Governance Executive Summary

Moving forward we will plan to post an executive summary of the content, discussion, and meaningful actions of each of our meetings within a week of the meeting here. While there are some aspects of our work that will need to be kept confidential (particularly as it relates to certain personnel and legal matters), we believe this will go a long way toward improving the transparency of our actions and conversations. 

Read the Latest Summary Here Governance Structure

Executive Summary

APRIL 2022

The following are highlights from the 4/11/2022 Governance Board (GB) meeting:

  • Call to order — Mrs. Benjamin
    • Present: Valerie Benjamin, President; Ike Jordan, Vice-President; Angie Burch, Treasurer; Cory Tylenda, Secretary; Joe Stankaitis; Beth Wilkens; Rev. Dr. Stephen Cady, Sr. Minister; David Strong, Church Administrator
    • Absent: Chuck Hanrahan

Devotional was delivered by Ms. Burch.

  • Review/Approve Consent Agenda — All
  1. March GB Meeting Minutes — Mr. Tylenda
  2. Senior Minister’s Report — Rev. Dr. Cady
  3. PPRC Meeting Minutes — Mr. Stankaitis
  4. Finance Cmte Minutes and Materials — Ms. Burch
  5. Updated Board Policy Book — Ms. Benjamin
  • Update to Board Policy Book — All

Discussion Opened: Cory Tylenda discussed questions on the updated Board Policy related to:

  1. Sections "3.3.1.1 Smoking" and "3.3.1.2. Alcohol" and what is defined under these. Updates will be made to the wording.
  2. Section 3.1.5 and Section 2.2 Executive Team. Section 3.1.5 will be updated to ensure alignment with both sections.

Mrs. Benjamin will make proposed changes and update formatting to Board Policy Book and present finalized version at next Board Meeting in May of 2022.

MOTION To approve the March 2022 Consent agenda was offered by Ms. Benjamin. This included: March GB Meeting Minutes, Senior Minister’s Report, PPRC Meeting Minutes, Finance Committee Minutes and Materials, Updated Governing Board Policy Book
Moved By Beth Wilkens
Seconded By

Joe Stankaitis

Outcome Passed by unanimous consent

 

NEW BUSINESS — All

  • Update on Lawsuit — Mrs. Benjamin

Due to confidentiality, Governing Board entered Executive Session at 4:45 pm and exited Executive Session at 5 pm

  • Board Assessment and Conflict of Interest Statement Reminder — Mrs. Benjamin 

A reminder for the Governing Board to please fill out these and return to Valerie if you have not done so already.

  • Any other items?

Due to confidentiality, Governing Board entered Executive Session at 5:05 pm and exited Executive Session at 5:16 pm 

  • Closing Prayer — Rev. Dr. Cady

Meeting adjourned at 5:17 pm

— Respectfully submitted, Cory Tylenda, Secretary, Governing Board

MARCH 2022

The following are highlights from the 3/14/2022 Governance Board (GB) meeting:

Planning Scheduling for meeting: Stephen Cady requested two Governing Board members to attend the mediation with him. He asked who could attend for the meeting on March 24th, 2022. Angie Burch and Valerie Benjamin have agreed to attend with Stephen Cady.

  • Review/Approve Consent Agenda — All
  1. January GB Meeting Minutes — Mr. Tylenda
  2. Senior Minister’s Report — Rev. Dr. Cady
  3. EC Minutes — Ms. Wilkens
  4. PPRC Meeting Minutes — Mr. Stankaitis
  5. PSC Minutes and Capital Improvement Plan — Mr. Hanrahan
  6. Finance Cmte Minutes and Materials — Ms. Burch

Motion: Passed by unanimous consent

  • Update to Board Policy Book — ALL

Suggestion to add a new 3.1.5, renumbering existing 3.1.5 and 3.1.6 correspondingly:

3.1.5 The Church Financial Director. The Financial Director reports to the Senior Minister, subject to appropriate Governing Board oversight including approval of candidates for the position proposed by the Senior Minister.

Suggested language for the fifth bullet of 1.1.1. below:
    An annual, mutual Performance Evaluation of the Senior Minister’s effectiveness conducted and coordinated through the Pastor Parish Relations Committee, and Board’s effectiveness, in their respective roles as outlined in the Book of Discipline.

