Society Semi-Annual Meeting Reflections

October 1, 2019

We had a very interesting semi-annual meeting last week and I thought I would highlight a couple of things that came up because they have implications for the congregation going forward.
Rev. Eric Carswell raised the issue of quorums at our meetings. Our bylaws state that we need to have at least 150 people present to conduct any official business. At the spring annual meeting, we were about 40 people short of that quorum and had to do some emergency calling to get the necessary number of people to show up. Something similar also happened the spring before that. Now that we are not having contested elections this could be a more common problem going forward so he raised the following options to consider:
• Get the word out more to encourage more people to come.
• Change the quorum number to something lower.
• Allow for absentee ballots to count toward quorum (only about ten were received last year.)
• Have a lower quorum requirement for “ordinary” business like board elections, but retain the higher one for other items, thus giving protection for the kinds of issues that could significantly redirect the course of the congregation.
We had a useful discussion with many suggestions offered. The Board will reflect on these and likely offer a proposal to the congregation for consideration at a future meeting. Until then the quorum remains the same.
We also heard a report on the exploration of a building renovation. Amy Leighton, our owner’s representative (meaning she works for us helping to clarify our needs and interfacing with the architects), presented the findings so far. The quick version is that it would cost about $8 million to do the maintenance work that is coming up over the next ten to 15 years. A completely new building would cost about $34 million. After a thorough analysis of our needs, including many meetings with teachers and church staff, we have a sense of the parts of the buildings that serve our needs well and those where we could do a better job with some improvements. We are exploring with architects how we can address the maintenance needs and at the same time improve the functionality of the church offices, society building, and school. We’ve chosen an architect, Metcalfe Architecture and Design, and tasked them with offering plans for renovations with a total cost of $20 million. Below are examples of a few of the items they are going to look at:
• Better flow through the building so that classroom learning is less disrupted by classes on the move.
• Enhancing safety. There are many entry points to the school and car and pedestrian pathways overlap far more than is ideal.
• Make clearer, more logical and appealing entry points.
• Better support for specialist needs such as music and science.
• Make the Pastors Office entrance more clearly visible to visitors.
These are just a few of the issues that they are looking at. They will put together some plans, at which point a society meeting would be called to see if we are willing to go ahead with the proposed upgrades and renovations. Again, there was a fair amount of discussion about the process and the goals of this proposed building project.
Lots of other things came up at the meeting but these are two areas that I thought might benefit from a wider awareness. Please contact either me, Rev. Eric Carswell, or any board member if you have questions.

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