Moderator's Message

February 16, 2017

Greetings Fellow Congregants,

On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank the 140 congregants who braved the stormy weather to attend last Sunday’s Congregant Forum. We thought it was a big step forward in increasing communication and understanding between the congregation, Board and ET.  If you were unable to attend, we’ve posted notes from the gathering which can be found here and on the Board Communication's Committee page. Many questions were asked and answered. We plan to follow up as follows: listening circles, targeted for March, and a cafe conversation on long-term goals in April. Watch the eNews, church bulletin and future Moderator letters for more specifics on dates and times as plans are put into place.

Some questions weren’t addressed for lack of time or relevance to the topics at the forum..  We will address them all in upcoming expanded FAQ’s on the Board webpage, which we hope to have posted by March 5.  We can respond to two of them now:

  • Has First Unitarian Church been paying our employees in accordance with the UUA Guidelines?    The answer is not a simple yes or no. In almost all cases, our compensation does fall within UUA guidelines, although our policies make no mention of those Guidelines. However, the UUA Guidelines do not drive most of our compensation decisions. Local conditions and principles of justice play a more important role. The increased compensation provided to our sextons and some other hourly employees was the result of both union negotiations and the need to match our practice with our advocacy out in the world. It was made possible by special congregational fundraising.  With very few exceptions, the salaries of our professional staff meet at least the minimum UUA guidelines for comparable positions. That is true for all of our ministers, including Kate Lore. This however, does not address the problem that Reverend Sinkford spoke of at the forum.  Many of our staff are paid near the bottom of the range when their years of service and experience warrant salaries closer to mid-range.  Budget constraints hamper our efforts to change this.

  • What is our policy relative to selling church owned artwork?  Especially items over 20 years old?  We currently do not have a policy on selling artwork or historic items.  It is now clear that we need one. The governance committee will be tasked with drafting such a policy.  The board has solicited the help of the archives committee to identify and catalogue all such church possessions.

Our Annual Fund Drive (AFD) is coming to a close.  We are about 10% short of our goal. Our policies require a balanced budget and this will mean reductions to spending in various areas (if you have not yet pledged, do so now so your contribution can help).  Our ET is currently working on that budget, and I’m sure many of you will want to know what changes are going to be made.  A proposed budget will be discussed at the February 28th Finance Committee meeting.  I invited you to attend that meeting as this is one of the most important of the year.  Minutes will be posted on the Finance section of the Board web pages.

Reverend Sinkford reports that the Music Director decision is expected by mid March.  One more candidate will audition before the decision is made.  Check out the music search advisory committee news.

I know many of you were able to take part in Seminary for a Day this year. It was a great success with a dynamite speaker, Rev. Kendyl Gibbons, the senior minister at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Kansas City and the 2015 Religious Humanist of the Year. She delivered a dynamic keynote on a humanist basis for morality.  She followed up with a tremendous sermon on Sunday, January 29th, entitled “Defense Against the Dark Arts, or How Not to Become a Nazi.”  If you missed it, please listen.  

Also of note, the Sewell Lecture is scheduled for April 6th.  Tom Andrews will be the speaker.  A former US Representative from Maine, he is currently President and CEO of Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.  Mark it on your calendars.

Again, thank you to everyone who has been involved and continues to work with us in strengthening our beloved community.

If you have additional questions you would like addressed, please write the board at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Our next Board meeting is Thursday, March 2, 2017, 7 p.m.


Randy Russell


Prior Moderator Messages

January 12, 2017*

Greetings Fellow Congregants,

I trust you’ve found places of warmth and safety through the recent, multiple blasts of winter weather.  Although church was canceled on Sunday due to the freezing rain, Rev. Sinkford emailed us his “sermon that I would have preached.”  It contains inspiring words, with quotes from Zadie Smith--please take the time to read it!

