1. Call to Order 2. Chair Report 3. Minister Report 4. Staff Reports 5. Treasurer Report - Approval of the 2019 budget (VOTE) 6. Amendments to the By-laws (VOTE) 7. Election of the 2019 Officers and Board (VOTE) 8. Adjourn
Report of the Chair
My report is brief and simple.
It is simply to say thank you to the entire staff and membership of First Parish Church for living the principles of Unitarian-Universalism in everything you do.
The evidence of your dedication can seen in the remarkable growth of First Parish over the last several years – in programming and in spirit.
It has been an honor to serve as Chair and as a member of the Board, and you can be sure I plan to stay fully engaged in the years ahead on a couple of special projects that I hope will further solidify our financial and community standing.
Today, we will review a number of staff reports and conduct some important business of the congregation, including approval of the annual budget, technical amendments to the by-laws, an election of the officers and the Board. This meeting and the decisions made today are part of what make First Parish and Unitarian Universalism so alive.
It is an important demonstration of our principles, which includes, “The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.”
In short, First Parish is what we in this room want it to be.
Report of the Minister
This has been a year of continued growth and development for First Parish. The accomplishments of the congregation are tremendous, and are too much to list in entirety here. However, some of the work of the last year are below, specifically addressing my work as the minister. Thank you all for your continued work, support and spirit here at First Parish Church in Taunton!
Ministries and Development In addition to supporting the Matthew Mission and the ongoing work of the church, I started two significant new initiatives in 2019.
• Chalice Thrift: Chalice Thrift began as an idea that people had talked about as an abstract possibility, but as I learned about the church in Brewster, and what good ministry and fundraising their thrift shop offers for them, I began to think about how we could really make it possible at First Parish. I began by moving Paws Pantry to a smaller and more workable space for them on the other side of the building, and opening up Stevenson Hall for the Thrift Shop. After confirming that we had the interest from volunteers who would like to participate in the endeavor, we started planning in earnest in the spring. Chalice Thrift opened in July, and so far has been a remarkable success for both the church financially and the community life as a whole. Thanks to our wonderful volunteers who keep the whole thing going, processing the constant flow of donations and supporting the church with this ministry.
• Star Island: This year, I started a new conference on Star Island as a way for our congregation to get to know other churches in the area. We received support from the Island and there was interest from local congregations in participating, so we went during the third week of July to the first-ever “Building Bridges” conference on Star Island. The Island originally booked thirty rooms for our conference, but thanks to a grant I was able to get through the Ballou Channing District to hire and intern to help spread the word about Building Bridges, we ended up with sixty people attuning our inaugural year. Thirty nine of those people came from our congregation, and we are looking forward to both replicating the community building that took place last year and continuing to grow the participation, from this church and beyond, in 2020.
Membership and Growth • Our church has continued to grow in both membership and Sunday morning attendance, most significantly since the Board made it a priority of the congregation. We have gained 11 families in 2019, and our Sunday morning attendance 5 from September-December in 2019 has been the highest it has ever been during the fall months during my ministry.
• This growth is impacting all of the church in a variety of ways. We have more children, so have added a fifth classroom on Sunday mornings. We have more musicians, so our music program has become more robust. We have more activity in the building so we are using more utilities, and there is more wear and tear on the building as a whole. Fortunately, our building is more than capable of handing the increase in activity, though for the first time in my memory, we are working hard to manage space to be the most effective for everyone. Continued creativity and flexibility has served us well.
• We have recently received a grant that I wrote to the Episcopal City Mission that will be used in 2020 to start parenting groups in Taunton in partnership with the Coalition for Social Justice. This grant will employ April Rosario an additional 10 hours/week to do outreach work of connecting with families in our area, which I expect will bring people to the church as well as being a resource for our own members.
Staffing I have made two new staff hires this year; Chris Rosario as our Sexton, and Veronica Palladino as the Church Green Farmers Market manager. Both have brought great skill and openness to their positions, as both jobs have been in transition. Chris oversaw the kitchen remodel this fall, and has done incredible work both with organization and structure of our building projects. Veronica supported the farmers in new ways and the market, by any measure (customers, activity, vendor satisfaction etc), the market has had its best year ever!
