Board Meeting Minutes for February 28, 2022

In attendance:

Rev. Brian Ferguson x

Chris Stovall x

Rob Davis x

Tovis Page x

Polly Ragusa x

Peter Hartzell x

Dick Edminster x

Jeanne De Shazo x

Jen Barr-Davidson
for Finance x

Consent Agenda  

Purpose: Read and approve information based on the written reports without discussion. Items may be pulled out for separate discussion and approval if needed. 

Reports should include desired actions for the board, support needed, any concerns and updates relevant to church functioning. 

  • Last BOT Meeting Minutes – received
  • Connections Coordinator Report  – Feb received + Jan received
  • DRE Report  – on vacation
  • Administrator’s Report – none
  • Minister’s Report – received x
  • Finance Committee Report – received

(including quarterly financial report (Oct., Jan, April, July)

  • Personnel Committee Report – 
  • Email Votes – NA

Moved: Peter/Dick.  unanimously approved

Operations-Board Oversight

Give a high level update as needed and address matters needing board attention.

  1. Finance 
    1. Finance’s Draft Budget Dick/Jenn B-D 10 min

Re-working from early budget that showed a $48K deficit.  

This new draft budget yields a balanced budget.  

Assumed pledges rise:  4+% actuals increase from pledges grew 2% to this year’s actual.  Proposed repeat of this.

Rentals:  pre-covid more than $15K.  Will meet with prior tenants (4-5 of them) after we know covid policy for tenants.  Dick will bring this to the Covid TF on this Thursday.  For now keeping just $6K in rentals in budget.

Expenses:  review “what is wanted with what is really needed.”

Eliminate COLA (cuts $10K)

Reduce Jen Gill hours to what she actually uses.  12hours/week. Not a reflection of Jen’s outstanding work.  These are the hours she actually needs.  The overall trend is an average 12hours/week.  (cuts $3200)

Learning Journey (cut $900)


Ministerial reserve really needs $11K.  (Sabbatical, search; internship funding pool $3k/yr)

Reduce contribution to Bldg reserve for 2-3 years. (cuts $9250)

Futures reserve:  5% apply to budget.  Overtime this is sustainable (stock market)

Operating Reserve:  scholarship fund cut-$1000 and apply to Learning Journey scholarships.  And existing carryover.

This is a sustainable budget.  

If rents come back to pre-covid level then we have a $9K deficit.  2% of pledge.  A reasonable plan.  

Jen B-D:  FinCom needs to think about April:  the “what if” actions if pledges come in low; if pledges come in high.  Set priorities for both situations.

  1. Budget: Three-year Modeling of scenarios PH, RD, JD 20 min

The first draft of the financial modeling is in the 2/28/2022 folder.  Presents Status Quo, Hopeful Growth and Invested Growth Scenarios.   

Discussion:  Comments captured in 3 Models document in Feb board folder.

Chris:  We need to tie all this together, strategic planning and modeling.

Peter:  We will take the comments and continue to refine the models.

  1. Approve use of the Administrator as Bookkeeper backup for depositing checks. Dick

Discuss:  Insurance covers her job as backup bookkeeper.  Target April 11th for Gigi to do that. Moved:  Dick:  Move approval for Gigi to be bookkeeper backup;  seconded Rob.  Unaimously approved.  Dick to communicate back to Cyndi. cc: Rev Brian.

  1. Pledge Drive Goal & Messaging.  Leave this until FinCom finished with budgeting.  Board to make a campaign goal decision at March board meeting.   
  1. Task Force Updates
    1. RE Visioning TF Tovis 3 min

We kicking this off with interweaving children youth and adults all together.  Two sessions to present to stakeholders.  We are excited and want to get reactions fromstakeholders. Thinking big is for a reason.  It is a challenge how to present all this work in short time frame with vision and get feedback.  

Brian:  very excited about this work.  Feedback we are looking for is how can we negotiate being in dialogue and make the program stronger.  This is going further than most of us expected.  Strategies:  All  strategies (RE Visioning, Strategic Plan, and Three Scenarios models) need to be brought to together and do it properly even if it takes longer.  Interim solutions could help get us there.  No false deadlines.  Take the time it needs to make it happen.

Chris: Challenge: how to draw the congregation into these plans.  

Peter:  how does the Board help besides attending session.  

Polly:  off-the-cuff thought is that someone from the Re visioning task force should come to Strategic Planning task force.  Who might that be?  

Brian:  dissonance with between strategic plan and RE visioning.  Let next week playout and then see how we might process it.  

Chris:  We could call a coordinated meeting in a couple weeks.  Regroup.  does that seem reasonable?  Rob Davis wants to attend, Polly, Tovis, Brian. Whole Board could be invited attend to become informed at the same time.  

Tovis:  RE Visioning has planned a final meeting for Mar 21st.  Then we move into staffing phase.  Depends on how sessions go.  Would it be ok for this work to take more time?  