Many congregants attended our January 5 board meeting.  We continue to benefit from the thoughtful words participants shared with us and the board made progress on multiple fronts. Bill was away teaching at Meadville-Lombard, and Tom updated us on several matters including the search for our next Choir Director.  As  
communicated by the Music Transition Committee, three candidates, including DeReau, will be auditioning over the next two months.  We committed the board for training on privilege led by Dana Buhl and a spring retreat on governance.  We also took time to discuss our Five-Year Goals, ways to better explain them, and to identify next steps for gathering congregant input.  In addition, we worked on planning a congregational forum scheduled for February 5th (discussed further below).  

On Sunday February 5, the board will host two important events.

First, there will be 2017’s first quarterly budget meeting led by the board’s Finance Committee.  This will a single meeting, held between services.  If you have been following the results of the Annual Fund Drive (AFD) in the weekly E-News you will know that we have reached, as of the date of this letter, 86% of our pledge goal. Volunteers will soon begin calling those who have not yet pledged. The February 5 budget meeting will recognize the results of the AFD and take congregational input as an important step in the budget process.

Second, there will be a congregational forum beginning at 1:30 pm in the Eliot Chapel to address issues raised by congregants, including those raised at the last congregational forum in November, and from letters, emails, and public comments we have received in recent months.  The focus of the forum will be to allow board members and our Executive Team (ET) to address important issues that clearly are weighing on the minds of many congregants:

  • The Church’s policy formation and decision-making processes.  There have been several decisions in the past year that have elicited concerns and questions about our decision making process from members of the congregation.  The board and ET will address these concerns and describe how it is working to make future decisions more transparent and inclusive.

  • Dr. David Keyes report to the board.  The board commissioned the Keyes Report last spring. The report has stirred concern and we will address how the board and ET intend to use the report recommendations and receive further congregant input on the important topics addressed in the report.

  • Rev. Kate Lore’s departure and our commitment to social justice programs.  Rev Kate Lore left suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving speculation as to why and what’s next, and grief over our loss.  At the forum will be an update First Church’s commitment to our strong Social Justice program and plans for staffing social justice.

We plan on having the forum facilitated by a community leader who is not a congregant, a member of the board, or on the ET. A draft agenda will be posted on the Board's Communication Committee page leading up to the forum. We do not expect the forum to be the final word on any of these topics--the board is committed to more listening sessions and conversations as we continue to grow our beloved community and restore the trust and open communication we all want.

Finally, don’t forget Seminary for a Day scheduled for January 28th.  Several Board members including myself will be at the day-long event led by Rev. Dr. Kendyl Gibbons.  Complete information and an enrollment page can be reached from the church’s home page.

If you have additional questions you would like addressed, please write the board at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Our next Board meeting is Thursday, February 2, 7 p.m.


Randy Russell

*Updated on January 15 to clarify that the February 5 forum will be
facilitated by a community leader who is not a congregant, a member of the board, or on the ET. Additional update on 1/25 and 1/28 to note updated start time of 1:30 p.m. and to provide link to draft agenda.

December 15, 2016

Greetings Fellow Congregants,


If you have been following the results of the Annual Fund Drive in the weekly E-News you will know that we have reached, as of the date of this letter, 83% of our pledge goal. That is only about $250 thousand short of our goal of $1.545 million. If you have pledged, thank you! If you have not yet pledged, please pledge soon--you can use this linkIn January we begin the budget process which will be driven by the results of what appears to be a successful campaign. 

Congregants, via conversations with board members and in letters to the board, have raised questions about a consultant report the board commissioned last spring. Our Board policy 2.3.2 states in part that the “Board shall obtain an evaluation of the administration of the church from an outside consultant familiar with church operations every third year.” The board commissioned Reverend Dr. David Keyes, who is both a consultant and interim minister to many of our largest UU churches, to study our church staffing and executive function and provide the board with guidance on current practices and optimal structures for church administration. An executive summary of that report is available via this link. The board chose not to release the full report out of respect for the privacy of staff whose roles are mentioned specifically in the report. It is important to stress that this is a consultant’s report accepted, but not adopted, by the board. The report is not our “blueprint” for our future. We may choose to implement part, all, or none of this report as it meets with the goals and plans we, as a congregation, set for our church. It will serve as one of many inputs to our decision making.