Fundraising and Finance • The majority of the pledges were collected for 2019, and though our budget did run a slight deficit by the end of the year, we have been able to cover that with funds in our checking account from our opening balance. The pledge campaign has exceeded our goal for 2020, and the pledge campaign is moving to incorporating year-round pledging conversations with new members, so our current pledge income may change throughout the year.
• I wrote two grants this year, one of which we received, and which will have an impact on us going forward both in terms of finances and outreach (the Episcopal City Mission Grant mentioned in Membership and Growth). • The endowment portfolio continued to grow, despite our large draw on the principle. Though we cannot expect this kind of return in the market annually, it has been a gift to us this year.
• I can comfortably say that though we are not there yet, our church is on more stable financial footing than I have seen it be during my tenure, and I have such gratitude and admiration for the finance committee and the Board of Trustees for leading us there! 6 In the middle of my seventh year here at First Parish Church in Taunton, it continues to be an honor and a joy to do the work of ministry with you all. Thank you for your your passion, your hope, your vision, and most of all, the love that you all bring to the world.
Respectfully Submitted, The Reverend Christana Wille McKnight
Report of the Religious Education Director
Growth and Attendance: We have seen wonderful growth in Religious Education over the course of this year! In an effort to have a better sense of RE, I have streamlined our registration records. We now have records for who is registered and actively participating and records for children/youth who are registered only as visitors.
Last year we had 38 registered children and youth. In January of 2019 we moved 11 of those 38 children/youth to our new visitor registration. That left us with 27 actively participating, with an average of 16 children/youth attending each Sunday. I am happy to report that as of today we have 36 children/youth registered and actively participating in RE with an average of 21 attending each Sunday! We also have an addition 13 children/youth registered as visitors who attends a few times a year.
Childcare Staff and Volunteer Teachers: We have a core childcare team of 4 attendants (Nathalia Timmins, Emily Keegan, Amelia McNally and Katelyn Orcutt). Having the same familiar faces week after week in both our Nursery and Playroom, as well as addition childcare for Soul Matters, and other adult church events allows for consistency and stability for our youngest children.
We also have a total of 8 church members volunteering in various RE classrooms, 4 returning teachers and 4 new. Our Sunday School class is led by Brianna LaBrie. Jr. and Sr. Youth both have rotating teams of four teacher. Sarah Buckley, Lori McNally, Lindi Malo and Aidan Scully in Jr. Youth and Lindi Malo, Dave LaBrie, Maryanne Taylor and myself (April Rosario) in Sr. Youth. Will McCaffrey and I (April Rosario) also teach our new the 7-9th grade OWL class.
Curriculum Development: As our RE program has grown and our youth have gotten older, we have had the wonderful need to add a 5th classroom this year – Sr. Youth.
Curriculum Development and creation continues to be the bulk of my work, as we now offer 3 different curricula throughout the year. All teachers are emailed a lesson plan at the beginning of the week, and classrooms are prepared for them on Sunday mornings. This year Sunday School curriculum focuses on “How we live our faith’. Lesson plans combine the spiritual theme of the month along with our Seven Principles. Through stories, games, art projects, and music, our Sunday School kids have fun learning active and intentional ways to live their faith.
Junior Youth is working with a curriculum from the UUA’s Tapestry of Faith, that I have adapted and added material to called Riddle and Mystery. This curriculum is designed to help youth in their search for understanding life’s Big Questions. Some of the questions they have worked 8 and explored so far are – Where do we come from?, What are we?, Where are we going?, Does God exist?, What happens when we die?, How did life begin?, Why do bad things happen?, and How can you tell right from wrong?. Through the use of games, art, music, group discussion, journaling and improv acting youth will get a chance to deepen their understanding of our faith and themselves.
Our new Sr. Youth class will focus on exploring World Religions this year. The lesson plans I have created are a combination of multiple different World Religion curriculums put out by the UUA. The goal of this curriculum is to deepen youths understanding of the dynamic, fascinating, and varied world in which they live. This program provides youth a unique opportunity to engage the world's diversity of faiths in a safe, affirming atmosphere that is grounded in Unitarian Universalist faith.
