Board Matters

board matters

march 17, 2017

The Board of Trustees will hear a presentation from the Governance Committee on a proposed major revision to the Conflict of Interest Policy at its upcoming meeting on March 17.

In addition, members will discuss the request by the Environmental Task Force for Cedar Lane to review its portfolio to see how current investments rate when assessed using ESG (environmental, social, and governance) standards – and where we might make improvements.

Rev. Abhi will update the Board on his recent discussions and findings related to the risks and opportunities involved in our becoming a Sanctuary church.

Board meetings are held the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. and are open to all Cedar Lane members. To request time on the agenda or learn more about a current topic of Board discussion, email Board Chair Dave Hawver at boardchair@cedarlane.org or leave him a note in the Board mailbox in the church office.

March 3, 2017

The Board of Trustees discussed at its February 21 meeting: the search for a new assistant minister, congregational growth, the upcoming capital campaign, funding priorities for next year, and preliminary survey results regarding a possible name change. More on those in a minute...

Mark your calendar for Saturday, March 11, 6:30 to 9 p.m., for Bingo and Board Game Night! As their donation to the Cedar Lane Auction last fall, Board of Trustees members agreed to provide games and refreshments for this all-ages, community-building event. Register in the lounge this Sunday, March 5, after each service, and come join in the fun. Feel free to bring your favorite games and snacks to share if you want to, though the $15/individual or $25/family admission includes snacks/desserts and everything you’ll need to participate (except for your keenly analytic UU brain). All proceeds benefit Cedar Lane. Guests and walk-ins welcome to pay at the door.

The position description has been finalized and posted in our search for a new Assistant Minister. Board member Gail Riley is chairing the Search Team, which hopes to hire our new spiritual leader before Rev. Michelle Collins leaves at the end of June. Check back for updates as this process continues in the coming weeks – or ask for the latest from Gail or any of the other Search Team members: Resha Anderson, Betsy Binkes, Mary Farrar, Bob Harrison, Otto Lewis, and Tim Persons.

The Board approved charters for two new task forces:

  • The Congregational Growth Task Force will work in tandem with the Welcoming and Membership Team for the next few months to develop an outreach strategy for attracting visitors, building a path toward membership, and promoting volunteerism across the congregation. Contact Board Treasurer Jack Welch at jack1165@gmail.com for more info.
  • The Capital Asset Planning Committee will oversee the capital development side of the upcoming capital campaign. Board Chair-elect Jim Anderson jima5150@gmail.com, former Board member Maryann Dillon maryann.dillon@outlook.com, and Stewardship Co-chair Mary Means mmeans@marymeans.com will survey and interview members to determine the congregation’s priorities for improvements; select an architect to analyze our space and provide initial designs and costs; and work with campaign consultant James D. Klote, whose firm has been hired to coordinate the capital campaign.

At the request of Rev. Abhi, the Board identified some funding priorities to which they would like to see increased income applied once Cedar Lane’s operating deficit is eliminated. The proposed areas for future spending include social justice, nontraditional worship, outreach and growth, lifespan religious education, and increasing those staff salaries that currently fall below UUA-recommended fair compensation guidelines.

Upon recommendation from the Financial Policy Committee, the Board voted to pay for the new HVAC system through a loan from our Endowment. Terms for the loan include that it not exceed $1.3 million and that it be repaid within 10 years at 4% interest. For more information, contact Board Treasurer Jack Welch or Executive Director Sara Deshler.

Board meetings are held the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. and are open to all Cedar Lane members. To request time on the agenda or learn more about a current topic of Board discussion, email Board Chair Dave Hawver at boardchair@cedarlane.org or leave him a note in the Board mailbox in the church office.

