Board Matters

board matters

October 6, 2017

Summary of the September 26th Board Meeting

What was on the agenda for October?

An update on the Readiness Phase initiated by the Capital Asset Planning Committee earlier this month.A discussion on a Covenant of Right Relations.Auction Contribution.

Update on the Readiness Phase

The Readiness Phase focus groups are our opportunity to envision, together, the potential future of our facilities and support for our mission. The Board enthusiastically encourages our congregation to attend a Readiness Phase focus group so that the Capital Asset Planning Committee (CAPC) has the best possible information in anticipation of next-steps.

Wayne Spaulding, the consultant guiding us through this process, reported that as of September 26, 9 focus groups had been held with 12 more planned. Focus groups meet at the church and in off-site locations to accommodate a wider range of members and friends. An online group will reach parents of young children and others who find this option convenient. About 100 people have attended so far, with some attending more than one session.

Covenant of Right Relations

The Board has endorsed a Covenant of Right Relations and will present it for the congregation’s endorsement at the special congregational meeting on October 29th. The proposed covenant may be found HERE. At this meeting, we discussed the Covenant, its purpose, and its implementation to bring new Board members up to speed and to make sure the Board is ready to act once it is endorsed. After the congregation approves the Covenant, the Board would appoint a Right Relations Team to work with the Covenant and the Congregation as needed. The goal is to have the Covenant and the team in place by the end of the year.


Building on the success of last year’s event, the Board unanimously agreed to host a Family Game Night as our contribution to the November 4 church auction. Date to be determined. Bring it on!

As always, the Board welcomes hearing from the congregation. Talk to one of us after a service. We're easy to spot; we wear blue name tags. Send an email to, or drop a note in our mailbox in the office reception area.

September 15, 2017

Summary of the September 6, 2017 Board of Trustees Meeting

The Capital Assets Planning Committee (CAPC) called on the Board to hear the most recent progress in their charge to undertake a feasibility study for a capital campaign. Next steps are in the works and the excitement builds.

The CAPC reported on the significant potential that they see for Cedar Lane based on conversations with members of the congregation and numerous meetings with other organizations, our architects, and our capital campaign consultants. In our discussions, the Board and CAPC considered how a capital campaign supports the congregation’s goals as stated in our Vision 2020 Report.

The connections were clear, and the Board unanimously approved the CAPC recommendation to move to the “Readiness Phase” to more deeply understand where the congregation and our friends stand in visioning the future of our facilities, our commitment to social justice and visionary programing, and the costs associated with an inspiring future for Cedar Lane.

Earlier in the year, acting upon the recommendation of the CAPC, the Board unanimously agreed to engage James D. Klote & Associates to assist with the feasibility study. In the next few weeks, the Board radically encourages members and friends to participate in member-led focus groups supported by Klote & Associates. The focus groups are our opportunity to envision, challenge, celebrate, and participate in the continued story of Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church.

As always, the Board welcomes hearing from the congregation. Talk to one of us after a service. We're easy to spot; we wear blue name tags. Send an email to , or drop a note in our mailbox in the office reception area.

August 15, 2017

With thanks to the Endowment Committee and the Social Justice Committee for their enduring energies to raise both funds and our consciousness, the Board agreed unanimously to amend the Board policy to state that Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) and Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) will be considered when investing endowment funds.

A final review for the fiscal year 2017 was presented. The good news is that Cedar Lane made progress on reducing our deficit! There is more work to be done, though. The staff and Board remain positive that this forward motion will continue in the coming year.

The Board reviewed and approved the membership of the 2017-18 Board Standing Committees: Development/Fundraising Committee, Endowment Committee, Financial Policy, Governance, Human Resources, and Mosaic Makers. Thank you all for volunteering and for all the good work you do.

Curious about the Standing Committees?
Our standing committees are always interested in bringing in new talent and participating in their work can be a great way to learn more about Cedar Lane and how it works. If you are interested in learning more about any of the committees, please let us know by:

  • Talking to a Board member after a service. We're easy to spot; we wear blue name tags.
  • Talking to a committee chair. They’re listed on the Board of Trustees webpage.
  • Drop a note in our mailbox in the office reception area.
  • Email us at

Looking Ahead

  • September 26, 7:30 to 9:30 pm: Board Meeting
  • October 29, 12:45 to 2:15 pm: Special Congregational Meeting

August 4, 2017

Recap of the July 25th Board Meeting

The new Board of Trustees for 2017-18 held their first meeting Tuesday, July 25. Members of the Endowment Committee and the Director of Lifespan Religious Education (DLRE) search team joined the meeting.

