“Let's keep the wind singing in both ears, and pray for the courage to interpret and act upon what it brings to us.”

-Angus H. MacLean

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A successful Congregational meeting was held on June 14, 2009. Several Members were given awards for outstanding service to PUUF, several past presidents who were present were recognized as part of our 50th Anniversary celebration, the status of the strategic plan was reviewed, a new budget was explained, discussed and adopted, and more.

Minutes of the Congregational Meeting Palomar Unitarian Universalist Fellowship June 14, 2009

Welcome – President Brad Wiscons welcomed the members and guests.

Chalice Lighting – Rev. Dr. Beth Johnson read the opening words.

Call to Order – The meeting was called to order at 12:12 p.m.

Appoint Parliamentarian - Katia Hansen is appointed as parliamentarian.

Agenda Review – The agenda was reviewed.        

Confirm Quorum – Secretary Patricia Gamza reported sixty-eight voting members signed in prior to the meeting, personally and through proxy.  Four non-voting members and several guests were also in attendance.  During the meeting, three additional voting members entered the meeting.

Approval of Minutes of 2009 Congregational Meeting - Michael Mufson moved, Daniel Stracka seconded that the Minutes of the June, 2008, Congregational Meeting be approved as submitted.  The minutes were approved unanimously.

State of the FellowshipPresident Brad Wiscons – The state of the fellowship is strong, robust and growing, because of the hard work of the members. 

Leadership – We are blessed with great leadership.  Our leaders are leading by example.  It would be wise to invest in leadership development for the future.

Stewardship - Last year we approved a deficit budget.  The board spent way too much time trying to deal financially with the deficit budget.  We know that C-Cat cut their budgets.  The budget we are going to present is not a deficit budget.  But the pledge does not support the operations.  We also have to fund raise, rent space and create other fundraising resources.

Transparency –  The board has made great efforts to be more transparent.  We had extra congregational meetings, the website has more information, the Telescope is a great tool.  Thanks to Chris Miller and to Michael Mufson and members of the communication team. 

Growth -  There are many new faces at our fellowship.  We have more diversity.  We are growing.  The Growth Team is in action and thank all members of the congregation for being ministers of growth.

Thank the Board – The Board has worked extraordinarily hard this year.

Election of Officers – President-Elect Dick Eiden presented the slate and the rules for election.

President Elect – Tamara Lowell

  • Written Ballot – 71
  • Michael Mufson - 1

Secretary – Al Cox

  • Written Ballot – 70
  • Michael Mufson – 1
  • Blank Ballot - 1

Treasurer  - Brad Dre

  • Written Ballot –  71
  • Michael Mufson - 1

Phase I Status/Next StepsImmediate Past-President Daniel Stracka

Our campus has been transformed.  Don’t you just love it!! ??  It seems like such a long journey….and in our 50th year we have taken yet another bold leap forward, not unlike our founders.  The Building Committee, Chair Bob Kintz, and members Burton Johnson, Dee Bradshaw, Pat McLaughlin, Bob Miller, George DeNeef, Lisa Wellens, and Rev. Beth are owed a great debt of gratitude.  I have served off and on as my responsibility as President shifted, but the other members have carried the load.  And Patricia Gamza, as project manager, has done more than any volunteer should be asked to do.  She has done a superb job of articulating tough questions and helping the Board make informed decisions.

  • So here we are, very near completion of Phase I with the pad for the foundation of a new worship center.
  • Infrastructure has been installed to conform to utility requirements.
  • Parking has been updated.
  • City of Vista codes have been met.
  • Our current building is accessible and more user friendly.

We have overcome some serious challenges along the way.  Anyone who has undertaken a home improvement project can appreciate unforeseen problems and cost overruns.  Fortunately we budgeted for contingency.  Yet we continue to be challenged by the cost of soil remediation which was discovered only after the east parking lot was torn up.  It added over $100,000 to the cost of the project with the potential of adding $37 to $47, 000 over contingency.  But we do not have final figures. 

The Board has met with our consultant, Southern Cross Property, and authorized them to aggressively negotiate with the contractors.  We will continue to pursue all avenues to reduce costs as appropriate.  We are still able to meet our obligations with current funds, but we are not willing to cover any contractor’s error without pursuing all options available.

Our next steps for Phase II is to do financial planning and serious fundraising, including a capital campaign in 2011.  We have over $100,000 invested in our architectural plans, but green standards change monthly.  Adjustments will need to be made.

