Leadership Team News

Leadership Team News


The following are a summary of topics that have been discussed in Leadership Team meetings.  Full minutes of the meetings are available in a binder in the church office.  If you would like a copy of them you may visit the church office for one, or email the church office to have a copy mailed to you.

February, 2017 Annual Meeting News

A quorum was present at the Annual Meeting Feb. 12. We were thankful for the presence of Kristin Shejen from North Carolina and Dwight and Lucy Shepherd from Duxbury!

The Annual Reports were received.  Please review the news from the 40 teams who submitted reports.  So much good work has been done this year!

Treasurer Stewart Creelman presented the Financial Report for 2015 and 2016.  Value of all endowment, savings and checking accounts at the end of 2015 was $3,819,728 and at the end of 2016 was $4,002,802.  The performance of investments for 2016 was 7.62%.  The endowment and all funds are very well-managed and doing well.

Bylaw amendments were approved which make all language inclusive, simplify the processes of membership, reflect our current practices for setting of service and meeting times, and for describing the work of pastors.  The quorum requirement was amended to 10% of Active Members as determined by the Clerk.

The 2017 budget was approved.  Increases for insurance, pastoral search expenses, and pastors’ annuities were offset by reductions in office expenses and no need to include 300th expenses.  The total budget is $637,129.  Of this $358,436 is budgeted from giving; $108,100 from rents and other income, and $170,592 from transfers of endowment income and savings following the Spending Rule of 4.75%.  This is a reduction from last year’s 5% and includes careful work to ensure all funds are used as intended.

Officers were elected as per the ballot, and teams were recognized and authorized as per the list provided.

The assembled congregation was able to conclude the business of the Annual Meeting by 11:15 am. Thanks to all who participated in the Budget Forum and Bylaw Forum on previous Sundays, so that questions could be answered and issues resolved.

If you have any questions about the funds, please ask Stew Creelman or Whiting Houston.  If you have questions about the budget, please ask Susan Kennedy.

Thanks to all who braved the snowstorm to take part in Annual Meeting!  Each one of you was essential!

Next Leadership Team meeting:  Wednesday February 22, 6:30 pm in the Buxton Room.  All are welcome.

August 3, 2016

Mini-minutes of the July 27 meeting:

Treasurer’s Report: Stew presented the Treasurer’s Report through June. This is the first report presented with the bookkeeping done by Professional Business Services and gives much more information than we have had before.

Church School: The Leadership Team approved the job descriptions for Church School Director and Church School Lead Teacher. A guiding principle is for our church to always welcome families and children. Some significant changes are incorporated into the job descriptions:

  • Nursery, childcare, and a lesson or activity for older children will be offered every Sunday of the year.
  • Parents will not be expected to teach if they enroll their children in church school. They will have the opportunity to take part in worship while their children enjoy church school.
  • The church school class will be taught most Sundays by the Lead Teacher, who will become a familiar and consistent presence at First Church. There will be one or two substitute teachers as well.
  • The Church School Director will focus on Sunday morning. They will plan lessons and activities in collaboration with the Lead Teacher, and schedule people to cover the three levels of care—nursery, pre-K/K, and church school—sufficient to meet our church Safe Conduct Policy.
  • Children’s activities and projects outside of Sunday morning will be organized by lay people with the support of the Pastors.
  • Both positions will be paid by the hour. Extra hours will be needed at certain times, such as Christmas Eve, and the people in these positions will be compensated for their extra time.

The Church School Director is expected to work approximately 10 hours per week, about 3 hours in summer. The Lead Teacher is expected to average 3 hours per week. The job descriptions will be reviewed no later than January 2017.

Other discussions were tabled until the August meeting.

Next Leadership Team meeting:  Wednesday August 31 at 6:30 pm

June 26, 2016

Vacations: Maura will take vacation time on Fridays in July and August. Stan will take vacation time on Wednesdays. If you see something that you think needs Stan’s attention, please contact Maura so that Stan is not needlessly contacted on his days off, summer Tues-Thurs.