February 17, 2017

The Board of Trustees has a hearty list of topics slated for its upcoming meeting on February 21, including updates on the search for a new assistant minister, the new Congregational Growth Task Force, and the new Capital Asset Planning Committee; discussion on potential areas of spending if we reach our $1.1 million annual pledge goal; and results thus-far on the survey regarding a possible name change for Cedar Lane. On the lighter side, the Board will also finalize plans for its first Bingo and Board Game Night on March 11.

The Search Team has been established – and begun meeting – to find a new Assistant Minister as we prepare to bid farewell to Rev. Michelle Collins this summer. Members of the search team include Resha Anderson, Betsy Binkes, Bob Harrison, Otto Lewis, Mary Farrar, Tim Persons, and Gail Riley.

Board Treasurer Jack Welch will present a draft charter for the new Congregational Growth Task Force, which will work in tandem with the Welcoming and Membership Team to develop a comprehensive outreach strategy for attracting visitors, leading visitors on a path toward membership, and promoting volunteerism across the congregation.

Now that the Board voted to create a Capital Asset Planning Committee to determine priorities for the capital campaign funds we hope to raise to improve Cedar Lane’s programs and facilities, the CAPC has begun meeting. Committee members are starting to search for an architect to analyze our space, address current issues and limitations, and have a first round of renderings drafted this summer. Former Board member and Blumenthal Futures Fund Task Force member Maryann Dillon, and Vision 2020 leader Mary Means have agreed to co-chair the new committee.

Following Rev. Abhi’s “What’s Really in a Name?” sermon on February 12 and the related online survey that went out, the Board will discuss the tally of responses to discern whether changing our name from “church” to something else interests congregants right now. If you haven’t already taken the short survey, please check your inbox – or request a paper copy from Sara Deshler.

Mark your calendar for the Board-sponsored Bingo and Board (get it?) Game Night on Saturday evening, March 11! The Board will provide games, snacks, dessert, and beverages at this fun multigenerational event put together as a fundraiser for the Auction. Feel free to bring your favorite games to share, too. Tickets are $15 per person or $30 for families. Drop-ins are welcome, but RSVPs are always appreciated to ensure we set up enough tables and buy enough snacks!

Board meetings are held the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. and are open to all Cedar Lane members. To request time on the agenda or learn more about a current topic of Board discussion, email Board Chair Dave Hawver at boardchair@cedarlane.org or leave him a note in the Board mailbox in the church office.

January 27, 2017

The Board of Trustees spent much of its January 17 meeting planning for our future: discussing the search for a new assistant minister, a new Congregational Growth Task Force, and the steps needed to launch Cedar Lane’s capital campaign.

The quest for a new Assistant Minister to serve Cedar Lane once Rev. Michelle Collins leaves this summer will begin in February with the creation of a search team and advertising for the position. In recent months, members of the Human Resources Committee worked with Rev. Abhi and others to create the job description that will best meet Cedar Lane’s needs.

Board Treasurer Jack Welch has begun drafting a charter for a new Congregational Growth Task Force, to work in tandem with the Welcoming and Membership Team. He will present the charter – with goals to develop a comprehensive outreach strategy for attracting visitors, lead visitors to become members, and promote volunteerism across the congregation – to the Board for approval at the February meeting.

After interviewing several candidates for advising our congregation on a capital campaign, the Capital Campaign Exploratory Task Force recommended to the Board that Cedar Lane should hire fundraising consultant James D. Klote and Associates to assist us in conducting a capital campaign.

The draft timeline for the campaign includes gathering and prioritizing ideas from members for their “wish list” for improvements to Cedar Lane’s facilities and programs this spring; bringing on an architect to analyze our space, address current issues and limitations, and draft a first round of renderings this summer; formally engaging Klote in organizing the campaign this fall; and kicking off the campaign in January 2018. The Board voted unanimously to form a Capital Asset Planning Committee to lead and manage the spring and summer tasks, and to present its charter at the next Board meeting on February 21. Former Board member and Blumenthal Futures Fund Task Force member Maryann Dillon, and Vision 2020 leader Mary Means have agreed to co-chair the recommended new Capital Asset Planning Task Force.

