The meeting was called to order at 7:00 by Anne Malmquist, Moderator.
Cabinet members in attendance: Rev. Beth Stotts, Pastor; Anne Malmquist, Moderator; Denise Molinari, Vice Moderator; Dave Sheibley, Treasurer; Diane Sheibley, Clerk; Gordon Brailsford, Board of Trustees; Bill O’Neil, Board of Christian Outreach; Margaret Wielhouwer, Board of Christian Education; Terry Reynolds, History & Memorials Committee and Women’s Guild & Fellowship.
Also present: Deborah Lancaster, Congregational Administrator
Rev. Beth opened the meeting with a prayer.
Diane Sheibley did the roll call and verified that a quorum was present.
November Meeting Minutes
The minutes from the November meeting were reviewed. Dave Sheibley motioned to accept the minutes. Bill O’Neil seconded. The minutes were approved without any changes.
Pastor’s Report [also see written report] – Rev. Beth Stotts
Rev. Beth worked this last month on the Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service, confirmation Sunday, the advent book study, the Christmas pageant, and Advent activities and services, among other things. She led a grief service at the Bridgewater Senior Center today. In pastoral care, the numbers have gone down, but the intensity has gone up. This Sunday there will be a cantata presented by Julia, a one-act Christmas opera written specially for our church. Christmas Eve there will be a 5pm song and story service, and a 10pm candlelight service. Dec. 26 will be a hymn sing service. January 2 is a music Sunday.
Per the Board of Deacons: please pray for emerging pastoral leaders. Also, thank you for all the volunteers that came out to get the sanctuary ready for the Christmas season.
Treasurer’s Report [also see written report] – Dave Sheibley
Collections are a bit ahead of budget, and there have been some special gifts from people. While we will still need some transfers in from investments, we’re still doing OK. He gave a shout out to Christmas on the Common, held on Dec. 5, when the church crafters brought in $859, and the jewelry table brought in $425. Including these figures, the fair ended up bringing in over $8,000 (they were budgeted for $7,000).
Congregational Administrator – Deborah Lancaster
Deborah apologized that her written report didn’t go out with the other pre-meeting materials. She reported that she has started to put visitors into Constant Contact, our email marketing app. She noted that there are 249 emails in CC, and many do not open the emails. She and Rev. Beth will be looking at cleaning it up after the first of the year. In Servant Keeper (our church member/visitor database), there are 744 family records, including 430 members/regular attendees/visitors. There are some very old subsets and lists in there as well that they will be looking to clean up.
There is a new brownie troop meeting at the church, on Friday afternoons. Please remember that the church office will be closed 12/24-12/31.
Food Pantry – Bill O’Neil [see also Jack Melcher’s written report]
Bill noted that the pantry has been inundated with food donations. On 11/20, they had more than 30 volunteers show up to help sort food, and ended up with 166 boxes of food items. On 11/23, the pantry distributed turkeys and all the fixings to 58 Bridgewater families in need. The pantry received $9570 in the month of November from local businesses and individuals.
The pantry bought $6000 worth of gift cards to distribute to the needy as well as with the Thanksgiving baskets. There has been a little uptick in the number of people coming in. They are looking at buying some shelving for the downstairs area to help with food storage. If anyone would like to help continue to sort food, the best time is Thursdays, 10-1 (during the pantry’s “open” hours).
Historical Church Building Committee – Anne Malmquist per Barbara Morey
The check has been approved to pay Brian Pfeiffer his final payment, but the check has not been sent yet.
Gordon noted that an article in the Wall Street Journal highlighted the declining attendance at churches. Two contractors have quoted steeple work. He also noted that we do not have a copy of the award letter yet from the town, nor answers to questions we’ve submitted to them. Regarding the $10,000 grant we received, Gordon has a quote to replace the louvers on the steeple for $10,000, but doesn’t have it in writing yet, nor any info on the louvers themselves. There is a $2000 quote for the windows.
Gordon also noted the crack in the sanctuary (and there are others). The ceiling in the sanctuary needs the plaster replaced, and he’s waiting for a quote for that. One side of the sanctuary entrance has been blocked off for fear the ceiling will drop plaster and pieces of ceiling and harm someone walking under. It is taped off, but still usable in an emergency.
Board of Trustees – Gordon Brailsford
The Trustees are asking that the bylaws be rewritten and/or revised, as we’re not living by our bylaws. Anne noted that that process had started just before the pandemic shutdown, and she plans on taking it up again after the first of the year. Gordon also noted that they need more Trustees – 3 is not enough to get the work of the church done.
Women’s Guild and Fellowship – Terry Reynolds
Terry reported that they sent quilts, comforters, and sheets to the transitional and sober houses in town. They had a very nice Christmas service this month, which Rev. Beth led and also presented a discussion on death planning. The Guild also packed up around 20 boxes for the soldiers.
• Rev. Beth made a motion that Jae Stotts, now that he is a confirmed full member of the church, be officially appointed to the Board of Deacons (not just a junior Deacon). Diane Sheibley seconded the motion. The appointment was approved unanimously.
• Cookie Project: Denise Molinari noted that we will once again be distributing individual cookie and candy packages to the homeless. Cookies can be dropped off this Sunday between 3 and 3:30, or can be brought to Sunday morning service. The cookies are going to MainSpring House.
• Heifer: Terry Reynolds announced that the Sunday school youth would be engaging in education and fundraising for Heifer International, during the month of January. Terry and Krissy Cannizzo will be coordinating. A postcard will be going out to all families of children and youth. There will be in person Sunday school, but also video lessons each Sunday for those at home. There will be packets of materials as well. The Living Gift Market will look a little different, but will still take place on the last Sunday of January. The theme this year is FAITH. Rev. Beth noted that she and Deborah have worked on a list of children and youth, and Deborah will share it with Terry. Rev. Beth suggested Terry talk to Paul as well regarding any video needs, as he likely will be very willing to help.
• Poinsettias: last day to order them to decorate the Christmas altar is this Sunday, 12/19.
• Anniversary mugs: almost sold out of our second printing. Office has a few left.
• Annual Reports: remember that annual reports are due by January 15.
• The deadline for submitting items for the January Steeple Sounds newsletter is extended until Monday.
Rev. Beth closed the meeting in prayer. The meeting adjourned at 7:50pm.