A new year, not quite a clean slate, but almost. Since last summer, I’ve used these metaphors have come to mind, in this order, to describe your Board’s work: cleaning out the muck, building a foundation, laying tracks, and putting sand on those tracks. In real terms that means we have clarified the roles and responsibilities of Board and Personnel Committee in hiring members of the Staff Leadership Team (SLT), built a template for Employment Agreements with those staff, and committed to following through with a new and more thorough performance review process for those staff. We have also created rubrics to use in assessing Church progress toward achieving this year’s Board Goals. They can be found on the Church website. Most gratifying to me, we approved a motion to begin the building of a budget based on what that would look like if we started from our Mission and Goals, not just of what we ‘have to do’. You will have ample chances to provide input on all these fronts later.
Your Board at East Shore is very happy to inform you we have given Nicole Duff a promotion. Her new title is Director of Membership Development and she will also now join the Staff Leadership Team. The other members of the Staff Leadership Team include Steve Furrer, our Minister; Rebecca Chatfield, our Director of Finance & Operations; and amanda alice uluhan, our Director of Religious Education. Nicole is the one who knows all of us and skillfully does countless things, often virtually unnoticed, to keep us operating as smoothly as we have, even in this difficult time. Congratulations, Nicole, and thank you for all that you do for us!
I am excited that so many East Shorians have taken part in the Beloved Conversations program. We are gaining common experiences and vocabulary for continuing those conversations. I’ve realized that despite my ‘good liberal’ attitudes, my behaviors, or rather my inactions, uphold the inequities I see all around. Surely the murder of George Floyd, and the disproportionate impact of COVID on Black, Indigenous and People of Color show that however unpleasant it is to contemplate, by doing nothing I am accepting the unacceptable. I am infected with the disease of racism and should be troubled.
This discomfort might be what the late John Lewis called “good trouble, necessary trouble”. The phase was the theme of this year’s MLK march in Seattle. Unbidden, the words from Wade in the Water popped up in my mind: “God’s gonna trouble the water”. A little research revealed these words to be a reminder to enslaved people going north on the Underground Railroad that walking in rivers would make it harder for their would-be captors to prevent escape to freedom. But more, the scriptural passage (John 5:4) reads: “an angel of the Lord came from time to time and troubled the water, and the first person to step down into it afterwards was healed”. I hope to be that person, healed of the pandemic of implicit bias and racism.
It’s been 28 years since the police officers who beat Rodney King were acquitted, touching off riots and deaths in LA. I despair at our national lack of progress, but also note this year’s protests were nationwide, with many more white people involved, and that at least some officers are being held accountable. Nancy Levin asks us to “honor that space between no longer and not yet”, that space between old and new ways of seeing and living. Obviously we are in the “not yet” for our healing; I hope and pray that we are in the “no longer”.
Mike Radow, President, Board of Trustees