Board meetings are held the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. and are open to all members. To request time on the agenda or learn more about a current topic of Board discussion, email Board Chair Dave Hawver at boardchair@cedarlane.org or leave him a note in the Board mailbox in the church office.

January 13, 2017

The new year may have barely just begun, yet Cedar Lane members have already jumped in to participate in issues important to our future. A few topics worth noting:

The Board is sponsoring – and you’re invited to – the Social Justice Summit this Saturday, January 14, from 9 AM to 3 PM. This event is in response to implementing one of the Strategic Directions approved by the congregation in May 2016, to focus our social justice work and increase its impact – and the implications of the coming Trump administration. Rev. Rob Keithan, Acting Director of Social Justice at All Souls Unitarian in downtown D.C., will lead us in focusing our goals to achieve congregational consensus around and participation in a few carefully selected major issues in which we will invest our time and budget. We hope you’ll join us in the important next step in becoming more active, engaged stakeholders in our core social justice efforts in meaningful ways with our community. Register here: http://bit.ly/SocialJusticeSummit1

More than 90 members gathered in the Chapel for the Board of Trustees’ Special Congregational Meeting on Sunday, January 8, to discuss important bylaws changes regarding the selection, roles, reporting relationships, and terms and conditions for senior staff. The bylaws changes are in response to, among other things, Cedar Lane’s 2014 change to Governance by Policy, and the UUA’s updated recommendations on the way congregations hire ministers.

Officiated by Board Chair Dave Hawver, and with input from Bylaws Task Force Chair Dian Belanger, following the presentations and discussions, the congregation voted in favor of updating the Cedar Lane Bylaws. Please join the Board in thanking Dian Belanger and the entire Cedar Lane UUC Bylaws Task Force for their hard work on these and forthcoming recommended changes.

Members were also asked – and responded with a unanimous yes vote – to co-sponsor the ordination of Cedar Lane member Pratima Dharm (see the December 2 Board Matters report below). We look forward to celebrating her ordination at Cedar Lane on March 26 at 4 PM.

Cedar Lane’s Board meetings are open to all members. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 17, from 7:30 to 9:30 PM, in Rooms 1-2. Topics on the agenda include formation of a Congregational Growth Task Force, a report by the Capital Campaign Exploratory Task Force, and recommendations of the Denominational Affairs Team on how Cedar Lane should vote on the UUA CSW draft Statement of Conscience on Escalating Inequality (http://www.uua.org/economic/escalatinginequality/csai). 

To propose an item for consideration at an upcoming meeting, drop a note in the Board mailbox in the church office or email boardchair@cedarlane.org with your name, contact info, and a brief description of the subject you hope to discuss.

JANUARY 6, 2017

The Board of Trustees will hold a Special Congregational Meeting this Sunday, January 8, at 12:30 PM in the Chapel. We will discuss – and vote on – some important bylaws changes regarding how Cedar Lane hires ministerial staff.

In addition to the bylaws discussion and vote, we will also discuss and vote on Cedar Lane co-sponsoring the ordination of Cedar Lane member Pratima Dharm, as written about in the December 2 “Board Matters” column below.

To facilitate discussion of the proposed Bylaws revisions at the upcoming meeting, the Cedar Lane UUC Bylaws Task Force has provided the following background regarding their recommended changes.

Article VIII. Ministers

Article VIII of the newly drafted Bylaws is titled “Ministers.” This article replaces Section IV “Ministers” and Section V “Religious Education Program” of the current Bylaws.

Using source materials from the UUA, sample bylaws from other UU congregations, and Governance by Policy expert Dan Hotchkiss’s book Governance and Ministry (2d ed.), the Bylaws Task Force has drafted Article VIII with the following concepts in mind:

1. Cedar Lane formally adopted Governance by Policy (GBP) in 2014. Policy governance principles designate the Senior Minister as head of staff. In larger GBP congregations like ours having more than one minister, the other ministers report to the Senior Minister, who is ultimately responsible for their hiring and potential termination.

