WESLEY MEMORIAL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
COUNCIL MINUTES-meeting of January 18, 2022
PRESENT: Pastor Matt Seaton, Rick Hamilton, Cameron Pampus, Juliana Piacentini, David Sandridge, Sue Lewis, Maury Early, Jenette Parke, Rocky Shoemaker, Carolyn Ball, Matt Zimmerman, Sandy Staggers
OPENING: Rick opened the meeting with prayer.
NEW COUNCIL MEMBERS: Pastor Matt welcomed Jenette to council.
MINUTES: the minutes of the December 2021 meeting were accepted with the following change-noted in the SPR report, the person who stepped off that committee was Sarah Malpass.
STAFF REPORTS: Rosie and Monica submitted written reports. Pastor Matt advised that he had asked Rosie to submit a discipleship plan for WMUMC which is contained in her report. Carolyn stated that Head Start does want to rent the space for their services and they do not have a date at this time. Carolynn has proposed they come in on February 15 2022. Cameron did not have a written report. He notes the bell choir has maintained as a group almost throughout the pandemic and has a number of college student members. The chancel choir has reached the seating capacity for participants in the choir loft and is regularly practicing and singing with masks. Debbie Miller is planning to make masks for the choir that will continue to allow singing with masks.
Church Administrative Assistant-Monica’s report
Social Media marketing campaign – in September I applied for a Social Media grant through UMCom and received $1,000 in assistance, which included an audit of our social media platform with suggestions on how to boost our reach in the community, a tutorial on effectively utilizing Facebook and understanding
algorithms, as well as $150 in free Facebook marketing to subscribers of our page for two events. We choose Music Sunday and Christmas Eve. The campaign reached thousands of Facebook users in a twenty-mile radius. Unfortunately, Facebook took down our page and a new one had to be created.
I have applied for a SEO grant through UMCom, which will aid in setting up search engine optimization on our website, creating a google ad word monthly campaign that will, over time, have Wesley Memorial appear on the first page of google searches for churches in our area.
Small Groups – Every Wednesday I host the Prayer Group on Zoom, which is going strong. We did an Advent meditation every Wednesday during Advent towards the end of prayer group where we discussed the daily meditations and how the scripture lesson in each meditation pertained to our life.
We plan on doing a similar meditation series during Lent.
The Trans Defense Group meets every Sunday at 2pm on Webex. A transwoman contacted the church in the Fall looking for support. Pastor Matt and I went to meet with her in her home and we told her about the Trans Defense Group. She has joined our weekly meeting and I have visited with her many times in her home. She has asked for assistance with transportation and meals during her surgery in February. The Trans Defense Group will be coming up with a plan to support this woman. We will be planning on ways that we can take action as advocates for Trans people in the months ahead.
Early Head Start – In November, Early Head Start contacted the church office asking if we had space for them to rent for their program. I met with two of their representatives and showed them the space, talked about the details of all that they were looking for in a location for their Early Head Start program, brought the Trustees and Council in on the conversation, and am following up with the Director to make sure that everything moves forward in a timely manner. This will bring in revenue every month for the church for a space that isn’t being used often. The agreement is that we can still use the space on Sunday mornings. A win/win.
Parking – All the parking spots in our lot are rented (except for those for staff and the pre-school) and I have a wait list of people looking to rent. We are having issues with people using our lot to park illegally. I ordered parking permits for every parker to hang on their rear-view mirror so I can put a
notice on every car that doesn’t have a permit stating that their car will be towed if they park there again. I keep a record of every car that is parked illegally, and I walk the lot every morning I am there. New signs have been ordered that clearly mark our lot as private and that towing is enforced. We are
still waiting on the large sign for the lot.
Office Admin – All W-2s are done, annual State return is filed, 4th quarter, and annual Federal returns are filed, and the W3 with W2 Copy A’s are sent to the Social Security Administration. The 2022 Annual Pledge has been entered into Simple Church, along with a 2022 20/20 Vision pledge. I am currently
looking for a person to do the church audit. I contacted the District Office and was given a contact who has done the audit for Hinton Ave. and Aldersgate. I sent her an email last week and am waiting for a response.
Discipleship Overview-Rosie’s report
The covid-19 pandemic as well as the high turnover of pastors over the past two years has of course posed big challenges in nourishing and growing the life of the Church, including Christian Discipleship ministries and small groups. It has been a time of disrupted momentum, but also a time of planting and building – of laying sturdy foundations for ministries that will allow them to grow and flourish in the future. Some examples include:
1. Sanctuary – María gained her freedom last year, a huge accomplishment. The consistent support she has received from Wesley before and after this milestone is substantial. For instance, through grants and fundraising drives, Wesley has helped raise at least $40,000 dollars for the sanctuary ministry since the end of 2020. We continue the slow-yet-effective work of advocacy, and of helping her build a livelihood by aiding her at markets, and obtaining an ITIN, kitchen certification, and kitchen management certification.