The Board considered a change to the language in the church’s Investment Policy after feedback from the Environmental Justice (EJC) and Endowment Committees (EC). The discussion was inconclusive; the Board agreed to revisit this subject during the August meeting.

The Board voted unanimously and with joy to approve the selection of Tim Atkins as Cedar Lane’s Director of Lifespan Religious Education. The DLRE search team was commended on a job well done!

Revisions to the Disruptive Behavior Procedures were presented, reaffirmed, and passed unanimously.

During its retreat earlier this year, the Board committed to revisiting the Cedar Lane Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan is a new vehicle created by the Board to capture outcomes and measures for the four Strategic Directions outlined in the Vision 2020 Report and Recommendations. The Board will discuss one section of the plan at each meeting throughout the year to create outcomes and measures that support the Strategic Directions.

The next Board meeting will be held on the regular schedule, the third Tuesday of the month, Tuesday, August 15.

July 21, 2017

June 27th marked the last Board meeting of the fiscal year with a bevy of activity, including approval of a revised Board Covenant and new Disruptive Persons Procedures; review of a new Conflict of Interest Policy; reports from the Human Resources Committee, the Capital Assets Planning Committee, and the Congregational Growth Task Force; and recognition of outgoing Board members Melissa Reichley, Gwen Warman, Jack Welch, and Board President Dave Hawver.

New Board members in attendance included Rebecca Nachtrieb, Peggy Jackson, Suzanne Pineau, and Raj Rajendran. Their terms began on July 1.

The Board recently endorsed a proposed Congregational Covenant of Right Relations and will be presenting it for approval at a special congregational meeting tentatively scheduled for October 2017. The Board believes that the Covenant will help us be welcoming, safe, and inclusive for our members, visitors and guests by providing a shared commitment to interact with each other with trust, acceptance, and caring.

Also at the upcoming special congregational meeting in October, the Board plans to ask the congregation to endorse conduct of a capital campaign in support of our Vision 2020 Strategic Direction to “Transform our Spaces to Better Nurture Community.” To this end, the Board’s Capital Assets Planning Committee has been (and will be) hard at work this summer preparing for a capital campaign feasibility study and working with Ritter Norton Architects to develop concepts to better use our spaces.

Topics to be covered at the July 25th Board meeting will include

  • voting on changes to investment policies as they relate to fossil fuels as proposed by the Environmental Justice Ministry Team and reviewed by the Endowment Committee,
  • voting on changes to the disruptive behavior policy,
  • discussion of the Strategic Directions and their implementation, and
  • a close-out and review of budget year 2017.

Board meetings are normally held the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. (The July 2017 meeting will be held on July 25th at 7:30 pm) and are open to all Cedar Lane members. To request time on the agenda or learn more about a current topic of Board discussion, email Board President Jim Anderson at or leave him a note in the church office.

June 2, 2017

More than 140 Cedar Lane members attended the Annual Meeting on Sunday, May 21. Members voted to approve new Board and Nominating Committee members, to ratify the Board’s recommended FY2018 budget, to adopt our revised Bylaws, and to become a Sanctuary Church. In addition, Reverends Abhi and Michelle paused to recognize members who died since last year in an In Memoriam slideshow, and Board Chair Dave Hawver and Chair-elect Jim Anderson offered remarks as to Cedar Lane’s present and future.

Congratulations to our new Board members: Assistant Treasurer Ellen Kelley, Assistant Secretary Rebecca Nachtrieb, and Members at Large Peggy Jackson, Suzanne Pineau and Raj Rajendran – and to our new Nominating Committee members: Mary Farrar, Lyn Peters, and Gwen Warman. Each of these dedicated volunteer leaders will begin their terms on July 1.

Bylaws Task Force members Bonnie Beavers, Dian Belanger, Brent Garland, and Ellen Kelley led the discussion about their year-long efforts to update our church bylaws. The congregation voted to repeal Cedar Lane’s old bylaws and to replace them with the new bylaws as revised and dated May 1, 2017.

Current Board Treasurer Jack Welch reviewed the 2016-17 budget, as it was approved at last year’s annual meeting and as it currently stands (ending on June 30). The good news: income is coming in slightly above last year’s projections, expenses are coming in below last year’s projections, and the deficit is also lower than projected. Welch then outlined the 2017-18 budget, which begins on July 1, and which holds expenses at a $1.3 million cap previously established as part of the Board’s multiyear deficit reduction plan. Targeted expense reductions for the new fiscal year include eliminating the Social Justice Coordinator position and more tightly focusing programming to reflect our Vision/Mission. The new budget still allows for cost-of-living increases of at least 1% for all staff members and for new initiatives.

