Leadership Council Meeting Summary (April 16, 2018)

This is the first of what I hope will be monthly summaries of your Leadership Council meetings, held the third Monday evening of each month. Our hope is to keep you, the attendees and membership of First United Methodist Church Boca Raton, fully informed about the actions and goals of the church leadership.

The Leadership Council is composed of the Council Chair, Chairperson and members of the Staff Parish and Finance sub-committees, as well as the Church Trustees. The Lay Leader, a young adult representative, and the Church Business Administrator are all voting members. Pastors Marcus, Tom, and Rachel are voting members of the Council, and Pastor Ryan, who leads the Atlantic Coast Wesley ministry at FAU, is a non-voting member of the Council.  Here is the summary of the April meeting:

  1. There was unanimous consensus among the Council members present, agreeing with the April 15 Church Conference vote to approve the substitute Plan of Action.
  2. Quarterly pledge statements will be sent out by the end of the month. A statement will go to all 1100 members and attendees of FUMC. In addition, NEW PLEDGE CARDS will be sent out. An accompanying letter will describe the reason for doing this and ask each person to consider giving as much as possible and/or working toward tithing. A simple financial statement for the first Quarter will also be enclosed.
  3. There was a discussion about hiring a full-time youth minister. Financing this new staff member was discussed. The Staff Parish sub-committee was asked to begin evaluation of this process.
  1. Pastor Tom indicated that with his part-time status starting this summer, his participation in the Pumpkin Patch Outreach Ministry this fall will be greatly reduced. He emphasized the need for laity to assume ownership of the Pumpkin Patch. The Leadership Council concurred that this was an excellent opportunity for the church to show their new spirit of servant ministry.
  2. The Leader of Laity, Suzanne Reeves, made a motion to have all members of the Leadership Council wear a name badge with name and Leadership Council position during church services and activities. This motion was unanimously passed. In addition, the lay leader will be taking part in Sunday services once per month and will be contributing to the bulletin or church weekly email every month. In the future, a church email address will be developed for certain lay leaders to improve communication with church members.
  3. Concern was expressed about the need for more participation in greeting and ushering at the services. Jill Haire will be working with the Leadership Council to establish an action plan.
  4. Mallory Albeck was approved as the young adult representative to the Leadership Council. The vacancy which remains on the Staff Parish sub-committee is expected to be filled at the May Council meeting.
  5. The Staff Parish sub-committee is tasked with reviewing yearly all personnel employed by the church and evaluate their performance and salary. They will also look into the youth minister position (see #3 above) and Pastor Tom’s job description and salary as he shifts to part-time status on July 1. They will report to the Leadership Council on their progress at the May meeting.
  6. The Finance sub-committee is tasked with analyzing at all aspects of the budget to consider opportunities to reduce the budget and other potential revisions to the budget, based on the needs of the church and the results of the new pledges.  They will report to the Leadership Council on their progress at the May meeting.
  1. The Trustees are tasked with reviewing all aspects of both campuses facilities (grounds, buildings, equipment, etc.) and assessing the costs of maintaining, repairing and upgrading the facilities. They are to coordinate their efforts with the Finance Committee. They will report to the Leadership Council on their progress at the May meeting.
  2. Pastor Rachel and Jill Haire were asked to put together lists of all FUMC small groups and all volunteer opportunities for publication.
  3. The Council approved negotiations with the Montessori school on the West Campus to extend their lease, which currently would expire on July 31.
  4. A report was received from Pastor Ryan concerning the Atlantic Coast Wesley campus ministry.
  5. A discussion regarding the shower ministry for homeless individuals on Sunday morning will be scheduled for the May meeting. Subsequent to the Leadership Council meeting, the homeless ministry has elected to shift the homeless ministry activities from Sunday mornings to Saturday mornings through the summer.
  6. Pastor Rachel commented on current activities at Coral Sunset Elementary School. There was discussion about setting up a tutoring/mentoring training program for those church members interested in supporting this ministry at Coral Sunset School. Pastor Rachel will follow up in the summer for all interested parties.

I hope this information has been helpful. If you have questions, please contact me or members of the leadership Council.

Respectfully submitted,

Charles F Tate III, MD

Chair, Leadership Council, FUMC, BR



Volunteering Your Time and Talents

Volunteering is a key component to any organization. We have many volunteer opportunities within the church. We hope that you will choose to volunteer at something that makes you really happy.  If you’re not sure what spot would be a good match for your talents, click on “Volunteer Form,” complete the fields and submit it, and we’ll help find the right fit for you.


Area: Contact:
Office Receptionist Becky Clark 561-395-1244 x124
Communion Cleanup Adleen Rawlings 561-239-2381
Thrift Shop Gloria Bruno 561-852-0616
Sunday Morning Greeter Karin Nordlander 561-447-9499


Arlene G. Sparks – Director of Music

Known throughout the country as an outstanding educator, conductor, and choral technician/artist, Arlene Graham Sparks is the Director of Music at First United Methodist Church, where she serves as the Director of the Chancel Choir and Traditional Music.

Originally from Iowa, Arlene received degrees from Cottey College for Women (A.A.), The Florida State University (B.Mus. in Voice Performance and B.M.E. in Choral Music Education), and The University of South Florida (M.M. in Choral Conducting). She has done additional graduate course work at Westminster Choir College and has studied with such noted choral directors as Robert Shaw, Joseph Flummerfelt, Sir David Willcocks, and Weston Noble.