Mini-minutes of the June 22 meeting:

  • The team reflected on “Be the Church.”
  • Carey Larsen presented the timetable for the search for the new Music Director.

Events planned for the fall were discussed. Liaisons will schedule Circle Gatherings in which all the teams in a circle come together for fellowship, evaluation, and planning. 300th plans are in progress.

Team Updates: Diane Peluso, Wanona Dobbs, and Don Murphy are joining Jay’s Pastoral Relations Team. Bunny Bewick has joined Called to Care. Members are needed for Consecration Sunday (stewardship) Team, Landscape and Gardening, Personnel, Children’s Ministries, Youth Ministries and adult help with YUP, YES, and Confirmation.

Transition evaluation: Communication, Community outreach, governance, adult spiritual growth are areas which have improved. Ministry to younger families and expansion of children’s ministries still need a great deal of work.

Preparing for our next Senior Pastor:

  • Lay governance: Finish bylaw revision, improve communication, and fill teams:
  • Bylaws can be completed this year
  • Financial management: As we get better reports, we will be able to make changes to simplify management. Progress is being made on financial reorganization but we still do not have the complete 2015 and 2016 information.
  • Property use: Many projects await to clean out and repurpose rooms and storage areas for new programs. Stan and Property Team have a list and plans. Columns will be repaired.
  • Evaluating employment needs: Job descriptions are in progress. More equitable methods of compensating staff are being developed.

Matters requiring discernment: The team spent the final hour discussing situations of broken relationships. Adjourned with prayer at 10:30.

June 22, 2016 News

How are we doing?

In 2013 we created a timeline of work to be done with our Transitional Pastor. The Leadership Team will be revisiting the timeline, to plan what still needs attention. How do you think we are doing?


Potential Transition Task Groups

  • Attracting and holding the 25-45 group
  • Expanding Children’s Ministries
  • Year round stewardship of life
  • Best practices from our past
  • Survey of congregation
  • Behavorial Covenant
  • Adult Education as spiritual growth

Preparing for our next Senior Pastor:

We can show our support for our next Pastor now by setting our administrative house in order, so that when he or she arrives, work can begin right away on our mission—to show God’s love for each other, the community and the world. Here’s what needs still to be done:

  • Lay governance: Finish by-law revision, improve communication, and fill teams
  • Financial management: As we get better reports, we will be able to make changes to simplify management.
  • Property use: Many projects await to clean out and re-purpose rooms and storage areas for new programs.
  • Evaluating employment needs: Ensure that we have the right job descriptions, so that our Pastors and lay leaders have necessary support for their work, and we make best use of stewardship dollars.

Next Leadership Team meeting:  Wednesday June 22 at 6:30pm

June 12, 2016 News

First Church Goals as expressed in the CAT Survey

Many of you participated in the Church Assessment Tool last fall and attended meetings last winter at which the results were presented. Visioning 2020 will be envisioning how the goals could be advanced through the ministries of our church. The Personnel Team is incorporating these ideas into the new job descriptions, starting with Music Director. The same process will be used for subsequent job description revisions.

The five top goals:

  • Make necessary changes to attract families with children and youth to our church
  • Work to renew and revitalize the community around the church by building coalitions with partners that share this vision and commitment
  • Create more opportunities for people to form meaningful relationships
  • Change or improve the music of the church to deepen our worship experience
  • Expand outreach ministries that provide direct services to those living on the margins of society (i.e. homeless, immigrant, transient people)

In the community

The Leadership Team is keeping the goals in mind as we make decisions and plans.