Dianne Seiffert and Ron Outen of the Immigrant Justice Ministry Team introduced a Sanctuary Resolution for approval by the congregation. Following questions and vibrant discussion about the risks and responsibilities of our offering physical sanctuary to immigrants, the congregation voted by secret ballot. The motion was passed with 141 ayes, 5 nays, and 1 abstention.

Outgoing Board Chair Dave Hawver highlighted some of the Board’s work toward advancing the Strategic Directions to reach out and engage persons along the entire spectrum of faithful relationships, focus our social justice work to increase its impact, and transform our spaces to better nurture community.

Board Chair-elect Jim Anderson introduced plans for the year ahead, including more discernment about institutional racism and white privilege (a discussion sparked by recent UUA hiring decisions), continued planning for a capital campaign to transform our spaces, and implementing a monitoring system to better assess our progress in meeting the goals of our strategic directions.

Hawver closed the meeting with a heartfelt thank you to Michelle Collins for her two years of serving Cedar Lane – and best wishes for a successful new endeavor as minister of the Unitarian Universalists of Southern Delaware.

For a more detailed summary of the Annual Meeting, read the Draft Minutes.

All of the topics voted on at the Annual Meeting were discussed at the Board’s May 16 meeting, during which time the Board also voted on the 2017 Unsung Heroes awardees (to be announced at the June 18 service); to support a one-year partnership arrangement with Davies Memorial UU in Camp Springs, MD (see Partnership Agreement and Covenant); and to approve the hiring of Catherine (Katie) Romano Griffin as our new Assistant Minister. She will begin at Cedar Lane on August 1, 2017.

The next Board meeting will be held on June 27 at 7:30 p.m. in Rooms 1-2.

May 12, 2017

Mark your calendar for these important dates:

  1. Sunday, May 14 between services in the chapel and Saturday, May 20, 3-4 p.m. in the library - Learn more about Cedar Lane’s proposed budget for the next church year (which begins July 1). The Board voted in a special meeting on May 9 to recommend that the budget proposed by the staff be adopted by the congregation at the upcoming Annual Meeting.

  2. Sunday, May 21 - Come to the Annual Meeting and vote on Cedar Lane’s FY2018 budget, revised Bylaws, new Board and Nominating Committee members, and on whether Cedar Lane should become a Sanctuary church.

More than 50 Cedar Laners attended the Congregational Conversation about Bylaws and what it would mean to become a Sanctuary church on April 30, led by Board Chair Dave Hawver and Rev. Abhi.

  • The conversation on Bylaws was led by Dian Belanger, with additional input from Brent Garland, Bonnie Beavers, and Ellen Kelley. Belanger explained that: The task force’s goals were to ensure that the new and improved bylaws were clear, as free of legalese as possible, written flexibly enough to allow for growth, accurate in describing who we are and want to do, logically organized, reflecting Cedar Lane’s history and values, internally consistent on interrelated items, and consistent with our goals in following Governance by Policy.
  • In reviewing, revising, and creating new bylaws, the task force referred to and drew from Bylaws guidelines from the UUA, Maryland, other UU churches, and Dan Hotchkiss’s book on Governance and Ministry.
  • Three new bylaws were added, on Cedar Lane’s Purpose, Officers, and Finance.

Some of the questions and answers from the discussion were as follows:

Q. Was there any discussion about changing Cedar Lane’s name?

A. (Dave Hawver) The Board heard enough strong opinions for and against the idea of changing “church” to “congregation” or another word in response to our recent survey that we feel it is important to have a public conversation about our church’s name this fall as we begin the process of updating of our Articles of Incorporation.

Q. In Article 9, Section 4, why isn’t pastoral care included among the ministry teams listed?

A. (Ellen Kelley) This section says, “the church shall maintain ministry teams in support of lifespan RE, social justice, and diversity and inclusiveness, and any others that carry out in the work of the church.” We tried to keep the bylaws “lean and mean,” and to avoid making lists, knowing that doing so inevitably runs the risk of leaving out one or more groups.

A. (Abhi) Most churches have four core ministries: worship, pastoral care, social justice, and religious education. If including pastoral care is something Cedar Lane members feel strongly about including in the Bylaws, worship should also be included.

The Proposed New Bylaws (which now include worship and pastoral care in that section) will be presented for an up or down vote at our May 21 Annual Meeting—no amendments will be accepted. The Proposed New Bylaws, current Bylaws, and a Bylaws Q&A are available on the Board webpage: If you have questions or comments, contact any of the Bylaws task force members, linked above, or attend the final Bylaws Cottage Meeting on Tuesday, May 17 at 7-8 p.m. in the library.

