UNITY OF SOUTH SOUND BOARD OF TRUSTEE MEETING
Minutes for April 2, 2020
Opening Prayer – Meeting started via Zoom online at 6:30 PM with an opening prayer by Rev. Jeffrey.
All board members, Barbara Bauml, Rev. Jeffrey Fowler, Linda Guay, Lisa Hagen, Michele Millsap, Ruth Rogers, and David Sandall-Hill were in attendance.
Check In – Board members checked in. We’re all feeling the effects of the pandemic in different ways, the changes are profound, and our priorities are changing.
Note: Ruth was delighted to share that our electronic Church Directory is on its way despite the fact that LifeTouch will be closing down for months. We are blessed and grateful.
Counting Tithes Sign ups – Not at this time.
Secretary Report – Barbara shared that the March Minutes (3-11 revision) were promptly approved by all after being shared via email.
The minutes for the Executive Sessions of March 16th were approved presently. Linda and anyone with written notes for the Executive Sessions of March 25th will send them to Barbara who will compile them for a record.
Barbara suggestion making minutes available online since we cannot post them on Sundays at our facility. Discussion ensued.
MOTION – Barbara moved to publish minutes online beginning with the March 5, 2020 regular meeting minutes as amended; minutes will be available for one year. Jeffrey seconded. Motion passed unanimously.
Barbara will send to Jeffrey who will announce in eblast and send to Jenny to post online.
Tithe Report – The Tithe Committee Report to the board for the month of March recommending the allocation of $1640 and Unity of Bellingham as the regional Unity church was reviewed.
MOTION – Linda moved to accept the recommendation, Jeffrey seconded, and the motion passed unanimously.
Treasurer Report – Lisa reviewed the financial reports via Zoom. Our income has been typical for the first few months of the year and our income is improved at 87% of the budget. In adjusting to the pandemic, some expenses (advertising, online service and platforms) have gone up and others (printing, hospitality) have gone down. Our bank balance has dropped but not alarmingly. Overall, we are on budget. The bank balances and contributions in April will give us a better idea of how we will be affected. The board is grateful to Lisa for another clear, sensible, and excellent report.
Barbara asked about our investment funds given the recent plummets in stock market values. Linda will reach out to Brent about his thoughts and strategies for managing accounts at this time. We may invite him to join us online if it would be helpful.
Volunteer Committee Report – No report.
Minister Report – Rev. Jeffrey shared that events have been surreal and wonky. He is experiencing a tremendous amount of change. Though he’s flexible, the amount and pace of change has been of much greater magnitudes lately. He’s been working from home and attended four Zoom meetings this week. A lot of energy has gone into creating the structures to present Sunday services online via Facebook Live and YouTube. On a pastoral level, he’s encountering the stress and fear that many of us are feeling collectively. The impacts are commensurate with events. He is coping well and staying centered. The board holds him in prayer.
Social Media Report – Jeffrey shared the highlights from Jenny’s Social Media Report Card. She ran three different ad sets in March (Sunday service livestream, an all-around west coast engagement ad, and one that targeted women ≥ 21 years interested in spirituality). “Our engagement, views, reach, and likes are up more than 150%. Instagram interest is growing slowly even without paid ads.
The largest response to USS online is our Facebook Live Sunday Service. We had 940 (≥ 3 seconds) views, 412 people (≥ 1 minute) and 75 people stayed for more than half the service. Finally, MailChimp stats show that one-third of eblast recipients will open their email (very favorable compared with an average 15-25%).
Tall Round Tables/Folding Bar Tables – Lisa presented three options of bar tables similar in price and features that met the criteria of last month’s discussion. Specific features, costs, and storage were discussed; there was a general preference for the white, wood-topped table. Lisa will research if it spins around only when its height is being adjusted. Although this priority has lessened, the board will revisit this purchase next month.
Talent Show Updates – Michele shared that Starr had been going to town when the COVID events changed our plans. We don’t presently know when we can reschedule this. Susan Washington had started working on five high value raffle items. Annie had started on dessert dash contributors, and fifteen acts had signed up. The plans were for Josh to do audio and Amy had been working on 60s and 70s Song List. Any of this would need recommitments with a new date. There was consensus that folks will be looking forward to celebrating when we can safely gather again. We will look at tentative dates in late July or early August. Michele will stay in touch with Starr and team.
Need for a Second Event – The board also considered second, smaller events such as Divine Dining and Second Chance Prom to raise $8500. Timing was discussed. Jeffrey will make some inquiries.