2. Garden – The raised beds on our campus have provided produce for María, our neighbors, congregants, and the C-Street preschool the past two years. This year we will move to a weekly-harvest-and-donation model, possibly partnering Early Head Start, and growing our volunteer base with help from the Wesley Foundation.
3. Bible Studies – We have offered bible studies fairly consistently since the fall of 2020, either over zoom or with a hybrid format. The Amos, Lord of the Rings, and Tricky Bits studies I led were especially popular with young adults, with about twenty young adults participating in at least one of the studies.
4. LGBTQIA – We are laying the groundwork for much more robust spiritual and material support of LGBTQIA Christians who have difficulty finding it elsewhere in the region. Our weekly Trans Defense meeting has grown to about three trans folks, plus allies, who discuss Scripture juxtaposed with issues affecting trans people personally and collectively. We have received feedback about how important this group is for community, healing, and spiritual growth. We have also started organizing with other affirming churches and student groups about better outreach to students.
5. Lay Engagement – Many probably do not have a sense of overall lay engagement these days because with the pandemic it is not always reflected in Sunday worship attendance. Currently, about one hundred people are involved in at least one ministry (including worship) at Wesley. About forty of those folks are engaged in 2-4 ministries, and thirty of them are engaged in 5 or more ministries. This is pretty healthy engagement for two years of a pandemic, and puts us in a good place for when things finally do start to open up more fully.
System and Structure Guidance:
Attached is a Christian Discipleship System & Structure chart provided through the UMC website that is meant to guide lay engagement and spiritual growth in all that we do. I’ve filled it out. It may be helpful to read through this when thinking about the future of Christian Discipleship at Wesley, especially when you reach the Lay Leadership Development portion of this report.
Ministry Growth Areas of Focus for 2022
There is currently a dynamic at UVA in which non-affirming Christian groups on campus pull in the great majority of Christian/Christian-curious students. Students spend years in these groups before they find out that LGBTQ+ folks are not affirmed (and in some cases, women are also barred from leadership!) A huge goal for this year is to change this dynamic by the Fall of 2022, and we are already initiating meetings with other affirming churches & student groups to this effect.
We are also currently the only church I am aware of that is providing consistent spiritual and advocacy support for trans people. We should continue to grow this ministry. We also need to continue to increase our visibility as an affirming Church. Frankly, most of the new people joining Wesley in the past year or so came to us for that specific reason.
Our day and evening Bible Studies, and Sunday Morning Forum, and all in healthy shape. I hope to encourage more members of the congregation to participate in these small groups, and where possible, create a few more small group options at convenient times. Ideally, all members of the congregation should be involved in at least one spiritual-growth-focused ministry, and one
Starting in February, we will offer a parent/caretaker/guardian discussion group before worship, with childcare provided during this group and through worship. This will create a space of fellowship and spiritual growth for the families we already have, as well as for those families who are seeking progressive Christian community or are curious about it. Once this is up and running, we will work consistently on outreach to young families in Charlottesville through different means.
Since several of the young children in our congregation are musically inclined, we may also begin a simple children’s choir to contribute to worship at times.
In 2022 there will be monthly Young Adult lunches for fellowship and discussion of faith, following Sundays when the bell choir plays (since several young adults are in bell choir). We have also met with leaders at the Wesley Foundation about working together more closely. When covid numbers allow it, they will resume their program of offering a snack before our 11am service and then attending worship as a group. They are also interested in volunteering in the garden. In addition, we have newly formed relationships with the student ministries at
Westminster Presbyterian, University Baptist, St. Paul’s, and St. Mark’s, and will be cross-promoting and collaborating on student-focused events starting this February. We need to be more intentional about inviting more young adults into lay leadership.
Lay Leadership Development
There is much we can do to encourage greater involvement and lay leadership in our congregants, from the first moments someone connects with us, through to members who are lapsed or minimally involved. Below is a brief outline of strategies to help us grow lay leadership.
