Greetings from the UCM Board!
Summer is fast approaching, and very welcome after a long and difficult winter. The COVID Pandemic has colored SO much of the past year, with many restrictions still in place, but we have all hung in there together! And, we go on, continuing the work and joy of our community.
The Board has met regularly throughout the year, as have many of our committees, the choir, the Community Lunch program, work parties, and planning groups. We have all learned to cope and communicate through Zoom, telephone calls, distanced waves, and virtual hugs. And you, the members of our congregation, have continued to show your care and concern for each other and our community.
We have kept our Vision in the forefront, striving to continue to, “Welcome All, as we Build a Loving Community…” through the dedication of our ministers, tech volunteers, and staff, we have continued to provide rich, meaningful church services, reaching far beyond our walls to a wide community of friends, searching together to make sense of it all.
At our Special Congregational Meeting, this past Sunday, members voted to finance an Air Quality Project, with the support of an anonymous and generous donor. This initiative will provide continual, fresh, and refreshed air throughout our Sanctuary, making it a safe and welcoming haven for all. Members also voted to upgrade our AV equipment, again with help from yet another generous and thoughtful donor, to support our minister and staff as they continue to reach out, within and beyond our walls, to those who are searching for hope and inspiration in these stressful times.
The Board is currently forming a team to manage the Air Quality Project. We are also developing ways to keep the Congregation informed each step of the way. Please keep an eye on the weekly e-news and ucmvt.org for regular project updates. If you are interested in assisting with these exciting upgrades to our building, please contact Board President, Vic Guadagno.
In the coming year, the Board will continue to evaluate our Vision, guided by our Working Priorities, and consider how we might better reach out to serve our community and our world. We will initiate a Study Group to address the name of our Congregation, as requested at the 2020 Annual Meeting in May. We will look again at how we govern ourselves, discerning ways to continue making leadership more accessible, through a close examination of our Bylaws. We will also be learning more about the 8th Principal task force of the UUA, bringing anti-racism work to the forefront of our mission, as we “Welcome all, and Build a Loving Community.”
The UCM Board will be evolving as Board Members Paul Hartmann and Sue Stukey are finishing their terms this June, with great thanks for all the wisdom and support they have provided. Newly-elected Board Members, Denise Bailey, Ansel Ploog, and Meredith Warner, elected by the Congregation at our May Annual Meeting, will begin their terms on the first of July, 2020.
Thanks to all of you, our members and friends who have volunteered on our many active UCM Committees & Teams, from Membership & Hospitality to Lay Pastoral Care, from singing with our Choir to the amazing COVID Task Force. Thank you to our wonderful ministers and staff, here in Montpelier, and in the desert southwest of Arizona! You kept us moving forward, safely and together. Thanks to all of you who have participated, attended meetings, cooked food, and cared for our children and all of us.
Our work is never done, but we keep on, keep on moving forward to a more enriched and caring world. We’ll look again at our building and how it could serve us more fully. We’ll continue to explore ways to better serve our community and those in need. I have found my own three years on the Board to be full and rich, exhausting and exhilarating! I look forward to continuing my involvement in whatever way I’m called.
Sue Stukey, for the UCM Governing Board:
Vic Guadagno, Paul Hartman, Ryan Kane, Hugo Liepmann, Charlotte Root, Meredith Warner
Ex officio member: Rev. Joan Javier-Duval
UCM Executive Team Review
This is a year-end look at some of the highlights of our church year.
We built our UCM 2021-22 budget, focusing on our staff. Mindful of the UUA guidelines for staff compensation, as well as our growth to a mid-size II congregation with 256 members, we’re pleased that our recommendations for benefits and compensation were supported at the May Annual Meeting. The Finance Committee, led by Dan Groberg and Scott Hess, worked hard with Sam Rossier, our Church Administrator, to present a solid budget for next church year. Hats off to all involved! We know that our congregation is dedicated to fair compensation for all staff members.
There are staff changes ahead. Our Interim Music Director, Kellie Walker Hart, will be leaving at the end of June, and a search is underway for an Acting Music Director now. Our Office Assistant/Rental Coordinator Becky Atchinson will be retiring this month. We’ll be reviewing the position and hope to fill it over the summer. Before our building opens, we’ll likely be looking for a Sexton, who will be responsible for keeping the church clean and orderly, and making repairs as needed.
While we’ve been largely experiencing church from afar, many volunteers have been analyzing what it will take to open up again. Front and center is the Property Committee with Paul Ohlson at the helm, who will be stepping down soon, after 20 years of service. This committee has coordinated with the COVID Task Force, Air Quality Project, and Tech Team in support of Audio/Visual equipment. The Executive Team has met/learned from/supported each of these extraordinarily informed groups, and we thank them for their efforts. Again, our congregation has all joined together to approve the work of these committees. Thank you!