As we promised, we are making information available on the issues raised during November’s congregational forum.  A summary is available here for your review.  This input will serve to guide future congregational forums planned after the first of the year.  It came to our attention that an unauthorized recording was made of the entire congregational meeting.  We have been given a copy of the recording, but are not disseminating it as congregants were not informed that a recording was being made and thus were not given the opportunity to agree to recording of their comments.

I continue to hear comments on Kate Lore’s departure.  Many are heartfelt expressions of both appreciation for her work and sorrow at her departure.  I share those feelings.  Others, unfortunately, continue to be misinformed. Please page down to my my November 17, letter for a more complete discussion of how Kate came to her decision to move from First Unitarian.  I would appreciate help in spreading this message as some of the narratives I have heard are not only wrong, but hurtful.


As always, feel free to approach me or any other board member when you see us at church.  Kathy Ludlow and I can also be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Our next Board meeting (rescheduled due to our recent weather) is Tuesday, December 20.


Randy Russell

Moderator, on behalf of the Board of Trustees

November 17, 2016

Greetings Fellow Congregants, 

Our  Annual Fund Drive (AFD) wrapped up with Celebration Sunday on November 6th.  I hope you were there to enjoy the music (all three choirs joined their voices in the celebration) and the bountiful potluck that followed each service.  I would like to thank our AFD co chairs Kate Birdsall and fellow board member Darin Stewart -- their words at the service were very powerful.  Initial pledging results are encouraging and closely resemble last year’s successful drive. The drive currently stands at $1.1 million of a $1.545 million dollar goal. Results will continue to be updated over the coming weeks.  Thanks to all who have pledged and, for those that have yet to do so, please pledge soon.PLEDGE HERE!


We held a Congregational Forum to discuss the church’s five-year goals last Sunday (November 13th).   We estimate that around 200 congregants came to the meeting--we were both surprised and pleased at the turnout.  Many thanks to all who attended. Two things became quickly apparent.  First, congregants had many questions about what the five-year goals mean.  To that concern, I agree that the board still has much work to do.  Second, a majority of the congregants attending wanted an opportunity to speak about concerns/questions that they have about our church and recent events.  We took about half an hour to get feedback on the five-year goals (this was very helpful) and spent the rest of the meeting listening to congregants air their thoughts on church polity, process and direction.  We took copious notes and will be sharing them, along with our synthesis, soon.  Be assured that we will be discussing this input at the board and with our ministers. Given the great interest and participation at the forum, your board will be planning more opportunities to solicit feedback from the congregation.


We held our November board meeting on Thursday the 3rd.  Leading up to it, the Board received or was copied on many letters regarding Kate’s Lore’s departure.  Most can be found in the minutes of our November board meeting, which will be posted by November 26.  Nine congregants came to the meeting and three spoke, sharing their concerns.  Several themes were common in all these communications. I’d like to address here some of the common concerns raised in the letters.


It was Kate’s decision to leave First Unitarian, as she said from the pulpit on October 23rd. She was not “forced out” as some have speculated.  As a called minister of the church, Kate could only be asked to leave by a vote of the congregation.  The board only recently became aware that Kate has been looking for another position for well over a year.  She did not come to the board to discuss her concerns or her pending decision although we understand that she did seek counsel from UUA advisors at the district level.  We regret that there was little time to prepare for her departure, to celebrate her tremendous contributions, or to say goodbye.


Another concern raised was that it is punitive for Kate to not be allowed to participate in the life of our church now that she has left.  However, it is standard practice under UUA guidelines for ministers that leave a church to not attend for two years. This was true when Reverend Sewell retired and is currently the case for our retired minister of music Mark Slegers.  Years of experience in UU churches has established that this is best for the congregation, and for the successors to the vacated position.  Bill spoke about this in his October 28th blog.