Before the Sanctuary discussion began, Rev. Abhi reminded Cedar Laners that undocumented immigrants are our neighbors and that while a person’s actions may be illegal, no human being is illegal. Abhi explained that becoming a sanctuary church is a moral issue. “Sanctuary is an emergency moral action because our leaders have failed to act... There are immigrants in our country who have been waiting for decades (to become citizens) and stalled ... and these families have continued to suffer. We believe this is something we must do as a moral imperative.”

Ron Outen prefaced his comments on Cedar Lane becoming a physical Sanctuary church by noting that many frequently asked questions are already answered in a Sanctuary Q&A handout, also available at the Sanctuary table in the Lounge on Sundays.

Here are some of the basics of what the Sanctuary team thinks Cedar Lane’s involvement might entail:

  • For a relatively short period of time, Cedar Lane would house an individual, and possibly some of his or her family members, while they waited for a hearing or other legal activities. “We would advocate for them in their causes. It would be a very visible task, no hiding,” said Outen.
  • Cedar Lane Sanctuary volunteers will be trained in immigrant rights, how to accompany someone to court and other legal appointments, bystander training, and more.
  • It would NOT mean obstructing authorities, building barriers, etc. The suggested model is that we witness, record, and document, but do not commit civil disobedience.
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are prohibited from entering sensitive locations, which include churches, hospitals, and schools. Most warrants are administrative, and not issued by judges.
  • We are not in this alone. In Montgomery County, at least 20 churches are actively considering or already involved in being sanctuary churches. In the tri-state DMV area, at least 60 congregations are involved. Other congregations are committed to assist in carrying out this moral commitment if backlash from the federal government should occur.
  • The estimated cost of being a Sanctuary church is included in the Board’s proposed budget for FY 2018 as a New Initiative.

Abhi reminded the group: Montgomery County is already a Sanctuary county and has resources committed to the cause. He also noted that our being a Sanctuary church in no way suggests we believe America shouldn’t defend our borders.

This is guided by our morals and principles, especially worth and dignity regardless of legal status, and also commitment to promote justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. When a community of faith takes a moral stand it is an affirmation of a core belief, even if it happens to be in opposition to a particular law or policy. It is an intentional recognition that we are standing in opposition to something we consider broken and unjust and therefore making public witness... taking a stand of courage. While there may not be uniformity of agreement, we hope there will be unity of purpose.

The Board meets again on May 16 at 7:30 p.m. The planned agenda includes discussion of nominees for the FY 2018, a possible partnership with Davis Memorial UU Church, the 2017 Unsung Heroes nominees, and approval of hiring an assistant minister.

April 28, 2017

What’s the latest in Cedar Lane Board business, you ask? The Board of Trustees discussed the following topics at its most recent meeting on April 18:

The Board voted unanimously that Cedar Lane should adopt a new and improved Conflict of Interest Policy. The suggestion for the revised, more thorough policy came from Jim Kelley, chair of the Governance Committee. It is intended to keep Cedar Lane in compliance with Governance by Policy guidelines, federal IRS rules, and Maryland laws regarding nonprofits.

Fifteen Cedar Lane delegates will attend the UUA General Assembly this June in New Orleans. Led by Dino Drudi and John Gubbings of the Denominational Affairs team, the Board-approved Cedar Lane UUA GA delegates will attend worship and workshops, listen and learn, mingle and make policy with fellow UUs from across the country at this annual meeting. Anyone may attend, but only approved delegates from certified congregations can vote.

Executive Director Sara Deshler and Rev. Abhi Janamanchi introduced the 2017-18 annual budget to the Board. The “baseline budget” they presented was an overview of the more detailed, mission-based budget they’ll present during a special Board meeting on May 9. Last year, the Board voted to cap expenses at FY2017 levels until the operating deficit falls below $25,000. Senior staff are working with the Board to identify budget cuts that will maintain the cap and focus Cedar Lane’s expenditures on living our Vision/Mission while minimizing the impact those cuts will have on the people and programs we care about.

What language, tone, and key messages does the Board want to convey to the UUA and our broader movement, if we choose to respond to our national association’s recent hiring controversy? The letter, proposed and drafted by the Mosaic Makers (multicultural) Committee, addresses recent UUA hiring decisions – and related resignations of UUA President Peter Morales and others that made national news. The Board discussed at length the desire and importance of choosing the right words and striking the right balance between challenging the UUA’s questionable hiring decisions and acknowledging its efforts to address the difficult issues around racial justice in UUA hiring practices. Should the Cedar Lane Board decide to send a letter to the UUA, joining other UU congregations and leaders in their responses to the controversy, the Board would speak with one voice. Additional discussion is planned.

