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.

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.