Perhaps the strongest theme raised was the concern that Kate’s departure signals a reduction of our church’s commitment to social justice.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Bill has been meeting with the Social Justice Council to coordinate continued support for its work and will be personally taking on a larger role in that work.  T.J. Fitzgerald, our intern minister, will also be dedicating time to support for social justice programs.  In addition, we anticipate that a search will begin in the spring for a new staff person to take on the social justice role that Kate pioneered.  Bill will work with the Social Justice council to identify the support that will best serve our social justice ministry.  Our ministers and staff have stepped up to work with the Social Justice Council to keep programming going and growing.


Finally, a note on governance.  Many of the recent comments that have come to the board have expressed concern over how policy based governance has impacted the relationship between the board and our ministers, and how important decisions are made and communicated.  These questions are not new to us and as a board, we have been working to rewrite our policies (now over ten years old) to clarify - and simplify - our roles and responsibilities. This revisioning work has been ongoing for over two years.  We will be coming to the congregation this church year to ask you to help us review and comment on that work.  We trust you will work with us to ensure our governance systems reflect the principles of our UU traditions.


I take the liberty to quote from one of your thoughtful letters:  “I know this must be a difficult time for you, as you field a torrent of feedback and questions.  You are the representatives of the full congregation.  I ask that you craft some way forward that responds to the huge challenges of this exact moment in time.  It is time for kindness and clarity and truth telling.  If we do not do this work together, the church will be diminished.” As always, feel free to approach me or any other board member when you see us at church.  Kathy Ludlow and I can also be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Our next Board meeting is Thursday, December 1st.

Cheers,Randy Russell
Moderator, on behalf of the Board of Trustees

October 26, 2016

Greetings Fellow Congregants, The Annual Fund Drive (AFD) has launched! Pledge early, pledge often (just kidding--once, generously, is enough).  There are many ways to complete your pledge.  Come visit the pledging tables in Fuller Hall and the Buchanan atrium. AFD Advocates will be on hand to take your pledge card. Or, go online and use the handy forms available there. And, of course, the reliable U.S. mail is still available to serve us all.  We are looking forward to another successful fund drive to keep our community moving forward.


Heartfelt gratitude goes out to Reverend Kate Lore, who is departing at the end of October and was released from her call to ministry here at First Unitarian on October 23.   She has been an inspiration to us for the past 18 years. Please wish her well as she pursues her calling in the larger community.


Have you noticed the improvements to the outside of our church?  New signage, improved entry ways and some shelter from the storm are all part of the improvements that you all helped to fund via the church auction.  Many thanks to Kathy Ludlow and Marti Yoder for spearheading the effort.  These have met with a great deal of enthusiasm.  There are still funds from previous auctions to allocate and our ministers will be proposing additional improvements to the church in the spirit of those auction goals in the months ahead.


The Board recognizes that the new video screens in the sanctuary have received a mixed response.  Many of you have shared your thoughts with the Board and the ministers. Your comments will help as the use of the screens evolves.


You are invited to a Congregational Forum on the Five-Year Goals that the Board adopted in May. The forum will be on Sunday, November 13th at 12:45 in the Buchan Reception room. We hope you will come and share your views on the goals and how we might accomplish them. Preparation for this forum will be a major topic at the next board meeting on Thursday, November 3rd, which begins at 7 pm.


As always, feel free to approach me or any other board member when you see us at church.  Kathy Ludlow and I can also be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Cheers,Randy Russell
Moderator, on behalf of the Board of Trustees 

