Letter from the President, March 2019

Dear Fellow UU’s, 

This is the first of what I plan to be monthly (or more!) messages about what’s happening with your Board. (This is a long one. Please read to the end.) We want to be as transparent as possible. The live-streaming of the board meetings helps, we know, and want to thank Lisa McLoughlin for videoing the meetings. We know the sound isn’t great and it has been suggested that we have the meetings in the sanctuary and use the streaming equipment. As a Fernandina member, I can tell you from experience that live-streaming isn’t as easy as it may seem, but we will follow up on that suggestion. In the meantime, if others would like to volunteer to do the cell-phone video so Lisa doesn’t feel obligated to do it every month, that would be incredibly helpful. Our next Board meeting is on May 7 – any volunteers?

Great news! Gary Rhodes has been appointed to fill the recent Board vacancy. Gary is fairly new to UUCJ but has demonstrated so much enthusiasm and commitment — we are delighted to have him be a member of our team!

The Special Congregational meeting on April 14 has been scheduled for two reasons:

  • At the January 13th congregational meeting, this motion was passed: “Written chronological and complete account of events contributing to hostile work environment Phillip and Tyler mentioned in their letters to the board and congregation to be provided to the congregation before 4/30/19.” At the informal meeting held with a group of congregation members on March 4 with Connie Goodbread, Co-Lead for Southern District Congregational Life, several people commented that this motion was problematic – we don’t have access to the information we need, and the issues go back much further than 2018. A truly helpful and informative timeline needs to go back years, if not decades. It just isn’t possible for the Board to provide a cohesive and informative timeline without significant input from the congregation and, hopefully, past ministers and board members The original motion needs to be reconsidered because it simply isn’t possible to meet the April 30 deadline to create an accurate, cohesive, and complete timeline.
  • Many of you are eager for information about where we are in our process. Our hope is to be able to provide information at the Congregation Special meeting on April 14. We’re figuring it out ourselves! We’re pretty much committed to the Pathfinder process with the UUA, but the church has pre-work to do before we’re ready to make that commitment, and we want to talk about that with you. I wish we had all the answers, but we don’t – we’re all feeling our way forward to what we hope will be a UUCJ community that is healthy and resilient and effective.

Kudos to our incredible volunteers who are doing a fabulous job for UUCJ! The library looks fabulous, thanks to a great team—Rob McKinnon, Mark Dickens, Gary Rhodes, and Vince and Sue Ober! Katie Dalbey and the Worship Committee are doing a yeoman’s job of ensuring we have vibrant worship every Sunday; the ushers are busy every Sunday doing their important work; Hospitality makes sure Sunday coffee is always available (and they need more volunteers!); Congregational Life is creating good times and fellowship; Religious Exploration is doing great things for our kids. And all the other volunteer groups who make this church “work” – the Tech Team, Building and Grounds, ICARE, Green Sanctuary (which does so much), Leadership Development (thank you!), Religious Exploration volunteers (with special thanks to Nan Clegg for organizing it all!) Churches exist in part because of the contributions of time, talent, and treasure from their members – and we have an amazing cadre of volunteers! I really can’t express how grateful we are for all the work you do.

Which leads me to this: We have some critical committees which are desperately in need of volunteers:

  • Finance: You don’t have to be a CPA, but this critical committee needs additional volunteers to provide advice and expertise regarding the financial affairs of UUCJ.
  • Membership: This committee is vacant. Which means no “Path to Membership” and no clear way for new people to become members. This committee is critical!!!! (And it’s actually pretty fun – you get to interact with people who are incredibly excited to have found us!)
  • Mission Funding (Annual pledge program): This committee is also vacant. It’s pretty obvious that the church needs a vibrant Mission Funding Committee to thrive and grow.
  • Welcoming Congregation: Also, vacant. Not to be alarmist – but if we don’t have an active committee, we stand to lose our “Welcoming Congregation” designation.

Talk to any board member if you’re interested in being part of one of these important committees!

Perhaps less “critical” but also important is the Partner Church: We have a close and mutually beneficial relationship with our partner church in Bozod, Romania. Donna Janesky has chaired this group for a long time – and wants to “retire.” We need someone to step forward to revitalize this connection with UU history – and its relevance now and into the future. And the Tech Team needs more trained volunteers, particularly if we look to having future Board meetings in the sanctuary.

Thank you to our staff — Virginia Deroy, Administrator; Nan Clegg, Interim Religious Exploration Coordinator; Judy Anderson, our bookkeeper; and Tina Ramey, communications expert. These four dedicated people keep us running. Thank you to all of them!

I could go on and on (and on and on…) We on the Board know that this is an anxious and trying time. One of the reasons I focused on all our volunteers is that these people truly are the underpinnings of what makes this church work – the members who give of their time, talent, and treasure. No church would exist without its volunteers. Thank you, all.

We know how important communication (and compassionate listening) is to a church, especially in difficult times. One of the things the Board is considering (and I’m especially excited about) is meeting with small groups of people – new members, old members – to have an informal conversation: What has been your experience at UUCJ during your membership? What are you concerned about? What do you think we should do? I think of it as “What is your experience and your truth?” An opportunity to listen and learn from each other. Hopefully these groups will start to meet soon. Probably not at church – in one another’s homes where we can relax and just TALK. And, more importantly, LISTEN. (This will help to begin to flesh out the church timeline as well.) We sincerely hope you’ll be interested and involved.

Thank you all for all you do, and all of who you are. The UUCJ mission – “By serving compassionately and connecting authentically, we change the world” – is so powerful. Our commitment to our mission and our power to effect change in our world is what makes Unitarianism Universalism an incredible force for good. UUCJ will get through all of this – and emerge stronger and more effective!

In peace and love,

Penny Reid
Board President

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