With this offering, appearing every month, the Board tries to convey to the whole Fellowship what issues the Board is thinking about and what all that thinking and discussing adds up to so far.
- blip blip blip • blip • blip! •
Unlike the radar in an airport control tower, the Board’s radar is magic! Air traffic controllers know that every blip on their screen is an actual airplane, carrying actual people, which must be brought safely to Earth without delay. So, too, the Board’s radar shows blips that demand immediate action: nearby blips. But unlike the air traffic controller’s radar, the Board’s radar also has distant blips for planes that might never land, or maybe might land next year, or the year after that. Sometimes the Board, in a paroxysm of visionary thought, thinks up a blip that it feels ought to be on the radar and just hauls off and puts it there. Then the Board must eventually decide either, alas, it’s a plane with no wings and removes it from the screen, or it’s a plane capable of a smooth landing and the Board keeps it on an approach path.
What blips stand out this time?
Distant blips were blown off the screen by THE BIG BLIP.
- THE BIG BLIP
On May 15, 2023, Rev. Chris informed the Board that they were resigning as minister of AUUF. The Board met in emergency session on the evening of May 18. In keeping with the feel of those days, the electrical supply “resigned” at the Busch Center that night (a power outage), and we wandered about the grounds, and eventually managed to have the meeting in the Sanctuary. Thoughts, opinions, and emotions were freely voiced in a safe space, which was very much needed. We were staring at a year ahead whose outlines, let alone details, were amorphous. On May 18 we voted to accept the resignation; this was a formality. Of the three dates for their final sermon which Rev. Chris proffered, we voted for May 28, rather than dates in late July. And we acknowledged that the only kind of minister possible for the Fellowship at this time was a contract minister; the search processes for settled ministers, interim ministers, and developmental ministers had just closed. We thought it best to begin forming a search team.
This was occurring against the backdrop (or frontdrop?) of the Business meeting scheduled to be held three days later. On that day, the whole Fellowship was to learn from Rev. Chris of their resignation. A large part of the Business meeting agenda, viz., the proposed budget, would be blown out of the water by the announcement. There was an attempt (successful?) to create a safe space for all in attendance to air not only their ideas but also their emotional reactions to the news. The congregation tasked the Board with coming up with a revised budget and bringing it back to the members for a vote.
The response to the bombshell that had exploded in our midst was, rightly, a major part of the Business meeting. But important work was accomplished in the non-bombshell part of the meeting. The votes were counted; everything passed, all candidates were elected! Noteworthy indeed was the adoption of AUUF’s brand new Mission Statement and Vision Statement. Huzzah huzzah! Turnout was especially strong (67% of the membership either in-person or by mail-in or proxy).
In case you missed it, here is our brand spanking new Mission Statement: “AUUF is a welcoming and caring community dedicated to challenging the mind, nurturing the spirit, and transforming the world through the pursuit of truth, love, and justice.”
The June 5 Board meeting did not see the entire Board wrangling over the details of next year’s budget. Rather the Finance committee was tasked with providing the full Board several possible budgets that the Board could chew over more easily.
The Financiers met the next evening, June 6, and knocked around various ideas for next year. To have a record of the trial budgets created and the discussions that took place, the VP for Finance was asked at the end of the meeting to send those present at the meeting a short recap so we could begin where we left off if more discussion at a future meeting became necessary.
The next day, an email was sent to the Finance committee (as requested) AND to the entire congregation (not requested). This unilateral unauthorized release of notes of a brainstorming meeting complicated an already complicated period of transition at the Fellowship. The notes released contained inaccurate data and were overlaid with strong personal opinion not necessarily endorsed by most at the meeting. It caused confusion, rancor, and anxiety in the Fellowship lasting weeks. These effects still linger.
The Board met twice more in June (in these cases the Board consisted of the 2022-2023 Board joined by those persons elected at the Business meeting to the 2023-2024 Board). On Friday June 23 we met (the “Between the Trapezes” Board meeting in Board vernacular) to try to digest and discuss the “mood” of the Board and the “mood” of the Fellowship and begin to talk about next steps. The Committee on Ministry (CoM) had earlier requested a meeting with the Board. On Monday, June 26 that meeting took place. The CoM gave the Board a sense of what they had heard from congregants at two listening sessions undertaken by the CoM.
I am, like Mary, pondering these things in my heart.
Here’s blipping at you, kid.
~Over and out