October 2, 2022
Present: Marjory Bankson , Peter Bankson, Ken Burton (moderator), Cynthia Dahlin, Joan Dodge , Michele Frome, Elizabeth Gelfeld, Judy Lantz, David Lloyd (meditation), Sandra Miller, John Morris (recorder), Trish Nemore, Margreta Silverstone, Deborah Sokolove, Jacqie Wallen, Glen Yakushiji.
Guests: Glenn Clark, Erica Lloyd.
Meditation: Dave read Psalm 137 from the Bible translation called The Message; a passage from Bruce Feiler’s The Land Where God Was Born; and the reflection paragraph in our Seekers liturgy for recommitment season.
Housekeeping: Stewards will next meet via zoom Sunday, November 6 at 5pm EST on Zoom.
Moderator – Margreta
Recorder — Judy
Meditation – Cynthia
Report from SLT on Working Group Recommendations 11- 16:
Trish presented the report.
Rec 11 (We recommend a skills and gifts inventory for all people identified as part of Seekers): SLT felt this was a good activity to engage in, regardless of the fate of the recommendation. Margreta said that she and Jacqie are going to prepare a skills and gifts inventory for the community. “SignUpGenius” is a software tool that may help this process. The emphasis will be on practical skills of use to the community – for instance, getting people to medical appointments and taking good notes at the appointment. Jacqie reported that she discussed with Glenn C. whether Down the Road might become part of this effort. Trish noted that people willing to be spiritual guides might also be part of the inventory.
Rec 12: (We also recommend that the SLT graph the connections individuals have to each other as a means to identify the strength of support for various needs.) Margreta is looking for the right software to help with this. Erica pointed out that there are many different types of “connections” we may have with each other. Peter noted the difference between “opportunity” and “obligation” in responding to Seekers members; it’s important not to lose sight of the positive value of being given an opportunity to help. Deborah pointed out the privacy concerns with using commercial software in this process.
Recs 13 and 14: (Recommend that the SLT members regularly evaluate how they are spending their time and to what extent that aligns with the core purposes of the SLT and Suggest that SLT report and discuss this evaluation with Stewards at least once a year in order to facilitate greater transparency and communication.) Dave said that this will be a major topic at the upcoming SLT retreat.
Recs 15 and 16: (Encourage the SLT to evaluate possible additional ways the Seekers community can support the SLT in managing the Holy Spirit Fund, given that all SLT members have named this as a challenge and We recommend that the SLT convene a group of advisors to help them think through how the Holy Spirit Fund operates.) Trish discussed the history of the Holy Spirit Fund (HSF). It’s over budget this year but it should be coming down soon. Trish reviewed the Reflections and Guidelines for the HSF. Stewards should take these guidelines back to their mission groups and explain how they work. The HSF is not “advertised.” Also, if you are approached by an individual with an emergency, it’s preferable to direct them to the HSF rather than make a personal loan/gift. Whether an advisory group would be helpful with this process will be discussed at the retreat.
John asked about “burns” in the past, and also whether the “direct them to HSF” guideline was more than a recommendation. Trish said it was not. Marjory did not feel an advisory group was necessary; she trusts the judgment of the HSF administrators.
Continued Discussion of Recommendations 8 – 10 (concerning the role and scope of SLT):
Erica opened the discussion by reviewing the conversation from last month. Does SLT need to take a larger role in shepherding the congregation, especially newer members? Is the balance right between helping directly and encouraging others to help? Is there a gap between our desire to be a welcoming, nurturing community, and our actual practice? The SLT might, for instance, provide more support to mission groups and Stewards by asking deeper questions about spiritual life. Structure, clarity, accountability – these were the goals of the WG recommendations. So what is needed? Is SLT leadership the right way to go? Or should individuals who feel called be leading it?
Glenn facilitated the ensuing discussion. Trish said that SLT watches out for those who might be “falling through the cracks.” Overall spiritual care or shepherding is also part of OMG’s and Stewards’ work. It’s multi-faceted, and SLT has a specific role.
Joan described some of OMG’s approach to working with newcomers. Hybrid worship has of course made this more challenging. OMG definitely feels this is part of their call. Peter noted that learning about potential connections that new people might have to the community would be consistent with the spirit of Rec 12.
Michele said that there are two categories of concern here: new people, and also people on the fringe/falling through cracks. Judy asked whether signing or not signing the membership book affects your role in the community.
Marjory said that SLT should draw out the gifts of the community members, not just do practical things like arrange rides for people. She asked, What are the lacks that the working group sees? Glenn, in reply, offered this: Are we asking new people what their experience has been so far? Are we getting the “data”? He emphasized the importance of listening to people. Also, the “checking off the list” approach didn’t feel good to him. Erica agreed with this: Being truly listened to is most important. Another lack she pointed out was a vague confusion she felt (and that other newcomers may feel) about what’s going on at Seekers. Marjory wondered why “being on a list” is not pleasant, but we’re recommending an inventory of concerns and skills with everybody on it.
John wondered whether Recs 8 and 9 are conceptually connected. Is the idea to free up SLT to do more community-wide spiritual shepherding? Glenn and Erica agreed that this was part of the intent of the two recs. Trish pointed out that there has been far too much talk about “getting rides,” which is not at all what SLT does – why are we talking about this??
Michele stated that she reads Rec 8 as saying that the primary focus of SLT should be on the spiritual needs, rather than the financial and practical needs, of members of the community, and she agrees with this recommendation.
Erica asked if there was a sense of the path forward on these recs. The Sherpas were asked to come up with a plan.
Dinner break 6:30-7:00pm
Budget Input Conversation: Marjory said that our income is doing very well, especially from contributions. The only big expense overrun is the HSF, but we have just sent our last check to a fund recipient so that should now go down. Requests from mission groups for next year should be given to a member of FOG by 10/17.
Recommitment Review: Michele will recommit as a member but not a Steward. Elizabeth is still discerning whether to recommit as a Steward. All others present will recommit, as will Keith and Brenda.
Pastoral Concerns were offered.
Two Stewards Shared – Marjory and Michele.
Soul Talk – no notes.
Submitted by John Morris (10/5/2022)