September 15, 2016

Greetings Fellow Congregants, 

More doings at our church.  Our new intern minister, T J FitzGerald, joined us at the September board meeting.  We look forward to working with him this year.  Say hello when you see him at church. Perhaps you’ve noticed the campers on our block.  Tom and Bill shared actions they are taking to find a solution that can work for all.  See the September 1 E-News for more information.It’s uplifting to see the many improvements to our physical space that have been made in the last month.  I particularly like the new covered entrance on 12th Street.  No more standing in the rain while greeting congregants entering our church on a Sunday morning.  Bill talks about these improvements in his August 25th blog.  Of them he says, “It is about how we offer our liberal way of being religious to those who are yearning for what we have found.”  We are a welcoming church and we are making our physical space more so.  Financial news is good!  For another fiscal year (year ending June 30) we’ve ended  in the black.  See the Finance Committee's report in the September 2016 board packet for details.  Thanks to everyone for helping make our church finances solid in support of our mission.  Special thanks to Bill for putting us on such firm financial footing.Also at the September board meeting we received the Executive Team Monitoring report for our last church year and began our review of it.  I encourage you to read it.  We will continue our discussion at our October meeting.  There are many good things to report - pledging is healthy and, through our annual board survey, we’ve learned congregants report satisfaction with aspects of our church life as described by our mission.  
It was an exciting year celebrating our 150th Anniversary, a celebration that began with an Oregon Historical Society exhibit about our church and ended in June with a party.  Some trends identified in the Monitoring report raise concerns: year-on-year membership, Sunday worship attendance, and enrollment in Religious Education for Children and Youth.  These indicated trends raise questions, answers to which occupied much of our discussion.  
 Your board continued its discussion of the ideas in Simple Church.  Bill shared the experience of First Unitarian of Rochester, New York in implementing a version of this concept tailored to Unitarianism.  Another lively discussion followed.  Are there lessons here that we might incorporate into our church?The church’s Annual Fund Drive (AFD) will be launching October 16--just around the corner!  We will use the focused “four Sunday” schedule and format that was so successful last year.  In preparation, there will be a training for volunteers after the second service on September 18. Please consider participating as an AFD volunteer. It is a great way to meet congregants who care about this church.  Whether you volunteer or make your commitment via a pledge, let’s all make this year’s AFD short, sweet, and successful. 

This year sees the kick off of the Congregational Life Initiative seeking to implement a much clearer path to engagement, focused for new members, but available to all.  Tom will spearhead the work and the year will center on planning and imagination. We will be adding a half time administrative position to help support this work.  Watch for more on this initiative.As always, feel free to approach me or any other board member when you see us at church.  Kathy Ludlow and I can also be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Randy Russell
Moderator, on behalf of the Board of Trustees

August 24,  2016

Greetings fellow Congregants,

Your Board of Trustees held their first meeting of the new church year on Thursday, August 11th.  As I mentioned in my July Moderator’s Message, you have a talented, committed and hardworking team. Our Communications Committee will be posting profiles of board members in September.  Have a look on the board section of our church web site.  Board members wear name tags identifying themselves and we invite you to reach out to us during social hour after services or through our email address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

I have good news to report about our budget.  We are starting this church year in as strong a financial position as we have enjoyed in years.  Our 2015 fund drive wrapped up this summer with results that exceeded expectations. Realized pledge income came it at approximately $1.48 million, nearly 100% of the final pledged amount of $1.5 million.  Given these financial results, the Executive Team and  Finance Committee are preparing recommendations so that church makes an extra principal payment on our Buchan Building loan and provide initial funding to the church’s Congregational Life initiative.   You’ll be hearing more about the Congregational Life initiative in the coming months but it includes adding resources to focus on bringing into the church new members of any age and background and providing pathways to meaningful engagement here at First Unitarian.  Our strong 2015 results also gives me confidence that we can take on ambitious goals with our 2016 Annual Fund Drive, which will begin in September.

This year our board is again dedicating a significant portion of our monthly meetings to deliberative dialogues focused on how our church can be more effective in serving our members and realizing the vision to which we aspire.  This summer all board members read the book Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger.   At our August meeting we discussed our reaction to the book and its message to simplify our vision in all church settings.  It was a lively and insightful discussion, and will lead to further action.

 At our September meeting we will be reviewing the Executive Team report on our last church year.  This report will be published in the September board packet which can be found, again, on our website.  Please have a look as this is important information on the health of our church.  We invite you to our September meeting to hear the discussion.

