Church Council, November 12, 2016


First United Methodist Church of Santa Rosa

Saturday, November 12, 2016


Dick Reichert opened the meeting at 9:02am and led the reading of our Mission and Oneness in Christ statement.


Norm Bryan offered the opening prayer.


Approval of the minutes: The minutes of the September 17, 2016 were approved.


Welcome Committee Report: Emily Rainsford and Sharon Peterson presented the Welcome Committee report. Objective of the welcome committee is to have a presence in all church ministries/events: e.g. spaghetti feed, lunch with pastors, etc. as a means of reaching out to newcomers. The committee members will next reach out to preschool families. 


Communications Committee: Craig Thompson presided presented the report.

Clarification was requested on difference between Welcome Committee and Communications Committee. Communications committee focuses on external, i.e. FUMC to people/organizations that are not yet part of the church. Welcome committee focuses on internal, i.e. those who have come to FUMC whether as newcomers or current members.

In addition to goals outlined in the communications report, Craig stated that the committee will be contacting Parents magazine for greater exposure. With regard to the Reconciling community, reconciling banners have been purchased for the Stony Point campus.

Correction to Communications report: “….free trade candy bars” should be “…..fair trade candy bars.

A big Thank You to Janin was expressed for a mass E-mailing of “Happenings at FUMC”.


Discipleship Team: Norm Bryan reported.

Focus of the committee is to help people grow in their faith.


Update on Leadership Summit: Pastor Blake presented “Belong - Become – Be”, a program developed to show how church can help people connect with others and grow in their faith.

The Discipleship process requires being attentive to others in their journeys of faith. Two steps are involved: 1) asking how do we support people in their faith journey, and 2) asking how do we sustain that journey. A three month action plan has been developed to achieve the goals of the discipleship process.

Next leadership summit will take place in January, 2017.


Communities of Faith: Pastor Blake presided.

Currently there are eight Communities of Faith; plus Fijian cell groups.


Trustees Report: Thomas Barnett presented.

Focus was on replacement of furnace in the sanctuary. Trustees received three quotes, from Henry Mechanical, Simpsons, and Hansen & Sons; waiting for quote from Ongaro before making final decision.

It appears trustees are leaning towards accepting quote from Hansen & Sons, which includes removal of current furnace.

Brands being considered are Carrier and Trane. Both have ratings of 95% and above efficiency.

Concern in choosing the most appropriate furnace is based on the environment and for venting/air ducting capability of the appliance. The current furnace appears to have been  installed without an adequate understanding of these factors.

Installing an air conditioner is an option and there is a church family who indicated they will donate $10,000 toward this cost. George Kemmerer suggested a vote be taken on how many in the congregation want an air conditioner. Andrea Davis requested consideration of the cost to run an air conditioner.

Trustees will need at least $22,000 for cost of furnace (includes installation) and 10% additional for cost overrun. Air conditioner will be an additional $12,000. (Note: If family contributes $10,000, additional cost to FUMC is only $2,000.)

Funding will come from the Bank of the West account.

Trustees hope to finalize a decision this week on which bid to accept so that installation can be done as soon as possible. Five to eight days are needed for installation.

Other matters that need to be addressed:

The refrigerator in Fellowship Hall needs to be replaced.

A termite infestation has been noticed; an inspection will be needed.

The fence behind preschool needs to be addressed.

Low flow toilets are needed. City of Santa Rosa provides and installs low flow toilets, but does this apply only to residences, or does it also apply to non-profits?  We will look into this to see if we qualify.


Finance Committee Report: Greg Roth presented.

Stated the committee’s minutes are posted online. Church income is at 99.39% of budgeted amount. Expenses are at 93.16% of budgeted amount, significantly below what was projected.

Stewardship Dinners have been completed and many thanks go to Peg and Mike Ferrel for doing much of the work.

Internal controls. An auditor has looked at our financial processes and determined that we need to implement changes to strengthen our internal controls.

Greg asked for volunteers to count, document, and deposit money from the offertory plates on Monday mornings, 8:30am.  Volunteers will work in pairs, on a rotating basis, and count both cash and checks. Family members cannot work together. Several people stepped forward to volunteer.


Charge Conference: Bill Stephens reported.

All-church conference will be Monday Evening, December 12, 2016.

Current format shows administrative matters will be discussed first in McMullin Room, followed by soup supper and all-church conference in Fellowship Hall.

Administrative matters include clergy salaries, committee member nominations, election of trustees.

Committees have been categorized into three groups: Belonging, Becoming, and Being. Pastor Blake proposed that lay leader nominations increase from one leader to three leaders to represent each group.

Each group is requested to provide a combined report of no more than 15 minutes; total of three 15-minute reports. Written reports from all committees and commissions are due to Dick Reichert by no later than November 28th.

Objection was expressed as to the committee groupings; some of the committees don’t appear to be connected making it difficult to deliver a single 15-minute report?

It was requested that committee reports be made available in advance of the conference, to give time to review them. It will be made clear that all church members are welcome to attend the administrative portion of the conference. There are only 80 chairs (people) max allowed in the McMullin room, it was suggested that this part of the meeting be held in the sanctuary if necessary.

