August - October 2016 Splinters from the Board

The Board held an additional meeting in August to continue our discussions of the building use policy. The complexity and number of considerations in drafting a comprehensive building use policy have consumed a large portion of our discussions. We are, however, approaching conclusions, and we hope to adopt policies that will provide clear guidance to staff and the congregation.

We appreciate your patience and recognize that it has been frustrating. One example of the things we’ve been considering is that as we were preparing to move into the new building, we had hoped to have a card swipe system to allow entry into the building. This would have allowed limiting the number of keys that are distributed, thus saving the expense of re-keying the building every few years. However, we’ve come to terms with the fact that at this point in time, a card swipe system is too expensive. As a consequence, we’ll need to identify keyholders, most likely committee chairs, and distribute keys.

We’ll be drafting language that we’ll ask keyholders to sign. This will help us keep track of keys and to make sure the responsibilities of keyholders are clearly specified. As part of this, we’re also encouraging groups to try to meet when the building is open for other purposes.

Rental fees are another issue that the board is considering as part of the building use policy. We are anticipating that our new facility will be more appealing for events such as weddings, and we’ve been trying to come up with costs and prices.

The Board is also working through how to cover cleaning costs for our larger meetings or events where our space is being used by our allies. (Actually, not having a building for a couple of months has saved us some money and kept the budget on track.) Any time we have guests in the building, we want to make a good impression by making sure the building is clean and that there is paper in the bathrooms, for example. The challenging aspect is that we don’t have a good baseline for how to budget building expenses for the coming year. So, we’ve been trying to make sure that this year’s practices are sustainable for next year. As we gain more experience, we’re hoping this will become easier, and we’ll have a greater understanding of what our expenses are.

Other building use issues are our continued interest from Head Start (no new news to report), interest from A+ English as a Second Language, and an inquiry from the Southside Community Kitchen. All three of these opportunities are in early stages of fact-finding.

The Board’s work hasn’t been limited to just building issues. We held our annual retreat in early September to begin work on the budget and also to review committee charges. From a strategic planning perspective, it is the “where are we now” phase.

Most of the Board was able to meet with Jim Key for a workshop on governance. This was an excellent training session, and it will help prepare us for strategic planning. By knowing “where we are,” we can measure the gap between this and “where we want to be.” Ultimately, the “where we want to be” is part of conversation within the congregation, similar to the “Listening and Learning” sessions and the “Zebra Conversations” that we’ve held in the past.

As part of putting all of our policies into a standardized format, we have been reviewing them. It was affirming to hear that this is a part of good governance.

The Board also approved a sabbatical for Kathryn. This is planned to begin in May 2017. Because much of the sabbatical will occur over the summer, we’re hoping to save some expenses we might normally incur.