Also noted in my last Moderator’s Message, our newly renamed Governance Committee will be working to revise our Board Policies.  Input from the congregation before any new policies are adopted will be very important.  Please be on the lookout for congregant forums and other opportunities for meaningful dialog this fall.


As always, if you have comments or questions, you can reach me and the rest of the board at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Or you can attend a board meeting--our next one will be next Thursday, September 1, 2016.



Randy Russell

Moderator, on behalf of the Board of Trustees

July 2016

Greetings fellow Congregants,

As we move into summer, I hope you are all enjoying the good weather and taking a break from your busy lives.  I became the Board Moderator for your church Board beginning in June and this is the inaugural issue of a monthly letter updating you on important topics in the life of the Church that are currently being addressed by the Board.  The Board consists of 12 members including two new members that you elected in May.  The current Board of Trustees may be found here.   Your new board is already at work—with a kickoff retreat in June and a decision on process for policy modifications.   I am delighted by the current board’s talent, love for the church, and commitment to the church’s mission. 

 First, I’d like to thank members and friends who attended our Cafe Conversations on Transparency this past May.  About 40 congregants attended one of the two opportunities.  The quality of conversation and ideas generated were enormously useful at our June retreat.  Many of your comments and ideas are incorporated in our board goals and will help us focus as we pursue them. 

I’d like to report on three topics this month.

 Cafe Conversations - As mentioned, we heard both concerns and great ideas from you.  This link will take you to the entire synopsis.  Please read it through and see what your fellow congregants have been thinking.

FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions)- We are adding another tool to our communication toolbox. We are starting an FAQ Page that will help us all better understand how our church operates, how decisions are made, and how you can be involved in the workings of First Church.  You will only see a few topics addressed initially but we will add questions and answers to the FAQ as we move through the year.  If you have questions you would like addressed in the FAQ please let us know.

 Governance Committee Report and Recommendations - Last church year, the Board’s Policy Committee began work on revising our policies.  A good part of the year was spent deciding on the approach we will take. The approach is summarized on the Governance Committee's main page and described in further detail in the Committee's May 2015 report to the Board. I urge you to read the report, share any thoughts you have about it and then participate as we begin the new church year.  In light of the committee’s focus on both policy review and general outreach on Board governance at First Unitarian, the committee is planning on renaming itself the Governance Committee.  Governance will be sharing their ideas for changes with the congregation and asking for your input.  Stay tuned!

 As always, if you have comments or questions, you can reach the board at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or attend a board meeting.  Our next board meeting will be August 11th.


 Randy Russell
Moderator, on behalf of the Board of Trustees

May 2016

summary of Consultant's Report to the Board of Trustees

During April and May, the Board undertook a review of the Church’s operation and administration.  A review every three years using the perspective of outside experts or consultants is called for by the Board’s Governing Policies.
This year, in collaboration with the Executive Team, the Board hired Rev. David Keyes to address organizational development with a focus on staffing analysis, since over the next five years, most of the senior staff will be retiring. Rev. Keyes has served more large UU churches than any other minister, and he has previously done staffing analyses and staffing adjustments at many other large UU churches. Rev. Keyes provided a thorough report to the Board, in print and in person at the Board meeting on May 5 This short summary is intended to provide a quick overview of some of its contents.
As part of his process, Rev. Keyes interviewed key staff members, union representatives, board members, lay persons.  He had input from the recent congregational survey and Cafe Conversations, as well as personnel manual and job descriptions.

Rev. Keyes prefaced his report by noting that “the report envisions First Unitarian as a transparent, focused, high-impact spiritual center for the city of Portland, staffed for sustainability, for the building of trust, and for maximum involvement of congregants in its ministry,” and that sustaining the church and the satisfaction of congregants will require major adaptations. The following is a summary of some of the  points that he discussed.

