Board Notes
Editor Albany UU | Oct 10, 2019

Board Notes

Patti Jo Newell

As you know, the Board has focused its work over the past several years on the different roles of governance and ministry in our congregation. A key feature of that work was the now-defunct Governance Working Group (GWG), which was charged by the Board in 2017 to undertake this review. In its final report, the GWG recommended the following changes to Albany UU’s governance structure: a smaller board of trustees with a more strategic focus; the creation of the Program Team (now-named Ministries & Operations Team) to lead and coordinate ministry; and a simpler organizational structure, to be reflected in future changes to the bylaws.

The Ministries & Operations Team is finally a reality, after many incarnations. And we promise this is the last of the name changes. Ministries & Operations better captures the scope of the work they will do, which is to lead and coordinate the volunteer and paid staff toward the fulfillment of the vision, mission, and goals of our congregation.

Committees and councils can expect to soon hear from Ministries & Operations for the purposes of introducing themselves and starting a conversation to explore together how it can support your work and promote it in the context of the congregation’s vision and mission. Ministries & Operations Team is appointed by the Board and currently includes Rev. Sam, Leah Purcell, Tammy Hathaway, Barb Manning, co-chair of membership, Matt Lesniak, co-chair of Social Responsibilities Council, and two former congregational presidents, Jon Newell and Dave Munro.

We also have a very capable Bylaws Team, led by Peggy Sherman, which was charged by the Board to review our current bylaws in the context of the governance changes we seek, as well as general streamlining, and make recommendations. This process is ongoing still.

With Ministries & Operations up and running, the Board will work to “stay out of the weeds” and focus on policy and governance through the following: discerning the congregation’s mission and vision; holding fiduciary responsibility; capturing institutional wisdom by generating policy; assessing the health of the congregation; planning for the congregation’s future, using a three-year rolling plan system; and building and maintaining relationships.

The cornerstone of ALL OF THIS is mission and vision. AND WE CANNOT DO THAT WITHOUT YOU. The Board will be exploring ways to get feedback and input from the congregation on an ongoing basis. We’re not looking to surprise anyone. Our goal is to give expression to the mission and vision of the congregation. I emphasize the multi-dimensionality of this discernment process because we, as a congregation, are not really all that great at participating in such endeavors. But we, the Board, accept the challenge of finding ways to promote fuller participation in a feedback loop and to normalize broad-based discernment on an ongoing basis.

So, what’s in it for you? Well, for all the policy wonks out there in our fair capital city, this is fun! But besides that…I’ll highlight two goals:

  1. This is an opportunity to institutionalize our principles of inclusivity and welcoming. However deeply held these values may be, they are pitted against the formidable inertia of the status quo. Shaking it up requires intentionality. Continuously.
  3. This is also an opportunity to promote and nurture both our volunteers and volunteerism. We can explore untapped potential and find new ways to include newer members and friends. Promote the expertise and experience of seasoned volunteers in the mentoring of new volunteers, and then give them a much-deserved break. Or perhaps some seasoned volunteers would like to explore new roles and untapped potential within themselves. Let’s promote vitality!

So, this is slice of what we’ve been up to; we’ll keep you posted!
And I thank you for this opportunity to serve, and for the trust it represents. Peace.