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2013 Annual Gathering Report from the Board Chair

By Michael Barrett, Board Chair

Michael BarrettVisioning Enhanced Ministry

     Since our Annual Gathering at Chapman University last summer, the year since has been one of intense study, ongoing exploration, and deep reflection by those serving as your Board of Directors. While your Board members continued to address and act on those duties enumerated in the Conference Bylaws — responsibility for fiduciary and legal matters, property oversight and management, personnel, etc. — the charge to engage in strategic planning and evaluation has dominated Board activity this past year.

Strategic Planning and Evaluation

     On July 14, 2012, the Board of Directors and Conference staff met for a strategic planning retreat, led by consultant Mary Scifres, held at the First Congregational Church of Glendale. After reviewing the mission priorities advanced under the 2000 (2YK) Strategic Planning process (congregational revisioning and renewal, building community in diversity, and youth and young adult ministries); members at the retreat agreed on four mission priorities, identified several potential goals in realization of those priorities, and agreed to participate in a number of specific task forces to address those priorities and goals.

The mission priorities most urgently advanced included: 1) Leadership development at all Conference levels; 2) An enhanced focus on Justice Issues; 3) A Continued emphasis upon Youth and Young Adult Ministries; and 4) Attention to issues bearing on development, education, and importance of Progressive Theology.  Potential goals toward realizing those mission priorities identified included: 1) Equipping leaders for church development and renewal; 2) Enhancing networking opportunities and avenues amongst all Conference levels and settings; 3) Equipping leaders for justice work; and 4) Attention to a series of administrative actions, such as structuring the Board of Directors to better focus on mission priorities, increase financial stability, and devote attention and resources to a greater use of technology as appropriate. Four tasks forces were established to address the goals established, including: 1) Justice Issues; 2) Leadership Development and Church Support; 3) Structuring the Board to Focus on Missional Priorities; and 4) Structuring Financial Stability.

While these task forces continue, at this time, to study and explore means towards goal realization, several actions have been taken or are underway. In the area of Leadership Development and Church Support, two actions stand out. The Board has approved in concept and provided some initial funding for the establishment of a SCNCUCC Conference Leadership Academy. This academy is created to respond to the educational needs of the SCNC, including the establishment of a new educational model to address church-related educational needs of UCC Members in Discernment (both Commissioned and Licensed Minister candidates). The program will be open to all laity and a source for continued education for authorized UCC Ministers. The second major action in this area concerns the work in progress by the “Rethink Association” Task Force led by Keslinn Kohfeld-Stout, Mike Zarro, and David Alicea. In exploring avenues for enhanced networking, collaboration, and relationship building, have opened a dialog exploring the needs of local churches, associations, and the wider Conference. This Task Force has established a research protocol, developed a questionnaire, is currently conducting interviews amongst selected church leadership, and anticipates reporting recommendation by Fall 2013.

In the area of structuring the Board of Directors to more effectively focus on mission priorities, your Board has moved to tentatively adjust its agenda format, review its Committee structures, and address assorted tasks complimentary to Board functions. Such actions as having written documents read and assessed prior to meetings, approving/disapproving reports by consensus, and scheduling SCNCUCC business first on its agendas, have allowed for more efficient prioritization and allowed more time for consideration of mission priorities. Relative to Committee structure the Board is experimenting with; a temporary suspension of its Personnel Committee with those functions addressed by the Planning and Development Committee; a focusing of the Planning and Development Committee on policy issues by suspending consideration of mission grant applications this year; and establishing a Strategic Planning Committee, chaired by Bruce Ramet, to oversee, coordinate, and make recommendations concerning strategic planning and its implementation. The Board is also bringing to this Annual gathering, a recommendation concerning a Bylaws change which would enhance the work of the Nominating Committee by providing for that Committee’s Chair to attend selected meeting of the Board. Additionally, the Board reinstated the practice of electing a Board Vice Chair, David Alicia for this year; developed job descriptions for the Board of Directors; addressed increasing Board Diversity, developed a procedure for designating a Board Chaplin, and has considered issues relative to the designation of a Board Historian.

The Finance Committee, chaired by Gary Chomiak has undertaken extensive study concerning means by which the long-term financial stability of the Conference may be enhanced. Frequently, the Finance Committee, for preliminary discussions, has brought pertinent issues and concerns to the Board.  It is anticipated that once our Conference has successfully hosted the 2013 General Synod, the Board will have available more time to devote to this important goal. The Board may also move to review committee structures that more specifically address consideration and approval of grant funding and consideration of actions relative to social justice issues. The possibility of constituting a grant consideration committee that includes both Board representation and draws on expertise from outside the Board membership; as well convening specialized ad hoc, social/justice action committees, again drawing on interest and expertise from both on and off the Board; have been considered.

General Synod

     The Board has sought means by which it might support the successful hosting by our Conference of the 2013 General Synod in Long Beach this summer. Board members pledged to individually contribute or raise $1000.00 in support of the General Synod. Additionally; a major report and presentation to the Board was made by Paul Kitlaus and Janet Vandevender, Co-chairs of the Local Arrangements Committee, and the Board received regular update reports from General Synod Moderator and Associate Conference Minister for Church Relations, Libby Tigner.

Pilgrim Pines

     The Board of Directors continues to serve simultaneously as the Governing Board of the Pilgrim Pines Camp and Conference Center, with the addition to the Governing Board of Rev. Petra Malleis-Sternberg, the Outdoor Ministry Team Chair and Tom Mason, Facilities Ministry Team Chair. The work of both these Ministry Team Chairs has been nothing less than extraordinarily excellent and effective. Both deserve the Conference’s deep appreciated and applause. The continued improvement of the camp and enhancement of its programming is due in large part to their efforts and the collaboration they enable with the camp’s managerial service, United Camps, Conferences and Retreats.


     In actions of personnel note, your Board extended Thea Mateu as Acting Young Adult Ministries Coordinator until December 2013. It is anticipated that a search committee to fill the position on a permanent basis, will be convened in summer, 2013 to hopefully fill the position by January 2014.  Additionally. Your Board approved Call Agreements between Mr. Jose Al Lopez, as new Church Pastor in Pomona, California; and Mr. Neal Washburn, as Part-Time Youth Minister on Conference Staff. Additionally, at the request of Chapman University for the nomination of an SCNCUCC “Church Leader of the year” award to be made at the University’s Founder’s Day celebrations, your Board nominated Rev. Dr. Joe McGowan, Pastor of the Altadena Community Church, and he was honored at special ceremonies on campus on March 16, 2013.


     Thank you for the honor of serving on your Board of Directors. This has been a year of wondrous opportunity and rewarding challenge. The dedication, diligence, and commitment with which your Board members have served both you and Jesus, has never wavered. It has been an enormous personal pleasure to serve with each of them and with the incredible staff of this Conference. Again, thank you with my best wishes for the times ahead.


Other Reports to the 2013 Annual Gathering:

Report from the Executive Associate Conference Minister
Report from the Associate Conference Minister for Church Relations
Report from the Associate Conference Minister for Border & Latino Ministries
Report from the Youth Minister
Report from the Acting Young Adults Ministry Coordinator


One Response to “2013 Annual Gathering Report from the Board Chair”
  1. Jennie Ferrette says:

    I am excited just reading about your goals. For the needs and support of churches I have a suggestion. While I was President of a local PTA, we were asked to attended an annual convention for education and inspriation. Every two years or as the Church By-Laws require a new moderator and various officers and Chairman begin to serve their church. I believe that small or large siminars or conventions would be a tremendous benefit to to these new servants of the church.

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