Arlene recently retired from public education after a decade as Choral Director at Coral Springs High School and lastly a 26-year distinguished career as the Founding Director of the Vocal Department at the A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts. While at Dreyfoos, her choirs achieved top accolades such as invitations to perform at ten American Choral Directors’ Association Conventions – including two National Convention appearances – one in 2005 at the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and most recently, in 2015 at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. Her choirs also took four international tours – competing and placing first in competitions in Verona, Italy and Llangollen, Wales. She has conducted All-State and Honor Choirs across the country, and has twice been named Music Teacher or Educator of the Year. Arlene helped all of her students learn to sing in a vibrant healthy manner and obtain skills in music literacy; many went on to pursue music in our country’s finest music schools across the nation, including her son, Andrew Christopher – a Voice Performance/German Language double-degree graduate from Lawrence University in Wisconsin.

In addition to her career as a choral educator and conductor, Arlene is a voice instructor and performer. She enjoyed several seasons as the vocal instructor/performance coach for the Von Trapp Children. Her soprano voice and choral leadership is admired throughout south Florida in the many churches she has served such as Royal Poinciana Chapel and Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach; The First Presbyterian Churches of North Palm Beach and Pompano Beach; St. Paul’s Episcopal and St. Gregory’s Episcopal; and Christ Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ in Ft. Lauderdale. Arlene also has completed the rigorous four year course work to receive the Education for Ministry (E.F.M.) certification through the University of the South.

A lover of quality music and a talent for creative programming, Arlene has a passion for the art of traditional worship and its deep rooted history. She has been propelled throughout her life by the scripture woven throughout our sacred anthems such as Psalm 104:33 “I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being”, and the wisdom and theology found throughout the pages of our treasured hymnals. She believes in praising God with the best we have to offer – with thought-filled texts and uplifting and inspiring music from our great church composers. Arlene is excited about this opportunity in her life, and is looking forward to humbly sharing her God-given gifts by enriching the lives of the congregations at the 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. Traditional Worship services at FUMC-Boca Raton.

Suzanne Galer-Wert – Director of Music, West Campus

Suzanne Galer-Wert is the West Campus Director of Music for First United Methodist Church of Boca Raton.   She directs the Traditional Choir, sings solos, and plays the piano.   Suzanne has served as a college professor of voice for over thirty years works for Palm Beach State College.  She is also the Director of Bel Canto Studios of the Palm Beaches where she teaches piano and voice.

Growing up at Central Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Suzanne sang her first solos, studied piano with the church organist, and served in bell choir and liturgical dance. Music runs in the family, and Suzanne’s grandmother was a church organist, choir director, and piano teacher in Albany, New York.    Her grandfather left the family baking business in the Netherlands to pursue his dream of being a band director and composer.

Suzanne is a believer in embracing all musical styles and denominations and loves the blending of gospel and classical at West Campus. Serving churches  throughout the United States, Suzanne’s favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you a future and a hope.”

A bit of a “church mouse” Suzanne received a BA in Music and Theater from Hope College, a Christian college in Holland, Michigan. She worked for Robert Schuller Ministries at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California where she helped record the original sound track of the Glory of Christmas.  She taught at the Crystal Cathedral Academy and sang in internationally televised services. After receiving masters and doctoral degrees in vocal performance from The State University of New York at Stony Brook, she moved to New York City where she was Director of Christian Education for Bethany Memorial Church.  In New York City, she sang for Marble Collegiate Church, served as chapel pianist at the Inter-Church Center, and taught voice at the Dwight School.

An Associate Instructor at Indiana University at Bloomington, Suzanne worked as a soprano for the University Director of Church Music, Marilyn Keiser, at Trinity Episcopal Church. During her professorships, Suzanne held pianist positions at First Baptist of Huntsville, TX and at Quaker Friends Church in Greensboro, North Carolina.    She served as Choral Director and Bell Choir Director for First Presbyterian of Huntsville, Texas and conducted for nine years at First Presbyterian of Marion, Indiana.  Galer was organist and choir master at Stony Brook Church (NY), and at First Methodist of New Market, Alabama.  Suzanne wore a new hat as contemporary Commercial pianist and Praise Band leader at First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, North Carolina.

An operatic soprano, Suzanne won the New York Vocal Artists Competition and represented NYVA as soloist in Carnegie Hall Recital Hall and at Columbia Artists Hall.  She was a Metropolitan Opera Regional Finalist and has performed for Indianapolis Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Opera Festival of Rome, the Hawaii International Conference, and the International College Music Society in Bangkok, Thailand. In Palm Beach, she has performed solos with Indian River Orchestra, Robert Sharon Chorale, Royal Poinciana Chapel, Lost Tree Chapel, Bethesda Chapel, Masterworks Chorale of the Palm Beaches, and The Choral Society of the Palm Beaches.

Suzanne and her husband, Brian Wert, reside in West Palm Beach with their feline family: Macavity the Mystery Cat (Mickey), and Sophie.

Welcome to REALM

Our church has recently joined an online community called REALM. We are very excited for all the features and benefits REALM has offer. These include but are not limited to:

  • Online Directory
  • Managing your online giving
  • Communication through online discussions
  • Personalized news feed of upcoming events and photos
  • An easy-to-use App for your cell phone

Be on the look out for more information and upcoming training on REALM.

We invite you to join us anytime by creating a login here. After you create your login, you can login anytime through this link. Once you login, please update your contact information through “Edit Profile” where you can also add a picture of yourself.

To download the app, use your App store on your phone and search “ACS REALM.” The app is called “Connect – Our Church Community” by ACS Technologies.

Having problems accessing your account?  Please contact Becky Clark at 561-395-1244 x124.