The virtual meeting was called to order at 7:05 by Denise Molinari, Vice Moderator.
Cabinet members in attendance: Rev. Beth Stotts, Pastor; Denise Molinari, Vice Moderator; Dave Sheibley, Treasurer; Diane Sheibley, Clerk; Gordon Brailsford, Board of Trustees; Lynn Pietras, Board of Deacons; Marci Langevin, Board of Christian Education; Bill O’Neil, Board of Christian Outreach; Barbara Morey, 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; Ellen Atherton, Congregational Administrator; Bette deKoning, Women’s Guild & Fellowship; Carol Chaffee, Historical Church Building Committee.
Denise Molinari noted that Moderator Anne Malmquist was sick and wouldn’t be able to attend the meeting.
Ellen Crawford opened the meeting with a prayer read from the Lenten book study book, “Lent in Plain Sight” by Jill Duffield.
Diane Sheibley did the roll call.
January Meeting Minutes
The minutes from the January meeting were reviewed. Terry noted one correction. Gail Wershing motioned to accept the minutes with the correction. Terry Reynolds seconded. The minutes were approved.
Pastor’s Report – Rev. Beth Stotts
Rev. Beth reported that there were a lot of clergy meetings in the last month. She also reported that the Bridgewater Council of Churches has voted to officially disband, and is working through the associated logistics. The Greater Bridgewater Interfaith Council will be picking up some of the work that the BCC was involved in.
There have been several requests to do Communion during worship (even though it is virtual) again rather than in the drive-by fashion from recent months, so that is what she will do next month. She reported on the Lenten book study this Saturday, and the half-hour Lenten meditation and writing event planned for this Friday at 9am. She led two community volunteer events to help out at End Hunger NE, which were very well attended. She was excited to create the Lenten packets that were distributed to the congregation, and is starting a sermon series this Sunday based on the hymn boards in the sanctuary that still have the hymn numbers from the last Sunday before in-person worship was suspended a year ago. She also noted that there will be a prerecorded service on Maundy Thursday (4/1), and a live-streamed service on Good Friday (4/2).
Treasurer’s Report – David Sheibley
Dave reported that income is running about $10,000 behind budget, and expenses are running about $5,000 behind budget. Investments are doing OK as the stock market is strong.
2020 calendar year-end statements will not be mailed to everyone to save paper and postage, but can be requested from the church office. Dave will ask Judy to email out statements to anyone for whom we have email an email address on file. Following discussion, it was decided that paper fiscal year-to-date statements will be generated in mid-March and mailed with a cover letter asking folks to make sure they’re up to date on their pledges. Rev. Beth, Gail Wershing, and Dave will work on this project of crafting a letter and getting the mailing out.
An inquiry was made about dues. Dues cost the church about $20 per member each year. We should remind folks that we’d like them to contribute this amount for their household members so that the church budget doesn’t have to incur the cost. It will be announced from the pulpit and put in steeple sounds, and possibly in a couple Monday emails as well.
Food Pantry Money
The food pantry account as almost $40,000 in it and has for the better part of a year. Monetary donations remain strong. There are concerns that we’re not using those funds for the purpose they were intended – providing food. Bill O’Neil also noted that we have a lot of food in stock as well. He noted that visits to the pantry have declined. Several suggestions were made:
* is there any way we could package food bags or kits and distribute them to people who need it?
* can we work with the other churches in town, and the Angels in America charity, to connect us with those who need food, and either provide them food bags or grocery gift cards?
* the town Recreation Dept has in the past had a “Bridgewater fund” – can we look into contributing to that? (although they might deal in more than food insecurity)
* the school system provides breakfasts and lunches to children who need them. can we donate to this program? We might contact the school nurses to find out more.
* can the senior center connect us with those who are in need, and/or help distribute food to them?
* can the senior center be given copies of the checklist of food requests that the food pantry uses in their distributions, so that we can provide people what they need?
Dave noted that we have a lot of people and businesses and banks that give the food pantry money, and they expect that we’re using it for its intended purpose, not sitting on it in a bank account.
