Board Buzz: 2020-21 Board Goals

by Mike Radow, Board President

2020-21 Board Goals

  1. Promote the collective well-being of the congregation by strengthening relationships with one another
  2. Increase our social justice presence through our ministries in the broader community
  3. Integrate and encourage participation of our Children and Youth in all that we do
  4. Increase personal and institutional actions grounded in anti-racist values
  5. Further Board of Trustees (BOT) and congregational understanding of policy-based governance.

After discussion at the retreat in June, over email, and at Board meetings in July and August the Board adopted these five goals. Please read through as I explain why they matter to us all, why we picked them, and why some people have criticized them. Also, here are our thoughts on possible ways to address them.

Why They Matter To You

If you are part of a ministry team, core team, and/or committee, you will be challenged to show how your work supports and integrates these church-wide goals into your specific work. This isn’t a matter of doing this instead of, but rather, it is a chance to see new possibilities and expand the scope of our ministries (see goal 2). We should be moving forward together, not in conflicting directions. Further, these goals drive staff focus, so even if you are not a member of the many teams at East Shore, our wonderful staff will be prioritizing their efforts toward the goals. Board Policy states that YOU, the membership, are invited into the work of brainstorming about the action plan for the year. That work starts NOW. Below, in small print, are some possible ways we might realize our shared goals. Share positive ideas with staff, who support teams in carrying out their work.

Why We Chose These

The mission is and remains our guide, our rudder. Board goals align (not so much #5 but more on that later). You will see that growing the church is not included in the list. The Board sees growth as a result of achieving our goals, and a measure of that success. And, adding to church membership is difficult in Covid times. I have noticed only a handful of new names/faces on Zoom Sunday mornings, so the challenge is great. Our Board felt paying attention to these areas would best set us up for growth when we return to in-person gatherings. We wanted goals that represent some balance between inward and outward looking. Also, and especially at this time of disconnect and distance, we wanted goals that could engage the membership, and not just be goals for ten Board members.

The Critique

Some are critical of this approach. They wish for longer-range goals that remain constant over the years. They express frustration over new Boards choosing new goals each year and rarely evaluating their effectiveness. Our own Policy and Governance Committee described this in their recent report; “… we noted the absence of long-term goals that relate to the Five-Year Plan as well as to the Mission and Vision of the church. It was generally agreed that annual Board goals often are tactical regarding emerging issues and are not long-term goals.”

Response to Critique

To some extent, our new goals for 2020-2021 repeat that fault, but only somewhat. Thinking strategically, 5-10 years out, is hard even with a stable Board and no Coronavirus. But we will monitor progress toward these goals. We have planned periodic study sessions about a master campus plan, and about steps needed to call a minister, which could both become goals in the next year.

Now though, we need to get our practices and procedures in place and understood. We’ve seen how the pandemic closure allowed rethinking of worship. The break from the normal provides time to examine and refine systems that are overlapping, or in need of repair. We need this time. Getting our systems clarified and our communications clear is no small part of being ready to call a new minister. Thus, the Board is mindful of our long-term needs and responsibilities. We will need to define ourselves to prospective candidates, and we will hold listening sessions to that end. These must be well attended, even if by Zoom. It can all happen. (A word about Goal #5: It is not really ‘on mission’, but it helps fulfill that mission. By learning about policy-based governance, we will clarify roles and responsibilities, and coordinate actions better. We can use the new website to publicize channels of communication.)

In Other News

The Board approved a Coronavirus Relief Package for our staff. The staff have transitioned our operations to meet the unprecedented needs and requirements of this pandemic. They have demonstrated great flexibility and creativity during this stressful time.  To ensure our staff can rest and re-energize, they will be given vacation from September 1-7, returning September 8. This will enable our staff to meet the challenges for an engaging fall, full of programming and service. In addition, each staff member has been given an additional stipend of $100. We are all in this together and support for our community is invaluable.

The Grounds Team has been watering the shrubs, flowers, and new plantings to keep them alive during our short summer. It is a soothing task. If you miss the campus, contact David Kappler to get a quick training and sign up for a day. There is lots of activity about Getting out the Vote, regular Flash Stances and much more. Please share what you are doing. We remain active and committed even if apart and gain strength from making connections. Thank you all for who you are, and what you do.

It remains an honor and privilege to serve on your Board of Trustees. We are always open to feedback. In September, the Board Listening Circle will be moved from the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, to the following Saturday, September 12, at 10:00 am.

In faith…

Mike