  • Climate Justice:  We just agreed for First Church to join with St. Andrews, the Unitarian Universalist congregation, and other community groups as members of the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition. The coalition states that “Climate justice begins with the recognition that low-income individuals and communities, people of color and indigenous people bear a disproportionate impact on their health and lives from environmental pollution and climate change.” The coalition is currently working on ensuring that natural gas leaks in Springfield, Longmeadow, and surrounding communities are repaired. If you would like to put faith into action by learning more about the coalition and its work, please contact Mark Pohlman.
  • Habitat Circle of Faith: First Church was well represented at the Habitat Circle of Faith Kickoff June 1. Prayers and blessings were written on wood for the house, and children and adults enjoyed colorful painting. A great start!

Next Leadership Team meeting: Wednesday June 22 at 6:30.

May 15, 2016 News

More answers to questions from the May 1 Budget Forum:

  • What is the percentage of pledged income budgeted for Mission? We are upholding our promise to MACUCC to give 6.8% of our pledged income to the UCC fund which supports our conference and UCC mission and disaster relief around the world. Our total budgeted mission giving will be 12.8% of pledged income.
  • How much is given to the Minister’s Discretionary Fund? The 2015 Christmas Eve donations were $ 2200. The Mission Team donated $500 from their Area Causes Fund to the fund. The Women’s Benevolent Society also made a donation from church fair proceeds. The Pastors have these funds available for confidential assistance to people in need, who are often from our own congregation.
  • Can the Environmental Justice Team receive an allowance for its work? Yes. When the team was established, it was agreed that they could use some of the proceeds from Viridian.
  • Will the Mission Team receive a credit for Area Causes funds that were allocated but not paid in 2015? Yes. A credit will be given for $ 2500 in the 2016 proposed budget.

Next Leadership Team meeting: Wednesday May 18 at 6:30 in the Buxton Room. The team will complete preparations for the May 22 Special Meeting.

May 8, 2016 News


Senior Pastor Search Team Recommended

The Leadership Team is happy to announce that the following people have agreed to serve on the Senior Pastor Search Team. The Leadership Team recommends the team to the congregation, and you will have a chance to authorize them at the May 22 Special Meeting.

  • Wanona Dobbs
  • John Ouellette
  • Mary Friedman
  • Shannon Plankey
  • Steve Gelling
  • Ute Schmidt
  • Alan Kulig
  • Laura Bird
  • Smith Sue Monks

Rev. Terbush will guide them in the initial phases of the search, during which they will construct our Church Profile this summer. Please pray for them as they prepare for this important work.

Results of Budget Forum May 1: Many people took part in the Budget Forum May 1. Stew Creelman, representing Investment and Finance and the Budget Team, introduced the budget recommended by the Leadership Team. Susan Kennedy presented the budget, which contains the actual expenditures for 2015 alongside the 2015 budget and the 2016 budget.

Questions included:

  • What % of health insurance costs are paid by employees? 25%.
  • What are the reasons for paying young people who assist at church school? For many it is their first job, and helps them learn to be responsible.
  • Why are there two line items for “Equipment?” This is indeed an error spotted by Stan Zdonick. We can take $ 1500 off of the total budget.
  • Why are there no Perry Awards this year? Recent awards have totaled more than the income of the fund. Last year the Music Committee borrowed from the checking account, and this is being paid back this year.

Susan explained the following:

  • Payments for 2016 pensions and health care were made in 2015, which gives us a credit on the 2016 budget.
  • The $41,000 which had been listed as “Church Services” has been broken down and it was found that many building maintenance projects were listed there and in some other accounts. As a result, about $ 10,000 can be taken from the Building Income Fund to reimburse the checking account for these expenses.
  • The budget presented is balanced and makes appropriate use of the Johnson Fund and other endowment funds.

Next Leadership Team meeting: Wednesday May 18 at 6:30 in the Buxton Room.

