The Minnesota Conference Board of Directors met on Saturday, August 9th at the former site of Pilgrims United Church of Christ in Maple Grove. We started with a tour of the Pilgrims UCC building and property to see how it is being used (by a Montessori school) since the congregation suspended operations in early 2014. The bulk of the morning was spent in discussion and discernment with Sandy Lindahl from Ackley Consulting Group to further develop a Case for Support and a possible capital campaign for the Conference’s ministries. Leadership development and congregational vitality are potential top priorities if the Conference proceeds in this direction, in addition to continued investment at Pilgrim Point Camp. The Case for Support will be further shaped at the Conference leadership retreat in September.
Shari Prestemon reported on upcoming events hosted by the Conference, and the successful results of several New Initiatives grants. She’s working with the Development Committee to ensure that all our fundraising efforts are coordinated, and is interviewing candidates to fill a vacant part-time Development staff position. The Board returned to an ongoing conversation with Rev. Prestemon on the “highest and best” use of her time as Conference Minister. We encouraged her to continue conversations with committees on ways that she can aid their work without attending as many meetings. This will free up her schedule for executive priorities such as vision-casting, relationship-building, staff coaching and financial development.
Our afternoon session began with updates from our Treasurer and committee liaisons, then turned to the question of the Pilgrims UCC building. A unique arrangement at the time of the church’s founding means that the property returned to the Conference’s care when the congregation suspended operations. A short-term arrangement has the Conference paying the building’s outstanding mortgage and its staff acting as landlord to the Montessori school tenant, while Wayzata Community Church is providing property management when maintenance needs arise. After discussion of various alternatives, the Board directed Rev. Prestemon to oversee sale of the property, with the proceeds set aside for “strategic and visionary” future efforts. We are deeply grateful for the ministry of Pilgrims UCC members, and intend their legacy to continue through this fund’s development of other vital ministries. Before adjourning, the Board charged a task force to look at modifying the Annual Meeting resolution process to allow greater clarity and feedback for delegates, with recommendations to come back to the Board at a meeting later this year.’
…from Rev. Oby Ballinger, Member At-Large, pastor of Community UCC, St. Paul Park