I am also so pleased to be offering for the first time, a compressive sexuality education curriculum called Our Whole Lives for our 7-9th graders. Will McCaffrey and I completed a 3 day training program in May (2019) to become certified OWL instructors, for both the 7-9th grade program as well as the 10-12th grade. This class meets every other Sunday after church and registration was open to both church members and the larger youth community.
“Our Whole Lives dismantles stereotypes and assumptions, builds self-acceptance and self-esteem, fosters healthy relationships, improves decision making, and has the potential to save lives. Our Whole Lives provides accurate, developmentally appropriate information about a range of topics, including relationships, gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual health, and cultural influences on sexuality, and helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior.” We currently have 10 youth enrolled in this year’s OWL class, 7 of whom are members of RE and 3 from the larger community.
DRE Continuing Education: As some of you may know, this past spring I began a three-year professional development program called the Religious Education Credentialing Program. Which is administered by the Unitarian Universalist Association. I have completed my first 3 modules, Our Whole Lives, Curriculum Development and UU Identity, and will be starting Philosophy of Religious Education in January 2020. If you would like to find out more about this program, please feel free to ask me any time or check out this ink to the UUA website - https://www.uua.org/careers/re/credentialing.
Thank you to all the families, volunteers, church members and staff for your continued support and help!!!
Respectfully Submitted, April Rosario
Report of the Music Director
Our music program has been steadily growing and expanding, with more frequent and active Involvement in music making from members of the congregation and also a growing diversity of musical instruments enjoyed on a regular basis.
We updated the name of “Children’s Chorus” to “Youth Chorus” this fall, in order to be more inclusive of the widening ages of young people involved in singing. Youth Chorus rehearses and performs monthly and has had a growing number. This year there have been lively presentations of songs such as Count On Me by Bruno Mars and the classic Beatles tune Octopus’ Garden. We have continued to occasionally feature solo and duet vocalists such as Mariya Rosario, as well as a vocal duet by Hunter McNally and Liam Scully. We have been graced by the gifted youth Liam Scully on piano, when he shares incredible compositions such as he did recently with his original piece The Little Things. The youth-led service in June featured music by youth including songs from the classic movie The Breakfast Club: called “Don’t You Forget About Me.
It has been incredible to continue to enjoy the twice a month drumming of the very talented professional drummer John DiSanto, who tours nationally. His excellent musicianship, great ear and ability to blend with so many styles of music make him a phenomenal asset to our music program. He has been our piano tuner for many years before coming on as a regular drummer and still takes excellent care of our pianos when he is not drumming. Through the spring of 2019, we had the musical support of ministerial intern Rob Kinslow, who sang and played guitar regularly. He provided encouragement to some of our younger musicians through example and musical collaboration. Since his departure, there was a void for guitar playing for a brief moment. However, in the spring Jim Lecesse (who was graciously volunteered by his partner Jennifer) stepped up and began to offer his own strumming talents on a fairly regular basis. Inspired to add to this mix, Chris Scully picked up bass and now has diversified his own already wide panoply of instrument offerings, which also include clarinet, euphonium, mandolin… I’m sure I’m still leaving something out! We now have the idea of a “church band” on a pretty regular basis, which enhances our ability to serve the congregation with enlivening music.
The trend with congregational songs over the past several years has been to broaden the congregation’s repertoire to include many songs from outside the hymnals. Unlike some Unitarian churches whose congregational songs draw mainly from the two standard hymnals, we have a broad range of music that includes hymnal songs as well as popular, folk, jazz and world music songs – making our music program special. The hymnals have some wonderful music, but in order to broaden the number of songs that the congregation can feel comfortable singing, it’s good to introduce them as an opening song of the month, so that the congregation has the benefit of repetition for several weeks to build confidence and solidify the song. We are fairly bold in our adventures in this direction, and with great results by and large. For the entire year of 2019, we have sung opening songs that came from the hymnal only 2 months out of the 12. I had the idea to see if U2’s Beautiful Day might pass the test or if we would need Bono to 10 sing it live. It seemed to be met with fervent singing from the congregation. I am always open to hearing suggestions for good songs that the congregation can sing, so please pass them my way!
Our main vocal support this year has come from Aidan Scully, Veronica Palladino and Louise Poirier, and included some input from Nora Orfanello and recently from one or two others. Song leadership during congregational songs is essential, and Aidan, Veronica and Louise have all taken on solos, duets and ensembles. They share many styles of music and some highlights have included the song It’s Possible from Seussical, 32 Flavors by Ani DeFranco, and World by Five for Fighting.
