|Opening Prayer - Pastor Ken led us in prayer.|
Approval of last Council Meeting Minutes – The June 13, 2007 Council Minutes were approved with this correction: Rick McGrath attended the June 13, meeting.
Merger Feasibility Report – Ted Bliss, who chairs the merger feasibility committee, said that before he starts in-depth research, he wants feedback from Council members regarding how they feel about merging with other churches (the Baptist Church and the Ivoryton Congregational Church). Comments made: Dudley Bickford: We need 40 – 50 additional members. Other churches are struggling – merging has been successful in other instances. Ted Bliss: Building a new church would be the most feasible because no one wants to give up his/her own church building. Susan Nilsen: Would like a beginning dialog to occur with the leaders of the other churches. Bob Marshall: How would we feel if other churches would be willing to come here to our building -- we would not build a new church? Betsy Steele: Should we consider merging with a different denomination, i.e., the Baptist church. Emily Williams: It is difficult for Ted Bliss to approach other churches without the full support of Council.
Susan Nilsen asked Council members for a show of hands from those interested in a preliminary merger feasibility investigation; all hands were raised. Ted Bliss will work with Dan Kottke when Dan is available to determine if the other churches have any interest. Ted will let Council know when he is ready to report back. A committee has not yet been assembled.
Board and Committee Reports
• Lighting the Steeple -- Mellicent Hawke invited Council to an 8:00 p.m. demonstration of lights shining on the steeple. Herb Clark made arrangements for conduit to be under the driveway before repaving is done. Council agreed the effects of the new lighting looked great.
• Church Signs -- Our church logo will join the logos of local churches at the Rt. 154/153 intersection. Mellicent Hawke presented a mock-up of a new church sign which will replace the sign currently on the lawn below the parking lot. We will attach a small removable sign at the bottom of the large sign which will show service times, rummage sale times, etc. George Penniman suggested we put a small sign on the Methodist Hill side of the parking lot. We will reimburse Herb Clark for the money he spent to cover the initial expense for signage and lighting. Mellicent Hawke proposed that we hold a fund-raiser (dessert will be served) on November 3 from 6:30 – 7:30 to raise money for the total cost of the lights and new signs. Estimated costs for the outside lighting -- $3500; and for the signs -- $900; the total package probably will be $5,000. A motion passed to go ahead with the fundraiser to raise the money to pay for the outside lights and signs. Pastor Ken planted the seed that the new church sign could change very far in the future.
Mellicent Hawke brought a card for us to sign to thank Doris Ross who has worked very hard this summer getting the church organized.
• Budget -- Dudley Bickford distributed the 2008 budget worksheets and asked for all budgets to be submitted before next the next Council meeting. A discussion followed. Susan Nilsen: Should House and Grounds budget reflect what the real plans are? Dudley Bickford: The budget should reflect operating expenses; special projects should be dealt with by Trustees and/or Council and the money would come from the endowment. Susan Nilsen: There are guidelines in the by-laws on how to spend the endowment . . . should these be tightened up? Dudley Bickford: This will be the last time Stewardship prepares the budget. Bob Marshall: In the past, capital costs have been taken on an as needed basis. The discussion was tabled for now – will bring up again in “old business”.
Civil Union on 2/16/08 -- Informative Discussion
• Pastor Ken reminded council that when the State Legislature passed the Civil Union Law, Ken had stated that the possibility of conducting a civil union probably would occur and that he would not have a problem performing a civil union service. Ken further stated that a couple recently approached him about performing a civil union. Ken asked the council (as he had the diaconate) to discuss their feelings. Comments made: Dudley Bickford: Received a call from a member who will withdraw his pledge if a same sex marriage is performed in the sanctuary. Betsy Steele: The Diaconate had questions regarding the difference between a marriage and a civil union but did not have negative comments. Susan Nilsen: Pastor Ken has the legal authority to perform a civil union with or without the approval of council or the congregation. A comment was made that this church should be open to everybody. Mary-Lawrence Bickford: Proposed that Council take a vote of confidence to have civil unions in the church. The vote of confidence was unanimously passed by Council.
• Pastor Ken said that we should not discount the feelings and issues others may have on this subject. He encouraged us (that if we hear of issues) to help the person(s) who have them to express their feelings at Council or at some other audience. Pastor Ken stressed that how people feel is important and that peoples’ feelings need to be heard.