Valerie Benjamin stated Beth Wilkens provided with the recommended verbiage above. 

Discussion Opened: Chuck Hanrahan stated he had questions on the current Board Policy Book.

  1. In the overview, we refer to bylaws, what procedures is this referencing? In this notation it is referring to the Book of Discipline. It's in the first sentence of overview.
  2. The Board Policy Book refers to the strategic plan. Is the Dreamscape our strategic plan? Yes. We should reference it and will make that change.
  3. Vision of Ministry. What is this a reference? Stephen replied, it is a goal for the Governing Board that needs to be created. The goal is to create this each year to in conjunction with creating our goals. This is done in consultation with the congregation. How are we going to do that? Will we hold a future discussion on defining the process.
  4. 1.3.4 Property stewardship comm. We reference trusts. I thought we moved this to investment committee. We have not been administering bequests in the PSC. It should move to Governing Board to reflect the current process.

Valerie will move "on-going receipt…." to her next update of the policy.

Action: Valerie Benjamin will update the policy book and send back to the Governing Board. 
She will update it to our website.

NEW BUSINESS

  • General Conference: Implications for AFUMC — Mr. Tylenda and Rev. Dr. Cady

Mr. Cady provided an overview of status. In February, the 2020 General Conference has now been postponed to 2024. This could make a difference if we have to elect delegates again. No movement is going to officially happen until 2024. In the meantime, the WCA and Good News, and Confessing Movement are now officially launching the Global Methodist Church on May 1, 2022. Some churches will probably immediately leave. 

There is a provision in the Book of Discipline for churches that want to leave the UMC. In the Upper NY Conference, we have one of six bishops, who said that he is leaving the UMC to go to the Global Methodist Church. What does that mean to the churches who remain in the Upper NY Conference?

Is there a way that we can lead as a congregation as of right now? Or we do we wait two years from now?  This is a topic we are following closely and continues to change. There is a hopefulness that is coming, even though it might be a couple of years away.

  • PPRC Incident 3/7/22 — Mr. Stankaitis 

Executive Session began at 5:23pm and ended at 5:55pm

  • Board Evaluation/Assessment — Mrs. Benjamin 

Action: Please review the board evaluation assessment. Please complete and return to Valerie.

  • LGBTQ+ Advocacy questions for GB — Ms. Burch 

The LGBTQA+ Advocacy Team is working on our webpage and to create content for our church web page, we are asking the Governing Board if they would be willing to provide content and answer a few questions. One of the ideas we had was to have messages on our page from a variety of people from the church. We hope to show with these short testimonials that Asbury First is truly dedicated to being an inclusive community.

There are three questions, that serve as guideposts:

  1. What does it mean to you that Asbury First is a Reconciling Church?
  2. How does Asbury First make you feel welcome?
  3. Why is it important to you that Asbury First is welcoming?

Action: Please send responses to Barb Nelson. They will be included on the LGBTQ webpage. 

  • Revisit “3 big questions” for 2022 — ALL

Do we feel that these questions need to change? Discussion led by Valerie Benjamin: 

  1. How are we going to emerge from the pandemic better, faster, stronger?
  2. Diversity and Inclusion
  3. Lawsuit affecting the church

Another question is re-invigorating the life of the congregation after COVID. How do we take action? How does the re-launch of the outreach center affect the church? 

Are we going to perform gay weddings? If yes, when do we start doing that?

Discussion: I wonder if we need to obtain feedback from the congregation to see if they have feedback or input on any of the questions. Should we ask if there are any more questions?

Action: Create game-plan for engaging congregation for our focus.

