Dear Members and Friends of UCM,
It’s been a long time since we provided a Board update and we apologize for the long delay! This past year has seen unprecedented changes in our personal lives and our congregational relationships. Through all of this our community stays connected. We have tremendous respect and gratitude for our church staff for rising to the challenge, and keeping our worship services going through these difficult times. We also want to mention that although many of us still feel connected through our virtual services, there are many who may not be enjoying this type of connection. The Board encourages everybody to reach out to our neighbors and fellow church members to say hello and reconnect.
The Board kicked off our year on August 15th at our Summer Retreat and have been meeting the first Tuesday of every Month. We offer this update of our activities.
First we want to acknowledge what a hard year this has been for everyone. Just over one year ago, the first Covid 19 case was detected in Washington State and since then our lives have been turned upside down. o. Here at the Unitarian Church of Montpelier, we started the year with a reevaluation of our “Building For the Future” project, which was our ambitious multi-year project evaluating how we are living into our mission and resulting in a proposed, among other things, overhaul of our physical building. Before the pandemic hit, we were absorbing the findings from a hired consultant that suggested our ideal building renovation scenario was beyond our financial means and adapting our proposed building plans to accommodate this more realistic budget. Broader societal concerns have put this project on hold.
We began this church year welcoming Hugo Leipmann as a new board member, elected by the Congregation last May. In September Board Member Maria Parr moved out of town and stepped down from her position. In accordance with Church Bylaws, the Board elected Meredith Warner to fill this position until our next annual meeting. Hugo and Meredith have offered so much time and commitment to board activities and we are grateful that they are serving in these roles.
The board would like to publicly welcome Intern Minister Verdis L. Robinson to the UCM staff. He has contributed so much to our weekly worship services, as well as attending board meetings. He is a joy to work with. We would also like to welcome and thank our interim Music Director Kellie Hart. Kelly has virtually traversed the miles from her home in Arizona to bring her passion of “lifting up the group voice in song” and her worship design expertise to our weekly services. Thanks to both Verdis and Kelly for your love and dedication!
The COVID 19 Task Force was formed and has been chaired by Scott Hess. This group has been busy assessing how we can utilize our resources while keeping everyone safe and although the building is closed, they are figuring out ways to accommodate our staff, allow for our worship team to broadcast weekly services, and to continue to fulfill our mission in the community with weekly meals. The Board recently hung a banner on the front door of the church indicating that “The Building is Closed, but THE CHURCH IS OPEN”. Thanks to everyone on the COVID Task Force, as well as all our Committees, Teams and Groups for their continued work in our community.
We recognized that our “Visioning 2020” document created five years earlier has reached its maturation date and we appointed a Visioning Task Force to provide recommendations to the Board. We look forward to finding ways to bring the Congregation together to assess where we are at the start of 2021, and visioning where we want to go. There are certainly difficult issues to grapple with, but so too are there bright spots. We have a strong and loving community, and we can emerge from this era more connected, more resilient and more inclusive. Our leadership has prioritized equity and inclusion, and we are committed to amplifying everyone’s voice as we represent the congregation in living into our mission. To this end, we have committed to understanding and following the UUA’s “Widening the Circle of Concern” Report of the UUA Commission on Institutional Change, which analyzes structural and systemic racism and white supremacy culture within Unitarian Universalism.
We are working with a cross-section of the UCM staff and lay leaders on a February Fundraiser Called “Gifts of Love”. This will be a virtual Talent Show and a raffle of items contributed by you, our church community. Please visit the website to sign up for the event, contribute items and to sign up for the talent show! We especially encourage contributions of skills and/or services to gift to other community members.
Board meetings are held on the first Tuesday of every month from 6:15-8:15 on ZOOM and are open to any members of the Congregation. Our annual meeting will be held in May via ZOOM. If you have any questions or comments please contact board president Vic Guadagno.
With love & gratitude,
The Governing Board