Reverend Joan will be taking a three month sabbatical this summer. It would be hard to overstate the role she plays on UCM’s behalf. The Executive Team will be supporting staff during the summer, helping where we can, and preparing for the road ahead. May Rev. Joan enjoy a restful time. And to our many committees, teams, task forces and to the UCM staff, thank you for all you do. We’ve all lived through a lot this year, made stronger by our beloved congregation!
Executive Team Members: Rev. Joan Javier-Duval, Claudia Clark, Dawn Evans, Leslie Parr
UCM Climate Action Team (CAT)
As the climate crisis continues to intensify, please consider whether the Climate Action Team is a cause you can give your time, ideas, and ambition to. Help us to discover how UCM can play a bigger role in stabilizing our climate and transforming our world!
CAT will continue to meet over the summer, on the First Monday of Every Month at 4:30 PM. Among other topics, we hope to discuss ideas for continuing to integrate climate change topics into our Sunday Worship services.
Please contact co-chairs Diana Chace or Laura Brooke for monthly meeting information. You can also contact Laura Brooke if you’d like to be included on the CAT email list, so that you’ll receive occasional climate action updates and other climate action related information & opportunities from CAT members.
Our UCM congregation has been invited to join the First Universalist Society of Hartland, VT‘s June 20th service. A guest speaker will be presenting on: “A World Made New: Beyond COVID-19 to a low-carbon, resilient, and inclusive world.” Visit First Universalist Society’s website for more details — you may need to sign up for their email list in order to receive login details for the service.
Community Pouch Ad-Hoc Group
The Community Pouch Ad Hoc Group met a number of times throughout the 2020 – 2021 church year, to take a deeper look at UCM’s “Community Pouch” process, including the history of our donations, as well as how we invite organizations to apply, and how we follow-up with chosen recipients.
As a result of these meetings, we have decided to move away from our more general application process, to a “by invite” process, whereby existing UCM Committees & Teams will invite current or new community partners to receive the UCM Community Pouch offering each month.
We have begun initial contact with UCM Committees to gauge their willingness to participate, and we hope to involve UCM’s Community Lunch, Racial Justice Group, Climate Action Team (CAT), Women’s Alliance, Accessibility Committee, and others, to ensure a broad range of Community Pouch recipients, representing our many diverse and active congregants, for the upcoming 2021-22 church year.
Thanks to all who participated in our Ad-Hoc group meetings this past church year! We look forward to trying out this new process in the fall. If you are interested in participating in this ongoing, democratic, and lay-led process, please contact any current Committee Chair or Board Member to express your interest in volunteering.
In addition to gathering generous financial donations to donate to these twelve organizations this church year, UCM also supported a May Supply Drive, where over six boxes of material donations were collected and distributed to local non-profit organizations. Thanks to all who collected, contributed, and distributed!
COVID-19 Task Force Update
The UCM Covid-19 Task Force has been meeting now for almost a full year, approximately every two weeks. This group’s charge is to formulate and recommend protocols for our building’s use, member engagement, and reopening guidelines, and to give these recommendations to UCM’s Executive Team (ET) and Governing Board.
The incredible dedicated team of volunteers consists of staff, members, friends, and medical experts. The Air Quality Team has kept us informed so we have been able to take into account potential changes to the internal church environment. At this point, we have developed a two-phase reopening plan. All of the Task Force’s Meeting Minutes, plans, as well as various VT State, US Federal, and UUA guidelines and recommendations that we reference in our recommendations are accessible on the UCM website — https://ucmvt.org/covid-19/covid-19-task-force-minutes/.
We encourage your comments and thoughts on any of the issues that pertain to our work. Please see the weekly e-newsletters for additional details.
Summer Meditation Services at UCM
Meetings for silent and spoken meditation will be held on Sundays at 10:00 AM, from June 20th through September 5th. Though we don’t know if in-person meetings will be held at UCM, we are discussing the prospect with church leadership. If you were on our email list last summer, and would like to stay updated that way, please contact one of us. If you were not on our email list then, and you would welcome that, please let us know.
For questions, please contact Pat Carstensen or Peter Thoms. We look forward to seeing you this summer.
Happy Pride Month to everyone! Current members of our Welcoming Congregation Committee (2021) include: Elaine Ball (she/her); Phil Morse (he/him); Ellie Peters (she/her); Verdis L. Robinson (he/him); Lindsay Wade (she/her); and Ruth Witte (she/her), Acting Chair.
If you would like to learn more about the rich history of how UCM became designated as a ‘Welcoming Congregation,’ and about the amazing work of our past Chair, Committee Members, and Congregants who have contributed so much to helping guide us in this work of growing into a deeper and more compassionate understanding of the many issues that face LGBTQIA+ individuals and families in our community, please take some time this month to click here to read our history!