Engaging New Folks
We can improve our web presence, spend more time representing Wesley outside the walls of the Church, and improve our signage and church aesthetics to create a good first impression and warm welcome when visitors come. We need consistent greeters. We will mention our connect cards every worship service, and be prompt in following up with new connections
When someone has started attending worship regularly, we will offer a personal invitation to take a first step toward deeper involvement. This can include inviting them to take part in worship, and inviting them to talk w/ Matt about faith and to help them identify ways to deepen involvement. After several months of regular/semi-regular attendance, we will invite the visitor
to be a member.
Prospective members are invited to take our new members class. We are going to stress more that membership comes with real commitments to service and spiritual growth. All members at Wesley Memorial should be involved in at least one ministry focusing on service/lay leadership and one on spiritual growth.
Minimally Involved Members
We will make direct asks of members who are minimally involved (but have the capacity to be) to lead, serve, and grow in ways that match their spiritual gifts. We will ask lapsed members if they still want to be members, and clarify that going forward we are seeking greater commitments of involvement from members.
Short-term (1 yr)
In the next year, my goals for Wesley are to double the number of young families actively involved in the church, triple the number of actively involved young adults, experience steady growth in membership of any amount, grow the involvement of minimally involved members, grow worship attendance back to pre-pandemic levels or a bit above when safe to do so, have more diversity in our lay leadership, and make Wesley much easier to find and connect with.
Fixating on metrics like these isn’t the most important thing to the life and witness of the Church (read Slow Church), but I do feel that these goals are achievable.
Brief note on parental leave
I plan to take two full, consecutive months of parental leave when the new baby is born, so I will be completely absent roughly from April 8-June 8. Additionally, I will take most of my vacation time in June (in part because this is a slower time of year—I want to be fully present in the lead-up to the new academic year through the holidays).
In the coming months I will identify lay members to lead the ministries I am most involved in, while I am gone, including: sanctuary, garden, young adults/evening bible study, reconciling/trans defense, and parents/children. I will make efforts to find leaders who do not typically lead (not the same people who do everything). I will also itemize all of my regular, mundane tasks for the rest of the staff so we make sure everything is covered.
FINANCE/TREASURER: David reviewed the written finance report. Maria’s Marigold grant has paid for the institutional refrigerator and for the production class needed for her certification for catering. Snow removal has already cost more than was budgeted. Monica’s job description was revised which required adjustment of figures.
TRUSTEES: Carolyn reviewed her written report
*LEAP did an assessment of the energy efficiency/ deficiencies of the Moosetrap and report is pending. They did find that pipes in the furnace room are wrapped with asbestos as wel as pipes/ducts in the attic. In the course of the inspection with tenant and Carolyn (mostly waiting outside due to Covid) it was noted that the hot water heater was leaking. The 46 year old(!) water heater was replaced by Robertson Electric on January 6th after some delay with a new 50 gallon electric water heater. Carolyn Ball and the tenant cleaned out the furnace room which was full of years of items left by previous tenants.
* One of the two small trees on the south side of the Moosetrap toppled over in the snowstorm and is being cut up and removed by Roger McDonald. Hughes Landscaping did the snow removal and spread chemicals. Marcelino shoveled walks within grounds of church. CB did shovel stairs to CS preschool and spread chemicals. *
* We are lowering the base temperature in the sanctuary and Epworth Hall to (at most) 60 degrees at most times unless planned use for the spaces. CB proposing and pursuing changing out thermostat in Aldersgate room and ensuring adequate HVAC in staff offices in light of cooler sanctuary space. This is being done to maximize our efficiency and reduce wasted energy while we look at longer term HVAC issues.
* There is water leakage occurring on the wall of the nursery on the playground (north) side of the building. The trustees are meeting Saturday morning 1/15 to take a look at it and determine a course of action.
In response to questions, Carolyn notes the LEAP person pointed out asbestos in the Moose Trap. When LEAP submits its written report, the report will contain names of contractors we could contact to address the asbestos. The tenant is aware of the presence of asbestos around pipes. Carolyn notes there is also a 500 gallon buried oil tank at the Moose Trap. Carolyn notes that she and Roger evaluated the water leak in the nursery which is where the Head start will go. She reports it will be a small repair but there may need to be some painting done in the nursery once the leak is repaired.
Discussion followed about snow removal. Carolyn reports the landscape service charges by the hour and has only been doing the sidewalks that the city requires to be shoveled, that is, the ones on the perimeter that touch the street. Volunteers have generally cleaned the other sidewalks. Council approved for Carolyn to contract all the walks to the landscaping service knowing this will increase the cost to the church. It is noted that all persons entering the education building could do so at the ground floor entrance and go down the stairs or use the elevator as we no longer have to keep the area secure.
