by Pam Johnson, Board of Trustees President 2021-2022
Six months have passed since I started as the 2021-2022 UUCBV President of the Board on June 1st 2021. Much has changed since that date. Before I started, prior presidents warned me that I would receive a large number of emails, phone calls and complaints, and I sure did. But that has changed also.
Besides the usual business of reviewing our budget and expenditures from our Fidelity accounts for the building, we were able to focus on how to keep our church running and achieved much in this short period of time. That’s with the help of our Board members Alice Scott, Gaye Webb, Maya Lazarus, John Ivy, Bobby Presley and Josh Wilkinson and the use of ad hoc committees to do background work on specific items.
In early June 2021, we had good news! The Sacred Space Team (SST) presented the Board with a building contract with Keys & Walsh. The Board immediately convened for an unscheduled meeting and approved the contract. Finally, the new church would be built! At the same time, as Rev. Christian, our remote interim minister prepared to take his leave, we prepared for continuing services without a minister.
We had all been disappointed that the ad hoc Ministerial Search Committee (Maya Lazarus, Brian Lockridge, Kathi Appelt and myself) had not been able to find a candidate that would be a good match for our church. We had been told that the 2021 ministerial candidate pool would be large and we would have many ministers from which to choose. But that all changed with COVID-19. Many older ministers decided to retire and younger ministers were not willing to move from their home sites. Then we heard from Reverend Christian about a highly recommended candidate, Pastor Kiya. Our ad hoc Ministerial Search Committee worked quickly to review documents, interview Pastor Kiya, consult references, etc. and felt Pastor Kiya would be a perfect match for us. The BOT quickly approved the contract for Pastor Kiya to start work on August 1st (although she started working for us immediately after all signatures were obtained). How fortunate the Board felt.
Additional good news came when the Board was able to accept a generous anonymous donation to underwrite the total amount for the position of Director of Religious Education (all ages) and Membership and Outreach. This was a new type of position even the UUA was curious about. So, another ad hoc committee devised a job description, contract and following interviews, Allison Faber accepted the position. And what a great job she is doing.
Covid-19: The Covid-19 pandemic had changed the world as we knew it, especially with schools and churches closed. We had been itching to return to in-person services so we developed another ad hoc committee, the In-person Worship Team, composed of Alice Scott and Josh Wilkinson. They would keep tabs on the Covid-19 pandemic and make recommendations to the Board. Since early June, we had been monitoring the virus and discussing pros and cons of where to hold in-person services. The ad hoc team recommended starting in-person services on August 1. We retained a contract with our friends at the Brazos Valley African American Museum (BVAAM) in Bryan, which the whole Board visited, and we were all set to go. Unfortunately, in mid-July, we were faced with the Delta Variant of COVID-19 and the In-Person Worship ad hoc Team, in concurrence with Pastor Kiya, recommended to the UUCBV BOT that we not return to in-person church worship at that time. And that’s how the Board voted. Fortunately, with the advent of the COVID-19 vaccine, the booster shot, dropping case numbers and recommendations from the ad hoc committee, the BOT voted to resume in-person services Nov. 7th. Another ad hoc committee found the Neal Recreation Center in Bryan and that is where we are now.
When I started as president, I did receive an inordinate number of negative emails and phone calls; I was surprised by all the naysayers. Of course, that can be laid to high levels of anxiety about the church, Covid-19 restrictions, not having a minister, not knowing when building construction would start, etc., etc., etc. But that has changed, also. Emails and phone calls have all diminished; phone conversations are much more pleasant and positive; emails are positive too. This I attribute to the hard work of the Board, multiple ad hoc committees of Board and church members doing the behind the scenes work, and having Pastor Kiya to help lead us. People are more open to trying new things, listening to each other, speaking up more, volunteering more. And that is a good thing for the Brazos UU..