April 24, 2016 News


  • Senior Pastor Search Team Progress: After diligent work by the sub-team and active participation by the congregation in the nominating process, our Senior Pastor Search Team will be installed at the Annual Meeting on May 22.  We thank those who have agreed to serve:  Wanona Dobbs, Mary Friedman, Steve Gelling, Alan Kulig, Sue Monks, John Ouellette, Shannon Plankey, Ute Schmidt, and Laura Bird Smith.  Once the Search Team has been authorized, we will pray for God’s guidance and dedicate the team to God’s care.
  • Goals of the 2016 Budget:
    • 1) Present a balanced budget, while reducing the disbursement from the Permanent Endowment Fund to 5% based on correct equations. Last year’s budget erroneously drew about 8%. This will reduce budgeted income from the endowment by $ 25,000 for 2016 and each subsequent year.
    • 2) Move towards a sustainable budget. Investment and Finance Team recommends that we withdraw only 4%. We will make this reduction (which amounts to another $ 15,000 per year) over the next 2-3 years.
    • 3) Provide teams with information about endowment funds supporting their mission area, and opportunities for input on budget line items.
    • 4) Thoroughly review 2015 income and expenses to see if there were projects which were approved to be paid for from endowment funds but were actually funded from operating expenses, and recommend reimbursing the checking account as appropriate.
  • Structure Evaluation Listening Sessions: Thanks to more than 25 members who participated, along with staff, pastors, and many lay leaders. Positive experiences with the new structure include enhanced creativity, efficiency, flexibility, and empowerment of teams, with more cross-team cooperation. Decisions are made by one consistent group which can dig deep on important issues. Improvements are needed in communication all around. Leadership Development and Nominations Team must be populated asap. Ways must be found to encourage more people to volunteer, so that the same people don’t have to do many jobs. Complete notes are available in the narthex and library.

April 17, 2016 News


  • Senior Pastor Search Team Progress Thanks to all who nominated themselves or others for the Senior Pastor Search Team. In the past, the team was appointed by the Moderator, but the process has been greatly expanded this time around. Potential team members are being reviewed by a sub-group of the Leadership Team, who will recommend a group of candidates that they feel best represents our diverse congregation. Candidates are being personally contacted to confirm their willingness to serve on the committee. Once the selected candidates have committed to serve, the Leadership Team will recommend the Pastoral Search Team to the church and ask for a vote at a Special Meeting authorizing them to do this important work. Once the Search Team has been authorized, we will pray for God’s guidance and dedicate the team to God’s care.
  • Basement Bathrooms are being renovated in April, thanks to generous donations from Rosemarie Jarrett and the Women’s Benevolent Society.
  • Building the 2016 Budget: Susan K has been compiling 2015 actual expenses compared to Steve Northrup’s 2015 Treasurer’s report and Mark Gilmore’s proposed budget. Liaisons have received this data and are working with teams in their circle to make budget requests for 2015, as was requested at Annual Meeting. Maura Stevens will also review office and property expenses and make 2016 estimates. Stew Creelman, Susan Dugan, Sandra Turner, and Susan K will compile the total budget. The goal is to have a proposed budget ready for the April 27 Leadership Team meeting.
  • Structure Evaluation Listening Sessions: Thanks to more than 25 members who participated, along with staff, pastors, and many lay leaders. Positive experiences with the new structure include enhanced creativity, efficiency, flexibility, and empowerment of teams, with more cross-team cooperation. Decisions are made by one consistent group which can dig deep on important issues. Improvements are needed in communication all around. Leadership Development and Nominations Team must be populated asap. Ways must be found to encourage more people to volunteer, so that the same people don’t have to do many jobs. Complete notes are available online and in the narthex and library.
  • Next Leadership Team meeting: April 27.