Palomar UU Fellowship has exercised prudent stewardship.  We have moved toward our vision without jeopardizing our ability to remain solvent and whole.  We have a magnificent property with the foundation for a new building to meet our growing needs.  We are building the beloved community.

Questions from the floor

  1. What is Phase II?
  2. Completing the Sanctuary
  3. Is there a Phase III?
  4. Only if we have to break up planned Phase II into more steps
  5. How much is left?
  6. We won’t know until the end of the project, but we have spent substantially all that we had in the capital fund and the grant received.

Recognitions –
Recognition of Past-Presidents – The following Past-Presidents of Palomar Unitarian Universalist Fellowship stood for acknowledgment from the congregation:

  • Eileen Mauer
  • Don Budd
  • Betty Guerrero
  • Pat McLaughlin
  • Bob Kintz

The Art Hulbert Sustainability Award was presented to Karen Holmgren, in absentia, for her outstanding leadership of the green team and bringing sustainability to the congregation.

The Special Award was presented to Burton Johnson for his Leadership in our fellowship, in the cluster, and in the UUA.  He has been instrumental in securing grants for our renovations and for the Phase I project.

The Board Award was presented to Eileen Maurer for her continuing service to Palomar Fellowship and the wider Unitarian-Universalist community.

The Unsung Hero Award was presented to Deanna Pierson, although she has been sung, very well, recently, for her continuing contributions and efforts without ever looking for acknowledgment.

The Dwight Smith New Member Award for a new member was presented to Ellyn Lester.  Dwight Smith was very instrumental in recognizing people who were new members and new to UU.  Ellyn has jumped into congregation life, serving on the Communications Committee, Growth Team and many other activities.

The President’s Award was presented to Patricia Gamza  for her work as project manager on Phase II and standing firm on tough issues. 

The outgoing Board Members, Patricia Gamza and Daniel Stracka were recognized for their service. 

Announcement of Elected Officers – The entire slate of officers were duly elected.   

Election of 2009 – 2010 Nominating Committee - The slate was presented by Dick Eiden:

  • Bob Kintz
  • Ann Kay
  • Nicole Fish
  • Misty Kirkman-Brogan
  • Mike Thomas
  • Gloria Millikin
  • George DeNeef

A member questioned the use of naming the alternates, rather than having the members elected to the nominating committee with the least votes serve as alternates. The President called up the parliamentarian.  The By-Laws are silent as to whether the alternates shall be named in the election process.  Al Cox was part of the committee that made the change to the by-laws, made it purposefully ambiguous about how the election should be held.  As a point of clarification – the alternates signed on to be alternates.

The question was called and the ballots distributed.

Strategic Plan Review - Daniel Stracka

The current Strategic Plan was approved by the congregation at its annual meeting in June, 2008.  A review of the progress made in each of the 18 sections identified in the plan reveals the following achievements:

Lifespan Faith Development:

  • Coming of Age Program was successful.
  • Minister and DRE coordinated children and youth religious education with Sunday service topics.
  • DRE continued communication with other DREs across the San Diego cluster to explore joint programs.
  • Adult Education offerings were well attended.

Sunday Services:

  • A congregation-wide brainstorming was held to set broad themes that were refined and focused on specific, cohesive and related topics.
  • Audio-Visual technology was utilized. 
  • Sunday Services were made available on the website.

Campus Facilities:

  • Phase I of the building project is near completion.
  • A Spirit Level Foundation challenge grant of $200,000 was received.


  • C-CAT has matured in understanding its role and responsibilities.
  • Strategic Planning continued to assess progress towards the plan.


  • A functioning Communications Committee was formed and meets regularly.
  • The Fellowship’s presence in the press has been improved.
  • The website was updated, refreshed and provided enhanced features.

Green Sanctuary:

  • In January, 2009, the congregation voted to endorse and support a Green Sanctuary certification.
  • Green Team conducted a worship service to raise awareness of sustaninability.


  •    Music continued to provide superb presentations.
  •    Fundraising through special events continued.


  •    Policy updates are a work in progress.
  •    Discussion of a process for evaluating the progress of the congregation towards our vision, mission, and strategic plan continued.