2. The UUA and UU GBP congregations have moved to more flexible hiring arrangements and away from ministerial positions as strictly “called.” To be called requires a majority vote of members at a special congregational meeting, and it creates an employment relationship that can only be severed by that person or the congregation. Under GBP principles and as drafted in the proposed Cedar Lane Bylaws, Senior Ministers will continue to be called. For other minister positions, the Senior Minister will guide a board-appointed search committee in selecting a final candidate for Board approval, to be hired by and report to the Senior Minister. Past experience and further research strongly suggest it is unwise to have subordinate ministers or other senior staff report only to an all-volunteer Board, which is by its nature ill-equipped for essential personnel oversight. Although the Senior Minister would likely seek the Board’s views and support for any termination decision, the ultimate responsibility must be the Senior Minister’s, for purposes of maintaining the clear lines of authority essential to GBP.

3. Cedar Lane’s current Bylaws require the person responsible for the Religious Education program to be “called,” even if not an ordained minister. This requirement dates from the 1950s when our church was a pioneering advocate for Religious Education. Calling R.E. leaders just like ministers intentionally demonstrated our great respect for their status. While our high regard remains undiminished, Religious Education as a UU career track has changed significantly. There are now vanishingly few Ministers of Religious Education. Today’s R.E. leaders have a range of degrees and qualifying backgrounds. GBP and current UUA best practices suggest that congregations like ours need a variety of contractual options available to fit our specific needs and budget as well as the needs and career goals of available candidates. As with other senior staff, the R.E. leader will be hired by and report to the Senior Minister.

The Board of Trustees looks forward to seeing you at the meeting!

December 16, 2016

What do church bylaws mean to you? Bylaws may not sound like the sexiest topic to most members, but they are an important foundational document, says Board of Trustees Chair Dave Hawver.

In a Congregational Conversation hosted last Sunday, December 11, by the Board of Trustees, Hawver and Bylaws Subcommittee Chair Dian Belanger explained to more than 20 attendees that Cedar Lane’s bylaws have been out of date for some time. The Bylaws Subcommittee of the Governance Committee has been working for many months to simplify, clarify, and bring the bylaws up to date now that the church is operating under Governance by Policy.

Changing the bylaws is of particular importance now because, as currently written, the bylaws require the congregation to call (vote on) all ministers, associate ministers, assistant ministers, and directors of religious education.

The proposed revision to the bylaws would stipulate that only the Senior Minister would be called, and that other ministers and senior staff (e.g., Director of Music, Director of Lifespan Religious Education, and Executive Director) would be recommended by a search committee, selected by the Senior Minister, and approved by the Board. These individuals would report to the Senior Minister, in line with the reporting chain typically followed under Governance by Policy.

A congregational vote is required to change our church bylaws. Cedar Lane will hold a Special Congregational Meeting on Sunday, January 8, 2017, at 12:30 PM, to vote on the proposed changes to the Ministers section of the bylaws and discuss other important church business. The completed revision of the bylaws will be presented for discussion in sections over the coming months.

To propose future topics for Congregational Conversation with the Board, email boardchair@cedarlane.org with your name, contact info, and a brief description of the topic you hope to discuss.

December 2, 2016

If you don’t already know Pratima Dharm, you should get to know her. The Board of Trustees voted unanimously in its November meeting to cosponsor the retired Army chaplain’s ordination this spring here at Cedar Lane. Dharm, her husband Dharmendran Rajendran, and their two daughters have been Cedar Lane members since 2014.

Pratima

Originally from northern India, Dharm moved to the United States in 2001. She joined the U.S. Army as a Christian chaplain in 2006 and served in Iraq, leading humanitarian aid missions for the Kurdish people and the families of enlisted Iraqi soldiers. Disenchanted with theology that did “not include ‘all’ in God’s grace,” she became the first Hindu chaplain in the Department of Defense in 2011 and established the first Hindu worship services for the Pentagon and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. She is a recipient of the Bronze Star Award, among others.

