BOT 2020 — May 7, 2020

by Pam Collins, Board President

One interesting result of our lives during social distancing is that we on the Board seem to look forward to Board meetings as a chance to connect with one another…the small joys we manage to find in the midst of the larger challenges!

I will report that the members of your Board are all, to date, healthy and finding ways to continue service despite our altered reality.  Julie has been helping out on with worship from the perspective of the RE segment; Chris is working the hardest of all of us in his role at the Health Department (talk about service); Judy continues in her role of quality control and detail catcher (for which I am eternally grateful);  Laurie is the guardian of the Spirit both on the Board and on the Worship Team (which is busier than ever); Mike is keeping a close eye on the solvency of our organization and much appreciation goes to him for securing $23,000 for us of stimulus funding; Mark is answering the call to help us, as a Board, identify how our UU values inform our role in leadership; and Rev. Joe, dear Rev. Joe is working hard to avoid becoming a Zoom Zombie as he conscientiously works to keep the pulse of UUCSS alive, albeit  virtually.

None of us has any idea how long we will have to continue in this strange state, but how we might transition to something resembling normality will be the subject of a special Board meeting we will have mid-month.  In the meantime, we are all doing our best to function as well as we can, both in our private lives as well as in our role as leaders of the beloved community.  Within the context of that, we are all sensitive to the fact that you are all working to do the same — balancing your private lives with your public ones, and keeping sane and healthy in the process.  We honor the struggle and send you blessings and love.

So what did we accomplish in our 90 minutes of Zoom time? 

As we considered the need to find a chair for the Stewardship drive, we acknowledged that a job description would be helpful, especially given the challenges we will face with running the drive without benefit of face-to-face interaction.  Bev Lawson has agreed to help me develop a description which should be completed in the very near future.

Another pressing matter is the search for the Director of Religious Exploration as Merle is serving in an “acting” capacity at this point.  We agree that we should begin that process within the month, again, considering the fact that this will have to be a virtual search.

In his Treasurer’s report, Mike assured us that our finances at this point are sound, the $23,000 in stimulus funding being an enormous help.  As has already been reported, the “televised” Music Night was a success which has encouraged the consideration of another one this summer.  

Rev. Joe shared that our Zoom services are seeing attendance that is at or above our usual attendance!  Imagine that.  Obviously, they are fulfilling a need, which makes the amazing amount of work that goes into those services worth it.  

The Care team, as well, is doing more than the usual amount of work, as there is more need for support of various kinds as they seek to insure the safety and health of the members of our congregation, especially those who live alone.

Janice Wold also deserves everyone’s admiration and appreciation.  As our Administrator, she is the hub of the wheel.  She’s the one who keeps it all together and working, doing the behind the scenes work that makes the vision a reality.  Janice is among those who, in this COVID world, are working harder than ever, and whose “home” space (and everything that means) has been invaded by their work life.  There’s no opportunity to turn the key and leave work at work.  We are so very lucky to have an Administrator who is willing to give that much of herself for our sake.

Rev. Joe fits in the same category as one whose work self and home self has melded into one.  Rev. Joe also reports that “Zoom fatigue” is real and, while we seek to provide ample opportunities for folks to connect in the only way we can right now, there is only so much Zoom time people can tolerate (and that includes Rev. Joe who is putting all this together).  Of significant concern is our connection with our families and children.  While Rev. Joe and Merle have worked to provide on-line engagement to families, there is also the problem that families are Zoomed out and parents are concerned with too much screen time for their children.  Rev. Joe and Merle are struggling to find some solutions to this problem.  

I am reminded of a lecture I attended some years ago at the Schumacher Society.  The speaker was Oren Lyons, chief of the Onondaga Nation.  He warned that we would know if we were in real trouble by watching two things — the winds and our children.  For some years now I’ve been extremely concerned for our children, as more and more young adults struggle with anxiety and depression.  And now, it seems to me, that those who are suffering most during this pandemic are our children.  No school, no friends, no grandparents, no parks, no sports, no proms, no graduations…the list goes on.  And of course, there is the atmosphere of insecurity and fear that try as we adults might to keep from them, we know they must be feeling.  Whatever the new normal will look like in the coming months, our children must be a priority.  Kids are amazingly resilient, yes, but we cannot take that for granted.