Social Action/Justice:

  • While a coordinated social justice work program was not achieved, the Fellowship continued to have a presence in the community through its Social Concerns Brunch with proceeds to various charities, with Covenant Circles volunteering for numerous non-profit agencies, with UURISE providing a legal immigration clinic, with Shelter Helpers, and on-going support of the Interfaith Food Bank, and with our Minister active in a wide range of interfaith and social justice activities from Marriage Equality to Peace.

Small Group Ministry:

  • Small Group Ministry is thriving at the Fellowship.
  • Electronic communication has been utilized to share the myriad of opportunities for connection at Palomar UU Fellowship.


  • Peace Team continues to coordinate peace actions.


  • Exploration of new fundraising methods is underway.
  • Understanding stewardship as a religious gesture is just beginning to take seed and the Board has done considerable research.


  • C-CAT has adopted a mission statement.
  • Meetings are held more frequently.
  • Through C-CAT, committees have participated actively in the development of the annual budget.

Staff Development:

  • Fair share has been maintained this last year, but is in jeopardy for next year due to budgetary concerns.


  • The Board appointed a Growth Team.
  • Growth Team adopted a mission statement.
  • A growth plan has been developed and will be presented at the 2009 annual meeting.

Leadership Development:

  • The Board reconsidered the viability of a Leadership Development Committee and re-directed resources to the Growth Team at least temporarily.


  • Hospitality has made the use of the kitchen more user friendly with posted directions.

Strategic Planning:

  • By June, 2010, the Strategic Planning Committee will provide an updated plan for congregational consideration at the annual meeting.
  • This report provides a summary of achievements made.
  • Individual committees/teams were charged with creating and taking steps for implementing the plan and need to be reminded to consult the plan with the 2 and 5 year benchmarks.
  • Each committee/team needs to play an active role as the Strategic Planning Committee develops the updated plan.

Brad Wiscons, as Past President, will chair the Strategic Planning Committee for 2009-2010.  The Board will appoint a new committee.  It has been a pleasure and an honor to work on the Strategic Planning.  I thank all of the members of the Strategic Planning Committee and all of you in this Fellowship who have contributed to the planning process.  We are living our vision and doing what we are each called to do.

We have recently added a place on the website to post the committee minutes.

Election of Committee on Ministry –
Dick Eiden facilitiated the election of the Committee on Ministry position. Daniel Stracka is nominated by the nominating committee.

What does the Committee on Minsitry do?

From the By-laws – It does the survey and evaluation and does the recommendation for the minister’s compensation.  Listening to the totality of the congregation and making sure we are moving in the right direction.  It was originally a place to assess the minister and bring conflicts with/about the minister. Daniel Stracka is elected as a member of the committee on ministry.

ENERGY BREAK                                                                           
Announcement of Elected Nominating Committee and Committee on Ministry - Each nominated member and alternate is elected to the Nominating Committee

Daniel Stracka is elected as a member of the Committee on Ministry.

Finance Report –  Dick Eiden presented the budget projections and plans. 

This congregation has repeatedly expressed a desire to grow, and to realize our potential to be a beacon for liberal religion and social justice in North County, while retaining the intimate and friendly feeling of a place where - as they famously said on Cheers - “everybody knows your name”. Under the leadership of Rev Beth we’ve formed covenant groups and other small group ministries. At the same time we professionalized our RE and music programs, and have started seeing the kind of growth we’ve been working toward.

Our professional staff is paid very modestly, and, with the exception of Rev Beth, they are paid for very few hours each month. However, each and every one of them works many more hours than we pay them for. Together, they have made a big difference.

As reported in the June Telescope, pledges and other income are about $32k short of our bare-bones expenses. Your executive board has had two extra marathon meetings in the past six weeks to figure out how to deal with this shortfall for the next fiscal year, and to figure out how to make sure these deficits don’t continue in the future. We’ve come up with a plan for next year which we hope you will agree with, embrace, and help us carry out. We discussed this plan in great depth with those present at this month’s meeting of the Council of Committees Activities and Teams, and the fifteen congregational leaders who were present seemed to be in agreement.

As you know, last year, with hope and goodwill, this congregation approved a deficit budget of $28,000 which contained no definite plan to bridge that deficit.  Through your generosity, special gifts, and depleting precious reserves, we appear to have met all our obligations.  However, the stress and frustration of struggling with a large deficit led the board to resolve to bring a balanced and sustainable budget to the congregation for the next fiscal year which starts on July 1.

