Informal Report on the Congregational Meeting of March 24, 2019


by Tom Doe, President

This communication is an informal report to the East Shore membership of the results of the March 24, 2019, special congregational meeting. Further details will be available in formal minutes.

The Meeting

The East Shore Board of Trustees convened a special congregational meeting on March 24, 2019, to decide the disposition of the Holly House property. The vote asked members to choose between four options:

  1. Attain Housing bid of $1.2M to construct 12 affordable housing units targeting homeless families with children and 13 market rate rental units
  2. LifeWire bid of $1.05M to construct 25 affordable housing units targeting homeless women and their families who have suffered domestic abuse
  3. Woodbridge NW bid of $4M to construct 19 to 21 mid-range market rate priced condos establishing a designated fund for earth and social justice of approximately $933,000
  4. Woodbridge NW bid of $4M to construct 19 to 21 mid-range market rate priced condos with no restrictions on the church’s use of the proceeds

Other than establishing the designated fund of option three, the management of the fund and the use of the remainder of the proceeds will be determined after the sale by the membership and the Board.

After opening remarks by our minister, Rev. Stephen Furrer, and Board President, Tom Doe, the meeting convened under Robert’s Rules of Order as specified in our bylaws. Due to the size of the meeting, time limitations on our use of the sanctuary, and the need for multiple votes, a motion to adopt special rules limiting the discussion to 30 minutes and one-minute statements was proposed and adopted. The subsequent discussion provided an opportunity to all who indicated their desire to speak by coming to one of two stationary microphones or requesting a roving microphone.

The Vote

As required under our bylaws and Robert’s Rules of Order, the voting process involved repeated votes among the four options until a simple majority (>50%) for one option could be achieved.

After the first round of voting failed to achieve a simple majority among the four options, a motion from the floor was adopted by unanimous consent to amend the rules as follows:

• amending the ballot on the second round to eliminate the first-round option receiving the fewest votes.
• eliminating the option receiving the fewest votes for the third round, if the second round failed to achieve a simple majority, to achieve a simple majority in the third round

The subsequent voting went the full three rounds with the following vote total and percentage results (>50% required for adoption):

Following the vote our Restorative Justice Consultant, Pam Orbach, convened a well-attended talking circle in the North Room.

Where Next, Initial Thoughts

The Board of Trustees extends sincere gratitude to all who attended this congregational meeting. The attendance greatly exceeded the quorum requirements, providing a strong indication of our membership’s commitment to be involved in our community. Except for convening a task force to complete the negotiations and sale of the property, the Board has made no further decisions about the establishment of the earth and social justice designated fund or the disposition of other sale proceeds.

The Board recognizes the disappointment of those who voted for affordable housing options and their concerns about the church honoring its core principles for social action. Adding the votes of the first three options shows that at least three fourths of the membership support a significant commitment to using our financial resources for social justice. Furthermore, the resources committed by ballot to the designated social justice fund are minimum amounts and can be increased by vote of the membership in future congregational meetings. The Board also has set as a goal preparing a long-term campus plan, which had been put on hold until after this vote. Our Executive Director, Jason Puracal, has already presented early-stage concepts to the Board for developing our lower parking lot area and these will be considered by a soon-to-be-recruited campus plan working group. Please contact the Board if you have an interest in this work.

The Board will be providing opportunities for open discussion and welcomes any suggestions to ensure all voices are heard as we take our next steps forward. In the coming year there will be many opportunities for every member of our church to have a part in deciding how to use our resources to create exciting programs that can have significant social justice impacts while assuring the vitality, growth, and financial sustainability of our church.

Support Following the Holly House Vote

Following the Holly House vote, we know some of you are experiencing grief and pain. The Right Relations Team and the Board of Trustees are supporting the work of several circles and discussions to help members work through their feelings and stay in community. You are valued!

For those members who are not experiencing the same level of loss, your willingness to listen, comfort, and let those in pain work through their grief is needed. We are a community that supports one another, and this is a time when we need to support those are hurting.

  • Dedicated Mourning Circle: Sunday, March 31, 12:30 p.m.: A number of ESUC members are experiencing disappointment over the outcome of the Holly House vote. Grieving takes time, and can be supported by sharing and listening to the feelings of others in their grief. In such times, the experience of community in and of itself can be healing.Please join us if you are in a place of sadness or wish to support or understand those who are. We will hold a space for each other to share this Sunday morning, March 31, after the 11:00 service. We will meet in Spring Hall at 12:30 p.m.
  • Board Conversations & Community Circles: The Board of Trustees intends to resume the First Saturday Meetings (10:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.) between the Board and interested members, to be facilitated by the Right Relations Team. The exact format (Q&A, facilitated discussions, talking circles) is still being discussed. Please watch for further announcements.

Acknowledgements

The Board gives its special thanks to the Holly House Task Force — Linda Freeburg, Laurie Adams, Trevor Hall, Jim Shuman, Carrie Bowman, Roger Greene, Sue Yates , Dave Baumgart (Board Liaison), Rev. Stephen Furrer (SLT Liaison), and Mark Norelius (Right Relations Liaison) as well as to members of previous task forces that have worked so hard to bring this process to fruition.

Our congregational meeting was a community effort involving many hands in addition to the Holly House Task Force. Sincere thanks to Ann Fletcher (Policy and Governance) for her work on assuring our voting processes conformed to Robert’s rules and our bylaws. Also thanks to Mike Radow for serving as parliamentarian with Ann, Dave Baumgart as Secretary, and Paul Buehrens as timer.

Ralph Lutz, Lee Winstrom, Earl Fleehart, and Lee Dorigan provided their usual outstanding audiovisual services. Helping with the many tasks of running the meeting were Jennifer Sumner, Elaine Richie, Josh Scribner, Janis Pock, Milly Mullarky, and Karen Bushnell along with Board members Sara Brannman, Jerry Bushnell, Lee Dorigan, Evelyn Smith, Mark Norelius, and Marcy Langrock. Our splendid staff, Nicole Duff, Dianne Upton, and Joseph Newman, provided enormous support for the ballots, communications, and sanctuary set up.

Our thanks to Pam Orbach, Louise Wilkinson, and our Right Relations committee for their support throughout the past months and for facilitating the post-meeting listening circle. You will be needed in the coming months!

We could not have had this meeting without the childcare provided by Amanda Uluhan, Mollie Player, and Aisha Hauser. Thank you!

Last – and certainly not least – the lunch owed its existence to Julie Heise, Mitra Khubcher, Jenny Selby, Aleta Finnila, Catherine Ramsey, Uzma Butte, and Nicole Duff.

Thank you all and my apologies to anyone who may have been missed in these acknowledgements.