  • Next Governing Board meeting is scheduled during Holy Week on April 11th. We will consider moving this meeting to account for Holy Week. Valerie will review dates and provide them to the Governing Board.
  • Closing Prayer — Rev. Dr. Cady

Meeting adjourned at 6:10 pm

— Respectfully submitted, Cory Tylenda, Secretary, Governing Board

FEBRUARY 2022

The following are highlights from the 2/14/2022 Governance Board (GB) meeting:

  • Valerie referred to the Sr. Minister’s report and encouraged the GB to think about the how we will own the action item for support due to the ongoing lawsuit. Val and Stephen will discuss.
  • Affirmation of 2022 Board officers
    Beth Wilkens discussed how the Governing Board needs to have a formal board approval of officers for 2022 for bank financing. We need to certify officers which means we need to formally approve the new secretary. Beth Rice has left the Governing Board due to the term expiring and her role was replaced by Cory Tylenda.
MOTION To have the following Governing Board members serve in 2022 in the respective roles: Valerie Benjamin as President, Ike Jordan as Vice President, Angie Burch as Treasurer, Cory Tylenda as Secretary
Moved By Joe Stankaitis
Seconded By Beth Wilkens
Outcome Passed by unanimous consent

 

  • 60k Conference Escrow Account
    Beth Wilkens provided an update by the investment committee. The general endowment is invested for long term growth and to handle the flux of the stock market. We have two pieces that the investment committee reviewed.
    The Investment Committee would like guidance with 60k held in escrow and what to do with the conference account escrow. It is in a very conservative fund right now. If we think the ability to use it will be resolved withing 6-9 months, we might pull the investment. If we are going to use it past beyond 9 months, we will probably leave it in the account. Stephen reminded us that we have not officially received approval to withhold this money from the Upper NY Conference. 
    It was discussed that there are many lawsuits against the Upper NY Conference at this time and that it would be prudent to hold the 60k in escrow, even for five years and pull it out at once, at the same time. Per Stephen, The District Superintendent knows of the situation. 
MOTION Resolved that AFUMC deposit an additional $60,000 in the Conference Related Escrow administered by the Investment Committee, in quarterly installments during 2022, to be invested in the discretion of the Investment Committee subject to further direction by the Governing Board.
Moved By Beth Wilkens
Seconded By Cory Tylenda
Outcome Passed by unanimous consent

 

  • “Share the Love” Update
    Valerie wanted to address the morale of staff, burnout and the challenges and that staff are facing. The staff works very hard to keep the church meeting. After the chapter meeting on January 30th a group of members sent cards to the ministers. This was organized by Jess Giordano. Valerie also initiated a “Share the Love” campaign on the GB website, which has received feedback and support for the ministerial staff.
    Valerie asked Stephen and David on the effectiveness and impact of this initiative. Stephen stated that it is always helpful and kind to hear the positive feedback. We received a card this past weekend and it was heartfelt. I made a decision this year to be more forthright about what this experience has been. The efforts have been appreciated by all the staff. It does make an impact. 
    Joe spoke for the PPRC and wanted to discuss their efforts to have their team available as a sounding board for ministers, for the PPRC to continue to support the ministerial staff. Valerie stated she would like to re-invigorate or re-imagine this program again. It would be another way to provide support for the staff. Joe is going to reach out to Stephen and speak with him about this program. 
    Joe also stated that he and his team on the PPRC could share the work load such as emails pertaining to COVID questions or procedural issues. This will help alleviate the ministerial staff from having to respond to “basic” requests. Joe received an email after the conference and it was about the sermon. Joe further stated that he thinks the PPRC can take some of the burdens or the Governing Board can assist. For example, we have some congregants upset on our approach to COVID19. However, we are following COVID protocols as dictated by NYS Dept. of Health and Monroe County Dept. of Health. COVID protocols questions and concerns can go to the team who is responsible for our response. Asbury First has to follow safety protocols set by NYS and Monroe Counties Dept of Health.
    Burnout and the challenges due to COVID19 has had a lot of impact on the United Methodist Church. Stephen stated four of his colleagues who are ministers have announced that they are leaving their churches because they are “burned out.” 
    The Governing Board reiterated their Thanks to Stephen, the ministerial and full staff for all their efforts in our response to COVID19. Valerie stated that we will continue to remind the congregation to share their Thanks for the staff!
  • Executive Session began at 5:23 pm and ended at 5:55 pm
  • Closing Prayer                            

Meeting was adjourned at 6 pm. Next Governing Board Meeting is March 14, 2022 via Zoom at 4:30 pm. 