Opinions were also expressed about the format of the conference. Several people felt that format of event should be changed; instead of separating administrative matters from all-church matters, we should have soup supper first, followed by the conference. Pastor Blake suggested that we will stick to the current format:  6:00pm All- church Conference dealing with Pastoral Compensation and election of Administrative Committees; 6:30pm Soup Supper; 7:00pm All Church-Conference celebration of ministry and plans for the future. 

 Bill Stephens so noted.

It was stated that the congregation wants to discuss matters and be heard. It was also mentioned that there were questions raised in the last year concerning pastors’ salaries.

Ample notice should be provided to the congregation about the upcoming conference so that they can express their questions/concerns prior to the event and so that committees can prepare their responses ahead of time.


Church Council Decision Making Process: Pastor Blake presided.

Reported that some church members would like to have a congregational vote, but according to District Superintendent Schuyler, “we don’t do it that way”; Methodists decide by conferencing.

Council’s role is to empower people to be in ministry.  Acknowledge there is a need for people to be heard. Methodists convene, discern, and then make decisions. This is spelled out in the Book of Discipline.


Homeless Ministries Task Force and Transitional Community: Mike Ferrel presented the proposal for Church Council’s approval of shelter community.

The Homeless Ministry Task Force for a transitional housing community was created in May 2016. Location of the project will be on the southeast side of Stony Point near existing cottage.

The following barriers to this program have been overcome: 1) legality issues, 2) management/oversight, 3) insurance costs, 4) other costs. Final barrier to overcome is the church’s exit strategy.

Legality was dealt with when Santa Rosa City Council authorized transitional housing. Catholic Charities will participate in management/oversight of the project. Cost of insurance borne by FUMC will be no more than $750/year (PG&E, water and insurance should be less than $100/month). Catholic Charity will be responsible for toilets, etc. FUMC has applied for grant money for cooking platforms.

There was a neighborhood meeting for neighbors of the Wright school district on Wednesday, November 9. Fliers of meeting were distributed the prior weekend to about 70 homes and 100+ apartments, as well as to RL Stevens school. Eleven neighbors attended.

However, before action could be taken on the proposal, Emily Rainsford introduced guests Herb and Linda Dickerson who are neighbors next to the Stony Point campus. They expressed grave concerns about the proposed “homeless encampment” that was recently disclosed to them in a letter signed by John DeGroot. Very upset that they did not receive a notice from FUMC disclosing this project. If he had received advanced notice of a neighborhood meeting, he would have spoken with Santa Rosa City Council as well as his neighbors prior to such a meeting.

Main concern is “we wouldn’t have bought the property if we had known there’d be a homeless encampment.” They are very concerned about decrease in property values, having to disclose this project to potential buyers and having to deal with noise of the building of the shelters. The couple wants a clear understanding of how/where this project will take place. They believe church council is moving too fast on approving this issue.

 HMTF members apologized the Dickersons for not receiving notice of the November 9th meeting. Mike Ferrel stated we could not reach out to neighbors sooner because we first needed permission from C.H.A.P. He also stated this proposed project has been in process for over six months, with FUMC members doing due diligence in notifying and meeting with school staff and neighbors. The Church Council disagreed with the Dickersons that this is a rushed project and that FUMC has worked with Catholic Charities for many years on various issues. Council stressed that this is not a homeless camp and that we support a clean and sober community. Clients have to apply through Catholic Charities and pass screening requirements prior to acceptance. Clients will be allowed to reside up to six months, while actively looking for permanent housing. There will be site supervision initially.

Some attendees at council meeting agreed there is a segment of our congregation that are not in agreement with the placement of the housing project and with process involved.

It was suggested that we have additional meetings with the (Stony Point) community and school board.  Also, allow the congregation, not just the church council, to have a voice about this project. There needs to be a process / structure in place for people to express themselves freely.

It was mentioned that Stony Point land is not yet paid for and that the original vision of the campus was to “grow into the neighborhood”; believes we are losing our goal. Yet, the project applies to unused property; 20 transitional shelters maximum.

Several attendees stressed that FUMC act boldly and move forward. Even the principal at RL Stevens asked how they could teach students to not have fear about the face of homelessness. Some members of the council were originally skeptical about the project but have since gotten their concerns addressed and have changed their minds to support the project.

Some though question whether we have heard from everyone who is opposed to the project and question whether neighborhood outreach was timely and adequate.

Therefore, council was not able reach consensus to move forward until these issues are addressed and resolved.

It was questioned why City of Santa Rosa can’t use its own properties for such a project. City and County are looking into this, but they have to make sure property is ADA compliant, has legal access to water and utilities and doesn’t overlap other government departments.

It was stated that positive suggestions are needed to address homelessness. In fact, this will be addressed at Tuesday night service (November 15) in which four former homeless people will present their stories.

Mere Ponjiasi requested that we take this matter to God in prayer. Don’t rush into a decision but, rather, pray.

Greg Roth summarized that there are three things that need to occur in order to move forward:

1) Provide an opportunity for congregants opposed to the project to express themselves

2) Decide how the decision will be made

3) Have another meeting for community input


Pastor Blake closed in prayer. Meeting adjourned at 12:47pm.


Respectfully submitted,

Anne Sekara


Next Church Council Meeting Saturday, January 14, 2017.


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Sat, 11/12/2016 - 09:00