by Pam Collins, President of the Board of Trustees
Your Board of Trustees is thrilled to have its minister back, but normalcy has not yet returned, as you are all well aware. Our April meeting was conducted over Zoom, hosted by Judy Halstead, and while it was not the same as being in each other’s company, we seemed to be able to conduct our business satisfactorily.
That business included hearing from guests Sue Wilkinson, Harry Moran and Bev Lawson.
Bev was concerned about whether we should hold our annual plant fair or not. After some discussion, the Board suggested that Bev gather the necessary folks to come up with a plan that would honor social distancing and everyone’s safety. Subsequently, a number of people “Zoomed” and it was eventually decided that most folks were not willing to take the risk of trying to maintain social distance while doing all the work required to make the plant fair happen…and so, there will not be one this year.
Sue Wilkinson shared input from Liz Coit, our Capital Campaign consultant, who recommends that we suspend the Capital campaign activity for the time being, given the restrictions of social distancing, as well as the financial uncertainty that has resulted from our efforts to stem the pandemic. Likewise, Harry reported that the Planning Team feels it unwise to proceed with land acquisition at this time, a position that the Board unanimously agrees with. Financial risks do not seem prudent right now.
This may seem like a lot of bad news, but I prefer not to characterize it that way. Instead, I think it’s important to appreciate the thoughtfulness and care so many folks have given to discerning the best way to proceed in this difficult, unprecedented, and uncertain environment we find ourselves in. No one knows how this is all going to play out. As much as we’d like to charge ahead, there are times when it takes more wisdom and courage to pull back than to charge ahead when the odds of success are questionable at best and this is one of those times.
Let us take stock of what we do have…a strong community, dedicated leadership, a minister who was willing to cut his sabbatical short to provide us with pastoral support, (and engage a steep learning curve to do so), a Care Team that is working harder than ever to be sure that vulnerable individuals are supported, and a strong foundational commitment to UUCSS by many wonderful, selfless people. We did a great job in Phase 1 of our Capital Campaign. That investment in our future is there, ready to be employed when conditions are appropriate for it. So…we take a breath. We wait. We grow stronger. We do what must be done to protect both ourselves and others.
And, there is more positive news to report. Our ever-vigilant Treasurer, Mike Goodwin, has applied for Cares funding and that application has been approved. We will received $26,000 to be used for staff, utilities and the like. The money will come to us as a “loan” that will then be forgiven as long as we use the money as stipulated, which we most assuredly will. That support to our budget will offset what we will be unable to acquire from fundraisers but cannot substitute for pledges, which Mike reports are coming in at a healthy rate and we thank you for that!
In his minister’s report, Rev. Joe shared that he is working diligently to learn the in’s and out’s of Zoom to keep as many of our pastoral needs operational as possible, albeit in a virtual context. Sunday services, small groups, committee and team meetings are now all being conducted via Zoom, so the life of the church continues and we connect with each other in the best way we can for now. And an upside to all of this (beyond the fact that we ARE continuing the life of the church) is that as we are learning new ways of doing things, there may be aspects of this that will inspire us to expand our ministry even after things return to normal.
I’ve often been impatient will people saying “it is what it is.” I tend to feel that there’s always room to improve things, to get better, to not be satisfied with the status quo, but in certain circumstances, there is wisdom in accepting things we cannot change (and as they say, knowing the difference). This is one of those times. We are called upon, I believe, to strike a balance between doing what we can to maintain the world as we have known it and graciously moving into new behaviors demanded by new circumstances. We are all faced with this challenge, but at least we have each other to share support, inspiration, and insight. Blessings.