JANUARY 2022

The following are highlights from the 01/10/2022 Governance Board (GB) meeting:

  • Preparation of the annual report from the Governance Board is in process and includes summaries from each of the six Governing Board committees. Valerie will send the collated report by email to board members, and it will be included in the Church’s Annual Report.
  • Discussed feedback received from congregation since implementing new Board communication plan, including monthly executive summary on our website and a Board commitment to be physically present in the Gathering Center following worship each Sunday. Members of the Board have heard very positive feedback and plan to continue the practice moving forward.
  • Approved a resolution from the Investment Committee for an update to our construction line of credit with Canandaigua National Bank which is about to expire.
  • Had a report from the Nominations Committee who have been meeting every other week since October and are wrapping up their work filling open positions on the GB and its six committees as required by the UMC Discipline. The Nominations Report will be completed for a congregational vote at the January 30, 2022 Church Conference.
  • Discussed establishing ‘Class year’ designations for current GB members (as well as for each of the six committees reporting to the GB). The intent is to have a couple of members rotating off the board each year. For 2022, Beth Rice’s term will end. Class years for each current GB member will be set and published in the upcoming Nominations report. New GB members will serve 3-year terms.
  • GB members were asked to review the AFUMC Board Policy Book to identify any needed or desired changes for discussion at the next meeting.
  • Discussed structure (in person only, hybrid or virtual) for January 30, 2022 Church Conference. According to the Upper NY Conference, in person only and hybrid structures only allow for voting from those present in person. If we hold a virtual conference, all voting can be done online. Our desire is to hold a virtual conference with voting online to maximize the number of members who can participate and vote. In addition, we will provide an opportunity for in person attendance, with those members voting using a mobile device along with those attending virtually. Stephen will consult with Ted Anderson, Genesee Valley District Associate, who will be presiding over our Church Conference on this proposal. 
  • Continuing to recognize the trends of clergy and church staff burnout, conversation was had on ways to show staff appreciation for their hard work in the particularly challenging circumstances of the last two years. To that end, it was decided to create a kudo board on the website where compliments and praises for staff and clergy achievements/actions can be posted. The hope is this will help affirm staff and clergy. Also discussed ways to encourage healthier dialogue by members of the congregation with our staff. GB members committed to provide support to clergy and staff in having difficult discussions with members so they can help establish respectful boundaries and share in and lessen the burden on staff and clergy. 
  • Chuck Hanrahan provided a 1010 construction update. Overall, it is going very well. Work is on schedule and budget, there is a good relationship with the contractor and the demolition and much of the excavation has been completed. 
  • The Governing Board heartily thanked Beth Rice for her great work as a member of the Board and all of the hard work that she has done in the last few years as lay leader, church council chair, and member of the inaugural Governing Board, among other responsibilities. We wished her well as she takes on her new roles in the congregation as the co-chair of the Storehouse and a Class Meeting Leader.

DECEMBER 2021

The following are highlights from the 12/13/2021 Governance Board (GB) meeting:

