The virtual meeting was called to order at 7:02 by Anne Malmquist, Moderator.
Cabinet members in attendance: Rev. Beth Stotts, Pastor; Anne Malmquist, Moderator; Dave Sheibley, Treasurer; Larry Brown, Assistant Treasurer; Diane Sheibley, Clerk; Gordon Brailsford, Board of Trustees; Lynn Pietras, Board of Deacons; Bill O’Neil, Board of Christian Outreach; Terry Reynolds, History & Memorials Committee; Gail Wershing, Growth Committee; Ellen Crawford, Music Committee; Terry Reynolds, Women’s Guild & Fellowship
Also present: Paul Holmes, Minister of Video Evangelism; Deborah Lancaster, Congregational Administrator; Carol Chaffee, Historical Church Building Committee & Food Pantry; Mike Bundock, Growth Committee; Eric Stotts, Building Re-opening Task Force; Connie Chandler, Board of Christian Outreach
Rev. Beth opened the meeting with a prayer.
Diane Sheibley did the roll call.
February Meeting Minutes
The minutes from the February meeting were reviewed. Gail Wershing motioned to accept the minutes. Bill O’Neil seconded. The minutes were approved.
Pastor’s Report – Rev. Beth Stotts
Rev. Beth reported that it’s a busy time of year. She assisted with the transition from Ellen to Deborah as Congregational Administrator last week, and in developing and getting out the Stewardship mailing. There are two baptisms and one wedding coming up, and she’s been helping to plan the outdoor Easter morning service. Remember that palms will be available on a self-service basis this Saturday and Sunday in front of the church. Holy week is next week! On Holy Saturday, if the weather cooperates, she wants to get some sidewalk chalk and have folks come to the church and decorate the sidewalks for Easter.
Treasurer’s Report – David Sheibley
Dave reported that income is down about $6200 from where it should be, but expenses are down a little more than that, so it’s OK for now. Investments are doing OK as the stock market is strong. He added a section at the bottom of page two of his report for the Food Pantry cashflow for the prior month (this report takes in the first two months of the year, since it’s new), and will include this each month.
Rev. Beth asked if anyone had responded to the Stewardship mailing, and Dave said there was one inquiry asking if they have to do anything if they want to keep their pledge the same as last year. Dave said they don’t have to, but if they wanted to submit something that indicates that, it would be good to have on file.
Bill O’Neil reminded folks that, if they are of a certain age, they can direct their RMD (required minimum distribution) to be distributed directly to the church tax-free as a donation. They should ask their financial advisor about it if they’re interested.
Congregational Administrator Report – Deborah Lancaster
Deborah apologized for not having a written report, but confessed that she has not had time to do one in her first week on the job. She spent time working last week with Ellen for training, and appreciates Diane Sheibley being accessible to field her questions this week.
Building Reopening Task Force – Eric Stotts
Eric Stotts and Lynn Pietras from the Task Force were both present
Eric reported that the Task Force has had some in-depth conversations in continuing the in-person reopening discussions. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to open over the summer, for reasons noted in his report (ventilation isn’t good, and fans are not a good idea). There are other reasons noted why reopening soon is not advised. They are hoping that by the time the usual September kickoff Sunday comes around, it will be safe enough to begin having in-person worship indoors. But for now, the task force recommends keeping the building closed for worship for the foreseeable future.
Eric noted that the task force has looked at what reopening would look like now, and since there is no occupancy number for the sanctuary, it would be based on square footage. Using current state calculations, we would only be allowed to have 22 people (including staff) in attendance, with no singing or several other of our usual worship traditions. He also noted that they have concerns on how that would impact the experience of those continuing to livestream at home. And to clarify, they are only tasked at considering in-person worship in the sanctuary; not outdoor in-person worship, nor use of other parts of the building.
Anne thanked the task force for their work and ongoing discussions. Rev. Beth noted that there may be safe ways to gather for worship outside as the weather improves, as well as other non-worship gatherings (picnics, etc), and if anyone has any ideas, to please contact her. Carol noted that the outdoor Easter service at Hanson Farm will be a good test.