Mark your calendar for two important dates:

  • This Sunday, April 30, the Board and related committees will hold a Congregational Conversation to answer questions relating to proposed changes to Cedar Lane’s Bylaws, and regarding the recent decision to become a Sanctuary Church for immigrants and refugees.
  • On Sunday, May 21, the Board of Trustees will host the Annual Congregational Meeting after the second service. Topics on the agenda include discussion of the 2017-18 budget, and voting on several new Board members, our updated bylaws, and becoming a Sanctuary church.

Board meetings are held the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. and are open to all members. To request time on the agenda or learn more about a current topic of Board discussion, email Board Chair Dave Hawver at or leave him a note in the church office.

April 14, 2017

Mark your calendar for Sunday, May 21: The Board of Trustees will host the Annual Congregational Meeting, during which time Cedar Laners will discuss the 2017-18 budget and vote on updating our bylaws, approving several new Board members, and becoming a Sanctuary church.

Following a special Board meeting on April 2 held to discuss the issue of becoming a Sanctuary church, the Board voted unanimously to support Rev. Abhi and the Immigrant Justice Ministry Team’s efforts to establish Cedar Lane as a Sanctuary congregation. The designation as a Sanctuary church could range from offering rapid response, “know your rights” and active bystander training and/or support to other sanctuary congregations, to (pending congregational approval) offering physical sanctuary to an individual or family from the community awaiting a deportation hearing. Immigrant Justice Ministry Team leaders Ron Outen and Dianne Seiffert answered a variety of questions about what we might expect if we choose to pursue this designation and will be available in the Lounge after services every Sunday through May 21.

The Board has also been discussing the possibility of partnering with Davies Memorial UU Church in Camp Springs, Md., and the April 2 Board meeting brought new details into focus. In fall 2016, Davies, a small congregation trying to reverse its declining membership, invited Cedar Lane to consider working together. Rev Abhi, Board Chair Dave Hawver, Executive Director Sara Deshler, and other Cedar Lane leaders have attended several meetings with Davies, the latest of which included a proposal for a partner relationship with Cedar Lane with our Intern Minister Norman Allen taking the lead role next year, providing ~1/4 time ministerial and pastoral services to Davies while serving as the primary contact for other areas of shared best practices and/or joint efforts (e.g., social justice, RE, and administration). Conversations will continue in the coming months, with the idea of a one-year trial period to allow both congregations to see if such a partnership might be mutually beneficial.

Topics to be covered at the April 18 meeting will include voting on the revised Conflict of Interest Policy previously proposed by the Bylaws Committee, discussion of the 2017-18 mission-based annual budget, discussion of a letter from the Board (drafted by the Mosaic Makers) to the UUA regarding hiring practices, and approval of the delegates who will represent Cedar Lane at the upcoming UUA General Assembly.

In January, Rev. Abhi signed a Declaration of Conscience “to affirm our profound commitment to the fundamental principles of justice, equity and compassion, to truth and core values of American society” on behalf of the congregation. The Board invites you to join in this commitment for justice by signing the Declaration as individuals.

Board meetings are held the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. and are open to all Cedar Lane members. To request time on the agenda or learn more about a current topic of Board discussion, email Board Chair Dave Hawver at or leave him a note in the church office.

March 31, 2017

The Board of Trustees voted unanimously for Chair-elect Jim Anderson to become chair of the Board for the 2017-18 church year that begins on July 1, and for Gail Riley to become chair-elect. Cedar Lane members will vote on a proposed slate of new Board members at the May 21 Annual Congregational Meeting.

On behalf of the Governance Committee, its Chair Jim Kelley recommended to the Board of Trustees at the March 21 meeting that Cedar Lane update our Conflict of Interest policy. The suggested changes clarify the definitions of Conflicts of Interest, and offer guidance on how staff and Board members would be expected to determine, disclose, and handle possible conflicts of interest. Kelley pointed out that Governance by Policy author and consultant Dan Hotchkiss is among a growing number of experts who suggest nonprofits protect their “exempt” (from taxes under IRS rules) status by reviewing and strengthening such policies. The Board plans to discuss the recommendation further and possibly vote to adopt it at the April meeting.