  • Accepted the Outreach Staffing Proposal as recommended by the ad hoc outreach staffing task force. Details will be provided to the congregation via email on December 15. As a part of that proposal, the recommendation that Rev. Patrick Dupont become the new Ministry for Outreach was approved. Clarification was given that the Outreach Staffing proposal is intended to be budget-neutral as the position changes will be funded at the salary levels currently in place in the 2021 AOP. Further, conversation was had about timing of hiring the Outreach Coordinator and connecting that with the opening of the Outreach Center was recommended.
  • Discussed the Annual Report for the GB. Committee Chairs for the six committees to which the GB provides oversight (Finance, Pastor Parish Relations, Property Stewardship, Outreach Center, Investment, and Nominations) will update their summaries of activities, outline goals for 2022 and provide to Valerie by the first week of January. Valerie will prepare the Governance Board report for inclusion in the church’s Annual Report.
  • John Ormsbee, Financial Administrator, joined the meeting and provided a progress review of the Annual Operating Plan (budget) for 2022. Revenue consists of congregational giving/pledges, plate offerings, and revenue from the endowment. Thus far, there are 23 new pledges for 2022 with most coming from people outside of Rochester. Approximately 75% of those pledgers that we have heard from have increased their pledges and done so by an average of 7.5%. There are still, however, a number of regular pledgers that we haven’t heard from. The Giving Team has a plan and continues to follow up with past pledgers they have not yet heard from. Current estimate for 2022 is for a 1.5% increase from 2021 of pledged donations. Initial expenses have been itemized and there is about 9% gap to be ‘closed’ that is being actively worked on. John stated the final balanced 2022 AOP will be discussed with the GB at their January meeting. Particular attention was paid to making sure that whatever decisions we make regarding the 2022 AOP are sustainable for 2023, 2024, and beyond. Further, conversation was had about how to prioritize new methods of giving for now majority virtual congregation. 
  • As required annually, the GB approved the pastor’s the Housing Exclusions for the next year. This does not change their salary, it simply designates, for tax purposes, how much of their salary will be designated for housing.
  • Passed a motion to send a letter from Asbury First UMC to the Seneca Waterways Council of the Boy Scouts of America stating the Rev. Stephen Cady is the Institute Head (IH) of Asbury First and that Mike Mullin will be the Charter Organization Representative (COR) for Troop 19. Troop 19 started the work to renew its charter and realized that the IH and COR names had not been updated.  AFUMC is following the UMC recommendation to renew charters only through March 31, 2022, at which point we can re-evaluate based on the current proceedings and protections of the bankruptcy plans. 
  • The Governing Board formally approved a motion to thank Patrick Fulford and Paula Kuempel for their hard work in the Better Together Campaign.
  • Recognizing the trends of clergy and church staff burnout, conversation was had around how to thank the staff for their hard work in the particularly challenging circumstances of the last two years. To that end, and as a sign of thanks, members of the Governing Board will be providing a meal for the staff on Christmas Eve. Further, working with the PPRC, we will be looking for ways to encourage healthier dialogue by members of the congregation with our staff.

NOVEMBER 2021

The following are highlights from the 11/8/2021 Governance Board (GB) meeting:

  • Reviewed and debriefed the October Congregational Open Forum. The Board committed to continue to listen, be transparent and visible with the congregation. Questions and concerns can be raised by emailing governance@asburyfirst.org. As board Chair, Valerie Benjamin, monitors and responds to questions and issues raised via the mailbox and seeks input from the GB. Issues determined to be of interest to the broader congregation will be addressed in the FAQ section of the website. The GB agreed to have one member of the board available in person in the Gathering Space prior to and following the 11 am Sunday worship service for conversation and to answer any questions. Further, taking a suggestion from the congregation, the Board will commit to writing an executive summary of every meeting to be posted following every meeting. 
  • Rev. Dr. Stephen Cady provided an update on the recent UMC Conference he attended in Kansas City in October. It was a gathering of about 700 clergy and lay persons from the 400 largest US UMCs that are likely to stay in the ‘post separation’ UMC. The pandemic caused a delay in holding the May 2020 General Conference where voting on the Protocol (Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation) which was announced in Jan. 2020 was to occur.  General Conference has been moved to Aug./Sept. of 2022 however Stephen anticipates further delay may occur. The Protocol needs to be passed for the separation process to begin. The situation is very complex, and an opportunity might exist for Asbury First to be part of leading and shaping what it means to stay in the post separation UMC. The Board asked Stephen to find ways to update the congregation on the status of the denomination over the next few months. 
  • Reviewed and discussed the status of the 2021 AOP budget vs. projected actual income and expenses. The pandemic continues to impact assumptions made during the 2021 AOP process. The result is that some of the income assumptions (based upon a fuller return by June) are less in plate offerings, holiday offerings, and about $40k off in pledged income to date. Expenses are on target. Some of this will change in the next couple of months. The first pass on the 2022 budget is being drafted awaiting results of the 2022 Stewardship campaign, but the Board is aware that a larger gap than recent years may need to be overcome in order to balance the budget.
  • Board approved a motion by the Investment Committee (IC) to place some monies being currently held in escrow into funds administered by the IC which can yield a return. 
  • Discussed a request for the GB to support Foodlink employees, a longtime partner of our Dining & Caring Center in combating hunger in Rochester, as they are seeking to organize a union. More information was sought and no formal action by the board taken at this time. 

For more information about any of our governance or committees, please contact the Governance Board at governance@asburyfirst.org or call the church office at (585)-271-1050.