President's Column


In my last article, I reported that members of the Board are working on several topics in an effort to determine our budgetary needs for our next fiscal year (beginning June 1):

  • Exploring the best time for a settled ministry search and related compensation and expenses

  • Identifying new operating building expenses for a portion of the new fiscal year, such as phone, internet, utilities, property insurance, land and property maintenance, etc.

  • Projecting when we will be gathering in-person again and how that date compares to our projected building completion date

  • Identifying the requirement for other paid staff

Ministerial Search and Compensation:

At its March meeting, the Board made the decision to go into search for a contract minister with the possibility of the congregation “calling” (voting) the minister to be our settled minister in 1 or 2 years. We shared this decision with you at a Town Hall meeting on March 14 with optimism that we will find someone soon who is a perfect match for our congregation. The good news is that we (both the minister and the congregation) will have an opportunity to work closely together for a year or two before we make a decision to extend our relationship indefinitely with a congregational vote.

At its meeting on March 23, the Board elected the Search Committee – Kathie Appelt, Pam Johnson, Maya Lazarus, Brian Lockridge, and Rob McGeachin. The Board also approved a compensation package, reflecting just over $56,000 in salary and an estimated $30,000 for health benefits, professional development, retirement contributions, and moving expenses.

Stay tuned as the Search Committee keeps us all posted on the status of their progress.

Building Expenses:

It’s been a few years since we have had any building expenses, other than paying rent, since we sold our property in 2016. The uncertainty around when construction will begin and be completed makes estimating operating costs for a brand-new building a challenge for sure. Other data points will be the extrapolations of our annual property expenses on Welborn and our rent expenses at Hillel.

In-Person Gatherings:

The Board is discussing how best to determine when we can get back to in-person gatherings. Currently, infections and hospitalizations are decreasing but with spring break, we might experience another wave. Vaccinations will also play a role in our decision; however, it will be some time before our children can be vaccinated. Guidelines from the UUA, CDC, and our local health agencies will be instrumental resources. Chances are we will be able to begin worship in person prior to the building being complete. Therefore, the budget would need to include some rental expenses – perhaps just for worship space, while staff continues to work from home.

Other Paid Staff:

For the majority of this fiscal year, two of our staff positions have been vacant – Director of Religious Education and Artist in Residence. We have been blessed with many volunteers coordinating, planning, and teaching our all-ages religious education. Virtual services have allowed us to use music videos for our worship services. Are either of these approaches, both or none, sustainable during the upcoming fiscal year, especially when we are back together? If not, what options do we have and what are the related expenses?

This year, we began paying a contractor for technical support for our website, virtual services and meetings, and social media. Should this be a staff position? At what percent of time and at what compensation?

As the fiduciary agents of the congregation, the Board must take the time to analyze and discern these topics to present to you a reasonable and realistic budget at our annual congregational meeting on May 23. The “realistic” part is related to the sum of your financial commitments for the fiscal year (starting June 1). By April 8, please submit your form online here or mail a completed and signed paper form to the church mailing address. If you need a printed form, contact the church office (admin@brazos-uu.org).

In lieu of group gatherings as a component of this year’s Stewardship Drive, we hope you will take a few minutes to share your story on our UUCBV Storyboard about how Unitarian Universalism and Brazos UU have impacted your life. Our stories are a wonderful way to share this faith community with ourselves and with others who might discover us. Let’s get to know each other better through our stories.

Blessings and peace,

Gaye


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The Rev. Christian Schmidt is our interim minister, and first became a Unitarian Universalist in this congregation where he was an active member from 2006-2009. He has since served congregations in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and California. His interests include his family (including four little boys he and his wife are raising), sports, and theology.    minister@brazos-uu.org

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