Dharm found her way to Cedar Lane in 2013 and says, “Within UU, I am able to integrate my pluralistic Hindu culture and my affinity for social justice…” Dharm holds BA and MA degrees in psychology from India, and an MA in Theology from Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, Ohio. She will receive her Master’s of Divinity from Ashland Seminary this December 2016. She was recently offered a Preliminary Fellowship as a UU Minister after completing a year-long internship with the Accotink UU Church in Burke, Va.

At Cedar Lane, Dharm is a member of the Stewardship Team and Mosaic Makers, and is also active in AIM and Black Lives Matter. The Board congratulates Dharm on her accomplishments and wishes her great success in her journey as a Unitarian Universalist minister. (Mazel Tov!)   

October 28, 2016

Sara Deshler has been appointed as Cedar Lane’s new Executive Director, Rev. Abhi is devoting more of his time to strengthening Cedar Lane’s community outreach and social justice initiatives, and Rev. Michelle is giving more of her time to Cedar Lane’s pastoral care and membership activities. These and other staffing-related changes at Cedar Lane were discussed by about a dozen Cedar Lane members and several Board leaders at a “Congregational Conversation” Question and Answer session in the Chapel on Sunday, October 23 after the 11 o’clock service.

In her new role as Executive Director, Sara will take responsibility for all administrative and business affairs of Cedar Lane’s operations and facilities, allowing Abhi to better focus his efforts as senior minister and on strengthening and growing Cedar Lane.

Sara’s new position comes following a Staffing Assessment conducted in 2015 by UUA representatives to help Cedar Lane operate more efficiently under Governance by Policy (in which the Board focuses on articulating vision, updating and creating comprehensive policy, and ensuring both are pursued and measured appropriately).

Sara’s transition from Church Administrator to her new role as Executive Director will occur in stages, reported Jack Welch, Board Treasurer, and a member of the Human Resources committee which has been working on updating Cedar Lane’s job descriptions. Her new responsibilities will be phased in over the coming months, to allow Sara, Rev. Abhi (as her supervisor), and other members of the staff time to assess the transition and make adjustments along the way.

Rev. Michelle’s added responsibilities now include providing direct pastoral care to members and friends of the congregation through office appointments, and hospital and home visits. She has already begun working more closely with the Welcoming & Membership Ministry Team to engage persons along the entire spectrum of faithful relationships including visitors, friends, and members. She will also give added focus to developing, implementing, and coordinating outreach activities that offer the multicultural community within which CLUUC lives a range of services for exploring the eternal, nurturing community, and building a more just world.

Here’s a summary of some other topics covered at the small Congregational Conversation:

Q. How does our new Director of Lifespan Religious Education fit into these staffing changes?
A. Hillary Collins-Gilpatrick reports to Abhi. Her predecessor, Greg, had more responsibility for social justice, but Hillary will focus on RE.

Q: What is the status of our moving to Governance by Policy?
A. The Board is in the process of creating measurable desired outcomes that relate to each of the Strategic Directions agreed upon by the congregation last year through our Vision 2020 work. For each outcome, the Staff will create corresponding measures, by which those responsible for the outcome can be assessed and monitored, so we can track our progress.

Q. What happened to the list of Ministry Teams that used to be on the website?
A. The Ministry Team list was taken down due to member concerns about privacy; someone felt uncomfortable having their contact information online, available to the public. We can put it back up without each team leader’s contact info until a better solution is found.

The Board plans to hold a Congregational Conversation each month, focusing on the primary issues it’s working on and rotating each month’s conversation from after the 9 a.m. first service to following the 11 a.m. second service, to give as many members as possible the opportunity to attend.