If Cedar Lane chooses to become a Sanctuary church, what might some of the risks and opportunities be? Rev. Abhi, and Sanctuary advocates Dianne Seiffert and Ron Outen, discussed some of the most common issues Sanctuary churches must take into consideration – including legal, financial, operational, moral, and more – and requested the Board’s support in moving the issue to a vote by our congregation.

Most Board members agreed the Sanctuary movement is important now more than ever – both nationally and locally, with Montgomery County, MD, now designated as “majority minority” and having an estimated 100,000 or more immigrants. Before bringing the Sanctuary proposal to the entire congregation, however, the Board asked Seiffert and her group to provide additional information. A special Board meeting will be held to review cost estimates, logistical scenarios, potential legal issues, and other concerns on Sunday, April 2 at 7:30 p.m. in Rm 1-2.

The Board is requesting that the Endowment Committee and the Environmental Justice Team review Cedar Lane’s portfolio to see how current investments rate when assessed using ESG (environmental, social, and governance) standards. Check back for updates once the two groups have reported their findings.

What’s in a name? After inviting Cedar Laners to weigh in on whether it’s time to discuss the possibility of changing our name from “church” to something else, the Board decided at its March 21 meeting to continue the conversation in the coming months for two reasons:

1. Of the 190 people who responded to the question asking, “Is it time for Cedar Lane to have a conversation about changing our name from Unitarian Universalist Church to something else?” the responses were as follows:

- 26% Strongly Agree
- 19% Agree
- 21% No opinion
- 16% Disagree
- 18% Strongly Disagree

2. More than 85 people voiced comments to the survey, with heartfelt responses ranging from, “It’s about time!” to liking the idea of choosing a name for us that’s more inclusive and/or less identified with Christianity, to “We have many more important things to do than talking about changing our name,” and “There’s nothing wrong with the name of our church.”

Because the Board received so many comments – and because the comments were so diverse and passionate – the Board will revisit the name change issue in the coming months. Stay tuned...

The Board also approved a list of 13 delegates for General Assembly that were proposed by the Denominational Affairs Team. Cedar Lane is entitled to send 15 delegates to GA, which will be held in New Orleans this June. To be considered for one of the remaining slots, contact Dino Drudi or John Gubbings.

Board meetings are held the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. and are open to all Cedar Lane members. To request time on the agenda or learn more about a current topic of Board discussion, email Board Chair Dave Hawver at or leave him a note in the Board mailbox in the church office.

march 17, 2017

The Board of Trustees will hear a presentation from the Governance Committee on a proposed major revision to the Conflict of Interest Policy at its upcoming meeting on March 17.

In addition, members will discuss the request by the Environmental Task Force for Cedar Lane to review its portfolio to see how current investments rate when assessed using ESG (environmental, social, and governance) standards – and where we might make improvements.

Rev. Abhi will update the Board on his recent discussions and findings related to the risks and opportunities involved in our becoming a Sanctuary church.

Board meetings are held the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. and are open to all Cedar Lane members. To request time on the agenda or learn more about a current topic of Board discussion, email Board Chair Dave Hawver at or leave him a note in the Board mailbox in the church office.

March 3, 2017

The Board of Trustees discussed at its February 21 meeting: the search for a new assistant minister, congregational growth, the upcoming capital campaign, funding priorities for next year, and preliminary survey results regarding a possible name change. More on those in a minute...

Mark your calendar for Saturday, March 11, 6:30 to 9 p.m., for Bingo and Board Game Night! As their donation to the Cedar Lane Auction last fall, Board of Trustees members agreed to provide games and refreshments for this all-ages, community-building event. Register in the lounge this Sunday, March 5, after each service, and come join in the fun. Feel free to bring your favorite games and snacks to share if you want to, though the $15/individual or $25/family admission includes snacks/desserts and everything you’ll need to participate (except for your keenly analytic UU brain). All proceeds benefit Cedar Lane. Guests and walk-ins welcome to pay at the door.

The position description has been finalized and posted in our search for a new Assistant Minister. Board member Gail Riley is chairing the Search Team, which hopes to hire our new spiritual leader before Rev. Michelle Collins leaves at the end of June. Check back for updates as this process continues in the coming weeks – or ask for the latest from Gail or any of the other Search Team members: Resha Anderson, Betsy Binkes, Mary Farrar, Bob Harrison, Otto Lewis, and Tim Persons.