Online Services from Church or Home – The board considered this in-depth.
• The benefits of continuing offer a touchstone with our church home, continuity with the familiar, and a recently set-up and functioning system.
• Personal safety and physical distancing are taken very seriously and ways to further enhance safety (e.g., separate mics for all involved) were planned into the production.
• The ins and outs of Facebook and YouTube were discussed. YouTube has some sound quality issues and Facebook allows for running comments by those who watch which provides an opportunity for social connections.
• YouTube needs mics to improve sound quality. Amy has ordered a cord and talked to her sound tech about a mic-to-mixer-to-computer solution. It is supposed to arrive this week.
• Preparations for the guest speaker scheduled on 4/19 were addressed. Jeffrey will reach out to her about accommodations.
• The concerns voiced by members online were heard and considered in depth. The board wants members to know that we share similar if not the same concerns. We continue to stay apprised of COVID-19 trends, risks, and directives locally, in Washington State, nationally and internationally. Gov. Inslee has allowed for small groups within faith organizations to gather in order to host religious services that were deemed an essential service. Nonetheless, in producing a Sunday service it remains our intention to participate in flattening the COVID-19 curve and prevent its spread.
• The next-level Zoom Webinar platform was discussed as it allows for easier online access via invitation, the flexibility and possibility of a more “normal” service — with platform assistants, Inspirational Readers, and music all from remote locations. Jeffrey could at church, Serni in his studio, etc. On the downside, there would likely be added expense. Zoom Pro, our current platform, only allows for 100 participants and we could outgrow that quickly. It would also take time to organize and practice. Rev. Jeffrey is reluctant to “build and fly a new plane” before Easter and the board prefers that he be able to focus on the message. Michele will investigate some of the details in tandem with Jeffrey and the board will revisit this alternative next month if not sooner.
• The board decided to continue both free venues for the present and near future.
• Barbara and Michele spoke with congregants who would benefit from a phone feed. Michele will arrange to test a Zoom feed for phone access to the Sunday service this coming Sunday, 4/5. Barbara will send Michele contact information.
Look into Government Assistance
• Barbara has not heard back from the Pierce County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and indicated that they are looking for feet on the ground resources from those to whom they sent an inquiry.
• Michele, Linda and David attended the Webinar, Churches and the CARES Act, which was hosted by Christianity Today’s Church Law and Tax and Church West Insurance Services. It featured Richard R. Hammar, an attorney, CPA, and church tax expert who presented and answered questions about the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Unity of South Sound is eligible as a 501(c)(3) under the small businesses provision. It could help to pay employees’ salaries and rent. If the money is disbursed within eight weeks, the funds would be converted to a grant.
• Michele noted that the CARES Act has a charitable donations feature that allows for $300 straight off an individual’s tax return; corporations can deduct up to 25% of their donations to a 501(c)(3).
Bank and Edward Jones Signatures – David reported that he and Michele are now Alaska Credit Union signatories. Thanks, David for taking the lead.
Discussion of Salaries to continue or suspend
• The terms of the CARES Act, our budget, and alignment with our principles and values were considered. The board committed to retaining all staff at this time.
MOTION – Linda moved that USS make the payroll for all employees, apply for the CARES Act, and review our budget monthly. Lisa seconded. Motion passed unanimously. Time is of the essence as the money will be limited, there are many businesses, and the details have yet to be fully discerned. David is taking the lead on the application process, Michele will contact the SBA and Alaska Credit Union regarding the loan procedures, and Linda will reach out to Heidi for help managing the application process and gathering the needed documentation beginning on Monday.
Revised Bookstore Policy – This item was tabled until next month due to time constraints.
Closing Prayer – Rev. Jeffrey closed the meeting with a prayer at 9:15 p.m.
March 30th – Zoom Training
April 1st – Zoom Training
April 8th – Coffee with Rev. Jeffrey Wednesdays at 11 a.m. to Noon
Note: Click the link in your eblast or on the USS website
Dates are April 15, 22, 29 and May 6th
April 9th or April 16th – Next Special Board Meeting
May 7th – Next Regular Board Meeting
June 7th – Our Youth Recycle Fundraiser has been rescheduled for Sunday, 6/7
Unity Pledge Drive is ongoing – Call office TU-TH 10a-2p, see eblast or website.
30 Days to Fearless Living – An Inspirational Reading at Noon Everyday (except Sunday) with Rev. Jeffrey or Michele featuring messages from Unity ministers.
Respectfully submitted by Barbara Bauml, Secretary
April 5, 2020