Got questions you’d like to see addressed at a future Congregational Conversation with the Board? Email boardchair@cedarlane.org with your name, contact info and a brief description of the topic you hope to discuss.


October 7, 2016

How will Cedar Lane look, act, and be in the future? The primary topic of the upcoming October 18th Board meeting will focus on Cedar Lane's Strategic Directions (view report here for information - go to page 6). Specifically, the Board will discuss the fifth Strategic Direction it recently created: "Live out our Vision and Mission through transformational giving."

In June, at the Board's retreat and kickoff of the new fiscal year, new and returning members agreed it is vital to create a culture of giving at Cedar Lane in order for us to pursue and fulfill our plans to build a community where love works. The Board has fleshed out three key elements of this fifth Strategic Direction to help Cedar Lane reach its goals:

  1. Give generously of our time, talent, and treasure
  2. Create and follow a path toward financial stability by planning for and managing our resources through responsible stewardship
  3. Create and implement a comprehensive asset management plan that includes funding annually into a replacement reserve that anticipates ongoing capital needs over a 20-year period.

The Board will discuss and refine desired outcomes and measures for these goals at the October 18th meeting.

In addition, our governing body will plan for the upcoming Congregational Conversation, scheduled for Sunday, October 23rd, at 12:30 PM, during which time Cedar Laners can learn more about some important changes being made in the job descriptions of Rev. Abhi, Sara Deshler, and Interim Associate Minister Michelle Collins.

We look forward to seeing you and serving you.

September 23, 2016

The Board of Trustees is pleased to announce its approval of Sara Deshler’s appointment to the newly created position of Executive Director. This is an important part of our congregation's transition to Governance by Policy, recommended in a Staffing Assessment of Cedar Lane conducted last year by UUA representatives Pat Infante and David Pyle.

In her new role, Sara will ensure that all of the administrative and business affairs of Cedar Lane and its operations and facilities management are conducted in an effective, efficient, and ethical manner, and deal with all related questions and concerns. Sara will continue to supervise the Communications and Facilities Coordinator (Sara Davidson), the Church Accountant (Marcia Montanio), Database Administrator (Lucy Dubinsky), and Facilities Manager (Terry Sloan).

This shift in responsibilities will enable Rev. Abhi, as senior minister, to concentrate on the ministerial aspects of his role, including added responsibilities for overseeing activities to strengthen and expand the congregation, playing a lead role in social justice ministry, speaking and acting prophetically on behalf of the congregation, and monitoring staff activities and programs to ensure they are fulfilling Church’s mission under Governance by Policy.

Rev. Michelle Collins, our Interim Associate Minister, has been assigned added responsibilities for coordinating pastoral care, membership services, and assisting with activities designed to strengthen and expand the congregation.

The Executive Director position will replace the Church Administrator position that has been held by Sara for the last 10 years.

The Board looks forward to discussing these changes and what they mean for the congregation in a Congregational Conversation on October 23.


September 9, 2016

How best can Cedar Lane grow to achieve its Vision/Mission, what will that growth look like, and what steps will members and staff need to take to bring our goals to fruition? Growth will be the main topic of discussion at the next Board meeting, on Tuesday, September 20.

At its June retreat, guided by the feedback from last year’s Vision 2020 efforts, the Cedar Lane Board of Trustees committed to working on five priorities this 2016-17 year: Creating and measuring outcomes, funding the priorities members expressed during the Vision 2020 process, growing our membership (which directly affects our ability to fund our priorities), transforming the physical space at Cedar Lane to best meet our goals, and reviewing all Board committees to ensure their activities and outcomes focus on Cedar Lane’s Vision/Mission.

Cedar Lane Board Meetings are open to all members. The Board meets the third Tuesday of each month, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., in Rooms 1-2. To propose an item for consideration at an upcoming meeting, drop a note in the Board mailbox in the church office or email boardchair@cedarlane.org with your name, contact info, and a brief description of the subject you hope to discuss.