First, the board created a prudent budget with adequate financial resources to fulfill and support the mission of the fellowship.  Our budget includes expenses to maintain our facilities, pay our professional staff, and support our volunteer programs and special ministries.  The expenses for this budget total approximately $202,000.00.

After analyzing your pledges and our other historical sources of income, we now project income of approximately of $166,000, leaving a gap of $36,000.00.

In order to bring the congregation a balanced budget, the board has used all possible strategies:

  1. We have projected a successful effort to increase our income through fundraising, rentals and gifts by $14,000;
  2. We have increased spending reserves to $11,000 in order to seed specific staff positions; and
  3. We have made strategic cuts in expenses totaling $11,000.00.

Increased fundraising:

Accepting this budget requires shared sacrifice, but most of all, shared commitment to fulfill our fundraising projections.  A fundraising team will go to work immediately to create fundraising projects. We hope some of you will volunteer for this committee today and in the coming weeks. We anticipate a greatly expanded auction with dinners and other community-building events held throughout the year.  We may be having movie nights or other social events at the fellowship for fundraising. Plan now to spend more of your family’s entertainment budget at Palomar.  There will be lots happening.

We need a team to promote and manage rentals for parties, weddings and other events.  We need your creative ideas, energy, skills and dogged persistence to keep working until our fundraising goal is achieved.  How can you help? 
[Outline any kind of sign-ups, etc.]

Use of Reserves:

In 2005,  beloved member Linda Vonhomme died of ovarian cancer at age 51, and left a substantial legacy to our fellowship.  Although she did not restrict its use, this fund has been used to seed our DRE and Music staff positions.  In tough economic times, we are committed to stretching these funds so they can support these important positions until our growth in membership and income fully cover these salaries.  UU experience confirms that robust RE and Music programs are essential to growth and community vibrancy, as we have seen so dramatically here at PUUF.

This year’s budget increases Vonhomme Fund expenditures from $8,000 to $11,000.  At year’s end, it will have a balance of approximately $36,000.00.

Strategic Cuts:

Of course we are reluctant to make cuts, as each harms some vital service or activity.  Nevertheless, reality dictates that cuts be made.

Rev. Beth has generously volunteered to cut her professional expense reimbursement by $2,000.

The board has cut all board expenses, all GA delegate reimbursement, and ½ of leadership development totaling $2,400.

We have decreased our fair share contributions requested by UUA and PSWD to 90%, a savings of approximately $1,500.00.

We have eliminated professional cleaning of our facilities for a savings of $2,000.

We have asked C-CAT to come up with a plan among the committees to utilize the committee saving reserves and/or make strategic cuts of $3,100 among the committee budgets.  [Fill in after Tuesday].

Of course, we may get a great new tenant and fortune may smile on us.  If our income exceeds our projections, the board is committed first to reinstate the items cut; and second to preserve our Vonhomme Fund reserve.

We also know that sometimes stuff breaks, bills go up, fundraisers fizzle, and jobs are lost so that members cannot meet their pledges.  What then?  The board will be constantly reviewing our financial position, and especially after the annual auction.  By then we hopefully will have had several fundraisers, including our major fundraiser, other events will be  planned or ongoing, we will have started marketing our shiny new facilities, and we can evaluate our growth curve.  If we are not meeting the income projections, the board has agreed in principle to spend up to an additional $4,000 of the reserve to protect the DRE and Music staff.  Beyond that, immediate cuts will be made, and unfortunately, they will be painful cuts because there’s no fat in the budget.

The board has worked diligently to balance our responsibility to provide for the needs of a thriving community while deeply respecting the congregation’s ability and willingness to support it.   We’ve struggled to balance vision with prudence.  We’ve had to grapple with competing values, pitch in, and seek new, creative solutions.  We need each member of our congregation to join in this  process of stewardship with us.

Finance Director/Treasurer Brad Dre presented the 2009-2010 operating budget for approval.   It was moved and seconded that the budget be approved.  The 2009-2010 budget was approved. 
President Brad Wiscons emphasized that the board will be monitoring the fundraising efforts.  If we do not meet our goals for the annual auction and contributions, cuts will be made to balance the budget mid-year, and there is no other place to make the cuts except staff. 

Other Business –
There being no further business, the chalice was extinguished and the meeting adjourned at 2:43 p.m.        

Respectfully submitted,

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