The Board generated the following questions to guide Rev. Keyes:

•  What Best Practices, or at least "Better Practices," for a congregation of our size should help shape personnel decisions over the next 5 years?
•  What models are emerging for the Executive Function? What roles for the Sr. Minister, Associate/Executive Minister and Administrator in performing the Executive Function are proving helpful?
•  We’ve had an Associate Minister in an Executive Minister/COO role (with varying responsibilities working with two Sr. Ministers). What about that role moving forward?
•  More generally, what Associate and/or Assistant Minister roles would serve us best? We currently have two called Associates, but the trend in most churches is toward hired Assistant ministers that may (or more frequently may not) lead down the road to called positions. 
•  What functions are we supporting more than we need?
•  What functions are we supporting less than we need?
•  Where can we look to efficiencies now possible thanks to technology? Are there roles that can be combined?
•  What will operating with a Union require in terms of additional management resources? 

In response to these questions, Rev. Keyes noted some specific challenges faced by the church, including overstaffing in some programs, staffing patterns that have been designed to fit the need of the last two senior ministers, programs that exist in “silos” rather than having ministries unified church-wide, and the lack of a clearly understood system of governance.

Rev. Keyes has provided specific recommendations on our church’s staffing and organization of its programming. It is important to note that these recommendations are just that, recommendations. No decisions about staffing have been made at this time. Some of his recommendations include:

•  Phasing out the Executive Team to create more direct reporting to the Senior Minister, to help provide greater clarity within our governance model. This would replace our current system of a three person executive team which includes the Senior Minister, Associate Minister, and Church Administrator Having a single person in this role could create greater clarity about who is performing which duties in our system of governance.
•  Shifting the role of the Associate Minister away from administrative work to focus more on ministry to the congregation, including small group ministry
•  For future associate or assistant ministers, hire rather than call
•  In the future, shifting to a Lifespan Education program instead of splitting up Families Ministries and Adult Education
•  Streamlining the Social Justice program to become more effective in addressing a few signature initiatives
•  Creating a role for a membership coordinator or a director of congregational life
•  Increased role for a communications coordinator to increase the use of technology to reach congregants
•  Continued study of policy governance at the church with an emphasis on the Board’s role in providing “linkage” between the congregation and the development of Board policies that guide senior minister and staff.
•  Updated job descriptions
•  Phasing out ministerial relations committees

At this point, as previously mentioned, all of these are only recommendations. The goal of working with an outside consultant is to get information about our system from someone who is not a part of it. Conversations are ongoing at the Board level and the staff level, and as they progress, we will keep you informed. If you have questions, you can contact the Board of Trustees at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .




Ameena Amdahl-Mason, moderator, on behalf of the Board of Trustees


Welcome to the 2015-2016 church year! My name is Ameena Amdahl-Mason, and I am pleased to be serving as the Moderator of the Board of Trustees this year. Outside of the Board, I ring in the Parker Handbell Choir and I teach 3rd/4th grade in the Learning Community. Please feel free to approach me on Sundays if you have questions, or send me an email at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Every year, the Board of Trustees selects goals for the year. Our goals for the 2015-2016 church year are:

  • In order to make policy-based governance more accessible, the Board will continue working on a document describing and delineating norms, roles, and processes. 
  • The Policy Evaluation Committee and the Board will perform a comprehensive review of policies and by-laws, and make recommendations for policy revision.
  • The Finance Committee and Board will present a meaningful budget, which allows congregants to understand the programmatic results of their giving and cultivate a culture of deeper generosity. 
  • The Board will use the vision statement to develop five year goals.

These goals will be the focus of the Board’s work during this church year, and they will drive the discussion at Board meetings. The Board of Trustees meets on the first Thursday of the month at 7pm. You can see the schedule of Board committee in the weekly e-news. We welcome congregants at Board meetings, and post the Board packets that Board members receive on the church webpage at http://www.firstunitarianportland.org/our-church/board-of-trustees/board-packets.

Ameena Amdahl-Mason
Moderator, 2015-2016