The Board approved charters for two new task forces:

  • The Congregational Growth Task Force will work in tandem with the Welcoming and Membership Team for the next few months to develop an outreach strategy for attracting visitors, building a path toward membership, and promoting volunteerism across the congregation. Contact Board Treasurer Jack Welch at for more info.
  • The Capital Asset Planning Committee will oversee the capital development side of the upcoming capital campaign. Board Chair-elect Jim Anderson, former Board member Maryann Dillon, and Stewardship Co-chair Mary Means will survey and interview members to determine the congregation’s priorities for improvements; select an architect to analyze our space and provide initial designs and costs; and work with campaign consultant James D. Klote, whose firm has been hired to coordinate the capital campaign.

At the request of Rev. Abhi, the Board identified some funding priorities to which they would like to see increased income applied once Cedar Lane’s operating deficit is eliminated. The proposed areas for future spending include social justice, nontraditional worship, outreach and growth, lifespan religious education, and increasing those staff salaries that currently fall below UUA-recommended fair compensation guidelines.

Upon recommendation from the Financial Policy Committee, the Board voted to pay for the new HVAC system through a loan from our Endowment. Terms for the loan include that it not exceed $1.3 million and that it be repaid within 10 years at 4% interest. For more information, contact Board Treasurer Jack Welch or Executive Director Sara Deshler.

Board meetings are held the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. and are open to all Cedar Lane members. To request time on the agenda or learn more about a current topic of Board discussion, email Board Chair Dave Hawver at or leave him a note in the Board mailbox in the church office.

February 17, 2017

The Board of Trustees has a hearty list of topics slated for its upcoming meeting on February 21, including updates on the search for a new assistant minister, the new Congregational Growth Task Force, and the new Capital Asset Planning Committee; discussion on potential areas of spending if we reach our $1.1 million annual pledge goal; and results thus-far on the survey regarding a possible name change for Cedar Lane. On the lighter side, the Board will also finalize plans for its first Bingo and Board Game Night on March 11.

The Search Team has been established – and begun meeting – to find a new Assistant Minister as we prepare to bid farewell to Rev. Michelle Collins this summer. Members of the search team include Resha Anderson, Betsy Binkes, Bob Harrison, Otto Lewis, Mary Farrar, Tim Persons, and Gail Riley.

Board Treasurer Jack Welch will present a draft charter for the new Congregational Growth Task Force, which will work in tandem with the Welcoming and Membership Team to develop a comprehensive outreach strategy for attracting visitors, leading visitors on a path toward membership, and promoting volunteerism across the congregation.

Now that the Board voted to create a Capital Asset Planning Committee to determine priorities for the capital campaign funds we hope to raise to improve Cedar Lane’s programs and facilities, the CAPC has begun meeting. Committee members are starting to search for an architect to analyze our space, address current issues and limitations, and have a first round of renderings drafted this summer. Former Board member and Blumenthal Futures Fund Task Force member Maryann Dillon, and Vision 2020 leader Mary Means have agreed to co-chair the new committee.

Following Rev. Abhi’s “What’s Really in a Name?” sermon on February 12 and the related online survey that went out, the Board will discuss the tally of responses to discern whether changing our name from “church” to something else interests congregants right now. If you haven’t already taken the short survey, please check your inbox – or request a paper copy from Sara Deshler.

Mark your calendar for the Board-sponsored Bingo and Board (get it?) Game Night on Saturday evening, March 11! The Board will provide games, snacks, dessert, and beverages at this fun multigenerational event put together as a fundraiser for the Auction. Feel free to bring your favorite games to share, too. Tickets are $15 per person or $30 for families. Drop-ins are welcome, but RSVPs are always appreciated to ensure we set up enough tables and buy enough snacks!

Board meetings are held the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. and are open to all Cedar Lane members. To request time on the agenda or learn more about a current topic of Board discussion, email Board Chair Dave Hawver at or leave him a note in the Board mailbox in the church office.

January 27, 2017

The Board of Trustees spent much of its January 17 meeting planning for our future: discussing the search for a new assistant minister, a new Congregational Growth Task Force, and the steps needed to launch Cedar Lane’s capital campaign.

The quest for a new Assistant Minister to serve Cedar Lane once Rev. Michelle Collins leaves this summer will begin in February with the creation of a search team and advertising for the position. In recent months, members of the Human Resources Committee worked with Rev. Abhi and others to create the job description that will best meet Cedar Lane’s needs.

Board Treasurer Jack Welch has begun drafting a charter for a new Congregational Growth Task Force, to work in tandem with the Welcoming and Membership Team. He will present the charter – with goals to develop a comprehensive outreach strategy for attracting visitors, lead visitors to become members, and promote volunteerism across the congregation – to the Board for approval at the February meeting.

After interviewing several candidates for advising our congregation on a capital campaign, the Capital Campaign Exploratory Task Force recommended to the Board that Cedar Lane should hire fundraising consultant James D. Klote and Associates to assist us in conducting a capital campaign.