April 10, 2016 News


  • Bookkeeping changes. After much deliberation, the Leadership Team has engaged Professional Business Services to handle the church’s bookkeeping. We need professional oversight of the accounts and more frequent and accurate reports of our finances than a lay person as Treasurer can provide. Deb Garrity has resigned her position as part-time bookkeeper, and this will free up some of Maura’s time for other projects. We will pay PBS only for the hours their employees work on our accounts. The conversion has begun and is going well.
  • Structure Evaluation Listening Sessions: The third listening session is today after church. We would like to hear how our current structure works for you and how it can be improved. Many good ideas were shared at the Monday and Wednesday sessions about how to improve communications.
  • Search Team Nominations: Thanks to all who nominated themselves or others for the Senior Pastor Search Team. During April a group led by Ken White will put together a team to be approved by the congregation at a Special Meeting.
  • Please say YES! If you are contacted to be part of the Senior Pastor Search Team, please say YES! It will be a challenging and time-consuming experience that will deepen your faith, create lasting bonds with your fellow team members, and contribute in such an important way to the future of your church.
  • How big a church are we? The Search Team will need to accurately describe the size of our church community. Every few years it is necessary to contact people who have not been seen for a while to see if they still consider themselves “active” members of our church. The Deacons have just sent out letters to a number of people. If you have a conversation with someone who received a letter, please reassure them that they are always welcomed back at First Church.
  • Sprucing up the basement bathrooms: During April the basement bathrooms will be renovated through generous donations from Rosemarie Jarrett and the Women’s Benevolent Society. Thanks to Rosemarie and to all who worked on the Church Fair who made the WBS donation possible.
  • Got laptop? We are looking for a new Clerk who can take notes during our meetings and be part of the discussions. Who do you know that might be interested?
  • Next meeting April 27 at 6:30.

April 6, 2016 News

The Leadership Team met on Wednesday March 30.


  • We approved a project by the Longmeadow Cemetery Association to beautify the area just east of the driveway east of the church.
  • Basement bathrooms will be renovated in April, funded by contributions from the Women’s Benevolent Society and a very generous gift from Rosemarie Jarrett.
  • The Endowment and Gift Management Policy presented by Asst. Treasurer Whiting Houston was approved.
  • The Leadership Team accepted the proposal from Professional Business Services to provide bookkeeping services. PBS will transfer our accounts to QuickBooks.
  • During April, Liaisons will meet with all teams in their mission circle to go over their expenditures during 2015 and prepare budget requests for the 2016 budget. Each team will also be asked how the present structure is working for their team.
  • The Leadership Team hopes to have a revised budget proposal by April 27 and present it at a Budget Forum after church on May 1. This schedule can be maintained only if our accountant Robb Morton can review our financial statements right after April 15.
  • May 8 is Mother’s Day and May 15 Rev. Jim Antal, MACUCC Minister and President, will be here for a special 300th Anniversary Celebration.
  • If all goes according to this plan, we can hold a Special Meeting to approve the 2016 budget and conduct other necessary business on Sunday, May 22.
  • The next meeting will be Wednesday April 27 at 6:30.

March 30, 2016 News

Just a reminder that Leadership Team meetings are open. Our meeting times are published on the website and also in the Sunday bulletin. We begin just as Church Council meetings did in the past, with a time for Concerns of Parishioners. Please let us know you are coming and the subject of your concern. Because our agenda is always extremely full, this time is limited to the first 30 minutes of the meeting. If we need to discuss personnel matters, we go into executive session. Minutes of past meetings are available in a notebook in the office.

The Leadership Team held a special meeting on March 16. Several parishioners were present to discuss the Director of Children’s Ministries position and related matters. Whiting Houston gave an update on efforts to close the 2015 year accounting. We then went into executive session to discuss personnel issues.

The next scheduled meeting is March 30 at 6:30pm in the Buxton Room. We will continue developing plans for listening meetings on the current structure, 2015 accounting and how to move ahead, plans for revising the 2016 budget, approval of the Endowment and Gift Management Policy, clarification of the relationship of staff to teams, progress on filling open positions, progress on updating the membership list, consideration of an alcohol request, eight other tabled topics and personnel issues. We will also receive a presentation from the Longmeadow Cemetery Association.

The April 27 meeting will begin at 6:30pm in the Buxton Room. Watch the eblast and Sunday bulletin for the agenda.