Blog #1 (May 2017)

Mary Lee Seibert

Church of the Trinity
Vice-Moderator’s Blog

Mary Lee Seibert

May, 23, 2017

Welcome to the Vice-Moderator’s Blog. This Blog is being created to provide a mechanism for one member of the Board of Directors to communicate with the membership of Church of the Trinity on a variety of topics over time.

There are some “rules of the road” that we must understand as we begin this Blog so we don’t make too many assumptions about it:

• Anything written here by the Vice-Moderator is to be considered unofficial unless and until it is approved by the Board at a Board meeting. Neither the Vice-Moderator nor any other Board member can speak unilaterally for the Board.
• Many things stated here will not become official business of the Board, but just general information of interest (I hope)
• Please remember, information shared in this Blog is accurate at the time it is posted, which leaves some potential for the information to change at a later time.

Purposes of the Blog: The purposes of the Blog may change over time, but at the outset I see the general purposes as:
Posing questions that I would like input from the membership about. Remember, these will NOT constitute an official church survey.
Answering questions from the membership IF, but only if, the answers are factual in nature and will not require an opinion by the Board.
Informing the membership of developments or updates they may be interested in especially when they are not included in the announcements during worship services. If the information needs to be shared with the larger Church Family, announcements will be made in the Monday Newsletter.
Asking for help (volunteers) I promise that I will respond to everyone who volunteers and leaves me an accurate email address. I cannot promise that everyone who volunteers will be accepted, because there may be more volunteers than we need. Right now I can’t imagine that happening.
Commentary on matters that a Vice-Moderator may not have any other opportunity to share in an unofficial capacity. As many of you know, I am a direct person and even when my opinions are somewhat controversial, I don’t always hesitate to share them. I make grammatical errors on occasion and, as a former professor, that makes me particularly vulnerable to being “called out” on them, so help yourself.


Lay Delegate: We are in need of a replacement Lay Delegate due to the departure of Ben Bromley from the Church on April 24. Below is Article X of the UFMCC By-Laws which details the role of the Lay Delegate and how they are identified.

The church shall elect one (1) lay person for every one hundred (100) Members in good standing, or part thereof, to serve as Lay Delegate. The Lay Delegate shall be a Member in good standing of this church for at least one (1) year.
A. Election – The Lay Delegate shall be elected at the next regular Congregational Meeting following each General Conference. A majority of the votes cast shall be required to elect. All candidates for Lay Delegate/Alternate Lay Delegate must sign and agree to uphold the leadership covenant of the church in order to be a candidate or serve as an appointed leader in the church.
B. Term of Office – The term of office of Lay Delegate shall be three (3) years. Lay Delegates may serve no more than (2) consecutive terms. The Board may appoint replacement Lay Delegates as the need arises.
C. Duties – The duties of the Lay Delegate shall be to represent the congregation at General and Regional Conferences, attend business meetings, plenary sessions and workshops, and to communicate with the Board of Directors at the monthly meetings and the congregation regarding UFMCC concerns and policies, as they arise. After General and Regional Conferences, the Lay Delegates will present written reports to the Board in a timely manner.
D. Alternate Lay Delegates are chosen to fulfill the responsibilities of Lay Delegates when they cannot attend required meetings.
E. Funding – To the best of its ability, the congregation shall fund the Lay Delegates or Alternate Lay Delegate’s transportation, registration, housing and per diem at General and Regional Conferences. Keep a detailed record of your expenses for meetings and General Conferences including receipts.
F. Discipline – The church cannot condone disloyalty, unbecoming conduct, or dereliction of duty on the part of any Lay Delegate or Alternate Lay Delegate. Therefore, the Board of Directors may remove by a majority vote of the full Board of Directors any Lay Delegate or Alternate Lay Delegate guilty of the above. A petition presented to the Board of Directors and signed by twenty-five percent (25%) of the Members in good standing of the congregation may also initiate such a procedure.
1. Right to Appeal– A disciplined Lay Delegate or Alternate Lay Delegate may appeal the action of the Board of Directors to the congregation at a Special Congregational Meeting, which will be called for this purpose. This process will be held within a 45-day period. The decision of the Congregational Meeting will be final.
G. If elected, read Metropolitan Community Churches “Lay Delegates Manual” for more detail at

For last General Conference we had Three (3) Lay Delegates. For the next one we will have only two (2). That is because our membership has dropped below 200! So, you can see one very important reason we need to improve membership!

