President’s Perspective: Looking Ahead

By Todd Iveson, 2017-18 President

Writing this, my first newsletter article as your new President, proved harder than I expected. I couldn’t decide whether I was speaking in my capacity as President or for myself. In the end, this one was easy. Because the board as currently constituted (we have three new members) has not yet met, at least for this month I will focus on a couple of things I want to do this year.

Perhaps my highest priority is to get our facilities visioning process back on track. After an auspicious beginning in February, the congregation and the board were almost immediately swept up in the consideration of becoming a sanctuary congregation. That was an important decision that required thoughtful, deliberate, and immediate consideration. I was pleased with the courage of our congregation in deciding to offer sanctuary and with the work of the Sanctuary Task Force to make the process work.

But by the time the sanctuary decision was reached, we were heading into the end of the year rush to get everything done. The facilities visioning momentum was lost. It is important to me that we get it back. The facilities decisions we will make also require thoughtful and deliberate consideration with engagement from the entire congregation. It does not have the immediacy of the sanctuary decision, but it does require that we make steady progress to a decision point. I commit to you that I will do everything I can to ensure that it does.

The second area of focus I have for this year is to do an evaluation of our transition over the last five years or so to a policy governance model. This board is the first board that will not have any members who were involved in the good work of that transition. I think this gives us a great opportunity to look with fresh eyes at what has worked and where we might make changes to make it work better.

For those of you who may not have been as focused on this transition, policy governance, to quote our church website, “assigns a policy-making and resource-providing role to the board and designates the minister as ‘chief of staff’ – that is, supervisor of staff members and volunteers.”

I first served on the board of this church about 15 years ago, and I can say unequivocally that this is a huge improvement. Back then, we spent many hours deciding such mundane issues as whether to re-asphalt on the parking lot, the proper design of the memorial garden, and which organizations could use the church for free.

Though mundane, these are important decisions, and they are much better made by our committees, teams and staff closest to the issue. After more than 20 years in leadership positions in my day job, I have learned that an organization works best when the people closest to a need are authorized to address it. The board must clearly articulate the organizational goals to guide those decisions, provide support when it is requested, and provide sufficient oversight to ensure that guidance is consistently followed. Then get out of the way.

In closing, please know that the board is always available to listen to your praise or criticism, your plans and dreams for the church, or just to answer questions. We are the board of the congregation, and we serve all of you. Please let us know what’s on your mind.