Bill noted that the food pantry staff is limited. Input from various people offered that if there was a distribution plan, volunteers could be solicited to implement the plan, and there was no doubt people would step up. But there has to be a plan. Carol Chaffee offered to reach out to Jack Melcher, food pantry director, to explore solutions to the issue. She will report back to Anne Malmquist. Bill asked that Jack be put on the Cabinet distribution list for future communications and meeting announcements. Ellen Atherton will take care of that.
Office Manager Report – Ellen Atherton
Ellen reported her work on various fundraising projects – the Valentine’s Day takeout event, looking into a clothing drive, and thinking about the golf tournament. We are in need of a golf tournament coordinator, but Ellen is happy to help out, and has reached out to Brett Wright for input. She is also helping the care team coordinate meal deliveries. Carol noted that Old Colony Hospice is doing a used sneaker drive as a fundraiser, and maybe we could consider something similar. She’ll get more details.
Historical Church Building Committee – Barbara Morey
The CPC has told Barbara that they will provide a letter that says the CPC will reimburse the church for the $1000 deposit that Brian Pfeiffer (an historical preservationist) requires to start his deed restriction work plus the $5500 balance that he will bill when he’s done, as the church needs to front those payments. Brian has said that if the time he estimated goes over, he will be charging an hourly rate for additional time. Barbara is going to tell him that $6500 is all we have authorized, and that he needs to keep it to that. Gordon was concerned that our constitution calls for a congregational vote if we want to spend an amount over $5000, and so this would fall into that. It was noted that we are not spending the money, we are fronting the money, to be reimbursed. Several people agreed with that assessment.
Gordon also mentioned that Brian Pfeiffer’s proposal also calls several times for an attorney to review various documents, and this would be another expense. He also noted that an attorney is indicated to be the one to do the presentation to the town. Rev. Beth will check with the conference to see if there are resources for legal assistance for member churches. Gordon also noted that the deed restrictions that are being developed for the project will be “in perpetuity” for the church building, even if it’s sold down the line. He noted he has many concerns about the deed restrictions. The Trustees are meeting tomorrow night and this will be discussed.
* Carol Chaffee noted that someone who is not part of our congregation but receives our newsletter called to join our care circles, so we’re doing some good!
* Terry Reynolds reported that the Heifer cows will start to be delivered hopefully in the next week or so.
* Gail Wershing suggested explaining how the cow project is a fundraiser to those that don’t know. It will be noted in steeple sounds and from the pulpit.
* History & Memorials Committee noted that they received about 25 gifts in memory of Scott Wright.
* Bette deKoning reported that the Women’s Guild has been meeting via Zoom. Their spring yard sale is on May 1 (rain date May 2), and Bev Mitchell and Debbie Golob are chairing. While the yard sales don’t net as much money as their rummage sales, they have been instrumental in allowing the WG to keep up with the projects and missions that they normally support. They are also supplying comfort items to hospice.
* Marci Langevin (Bd of Christian Education) reported that she and Brianna were testing doing CE with children via Zoom, using their children. It’s challenging, but they’re still trying to develop some sort of CE lessons for the kids.
* Terry Reynolds reported that representatives from Christian Outreach, the Women’s Guild, and CE met to see how they might collaborate. One idea for which they had volunteers was for some of the women in the WG to record reading bible stories for kids to watch. Rev. Beth agreed to put together some other resources to go along with them.
* Carol noted that the library is sending weekly emails and including a “children’s corner” just with resources for the kids. Maybe we might want to incorporate something similar in our weekly emails.
* Gail Wershing from Growth Committee noted that they are still looking to get more virtual greeter recordings to play at the beginning of online worship. It was suggested that at drive-by communions and bible studies, perhaps someone could video a few greetings with the people who attended.
* Carol Chaffee noted that the Care Circles have been reorganized, and the new lists will be distributed soon. There are 5 groups of 7 people each. She also noted that the article links that Rev. Beth distributed prior to the Cabinet meeting were very interesting and encouraged others to read them and think about them as well.
* Denise Molinari spoke about the Women’s Walking Spirituality event that was held earlier in February. A second event had to be cancelled due to weather. Women gather, share a scripture reading, then break into small groups and walk while discussing the reading, or anything else, and enjoying the camaraderie and fresh air. The next event is at BR high school on Saturday, March 13 at 11am. All women are welcome.
Rev. Beth shared a devotion in closing.