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.


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.