Letter from Nathalie Edmond, Board President – April 6, 2020

Dear members and friends,

I want to acknowledge how heartwarming it has been to see the ways we have re-imagined community during Rev Kim’s sabbatical and during the last few weeks of physical distancing. I know these are uncertain times and our faith community can be a grounding presence. Please know that the staff and Board of Trustees are continuing to plan for our future as we are deep in budget preparation season.

I want to update you on a few things. Our staff continue to work remotely, as they can, to keep the church operational and the Board has approved the Personnel committee recommendation to continue to pay part-time staff through the end of the fiscal year.

As many of you know last year we had many discussions about our desire for a full-time assistant minister and opted to start with a part-time Minister of Congregational Life. What some of you many not know is that when Rev. Sue was hired there was a mutual agreement to contract for one year and then re-evaluate. Rev. Sue’s contract ends June 30th. Rev. Sue wrote to the Board a few weeks ago, offering to end her contract early and not seek a contract for next year, at least not at this time. She wrote that she was concerned about the church’s finances given the impact of COVID-19. While we know that the church is financially healthy we agree that these are uncertain times and many people are experiencing a significant financial impact and it is unclear what the coming months hold. The Board and Personnel committee have accepted Rev. Sue’s resignation while we evaluate our evolving needs. Rev. Sue will transition out of her role in May providing a little overlap with Rev. Kim. We recognize that the church’s pastoral and programming needs have changed and we see how much different committees and ministries have been virtually connecting. We look forward to the days when we will gather in person again.

Though Rev. Kim does not return from sabbatical until May 3rd we have had some consultation with her and she is in support of us suspending the position for now. There is little doubt that an Assistant Minister/Minister of Congregational Life position will still be of great benefit, but the job description for that position is likely to change from what we created last year and change again over time. It is likely that different responsibilities and activities will be identified, and perhaps different skill sets required, from what we initially envisioned.

We are in the midst of working on the budget for the 2020-2021 year and are not yet at the point of considering drastic reductions though we ask for reasonable constraints in spending for the remainder of this year.

Please know that our initial plan for the Assistant Minister position when we started this church year was for Sue Goodwin to have a one year contract and then, upon Rev. Kim’s return from her sabbatical, reconsider the position and the needs of the congregation, including the possibility that Rev Sue would continue for a second year. Circumstances have clearly changed significantly, creating a very unexpected twist in the plan.

So, for an undetermined amount of time, the position will remain vacant. We’re likely to put an amount in the proposed 2020-21 budget for this position to be filled for part of the year, so we have the money there when we need it. Rev. Kim, in working with our Personnel Committee and the Board, will take the lead in filling the position when the time is right.

I have heard from many how much you have valued Rev. Sue’s work here, especially since Rev. Kim went on sabbatical and then with the impact of the coronavirus. We have benefited much from her time with us and grown in many ways. We certainly owe Rev. Sue enormous gratitude and I only wish we could express that in a celebratory gathering. In lieu of that, Rev. Sue has stated she would appreciate receiving cards.

With warmth and appreciation,

Nathalie Edmond
President, Board of Trustees