a positive path for spiritual growth

Town Hall Meeting report (May 17, 2020)

Updates from Your Board of Trustees

May 21, 2020
Patricia Wood, Board Secretary

History was made at Unity in Albany, with the first-ever online Town Hall meeting on Sunday, May 17th.  While the worldwide pandemic has forced us to adopt social distancing as preventative health and safety measures, our Unity Albany family has adjusted beautifully to the use of technology to connect. The theme of our second 2020 Town Hall meeting was focused on our Unity in transition and featured comments from president Heather Diddel, an overview of the transition process from transitional minister, Rev. Steve Colladay, a financial report from treasurer Karin Reinhold, and updates on fellowship activities from Dottie Frament and Dave Ferrill. And, regrettably, while we could not connect in person, the enthusiasm and joy shared among the 46 participants was abundant throughout the online Zoom video session.

Heather shared greetings from the Board and expressed gratitude to our congregation regarding how well people have adapted to the necessary closure of our church and the movement towards online fellowship. She noted how many opportunities for connections had evolved since March, with Prayer Chaplains personally calling many congregants and hosting Thursday Chaplain Hours and Heart to Heart sessions on Tuesdays; Wednesday evening classes presented by Reverend Steve, and Patricia Hunt-Perry and Reverend Steve’s class on grief and mourning.

The onset of the COVID19 pandemic made it abundantly clear that Unity Albany could benefit from technology upgrades, to offer new opportunities to connect among church members. We are pleased to report that in the coming weeks, Unity Albany will roll out an exciting new membership database program. The new “Servant Keeper” software is a popular software in use by thousands of churches worldwide. It features numerous functions and capabilities to gather and use important information on congregants. We look forward to a new online directory (ensuring proper security and privacy protection features), and the ability for our church members to update and maintain their own information. We extend our deepest gratitude to Cheri Warren, Peggy Kaufmann and several generous tithing members, which made the purchase and implementation of Servant Keeper a reality. More on Servant Keeper, and ways it will benefit our church, in the coming weeks.

Rev. Steve spoke about the importance of Unity in Albany going through each important step of a “Sacred Transition.” His commentary covered issues surrounding a minister’s departure, the sense of loss, the natural anxiety at the new state of affairs for a church, but also the critical importance of a church going through a sacred transition, or re-birth, so to speak, where the church, its mission, vision and priorities are revisited. While this re-evaluation is taking place, a sense of new identity can emerge, which helps define future direction, and support the search process for a new minister. The congregation, the Board, and the Transitional Minister all serve in key roles in the transition and transformation process, which Steve characterized as “not a sprint, but a marathon, “Go slow to go fast.” He emphasized that we are all in transition together, each with important roles to play.

Steve also touched on a new way of looking at volunteering, as a deeper, more intentional  “Sacred Service” to our Unity Albany. He noted that with the pandemic, Unity Worldwide had adopted Sacred Service from a more global perspective, which opened up even more opportunities for Unity members around the country and globe.

Treasurer Karin Reinhold presented a financial report. She noted that regular love offering donations were down, but we received a generous on-time donation which helped offset this decrease. With Rev. Crystal’s departure, Rev. Steve’s arrival, expenses were higher than average. The church reserve fund had been impacted by the economic downturn, but the Finance Committee continued to maintain a conservative investment strategy during this turbulent time, minimizing risk. We thank all congregants for their generous financial support of our church, and ask that in the coming months, as donations typically trend downward, that all continue to remember our Unity in their giving plans.

During the Zoom Town Hall, church participants shared excellent comments via online “chat,” and shared questions regarding opportunities to volunteer, the need for a continued commitment for inclusiveness and diversity, as well as physical accessibility to the church grounds and events. The Board is looking at ways to offer new opportunities for volunteering (“sacred service”), and ensure that for each opportunity, congregants are given clear direction and support in their endeavors.

We thank all our participants for their spirited and thoughtful participation in our Town Hall meeting, and invite those unable to participate to view the pre-recorded session, published in our Friday May 22, 2020  Newsletter (email office@unityalbany.org if you do not have access to that Newsletter and we will forward it to you).