Board Letter to UCM Congregation, January 30, 2024

Board Letter to UCM Congregation

Jan. 30, 2024

 

We hope 2024 will be a healthy, safe and productive one for all members and friends of the Unitarian Church of Montpelier. The Board is looking forward to a busy winter and spring, as we initiate a very significant new project and carry out several ongoing annual major efforts. The new project will be the start of the UCM Climate Resiliency Project, through which the whole congregation will decide on the long-term direction we will take to build resilience to climate change’s consequences so that we ensure, as best we can, our ability to carry out our mission and become a Green Sanctuary for many years into the future. The ongoing efforts are the building of our next year’s budget and generating the funds to support that budget through the annual pledge drive. Below are brief summaries of all three of these very important activities:

 

The Climate Resiliency Project received its impetus from the July flood. The damage to our building from the flood waters was addressed by the generous time, energy, skills and financial donations from many, many volunteers and contractors guided first by the UCM staff and then the Flood Recovery Unitarian Universalist Team (FRuuT). [For more information about the UCM Flood Recovery Work done and planned, see a summary here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/14Naur3D1J7WqZJb0djGEKmCrrFTF4COv/view?usp=sharing].  It also became clear to the Board, Minister, staff, and many members of the congregation that our beloved community needs to address the likely long-term consequences of climate change. This recognition resulted in the Board adopting, as one of its goals for this church year, the following:

  • Lead the congregation in a process of flood recovery that addresses immediate building needs and results in decisions regarding long-term use of the building in light of climate disaster resilience.

 

Two Board members, Brenda Bean and Steve Gold, volunteered to lead the Board effort to meet this goal. As we began to develop the plan for the UCM Climate Resiliency Project, we had important conversations with Rev. Joan, as well as the rest of the Board. It became clear that we needed to broaden this project beyond flood recovery and the future use of the building, to encompass and be grounded in the long-term effectiveness of the congregation to carry out its mission and to do so within the principles of our commitment to being a Green Sanctuary. This expansion is necessary due to the certainty of more and varied potential disasters as a consequence of climate change.

On February 11, after the regular service, there will be a congregational Town Hall in the sanctuary at which we will introduce the UCM Climate Resiliency Project, which we anticipate will be completed during the next church year. We want the entire congregation to become involved in developing options for its future and ultimately, after much research, feedback and conversation, choosing which option(s) we will pursue. There will be many opportunities for such involvement. Please, if at all possible, attend this first introductory gathering.

 

In the immediate future, Rev. Joan, the ET, the staff, the Finance Committee and the Board will undertake the annual task of building next year’s budgets – general and capital – for presentation at the May Annual Meeting of the congregation. We all are committed to presenting a budget that is realistic and does not put demands on our Long Term Invested and other set aside funds. That said, we will strive to achieve fairness to our staff and preserve the services and supports that UCM has developed that benefit the congregation, its friends and the greater community.

 

As part of the budgeting process at UCM, our annual pledge drive will begin on February 25. Our theme is ‘Transformed by Our Care.’ Between February 25 and March 17, you will receive a call from one of our stewards and have the opportunity to talk with them about UCM. We are using our pledge drive this year to not only raise the pledges necessary for continuing our vital mission here at UCM but also to spark connection and visioning in our spiritual community. There are many possible ways to be involved in this year’s drive! We are currently recruiting people to participate as stewards. Stewards will be responsible for calling approximately 10 other people; conversations will be based on friendship and connection and will not involve personal pledging data. We are also seeking testimonials: Would you like to submit a drawing, a song, a dance, a poem about the way care can transform our world? All ages and artistic abilities are welcome to be a part of this visioning activity. For more information about how you can participate in this year’s drive, please reach out to Ansel Ploog.

Our Gifts of Love event on April 14 will offer many tangible gifts and a variety of activities and, as a fundraiser, will support this year’s budget. You’ll find details in upcoming e-Newsletters.

We also wish to share an update about the elevette, which was damaged in the July flood and is a critical part of the accessibility of our sanctuary and upper classrooms. We expect to receive the elevator replacement grant funds from the National Fund for Sacred Places in the next couple of weeks. The grant stipulates that work must be completed within one year of receiving the funds. We are still seeking volunteer(s) to oversee this project and will be soliciting bids to find a contractor. The selected contractor’s availability will determine when the work can be completed. As we get more information, we will provide updates in the Weekly Announcements.

So, a busy few months ahead, indeed. We look forward to sharing Sunday services with you at UCM and to seeing you on Feb. 11 at the Climate Resiliency Project Town Hall. We appreciate getting your input for that effort, and, critically, your support for our next church year through the upcoming pledge drive.

 

In Love and Peace,

 

Rev. Joan Javier-Duval, Minister (ex-officio Board member)

Brenda Bean, Secretary

Claudia Clark, President

Fran Dodd, Financial Officer

Steve Gold, Member at Large

Hugo Liepmann, Member at Large

Jen Mathews, Member at Large

Ansel Ploog, Vice President