It is in collectivities that we find reservoirs of hope and optimism.Angela Davis, Freedom is a Constant Struggle.
A Metaphorical Ship
Have you heard the story of the Ship of Theseus? It’s a small thought experiment that goes like this:
Imagine a ship exists, The Theseus. Over time each component of the ship is replaced, plank for plank, beam for beam. Now imagine that you can take every piece that has been replaced and you create a completely new ship from it. Or is it a completely new ship?
Which ship is The Ship of Theseus? When did the existence of the “new” ship start or the “old” ship end?
Our Metaphorical Ship
As a congregation, it can sometimes feel like we are this metaphorical ship. We’ve been making so many changes to membership and staff in just the last 6 months, maybe you are wondering if each change is changing us so drastically that we aren’t the congregation you know.
I don’t think that these changes mean we are less the UU Church of Studio City than we might have been 2 or 5 or 20 years ago.
Unlike the thought experiment above, Unitarian Universalism is a living tradition- meaning we’re expected to change and grow and accommodate those changes. We’ll keep changing and growing and learning, making space for each other as we navigate what life throws at us.
Growth and Changes Within Myself
I’ve learned a lot in the past 6 months as Board President. I’ve come to understand policies and procedures that were completely foreign to me. I’m still not an expert at Robert’s Rules of Order or the Endowment Distribution but I am so grateful for your help. You have made it possible for me to step firmly into this leadership role with more confidence and knowledge. And you have been patient with me. That has been the greatest gift I have received from the congregation, because changes aren’t easy, even if they are necessary.
I joined the Board in 2019 with the goal of helping all voices in the church be heard. I became Board President because I saw that many of you felt voiceless and unseen. Since my expertise is more closely aligned with building and maintaining relationships, not necessarily infrastructure, I’ve been thinking about what I need to be successful in this space for you. In this moment of change, I’ve spent some time in deep discernment.
A Role for Everyone
First, I would like to personally put more time/effort into worship and helping Terry Hassman. What a fabulous job she has done to coordinate our worship services over the past few months. She has been working tirelessly. Many of you have stepped up in a number of ways, but there is no denying that Terry has devoted mountains of energy to making this church and our services what they are today. Because I feel called to do more within the Worship Committee, I need to place some of my responsibilities in the hands of others.
I wish to appoint two more members to the Board.
When I was VP, my goal was to get Membership back in the hands of Board work and to facilitate growth. Others had also asked me to take this on in my previous role. But that fell aside once managing the bigger concerns became my full-time Board work. Membership was a specialty of Barabra Allen, and she has come to me personally asking how she can alleviate my task list. In addition to appointing her VP, I would also like to pass on the task of keeping up with the congregational calendar to Bababra, knowing she can get those congregational announcements out in a more timely manner than I can.
Originally, Barbara asked to join the Board with Christina Mathers as co-VPs. They both volunteer for the Drop-In and could see that I was in need of some help with task overload.
Since adding VP would make an even number of Board votes, I would like to make Christina another Trustee At-Large. I’d like to pair Joyce and Christina to get a clear look at which committees need new leadership and how we can help people take on those roles. This partnership is a way to re-evaluate church organizational structure, something that was suggested by the Healthy Congregation Consultants.
Stan has been amazing at bringing congregational concerns to the Board, and I would love to upgrade that to completing the agendas moving forward. With our large Google Workspace (the digital home for all our church files), we can make it easier for members to find the documents you all need. Things like Bylaws and Agendas would have a place to live that is freely accessible.
I would like to ask Greg Golden to step into the role of helping navigate the technology and communications of the church. This is another role that is being held almost exclusively by Terry Hassman. I’ve been in communication with Mat Steury about changing logins that were previously held by Hannah and would like to pull Greg into that conversation (while possibly stepping out of it).
I know Babu Shankar would be fantastic at helping to facilitate the Task Force needed to work our way through the Healthy Congregation Report. Babu’s diplomacy will ensure that everyone’s voices are being heard and having this Task Force report directly to the Board will help build trust between the Board and the congregation with healthy conversations. Pairing with Greg and Communications will get a good rhythm going of updating the congregation more frequently.
Chris Long and Josef Tichy have it easy- they get to keep doing exactly what you’re doing. They will also be the conduit to facilitate the Endowment Distribution procedure (something over my head in so many ways).
How You Can Play A Role
I am so grateful for the support each of you have given me, both collectively and individually, and I am committed to this church. I hope this vision for the next 6 months of leadership will give you peace and open the door for more collaboration in the future.
The next immediate concern is the Special Congregational Meeting today, at 1 pm on zoom, to vote on the individual Endowment Distribution recommendations. If you have not had a chance to look over the documents, you can find them below:
The come back to the ship metaphor from earlier, I’m happy to know we’re all in the same boat.
I’ve been sailing all my life nowBlue Boat Home
Never harbor or port have I known
The wide universe is the ocean I travel
And the earth is my blue boat home
President of the Board of Trustees