It is important for each church member to be aware of the hard work and long hours performed by the members of the Leadership Council since the church conference in April. The desire of each member of the Council is to make the right decisions that will lead our church to a successful future in growing God’s kingdom in Boca Raton. While we may not agree on the process, we all agree on the desired outcome. The meeting Monday night took three hours, illustrating the efforts of the Council in our goal. The following is my recollection of the meeting and my expressed personal views.
Pastor Marcus opened the meeting with a prayer and a devotional.
Ron Allen, president of Morgan Taylor Company, a longstanding member of our church, gave a formal presentation on the condition of our facilities on both campuses. His presentation was impressive with details and overview, covering the condition of the roofs, air-conditioners, buildings, and walkways. It was my opinion that his presentation indicated that overall, the facilities are in decent to good condition with a few exceptions. Roof cleaning was recommended on the East campus along with low-cost maintenance on the air conditioning units (line insulation). The West campus needs some roof work and parking lot repair. Pastor Tom asked Ron to review a leak in the Chapel. Ron and his company have been involved in the repair or replacement of our facilities dating back to 2002. Please contact him directly or speak with Fran Bertotti if you have a concern. Overall, I thought his report was quite encouraging.
Joe Manino gave a presentation on how the current governing body of our church, The Leadership Council, came into being in 2012. Revised in 2016, the document describing the composition and policies of the Council was distributed to each member. In the future, new members on the Council will be given this document in January and will be asked to participate in a brief leadership training at the start of their tenure. There are several concerns regarding current composition and policy. These include which members should have the privilege of voting, alternate committee members, and attendance requirements for Council members. Pastor Tom, and in his absence pastor Marcus, will chair a committee of Charlie Tate, Joe Rakestraw, and Merv Timberlake, to make recommendations at the July meeting. All policy must be consistent with The Book of Discipline. Charlie Tate reminded the Council that this document represented the “Constitution” of our governing body, and must be closely adhered to.
Sharon Saige gave the business administrator report. Those documents are available for review. In brief, we continue to run a budget deficit, and our attendance continues to drop on both campuses. This is the summer, when attendance and giving are historically low. On the bright side, the increase in pledging has now totaled about $44,000. However, this remains well below the goal established at the April church conference of 20%. Please continue to pray about your financial commitment to the kingdom of God.
Fran Bertotti gave the trustees subcommittee report. The list of minor repairs is available for your review. Fran did express concern about the West Campus parking lot and the need for repair prior to our Pumpkin Patch Outreach in October. Particularly encouraging was the report of volunteers supplying labor and in some cases materials to improve our facilities on West and East campuses. Volunteerism is the heart and soul of any church. Please do your part.
Chuck Reeder gave the Staff Parish report. There have been rather dramatic changes in our staff this summer. As reported last month, our West Campus children’s director and Sunday school teacher has resigned. This month, Melissa Walls, after 10 years of faithful service, has resigned as Director of Children’s Ministry. These resignations leave a tremendous gap in our ministry to our children and youth. The committee proposed a bold plan to develop a new position of Director of Family Ministry. This individual would be in charge of the children and youth ministries on both campuses. For this to work, in addition to his or her direct ministry, this individual would need to have significant people skills in order to produce the volunteers (parents and other church members) necessary for each of the programs. Budgeted funds are available for this position and there may be an opportunity for some budget savings with the consolidation. The plan was unanimously approved by the Council and the search for the director will begin this summer.
Sharon Beede gave the finance committee report. Her report is available for review. In summary, the committee continues to express concern about the financial well-being of our church. We continue to run a budget deficit and the long-term implications of this is onerous. The committee continues to work diligently to find areas in the budget that can be modified to reduce costs. Some of these areas may include reduction of the music ministry expenses on the East campus, the financial consequences of selling one or both of the parish homes, and an overall reduction in the Staff Parish budget. On the positive side, we have reduced cost for our custodial services, and we have increased income through new rental agreements with MECE on the East Campus and the Montessori school on the West Campus. In addition, there may be additional savings as noted earlier in the establishment of a Director of Family Ministry. A motion was approved to move $100,000 from our foundation fund into a Merrill Lynch liquid account. A second motion encouraging a budget reduction of 15%, with 10% coming from Staff Parish was defeated. It would be my opinion that Leadership Council has two schools of thought on the budget issue. Some Council members feel that the budget should be reduced and the deficit eliminated. Other Council members, including myself, feel that our church ministry must be revamped and updated, if we are to succeed in the future. This will likely require deficit spending in the near future. All members of our Council want our church to succeed on both campuses. As members, your input is necessary—not only your thoughts, but your time, energy, and giving.
Pastor Marcus briefly discussed the first meetings of the Strategic Planning Task Force and the Ministries Reassessment Task Force. These two teams were established at our April church conference and will be evaluating all aspects of worship at our church currently and our strategic planning for the future. They will be working all summer to bring a report to the Leadership Council in September.
Pastor Tom gave his final report as a full-time pastor. He will be spending three weeks starting July 7 in Atlanta to complete his study at the Emory University School of Theology. He shared his sense of blessing at being a full-time pastor at our church and left the Council with a most appropriate Bible verse to live by: Ephesians 4:32. Look it up, it’s worth remembering. Charlie Tate concluded Pastor Tom’s remarks by expressing a deep appreciation and love for Pastor Tom and all that he has done to further the ministry of our church. We are so very grateful that he will continue to be with us on a part-time basis.
Pastors Rachel and Ryan continue to be on maternity leave. They will be returning to work on July 1. Our prayers of joy continue for young Charlie.
Suzanne Reeves gave the Lay Leader report. Suzanne is serving on both planning teams as a facilitator with Pastor Marcus. If you take a minute to review the Leadership Council composition and policy document discussed earlier, you will find the responsibilities of the Lay Leader. Suzi is the living, breathing, walking and talking example of what the Leader of Laity is supposed to be. We are so blessed to have her.
Our new Young Adult Representative, Mallory Albeck, did not present a report at this meeting. The purpose of the Young Adult Representative is to insure that the Leadership Council discussions and votes include the perspective of the next generation.
Jill Haire, our Connections Ministry Director, filed a written report. She continues to work on a plan of action this summer for increasing number of greeters and ushers for our services starting in the fall.
Joe Rakestraw, one of our Council members, is working with Mike Woolsey to establish a new outreach ministry with the motorcycle enthusiasts in our community. He asked for the council’s endorsement. Council members recommended George Liebel as an additional convener of this “motorcycle gang” and unanimously supported this outreach. Please be careful, boys!!!
Doris Clark gave an exciting and enthusiastic report of the first meeting of the Pumpkin Patch Committee. There are four co-chairpersons. Minutes and summary of that meeting are available for review. The level of volunteerism this year is very exciting and all profits from this activity will be used to support the operating budget of our church. Please plan to participate in this wonderful and very successful community outreach ministry.
Pastor Tom ended a lengthy but successful meeting with prayer.
Charles F Tate III, MD
Chair, Leadership Council, FUMC, BR