Our paid soloist, baritone Wayne Wilkins, continues to grace the program with colorful and heartfelt to our worship music. Wayne and I work together finding music that fits with the monthly theme, and he brings strongly developed vocal skills and enriching music to our Sunday mornings. He does rattle the occasional tambourine or shaker as needed, and has been able to take the reigns leading music upon my occasional absence. Jordan Potash served as summer musician during July and August again this year, carrying through the music by leading on piano and also guitar. Again in 2019, we maintained the idea of monthly worship themes, and stayed with having a song of the month for each theme in July and August.
Lindi Malo has continued to beautifully shepherd the use of the sound system, and we now have an assigned sound technician for each service. Chris Rosario, Josh Berthiaume, Dave LaBrie and Jacob McNally also continue to help out. It is essential to have a sound tech volunteer due to the increased complexity of our presentations. Although we haven’t yet been able to meet the need for a sound technician to be there at 9:00 am during rehearsal time, we have hope for that in the future. We were, however, able to consult a sound technician (who didn’t charge us!!) who assisted to ameliorate some issues with feedback, musicians having difficulty hearing each other, and related wiring issues early this year. Lindi created a guide and checkpoint system for the sound technician so that things can run more smoothly than ever and nothing falls through the cracks.
The church is blessed to have two excellent Steinway pianos, as well as the historic Hook organ. The internal humidification / dehumidification system installed in 2017 in the sanctuary instrument has contributed to the health of the piano, and the need for a September tuning has essentially been lessened – so we are usually able to wait to tune until the month of December. The purchase of that internal system will ultimately prolong the life of the piano and help prevent cracks in the soundboards (i.e. the underneath wood of piano) over time. Both pianos and the organ have had the regular maintenance they require.
Our goals for 2020 are for more families to whisper to the music team about their family member’s secret musical talent (this seems to be a very effective method, since some of you are still shy to come forward about this to me), so that we can keep increasing the number of people on the music team. We would like for the Youth Chorus to continue to grow and we’d 11 love to attract even more instrumentalists and singers of all levels of experience to our congregation who would like to play regularly. The people who participate making music tell us that it helps to strengthen their confidence and musical skills to join in the music-making for the First Parish congregation, the friendly recipients to ALL of the sounds from us that circulate the sanctuary! Respectfully, Kaeza Fearn
2020 Proposed Budget
To review the proposed 2020 budget please click here
Bylaws of the The First Parish Church in Taunton Taunton, Massachusetts Est. 1637
Article I. Name The name of this religious congregation shall be The First Parish Church in Taunton.
Article II. Mission In living our faith, we inspire spiritual growth, connect with one another and serve the larger community in love. Inspire. Connect. Serve.
Article III. Membership Any person who is in sympathy with the principles of Unitarian Universalism and with the purpose and program of the congregation makes an annual contribution of record to the congregation and who is at least 16 years of age may become a voting member of this congregation by signing the congregation membership book. Those who have signed the membership book but no longer meet the above qualifications will be considered non- voting members of the congregation. Youths ages 14 and 15, who regularly attend the congregation’s worship service or participate in the congregation’s religious education program will be considered non-voting associate members and may attend and participate in meetings of the congregation and its committees and ministries.
Membership is open to all persons meeting the above criteria regardless of race, color, sex, affectional or sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin or disability. Signing the membership book does not signify the affirmation of any particular doctrine, creed or covenant. Withdrawal of membership by a member may be made by written request to the secretary of the congregation. The Board of Trustees may, by a majority vote, remove a person from membership when that person is determined by the Board to no longer meet the qualifications of membership. Criteria for removal from membership include lack of attendance and/or lack of a pledge to support the work of the church for a period of at least two years. Disruptive or threatening behavior may also be a criterion for removal from membership.
Article IV. Denominational Affairs This congregation shall be a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association and of (the Ballou Channing District or their successors)the New England Region of the UUA. It is the intention of this congregation to support the Association and (the District) the affiliated bodies within Unitarian Universalism.
