The UPB Board feels it’s important that we share with the Congregation updates as to the activities of the Board to maintain transparency. This is particularly true during this most unusual year where face to face communication before and after church are no longer an option for church members. The Board has continued its regular monthly Board Meetings via Zoom. Below are the Highlights of what’s been under discussion and the results from those meetings from September thru December. If you would like more detail, minuets from any Board Meetings are available from Sharon Doughty (Board Secretary) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WORSHIP: The Board continues to look at when it might be appropriate to return to in-person worship. Unfortunately, the COVID numbers have not improved for this to be an option. County and State regulations have discouraged in-person congregant meetings as this has been shown to be the leading cause of spreading the virus. Given our Congregation has many members in the “at risk” age demographic we need to be even more cautious as we consider a return to in-person worship. The Board does have a plan that includes social distancing, hand sanitizer, and church access when it does become possible to return to the sanctuary for worship.
In the meantime, UPB has continued to provide Sunday Zoom Worship which are also recorded for future viewing by those who do not attend the live Service. One notable exception was the Church “Drive-In” Service on October 4th for World Communion Sunday. Approximately 15 cars participated and the service was deemed a success. A follow-up attempt to for another “Drive-In” Service on October 4th had to be cancelled due to weather.
FINANCES: Expenses and income have been on the positive side during the Pandemic. Expenses for heat and other ancillary items have gone down since the church is not being used for in-person gatherings. Our financial bottom line was further enhanced with the Stewardship and Finance Committee securing a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan from the government (special thanks to Gene Barbato and Cathie Lambert). As incoming Treasurer, Cathie has been a quick study as she has learned the Church’s Finances and obligations from Terry Drown, Roy Eades, and Gene Barbato (past Treasurers). In addition to help matters Rev. Chris continues to voluntarily repay UPB $500 of the Equity Share with the church every month. Pledge commitments during Celebration Sunday were quite strong and represented an increase over 2020. Look for more detailed information when the 2021 Budget is presented to the Congregation.
NEW MEMBERS: The Board also celebrated the addition of Ting Chin, Sherita Williams, and Irene Havas as formal members at UPB. In addition, an in-person Baptism was held for Ting Chin in the Sanctuary with a small number in attendance (Pastor, Family, and one Board Member).
CHURCH CONNECTIONS: Rev. Deacon has held two Zoom prayer meetings per week. The Monthly Book Club has continued via Zoom to discuss a range of self-selected books that members find of interest. The “Read the Bible in a Year” group held monthly meetings for participants to discuss what they’ve learned. News and Notes via UPB Announce let’s members know what events and activities are forthcoming. Two Zoom Trivia Nights were arranged by Cathie Lambert and enjoyed by all participants. Church Members were given the opportunity to video themselves as they reflected on “What UPB Means to Me” and “What Christmas Means to Me”. Several heartfelt reflections on both were shared with the Congregation during worship. Many Thanks to the families who volunteered for the in-person filming of the Advent Candle Lighting at UPB that were incorporated into our December worship services.
TEAM EFFORT: Members of the Board agreed to conduct the weekly “check-in” phone calls for Pastor Chris once per month on average when he was away or needed a break. Board Members who have assisted have enjoyed getting to know fellow members on a more personal basis.
SABBATICAL: UPB/Presbytery “Clergy Terms of Call” provide that a three month Sabbatical be taken once every six years. Pastor Chris will take his well-earned Sabbatical from mid-July through mid-October 2021 (hard to believe he’s been here six years already). The Board is preparing to engage Pulpit Supply for this period (preferably one person for the duration) and determining what levels of support will be supplied by the Board and Congregation.
PASTOR/BOARD EVALUATION: A Pastor Evaluation sub-committee of Sue Kennedy, Erma Barron, and Mary Bird met independently during the Fall and with Board input provided the Congregation the opportunity for feedback. The Evaluation included a self-evaluation by Pastor Chris and self-evaluation of the Board. These self-evaluations by Pastor and Board included performance, goals, needs and concerns. The response from the Congregation was overwhelmingly positive with many expressing gratitude for the efforts by Pastor Chris to provide opportunities for Worship and maintaining social contact. The self-evaluations were positive as well and demonstrated a desire to work collaboratively in the future. There were two suggestions as a result of the review. The first was the church should look at Social Issues as an area of study and discussion given the events of 2020. The second was that Committees and Leadership should encourage, and be more open to, input from all members of their committees and the congregation.
CARL O. BICKEL FUND: This Fund, which was established after the passing of Pastor Bickel, was subsequently invested but not utilized. After input from Shirley Bickel the Board has decided an annual contribution of $2,500 will be made to the Church Seeding non-profit Zima Zam Global from this fund.
COMMITMENTS TO GREATER CHURCH COMMUNITY: It should be noted that UPB’s involvement and support of our two denominations and local faith community have been maintained. Erma Barron has continued in her voluntary role as the liaison with the United Church of Christ (UCC). Pastor Chris continues to participate in the Bowie Interfaith Coalition where he was recently elected Treasurer. He is also a member of the Justice and Witness Committee. He also attends many National Capital Presbytery and UCC Zoom functions.
BOARD TRANSITION: After being approached by this year’s Nominating Committee, Sherita Williams, Diane Eades, and Jan Barbato have agreed to join the Board to replace outgoing Sue Kennedy, Mary Bird, and Elsie Carroll. Sue has been the defacto UPB Historian when past events are recalled. Her painstaking note taking and document collection has served on many occasions to fill in the blanks for Board Members who have little, if any, recollection of these past events. Mary Bird has provided a steady and thoughtful input to all of our Board Meetings. Her kind and considerate disposition has been a true gift at Board Meetings through these challenging years. Sharon Doughty (Secretary), Cathie Lambert (Treasure), Erma Barron (UCC Liaison), and Herb Sheppard (current Vice Moderator), will continue to be Board Members for 2021.
In Closing the Board would like to thank the Congregation as we enter 2021 for all your support and understanding over this past year. Please pray with us as we hope for an end to this World Wide Pandemic and more stability in our Country as we look for an improved New Normal in 2021. May God’s Blessings find their way to each and everyone one of you.