It was suggested that perhaps we could begin having small events in the building to start connecting again in person – cleaning projects, etc. On a small scale. Carol also noted that we might start doing things to kick off our anniversary and let people know about it. Perhaps a car parade? Gail Wershing suggested getting an anniversary banner for the front of the church to let the community know. It was suggested that the Growth committee meet with History & Memorials and brainstorm about it.
Free Baby Grand Piano – Anne Malmquist
Anne shared that Barbara Morey knows of a Bridgewater family looking to give away a baby grand piano, but they require it to be professionally moved to its new home. It was suggested that Julia and the Shave family should be contacted as they might know people who would be interested.
Food Pantry – Bill O’Neil & Carol Chaffee
[First, we all wish Jack Melcher a speedy recovery from his hip replacement surgery, which he had yesterday.]
The food pantry folks have spoken to various people in town in an attempt to expand the reach of the food pantry. The senior center, a local vets organization, the Bridgewater senior housing authority, the school district among them. They will all be helping to publicize the availability of the pantry.
Jack also purchased some gift cards that are being distributed with the bags of food that are given out at the pantry, and he will continue to purchase them as needed. Bill noted that if there is anyone interested in volunteering to help out, they need to reorganize the downstairs area so that they know what they have, and bring some of the food in the fellowship hall down. Rev. Beth noted that the office has been compiling a list of people who are interested in helping with the pantry, and they have just been waiting for a specific project.
Bill noted that limited food delivery by volunteers would probably best be implemented on the first Monday of the month, during the pantry’s evening hours. Anne noted that the Women’s Guild and others have offered to help and are willing to step up as needed. There might be people who don’t want to ask for help but are in need, and perhaps these additional volunteers can help bridge that gap.
Carol reported that she has touched base personally with the school departments. There are 28 families that they believe might need some help. Carol has been reaching out personally to those families – some don’t have the need anymore, and some haven’t taken her calls or don’t want to speak to her about it. Carol believes the biggest impact we could have in expanding our reach is in connecting with seniors in need. At the senior center, Emily Williams has people that will deliver to seniors. Jack is also trying to get the pantry listed again on the town website, as it used to be.
Contact has also been made by Carol with the town rec department, who handles the funding of Bridgewater Cares, which financially helps people in town in need, with rent and utilities payments, etc.
Jack Melcher, in his letter to Cabinet, has proposed that Carol be the liaison between the pantry and the Cabinet, as well as with all of these town groups.
Carol and Bill recognized Jack’s passion and hard work with the food pantry, which was strongly acknowledged by Cabinet.
Gail Wershing motioned that we accept Carol Chaffee’s appointment as the Food Pantry liaison. Bill O’Neil seconded. The motion was approved.
Carol also reported on the financial aspects of the pantry. Per Jack, the annual expenses for food for the pantry total approximately $15,000 annually, and Jack is in favor of keeping a ‘rainy day fund’ amount in the food pantry account for unexpected and/or increased expenses.
Deborah offered to help in any way she and the office can. She has worked with similar projects in the past, and has contacts to which she would be happy to publicize the pantry.
Anne thanked Bill, Carol, and Jack for getting things moving on how to utilize the accrued resources of the pantry.
Trustees Report – Gordon Brailsford
Gordon reported that Brian Pfeiffer is probably coming to the church this week to take pictures for use in the deed restriction that is being prepared.
Dave discussed the office computer. Deborah brought it to the attention of the Trustees, noting how old it was and how old the software and operating system were. Dave is donating a new computer and is in the process of setting it up with Office 365 and a current version of Windows. Larry will assist Dave with getting it hooked up to the network in the office. Dave estimates that it will be up and running early next week, possibly even by the end of this weekend.
The Cabinet then recorded an Easter Sunday worship greeting, and Rev. Beth closed the meeting in prayer with Psalm 9.
The meeting adjourned at 8:25pm.