The new SPRC met on Jan 11, 2022 at 7:00pm via Zoom. Present were Sue
Lewis, chair, Jenette Parker (new member) and Matt Seaton, pastor. Matt
Zimmerman, member, was unable to attend.
It was noted that the Committee needs to have at least one more member,
preferably a young adult (age frame not sure), since we are required to have a
minimum of 5 members. The Nominating Committee will search for a new
member. We lost Sarah Mayhew due to her increased job and family demands,
and she will be missed. Wayne Malbon rotated off this year also, and his
guidance will also be missed.
Sue reported on the Bi-District training for SPRCs held on 1/9/22 virtually:
Jenette also received the Power Point from that meeting. Information from
that training will be shared with the Committee as we go through the year.
We sill be reviewing staff job descriptions now that we have a new Policy
Manual, and meeting monthly (2 nd Tuesday of the month at 7:00pm) as we go
through the work schedule which was suggested at the Bi-District training.
Sue reports that SPR needs to gain another member since Sarah Malpass stepped down. Sue reports the person should represent the young adult group. Matt and the nominations committee will work on this.
There is not a written report as the post covid group has not met since the last council meeting. Case numbers are very high in our area and way over our now discarded previous threshold. We will continue to encourage vaccination, boosters, and better quality masks.
Rocky reports that Rosie has established communication with the Food Bank at UVA. Rocky has not heard back from PVCC.
Juliana reviewed the written report.
We are in the process of refreshing the Young Adults Ministry.
We plan to have monthly fellowship lunches following worship on days that the bell choir performs. The brunch for this Sunday, January 23 has been canceled due to COVID
Our next event will be on Sunday, February 27
We are re-starting the email list
Juliana hopes to involve the Young Adults at the events listed below
Rosie sent Monica and Juliana a list of events in the next couple of months for which we will be partnering with other affirming Christian student ministries/groups:
2/6 @ 9:30am - Austen Hartke (author of Transforming) may be presenting at Westminster's morning Christian Education class
2/13 @ 9:30am - Wesley SMF Class on Trans People and the Church. However, Hartke may present at Westminster on this day instead, in which case I want to merge the classes and loop SMF into Westminster's program
2/14, time TBD - Handing out roses at the LGBTQ "Love is Love" Valentine's Day event at the Rotunda. With a card that has the names of the different affirming churches/groups
2/19 @10am - Budgeting Basics class at University Baptist
2/27 @ 9:30 - Wesley SMF Class on Reparations. However, Westminster is trying to get an expert reparations speaker that same week at their morning class. If they get him, I will see if we can once again combine these classes
3/22, time TBD evening - Sexual Health workshop to be held at Wesley Foundation
Juliana will be focusing on the NOW Ministry Catalog in the coming weeks
Thursday Jan. 20 Research meeting: updates Zoom 6:30PM
Sunday Feb. 20 Wesley Network meeting after 11 o’clock church service, hybrid or zoom
Tuesday March 15* Rally Zoom 6:30 PM
Tuesday March 29 Nehemiah Action 6:30 PM, hopefully hybrid
Meals for the 20-25 men in the congregate, hypothermia care at University Baptist for January are fully
subscribed, including Debbie Miller doing meal for Jan. 27.
Maria: Need for folks to help Maria selling her goods Saturday mornings January- March at the Indoor
market at Key Recreation center, 800 E Market St.
Contact Andrea Zimmerman or sign up using
Discussion about willingness to help/adopt/mentor an Afghan family
Maury reviewed the written report. The IRC has approached the PACEM churches to ask if churches are willing to sponsor an Afghan refugee family. Currently the IRC has responsibility for many more families than they generally have at any one time. The IRC would like to have a primary point person at each church to meet weekly with the assigned family to assess their needs for the week and then get church volunteers signed up to assist with the needs. Transportation is generally a big need for all families at present. The IRC does not want multiple people to visit families, but need a committed point person and a committed group of back up volunteers to meet the needs. Volunteers would need to be dependable. There is no projected number of hours per week and needs would be dependent on the needs of a given family. Maury will request some more information from the IRC and we will consider whether we would have enough committed volunteers.
IMPACT is meeting on March 15 so we will move the March council meeting to March 22.
MINISTER’S REPORT: Pastor Matt has asked the council members to read a book entitled Slow Church (which I am aware should be underlined but cannot figure how to do this!). He believes the book could be a useful one for our church.
CLOSING: Pastor Matt closed the meeting with prayer.
*****FEBRUARY COUNCIL MEETING IS 2/15/22. MARCH COUNCIL MEETING IS 3/22/22