Article V. Meetings The dates of the Annual Meeting and special meetings of the congregation shall be determined by the Board of Trustees. The business to be transacted at the annual meeting shall be set forth in the notice of the meeting, which shall be communicated to all members at least 10 days before the meeting. Twenty (20) percent of the voting membership shall constitute a quorum 15 at the annual meeting. Special meetings shall be called by the Board of Trustees or on written petition to the Board of Trustees, said petition to be signed by not less than twenty (20) percent of the voting membership. The Board of Trustees shall call the special meeting within thirty calendar days of receipt of said petition.
The dates of meetings of the Board of Trustees shall be determined by the Chair. Fifty percent of the membership of the Board shall constitute a quorum at Board meetings. Board members shall not miss more than two consecutive meetings of the Board of Trustees.
Article VI. Officers and Board of Trustees The Board of Trustees shall consist of the officers of the congregation, including the Chair, Treasurer and Secretary, as well as at-large members appointed by a vote of the congregation. The Board of Trustees shall consist of at least five and no more than nine members.
The Board of Trustees shall have general oversight of the property of the congregation and the conduct of all its business affairs and the control of its administration. It is the role of the Board of Trustees to determine what the ongoing mission and future vision of the church shall be.
Board members shall be recommended by a Nominating Committee and ratified by the Congregation at the annual meeting. Each Board member shall serve for a term of one year and until a successor has been elected and qualified. Board members shall not serve more than five consecutive years on the Board in the same position. The Nominating Committee of at least three members shall be appointed by the Chair of the Board of Trustees in consultation with the minister.
The Board of Trustees may fill vacancies with persons who shall serve until the next annual meeting.
All officers, team and committee leaders and at-large members of the Board of Trustees shall be voting members of the congregation.
All officers, members of the Board, and committee members will endeavor to work together in a cooperative manner, keeping foremost in mind the stated mission of this religious congregation.
Article VII. Committees The Board of Trustees, in consultation with the Minister, may appoint committees to develop plans and execute tasks that advance the mission of the congregation.
Article VIII. The Minister(s) The minister(s) shall be responsible for the conduct of worship with the congregation and the congregation’s spiritual interests and affairs. The minister(s) shall have freedom of the pulpit as well as freedom to express their opinions outside of the pulpit.
The minister(s) shall be an ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees and of all teams, task forces and committees.
The minister(s) shall be called upon recommendation of a Ministerial Search Committee appointed by the Chair of the Board of Trustees, followed by a majority vote of qualified members of the congregation present at any meeting legally called for the purpose. The quorum for such a meeting shall be fifty percent of the voting members.
In the event of a minister vacancy, the Board of Trustees by majority vote may appoint an interim or contract minister. The minister(s) may be dismissed by a majority vote of the qualified members of the church present at any meeting legally called for the purpose. The quorum for such a meeting is to be constituted by fifty percent of the voting members.
The minister(s) must be in fellowship with the Ministerial Fellowshipping Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
All other staff persons employed by the congregation shall be appointed by a vote of the Board, upon the recommendation of the minister. Staff responsibilities shall be determined by the Minister in consultation with the Board. The Minister will oversee and evaluate the work of the congregation’s employees in consultation with the Board.
Article IX. Fiscal Year The fiscal year shall begin January 1 and end December 31.
Article X. Dissolution In the case of dissolution of the congregation, all of its property, real and personal, after paying all just claim upon it, shall be conveyed to and vested in an organization that is in sympathy with the mission of the congregation. The Board of Trustees of the congregation shall perform all actions necessary to make such conveyance.
Article XI. Amendments These bylaws, as allowed by law, may be amended or replaced at any meeting of the congregation by a two-thirds vote of those present and voting. Notice of any proposed change shall be contained in the notice of the meeting.
Revised by a vote of the Congregation December 16, 2018 Amended by board vote April 7, 2019. To be ratified by Congregation at December 15, 2019 Annual Meeting
First Parish Church in Taunton 2020 Board of Trustees
Mary Vaeni, Chair Kevin McNally, Treasurer James Dufresne, Secretary Joshua Berthiaume Mark Cook Nancy Clark Jennifer Lecesse William McCaffrey Marianne Taylor
First Parish Church in Taunton P.O. Box 614 76 Church Green Taunton, MA 02780 508.822.2107