Now, to the situation at hand. The Board will consider making an official call for volunteers for Lay Delegates as soon as they meet. Until then, those of you who may be interested may want to work on your application. We have not yet determined an application process, but you might give some thought to why you believe you are well suited for this position, how you would be able to work the responsibilities of the position into your lifestyle over the next three years, and who might serve as references for your preparedness from both worship and denominational perspectives. When you think of responsibilities, please include monthly attendance at COTT Board meetings as one. It would be your job to represent COTT to the denomination as well as the reverse. Lay Delegates represent the interests of COTT to the denomination as well as bringing the interests and issues of the denomination back to us. We believe this two-way communication process requires the presence of the Lay Delegates at discussions of COTT’s thoughts for the Board meetings as well as from the congregational meetings. And, given the current state of affairs within the Church’s budget, how you would be able to attend General Conference if there were no funds available from the Church to fund your trip, I’m just sayin’. Please don’t send applications in before you see the official “call”, as it will outline the process and requirements for applying.

Cell Tower Update: Remember, this is unofficial, and with lawyers and real estate-ers, I am not sure until all documents are signed by all. We had questions about the easement access, the length of our lease, how long we would have to wait to reclaim the property if it ceased to be used by SBA (our lessee), and whether the lighted cross would remain.Bottom line in plain language is that our easement rights are protected, we have a 99 yr. lease, the tower will be considered to be abandoned if it ceases to be used by SBA for 5 years, and continuation of the tower will be as a lighted cross. I do tend to simplify. If you would like to read any of these documents, please notify Lori Babyak in the Church Office and she will share them with you to read. Bring your own food and beverage. Sorry it has taken so long for our lawyer to feel comfortable that we have done our due diligence, but those who come after us will likely appreciate it.

Commentary: This is my first opportunity to share with you some thoughts about where we are now and where we should be going. This has been a very stressful time for the Church. Duh! That has been true for none more than your Board. Seven of us, without a Pastor, have shouldered the transition up to now, with the support and guidance of our terrific Associate Pastor Donna, a wonderful group of deacons, and volunteers in place. Of the 7 of us on the Board, 3 are employed full-time in the real world (where they get paid!) and are essentially pulling 2 jobs. All of us have been operating on your behalf to the best of our ability. We get tired. We sometimes let off steam. That doesn’t mean we share confidential information, but it may sound that way sometimes. Many of you have asked, how can we help? You know, the old cliché “when you are up to your #$% in alligators it is hard to remember you are there to drain the swamp” really applies. Leaders of this church who are not on the Board know who they are. They shouldn’t need to be asked to do the job of leading this congregation to being the cohesive, dynamic, focused Church people that we are. We believe that ALL of the leaders need to work together and not foster personal agendas. Many of us serve numerous ministries, so to say we can divide the “worship” part from the “administrative” part is only fooling ourselves. To put various ministries in little boxes not to be touched by others, is so unrealistic as well to say distrustful. And to have either “box” declare that it is the most important makes no sense. No part can really survive and prosper without working with all others.

Where we are now? I believe we are at one of the strongest points organizationally that we have been in since I joined COTT in 2005. We have had a sitting (or is it “setting” for Pastors?) Pastor for the longest period in our history. We have strong leaders in our ministries. We have our ministries identified with their goals, activities, and accountability measures approved by the entire congregation in our Vision 20/20 Strategic Plan. That plan had the overt participation of over 60% of our congregation. Those ministries, in large part, have continued their commitments throughout these last few months. This is where we are now!

Yes, we lost a Senior Pastor abruptly. Some members are calling for healing, while those calls do not seem to be in the majority or as comprehensive as I believe some would argue. I believe that before healing has to come recognition of what has been injured, violated or endangered. That is the scientist in me. I just ask that we identify what needs to be healed and that those who need it get it in full measure. And, while that is happening, let’s continue our forward motion.

There is a need for a transitional pastor not only for healing but for leadership at all levels. At first, I didn’t believe that more than a gap was needed, but my colleagues on the Board made the case, and I fully support our decision. What I and the Board continue to expect is that the transitional person be prepared to take us from where we are to where we need to be to search for a new Senior Pastor. I believe if the right person becomes our transitional, they may be the one chosen by God to lead us beyond the transition. God will let us know. We need support and guidance from UFMCC as we make the selection of our Transitional Pastor. Also it is extremely important that the Transitional Pastor candidate have the experience and character desired by the congregation and the Board. Our UFMCC colleagues do have experience and access to the candidate we need in both the transition and identification of the permanent Pastor. Let’s keep all doors open until God guides us on our selection..

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