• Pastor Mitzi commented that the first civil union at a UCC church is a historic event and can be controversial. Mitzi feels that even though people may not be comfortable discussing their concerns and issues with her, she is open to all opinions and encourages people to come to her.
• Pastor Ken reiterated that the 2/16/08 ceremony will be a civil union not a marriage ceremony.
Clergy Staff Report
• Pastor Ken – The August Newsletter format was different; in an attempt to be more productive, MS Word was used to create the document instead of Publisher. In order to eliminate most of the labor-intensive procedures currently used to distribute the newsletter, Ken wants to use email (where possible) and the church’s website for newsletter distribution.
• We need to budget $350.00 for the campership that was awarded this summer in Wendy Foster’s name. George Penniman will ask Trustees for an account to take the money from.
• Woody Dahlberg’s memorial service is Sunday, September 16, 2007 @ 2:00 p.m.
• Sermons this year will be based on the same scriptures that the Sunday school is using – not on the lectionary. Pastor Ken asked us to check out the newly decorated classrooms and asked for additional teachers for the 2nd Sunday school session. “Team teaching” is fine for those who can’t attend 4 Sundays in a row.
• Pastor Ken will be away 10/1 returning 10/11. Pastor Mitzi will be away 10/1, 10/2 and 10/3. The animal blessing is on 10/14. New Members Sunday is 9/28. The Noank choir tentatively will be here to sing with the Junior Choir on October 28.
• Pastor Mitzi – She will offer home communion monthly – but not necessarily on the same Sunday as held in church; the Deacons will participate. She asked for the names of anyone we know who is homebound.
• Pastor Mitzi is delighted at the responses to some of the enrichment programs she is offering this fall. She encouraged retreat signups and mentioned the spring all-church retreat.
• Pastor Mitzi shared with us that she and her partner, Paula Welch, were married in the eyes of God in 1999 in Clinton, Connecticut. They will be in Canada for a conference the first 3 days in October and will renew their vows while in Canada.
• Endowment survey discussion – Susan explained that each line item in the survey represented one person. Even though people were asked to prioritize each question, most people did not. Comments made: Dudley Bickford: Stewardship committee discussed the survey – is it a mandate? The stewardship committee would like to use some of the survey information in the stewardship appeal. Susan Nilsen: The survey has not been released to the congregation – should we? Pastor Ken: The survey can be used as an education tool. Paula Merrick: Trustees have the financial background and therefore should take the lead in educating congregation. Susan Nilsen: Council needs to agree on what to do with the endowment. By-laws are ambiguous. Pastor Ken: There is no leadership on what to do with the endowment. Pastor Ken: A strong leadership has to emerge and say to the congregation, “this is the best route we should go.” Dudley Bickford: We are spending the endowment to invest in the future, for example, by hiring Mitzi. But, the congregation cannot keep voting for new programming, people, and the like without financially supporting the initiatives. George Penniman: Trustees should be the ones leading the discussion on how the endowment should be used. Dudley Bickford: Congregation must make the decision on how to use the endowment. Bob Marshall: Table the discussion until Trustees meet in October and then report their recommendations to Council. Emily Williams: Are trustees going to make suggestions on how to use the endowment – in addition to educating the congregation? We should do more witnessing in Worship – what does the church mean to each member. Mary-Lawrence Bickford: Why not have a witnessing moment during collection instead of an anthem? Paula Merrick volunteered be the first one to witness this Sunday, 09/16 . Pastor Mitzi: Why not have dinners for eight people come up with a witness? A motion passed that Trustees should develop plans on use of the endowment and came back to Council next month with their recommendations.
• By-law revisions – We will discuss Pages 10, 11, 12 and 13 of the proposed by-law revisions.
• Open and Affirming – Susan Nilsen said we need to investigate whether or not we should become an open and affirming church. Asked for a committee to be formed – not necessarily made up of all council members. Emily Williams will do homework to get started (not necessarily chair the committee) and Pastor Mitzi will help.
• We need a new Assistant Financial Secretary
• George Penniman received negative feedback regarding the “stock club.” Susan received a concern asking whether or not the church sanctioned the “stock club.” Dudley Bickford felt the “stock club” letter/concept should have gone through Council before given to the congregation.
Closing Prayer – Mitzi closed with a prayer.
Next meeting: October 10, 7:00 p.m.
Marian Messek, Clerk