The Executive Board meeting centered around topics that highlighted the ongoing work required to create and maintain a community─ honoring our Covenant of Right Relations, contributing our time and talents readily, and being flexible.
Prior to the meeting, members of the congregation shared their reactions to the recent announcement that our DRE must relocate out of state for the safety of their family, serving as DRE remotely, with scheduled in-person days. These (email) responses were collected and shared with the Board, minister, and DRE prior to the meeting. A number of the members addressed the Board during Thursday’s meeting.
Rev. Holly and DRE Helen shared that:
- Most congregants who contacted the board did not share their thoughts directly with either the minister or the DRE.
- The decision could have been communicated to the board and congregation in a better way.
- Prior to the decision and announcement, Rev Holly and Helen discussed at length how they could make the situation work for both Helen’s family and the church; they conferred with the personnel chair Greg DeAngelo during the discussions.
- In addition to the safety of Helen’s family, their housing situation changed (significant rent hike) which eliminated their preferred option of a more gradual transition over the summer.
- The Religious Exploration program needs the church community’s support, as it always has; during the pandemic, the number of volunteers dropped to one. Our entire community has a responsibility to the children.
- This is a process which we will figure out together. We need to create something that works with where we are now. Helen will still be visible on their Sundays even when they are not present.
Individual members of the congregation shared that:
- The concern is with the situation not with Helen as DRE.
- The responsibility lies with the minister and the board, and the process; the board should have been involved.
- The manner of communicating the decision was not appropriate.
- Significant conversations with the families and the congregation should have preceded the decision.
- Helen can successfully connect with families, including new families, using technology.
- It’s important that we have an in-person DRE as we return to normal after the pandemic─ for volunteer recruitment and training, to use local community resources, to be a role model, and to trouble-shoot when things don’t go as planned.
- The congregation is not rising to the challenge of “How can we make this work?” The congregation is failing its children; it’s not all up to an in-person DRE, who has not only done their job but nearly all the other jobs of RE during the pandemic.
- Helen’s trips to/from Macon for their job are “time worked” per the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The Board went into closed session briefly to share their thoughts about the announcement and reaction to it and agreed to hold another closed session soon to continue the discussion.
Anna Bethea provided a report from the Nominating Committee on their progress in finding candidates for the open positions on the Board and on the Nominating Committee. The committee again challenged the Board to continue the effort to re-structure our governance which began in 2017. The committee will be providing an option at the May annual meeting involving suspending some of the bylaws for a year while we re-imagine and experiment with a governance different structure.
The Board approved:
- The consent agenda (Feb minutes, Feb financials, proposal to purchase office computers)
- A proposal from the Finance committee to reduce the required quorum for a meeting to authorize withdrawal of unrestricted endowment funds from a quorum of forty percent (40%) to a quorum of twenty-five percent (25%) of the Qualified Members (Bylaws X.C.). A motion regarding this bylaws change will be made at the May annual meeting for a congregational vote.