Note; There is hard stop with Lillian leaving as DRE.  There may be reasons to slow down implementation, but an interim plan would be needed for RE this fall.

  1. Strategic Task Force—next meeting in Mar 13thPeter then let’s meet the week after with the three strategic strands.  
  2. Covid Task Force
    1. Strategic level discussion:
    2. Information Steve sent
    3. Communication to the congregation. Concern is to address how the congregation is feeling, be empathetic, build community. Chris will draft a communication from the board to go with the covid information. Will have the board edit it.
    4. Board feedback around covid practices: rentals to be less restrictive, other?

Discussion:  let’s be sure we are addressing all that needs to be addressed that should come from the Board.  Chris will draft a communication.  

As the C.TF continues to meet, is there Bd feedback?  At a strategic level.  

Sunsetting C.TF in June.  Re-look  at the existence of the C.TFat that time.  We want to institutionalize COVID responses so we can do without a CTF. 

Polly:  C.TF always feeling balance of science and emotions of the Fellowship.   

  1. Updates  
    1. Program Council —  working on rentals, anti-racism, composition of the PC itself.  Two people leaving.
    2. Personnel-  working on school kits Leslie Vallerga.  Also background checks in the works,.  Recommend for our childcare provider—pay when she is sick.
  1. Nominating Committee

Appoint 3 members (1 outgoing trustee ok). Try to identify a slate by March board meeting.   Board leaving:  Polly(?) Tovis, Chris.  Form about this time:  typically 1 outgoing member on the nom. cmte.  Chris and Tovis will make a couple of calls to recruit to nom. committee.  Present slate 10 days prior to Annual meeting; so by March Board meeting.

Strategic Discussion

Focus on the strategic issues of the church to provide direction and guidance.

Are the actions & decisions we make consistent with our mission and vision? How can we use them to guide our decisions around the budget and events.

3 Year modeling, Strategic Plan, RE Visioning work-tying these together.  Polly the intersection must come together asap. and with the RE vision.  Process:  Polly will work on how to bring these together.  Draft strategy is that we may need an interim strategic plan for 2 years before we have a formal strategic plan.  Mar 13 we have to talk about these three intersections.  


Address business that has come before the board.

  1. Brian’s reflections on our functioning as a Board 

One of the best boards I have worked with in the13 years of my ministry

  1. What is working well
  1. Enjoy working with each other and I feel supported.
  2. Everyone seems to engaged in the work of the congregation and put welfare of congregation first.
  3. Engaged and open to anti-racism work even while expressing skepticism about aspects.
  4. Desire to think more strategic and engaging the topic in our work.  We did more of that today than we have done previously.  The three models of scenarios work is excellent. 
  5. What I am concerned with
  1. Will the anti-racism work lead to change in behavior of board/congregation?  Has it?
  2. Is the necessary work getting done pre-meeting to allow meetings to be most effective?
  3. Are we thinking and making decisions strategically?
  4. Are we supporting the program council enough?
  1. What I am not sure about
  1. Are all the voices on the board being heard during the course of meetings?
  2. Do we have a good enough perspective across the wider congregation to sense where people are?
  3. Are we micro-managing areas that we should be delegating? – Relationship between the board and COVID task force
  4. Conversations between board members outside of meetings are inevitable and important.  We should be aware of the possibility of factions occurring.

Polly: Thank you for your feedback, Brian.  Feedback is a gift.  Thank you.

  1. Fixin San Mateo-does the board want to approve endorsing this?  – 5 min Discussion.  

Discussion: Do we feel this is something we feel meets our vision and mission?  Does this matter so much to us?

We are not ready to vote for this.  We need more info and critique.  

This organization is non-partisan but it is not non-political.  Further, it is not clear what the a Board vote would do?  No Board vote at this time.  Chris will inform Nancy.

  1. Pending actions: Action Items Review from the previous board meeting (Jeanne) – 5 min

Wrap Up

  1. Board Actions and Communications
    1. Recap of board actions from this meeting and communications to the congregation this month 
  1. Thank You Notes
    1. Recognition and proposals for “Thank You” notes.  Jeanne talk with Chris about how to collect suggestions for TY’s over the month.
  1. Next Meeting
  2. Calendar Items for February
  • BoT Meeting -Tuesday, March, 29th 7-9pm, Peter’s House

Closing Circle 


Next Potential Strategic Topics

  • San Mateo sharing resources. Lot can be done remotely. Communication person, Admin, RE. Social Justice position for SM county. Cons-loss sense of ID of congregation.  Lose SAC individualism. Take it up a level as to UU. 
  • Program Council
  • RE Visioning Update (or under Ops)
  • The board retreat subgroups
  • Board Goals Review (3 mo check in)
  •  Online Ministry
  • Hybrid Services
  • Board Goals Review

Note about BoT working documents

The action items document is a helpful working BoT document but does not need to be part of the minutes.  The same is true of the Announcements Schedule.  

Each is a separate document and helpful in preparing for each meeting.