendly, and relaxed this year. It was good timing for the new members. The timing allowed RE to socialize with new families and then have the Committee Fair where they could sign-up to volunteer in RE or in another capacity. For the new people, it was generally thought to be less overwhelming as they had time to get to know us before which was not possible when we held the event in October. One issue that was mentioned was that people may forget what they signed up for over the summer. The group thought that while that may be true April was a better time for committees overall. The group did not officially decide if we would hold another fair. Another benefit to having it in April is not having to make that decision now.


  1. Future role of Church Council Discussion continued (15 min)

Leslie took the document describing Church Council from 2010 and tweaked it based on previous discussion at Church Council. It was noted to add a benefit it to help eliminate calendar conflicts. The line pertaining to length of term for Standing Committee member was discussed. The group felt that it was important to have a Standing Committee member as part of the leadership of Church Council, however it should be listed as a 1-year term and the line should list member(s), as having two members it not definite year to year. The treasurer position was eliminated as there is no need for this position. The group felt that the layout and the rest of the document was well written.

Leslie spoke that now that the document has been updated, what should we do with it. It will be posted on the website. How should it be communicated to next year’s group, including the new chair? Posting an announcement early was one key that needed to happen both to communicate that Church Council exists and what it is. June is the best time to make this announcement, so that we start to know how it is for next year. Part of the leadership training that is needed and Church Council can explore is leadership transition. What does it mean to change leadership within a committee? What makes that process work well? Understanding delegation is an important part of this transition. Some committee representatives at the meeting offered to speak to how their committees achieve this. What makes a strong committee? Committees need to understand that Church Council is here to help. Church Council should make the weekly announcement at the beginning of the Sunday service. It was suggested that Church Council could do this during September when it is Standing Committee’s month as Church Council is a direct extension of the SC; it might make this more apparent to the church. Another thought is to take a month of the committees/groups that may only need/want one Sunday and be part of that. Finally, it was suggested that Church Council could make the announcement during a month with 5 Sundays.


  1. Calendar items (5 min )

May 6th – May Breakfast

May 19th – Welcoming Congregation movie night

May 20th – Steve’s concert

May 21st – Budget Hearing/Harvey Milk Social Hour

May 14th – Mother’s Day Walk for Peace

June 10th – Boston Pride

June 11th – Music Appreciation Sunday/Justine’s Ordination in Littleton/Annual Meeting

September 30th – Off-site Retreat


Dee motioned to be adjourned. Leslie moved to adjourn.

Apr 26 2017

Church Council April Minutes

Church Council

April 4, 2017

Dee Halzack, Tim O’Hara, Leslie Yauckoes, Rosemary McMulling, Dave Kaffine, Dolores H_W, Aggie Brenn

  1. Chalice lighting

From “Lifting Our Voices”

  1. Mini-lesson on Canvass- Joan Keane

72 house holds have pledged – 41%

4 pledged without a request sent to them

There were 175 mailings. As of April 2nd $168,287 – 64% of goal

Average pledge has increase 3.1% over last year

If those who haven’t pledged increase by same – we’ll   $3200 short of goal.The budget is 6% greater than last year.

The Canvas committee is in the process of sending out thank you notes

There is a progress chart on bulletin board in vestry on % of participation

  1. Faith in Action Grants

STEM laboratory for CADSTI-NE – request $500- submitted by Aggie Brennan

RM moved to approve. DK seconded. The request was approved

  1. Committee Fair for April 9th

LY- went through the placards to put on the tables. She will give them to people the day of the fair

Some committees don’t participate in church council. LY used committees that have line items in the budget. How can the committees that don’t have a budget line be included in the Committee Fair (ie: coffee hour). It is a little too late to include them this year, but we can invite them in the future. Leslie will send out a notice to the rest of Church Council reminding them about the fair

Young Adults don’t need a table – they will mingle, they will be promoting the Seder scheduled for that evening.

Tables for:

Welcoming Congregation


Women’s Alliance

Music Committee




RE Council


IT – 1/2 a table, usher sign up and there will be room for another small display

Display, snack

Tim and Aggie will make coffee

Dee counted the tables

13 6 foot tables

3 8 foot tables

1 5 foot table

The tables will be set up long way, Church council will also do the clean upLY will reach out to Caring Connection, etc. for fair

An announcement will be made at the start of the service to remind people about the fair.

  1. Future role of Church Council Discussion

Refer to packet headed “CommitteeGroup Description” for Church Council

How do we see ourselves, expand? Contract? Do we need to meet once a month.

Tim – once a month is good, especially due to FIA grants.

Rosemary – because it is only one hour, once a month is fine.Church council as a vehicle of getting new people involved – the Committee fair addresses this.

Dee: when welcoming committee started – didn’t know about Church Council (CC) for a while. She and the other co-chair need guidance on how to run their committee. The would have appreciated being guidance from CC.

Next month, Leslie would like to have someone from the Department of the interior for the mini-lesson. Good timing – since a lot of things will be moved around during construction.

Alleviate/coordinate duplicate efforts. CC is the forum where this can be ironed out.

It was agreed that the CC description needs to be updated and distributed at the first meeting at the start of the church year.

Next meeting – talk about how to update, how can we get more members (other committees). Why would a committee like to participate in CC? Potentially put updated document on the website.

Dave – CC can be used to brainstorm solutions. Sometimes if a committee has an issue, they bring it to CC for advice on how to handle it.

  1. Other business

RE coordinator resigned. Dolores will speak to RE council about how to proceed next. No general announcement will be made.

Performance evaluations will be sent out soon. No changes to evaluations system

Franz Janssen will be taking over as Table of Plenty lead, starting in June

Community table is in need of a new cook. Someone other than Tim needs to learn the recipe

  1. Calendar Items

May 6th – May breakfast

April 21st – Park clean up

May 20th- concert, conficts with Welcoming Committee movie night.

April 16th- Egg hunt after the service

May 21st – Special Congregational meeting

Meeting adjourned.


Submitted by Aggie Brennan

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.