Greetings Fellow Congregants,
I hope you were able to enjoy the holidays with your family and friends. Even with the challenging weather that caused our evening Christmas eve services to be cancelled, it has been a very busy month at the Church. With no less than seven important and interesting updates for you in this letter, I’ll dive right in and be as succinct as possible.
Many of you have heard that Cathy Cartwright-Chow, our Director of Family Ministries, has announced she will be retiring in June, at the end of this church year. We thank her for her outstanding service to the children and families in our church. The plan is to bring on an Interim Director of Religious Education for one year as we continue our imagination and movement toward Lifespan Faith Formation. A consultant has been engaged to help us explore this possibility. This is very much a work in process. Look for more on this effort in the new year.
Our Annual Fund Drive (AFD) has reached 95% of goal as of mid-December. Yippee!! More than 860 folks have submitted pledges. We will be following up with about 200 more folks who we have not yet heard from. Calls will begin in January. We are very optimistic that our AFT target will be achieved. If you have not made your pledge yet, let me urge you to do so now.
A generous bequest made by a departed church member has created an opportunity to “Burn the Mortgage” on the Buchan building. Our Church’s Foundation, working with the Executive Team,* has approved a plan to use that bequest as a match to raise enough money to pay off the debt and relieve our budget of a heavy burden. Look for more information on this project soon from the Church Foundation.
Every three years a full audit of our church finances is conducted by an outside firm. The most recent full audit, recently completed by the accounting firm of Pauly Rogers and Co, concluded with a “clean” rating with no reservations. None of the findings were deemed material weaknesses. Nonetheless, steps are in process to address some internal controls that could be strengthened.
And here is an update on the Church’s social justice leadership. A transition committee will be formed to consult with Bill on hiring a permanent Director of Social Justice. This process will be very similar to the one that led to our hiring of DeReau Farrar as our Director of Music.
Proposed Changes to Board Governing Policies. As noted in the e-news for the last two weeks, the Board to Trustees has been working to make its governing policies more efficient and aligned with the Church’s mission. A specific set of policy changes have been proposed by the committee and are now posted on the Governance Committee webpage, along with a description of the changes. The Board will take up final review and adoption of these policies at its February 2018 meeting.** The Board requests that comments on the specific policy changes under consideration be provided in advance of the Board meeting by writing to the Board’s email address, Board@firstunitarianportland.org.
Finally, Seminary for a Day (SFAD) is scheduled for January 27th. The topic this year is white privilege. This year’s keynote speaker will be Robin DiAngelo, PhD, a nationally recognized author and speaker on social justice, race, and white privilege. Because of the importance of this topic to the larger community, First Unitarian will be offering the morning keynote presentation as a stand alone registration. Full day registration will include afternoon workshops with Dr. DiAngelo and others. Click here to read more and register!
And best wishes for the new year! May 2018 be fulfilling for you and for everyone at First Unitarian Church.
*The Executive Team includes our Senior Minister, Bill Sinkford; Associate Minister, Tom Disrud; and our Church Administrator, Kathryn Estey.
**Revised on January 1, 2018 to indicate that Board’s adoption of proposed governing policy changes is now scheduled for the Feburary 2018 Board meeting.