Winter 2023 Letter from the Board

Letter from the Governing Board


The hours of daylight have dwindled and the solstice approaches; for many of us this generates an increased pleasure in being part of a beloved community who share joy in being with family, friends, and our UCM congregation. One sure sign of the time of year is the occasion of the Holiday Fair! This year it has brought in more than $9,000. The Board is very grateful to the many people who worked long hours to make this event successful, especially Janet and John Poeton, ringleaders once again in transforming the vestry into a beautiful and welcoming space for this event, and overseeing it being effectively carried out.     


Fundraising is much on the minds of the Board as we approach the new year. Several Board members are working with Johanna Nichols on the February Gifts of Love fundraiser. As in previous years, while it is a fundraiser, the major purpose of this event is to connect members and friends (and have fun) by offering a wide variety of goods and services.  We encourage you to start thinking about what goods or services you can offer – cooking and hosting a meal or taking someone out for tea or a maple creemee; offering a bouquet from a home garden that a person can come and select; a car ride; a boat ride: a fishing trip; a hike on a favorite trail. Reach out to Johanna Nichols to volunteer, contribute, and connect with others during this multigenerational gifting event.


Board members and volunteers are also working on planning the upcoming pledge drive, Transformed By Our Care. The pledge drive is a critical part of our budget-making process: we use the pledges to predict income for the coming church year. From February 18 – March 17, canvassers will be contacting folks in our UCM community to have conversations about the church and our mission, justice and equity in making financial commitments, and how we can live out our values as a community for years to come. The pledge drive team hopes to use this annual process as an opportunity for imagining the ways that we each have been spiritually transformed and envisioning a future shaped by our loving care and attention. If you would like to be a part of this drive, through initiating these conversations or sharing your own stories of transformation and visions of a vibrant future, please reach out to Ansel Ploog.


We were very happy to learn that UCM has received a $50,000 grant from the National Fund for Sacred Places to help us pay for a new elevator. Currently, the grant requires that we complete the project by the end of April. We are now looking for a small group to manage the project – select one of two elevators that have been already identified; create a construction proposal to solicit bids (we already have very detailed plans for both elevators); and select a contractor and oversee the construction and installation. Please reach out to any of the Board members or email if you have questions or wish to participate in the project. It is critical that this project be started by the beginning of the upcoming year – we want to be able to take advantage of this generous grant. The reality is, if we are unable to utilize the grant funds there will be less available for renovating the kitchen.


Focus on the kitchen will begin now that the replacement of the elevator has been initiated. The kitchen cabinets that were exposed to the flood waters have been removed. Thanks to Brian Prendergast for repurposing the lower cabinets into shelves for Sally and Elaine’s office! The kitchen floor will need to be replaced and most likely the sub-floor will also need to be replaced once the full extent of damage is known. A scope of work is being written for the project – which will include removing the now-empty organ blower chase and allowing for potential future water and electrical placement. The selection of the design, materials, equipment, etc. (as with the elevator design) will recognize that future flooding is likely to occur. While the kitchen has been cleaned by professionals it is still closed – both for use or as a passthrough to other parts of the building.  Once more is known about the elevator project, then we will have a better understanding of what funds remain for renovating the kitchen. 


An important, but often obscure, core area of church life at which the Board is taking a deeper look is the overall capacity of the church to effectively carry out all areas of ministry including administration, and do so within the constraints of our current levels of funding. There are many necessary components for keeping our church vibrant and healthy that are not readily visible to many of its members and friends. Not the least of these components is the communication mechanisms required to ensure that all who need to know about a particular function or issue are adequately informed and involved, without setting up duplicate processes that interfere with reasonable forward progress. Going forward, we will be working with Rev. Joan, the staff, and committee leaders to understand how our church processes work and how to increase clarity and efficiency. Also, we will move forward as quickly as we reasonably can to fill the vacant sexton position. What is certain is that we must operate within the constraints of available funding in terms of our staffing levels. It is also certain that the church cannot function well without many volunteers from our church community. Right now, there are several committees and leadership positions that need to be filled. Please keep your eyes out for information about these needs, and if you have an interest in any of them, please get in touch with either the ET or the Board, who will be happy to follow up with you.  



UCM Governing Board


Brenda Bean, Claudia Clark, Fran Dodd, Steve Gold, Hugo Liepmann, Jen Matthews, Ansel Ploog