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Thank you to the 100++ members and friends who joined the board last Sunday for a Congregational Conversation.  We realize that information sometimes flows too slowly, and not always in ways we can access is.  So we held the conversation in hopes we could find out what’s working for you, what isn’t, and to make sure you know of the Board’s commitment to providing good, timely, and consistent information during not only this Covid-Zoom-Virtual time, but always.  For both those who attended and those who couldn’t make it, here is a summary of what we covered:
 
We introduced the new Board of Trustees and their elected positions:
  • DeeAnne McClenahan, President
  • Debi Grande, Vice President
  • Mary Wolf-Francis, Secretary 1
  • Linda Stenholm, Secretary 2
  • Libby Bean, Financial Analyst
  • Pam Swan
  • Kevin Guhman
You can contact all board members together by emailing board@vuu.org.
 
We introduced (by photo) our newly selected interim minister, the Rev. Dr. W Frederick (Fred) Wooden. 
This photo was taken during the Interim Ministerial Search Committee’s two-hour interview with Rev. Wooden.  The Board will finalize and approve his contract next Thursday at our Board meeting, and he will begin as our Interim Minister on September 1.  The Worship Committee is working to plan September services, and you will meet him very soon.  For a preview, check out his website at www.fredwooden.com.
 

 
Under the heading of communications, we discussed The Happenings (the weekly email newsletter).  If you are not receiving the Happenings, you can check your spam mail (for office@vuu.org), and/or email office@vuu.org to request to be added to the mail list.  The monthly newsletter has been suspended for the time being, as things are changing rapidly, and all information normally in the monthly newsletter can be found in the weekly Happenings.  We discussed how often to hold a Congregational Conversation, especially during this virtual meeting time, and the polling answer was quarterly (but more often if there is special information to report or discuss).  We asked if members would like to attend Board meetings.  The answers were generally people did not know they could, and a few might like to join occasionally.  So we committed to providing the information to do that.  We are meeting virtually now, the fourth Thursdays (August 27) at 6:30pm, and you are welcome to attend.  We will send the zoom link in Wednesday’s Happenings.  Please note, visitors to a Board meeting are asked to observe only unless they have requested in advance to be added to the agenda regarding a particular topic.  Also note that you will be asked to exit for any executive session (i.e., contract review, personnel issues, etc.).  Finally, Anne Schneider volunteered to create an updated master list of committees and other groups, including the chair or convener, contact information, dates and times.  We will plan to make that information available via a website link.
 

Regarding Covid-19 and when we may meet again in person, Kody Holmes presented the committee’s modeling, findings, and recommendations, summarized here:  the two main determinants of being able to meet again are the positive testing rates falling below 2% in Maricopa County (currently 12.9%), and Covid-19 test results being available within 72 hours (currently 5-8 days).  Once these benchmarks are met, we anticipate additional safety requirements (100% masking, 6-foot distancing, and no congregational singing) until a vaccine widely available.  The committee will continue to monitor and report to the congregation.
 
The Special Funds team reported that after a $74,000 drop in the endowment funds in March, the fund has recovered, and is more than $12,000 higher than before the stock market drop.  Additionally, they reported that the fund has, for the first time, zero percent fossil fuel investment (including direct and indirect investments).
 

The Finance Team reported that due to a better-than-expected last quarter, we are starting the year (July-June) with a positive variance of $48,600 (once the PPP loan is forgiven – which we expect will happen this once).
 
The Capital Campaign Team reported that the capital campaign is on hold.  We will not continue to solicit funds for the campaign, nor will we spend any existing funds ($245,000 on hand).  We continue to collect, and be grateful for ongoing CapCam contributions.  When we begin to meet together again in person, and the world starts to settle into its new normal, we will restart both fundraising efforts and plans for our new church space.  Any member who finds they must choose between Operating and Capital Campaign payments, we request that you prioritize the Operating campaign since our operating expenses have not changed.
 
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Connection Circles have started – 14 groups have been convened and will begin meeting during the coming weeks.  Training for facilitators will begin shortly.  If you are not in a group and would like to join one, please send an email to office@vuu.org.
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