The draft timeline for the campaign includes gathering and prioritizing ideas from members for their “wish list” for improvements to Cedar Lane’s facilities and programs this spring; bringing on an architect to analyze our space, address current issues and limitations, and draft a first round of renderings this summer; formally engaging Klote in organizing the campaign this fall; and kicking off the campaign in January 2018. The Board voted unanimously to form a Capital Asset Planning Committee to lead and manage the spring and summer tasks, and to present its charter at the next Board meeting on February 21. Former Board member and Blumenthal Futures Fund Task Force member Maryann Dillon, and Vision 2020 leader Mary Means have agreed to co-chair the recommended new Capital Asset Planning Task Force.

Board meetings are held the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. and are open to all members. To request time on the agenda or learn more about a current topic of Board discussion, email Board Chair Dave Hawver at or leave him a note in the Board mailbox in the church office.

January 13, 2017

The new year may have barely just begun, yet Cedar Lane members have already jumped in to participate in issues important to our future. A few topics worth noting:

The Board is sponsoring – and you’re invited to – the Social Justice Summit this Saturday, January 14, from 9 AM to 3 PM. This event is in response to implementing one of the Strategic Directions approved by the congregation in May 2016, to focus our social justice work and increase its impact – and the implications of the coming Trump administration. Rev. Rob Keithan, Acting Director of Social Justice at All Souls Unitarian in downtown D.C., will lead us in focusing our goals to achieve congregational consensus around and participation in a few carefully selected major issues in which we will invest our time and budget. We hope you’ll join us in the important next step in becoming more active, engaged stakeholders in our core social justice efforts in meaningful ways with our community. Register here:

More than 90 members gathered in the Chapel for the Board of Trustees’ Special Congregational Meeting on Sunday, January 8, to discuss important bylaws changes regarding the selection, roles, reporting relationships, and terms and conditions for senior staff. The bylaws changes are in response to, among other things, Cedar Lane’s 2014 change to Governance by Policy, and the UUA’s updated recommendations on the way congregations hire ministers.

Officiated by Board Chair Dave Hawver, and with input from Bylaws Task Force Chair Dian Belanger, following the presentations and discussions, the congregation voted in favor of updating the Cedar Lane Bylaws. Please join the Board in thanking Dian Belanger and the entire Cedar Lane UUC Bylaws Task Force for their hard work on these and forthcoming recommended changes.

Members were also asked – and responded with a unanimous yes vote – to co-sponsor the ordination of Cedar Lane member Pratima Dharm (see the December 2 Board Matters report below). We look forward to celebrating her ordination at Cedar Lane on March 26 at 4 PM.

Cedar Lane’s Board meetings are open to all members. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 17, from 7:30 to 9:30 PM, in Rooms 1-2. Topics on the agenda include formation of a Congregational Growth Task Force, a report by the Capital Campaign Exploratory Task Force, and recommendations of the Denominational Affairs Team on how Cedar Lane should vote on the UUA CSW draft Statement of Conscience on Escalating Inequality ( 

To propose an item for consideration at an upcoming meeting, drop a note in the Board mailbox in the church office or email with your name, contact info, and a brief description of the subject you hope to discuss.

JANUARY 6, 2017

The Board of Trustees will hold a Special Congregational Meeting this Sunday, January 8, at 12:30 PM in the Chapel. We will discuss – and vote on – some important bylaws changes regarding how Cedar Lane hires ministerial staff.

In addition to the bylaws discussion and vote, we will also discuss and vote on Cedar Lane co-sponsoring the ordination of Cedar Lane member Pratima Dharm, as written about in the December 2 “Board Matters” column below.

To facilitate discussion of the proposed Bylaws revisions at the upcoming meeting, the Cedar Lane UUC Bylaws Task Force has provided the following background regarding their recommended changes.

Article VIII. Ministers

Article VIII of the newly drafted Bylaws is titled “Ministers.” This article replaces Section IV “Ministers” and Section V “Religious Education Program” of the current Bylaws.

Using source materials from the UUA, sample bylaws from other UU congregations, and Governance by Policy expert Dan Hotchkiss’s book Governance and Ministry (2d ed.), the Bylaws Task Force has drafted Article VIII with the following concepts in mind:

1. Cedar Lane formally adopted Governance by Policy (GBP) in 2014. Policy governance principles designate the Senior Minister as head of staff. In larger GBP congregations like ours having more than one minister, the other ministers report to the Senior Minister, who is ultimately responsible for their hiring and potential termination.

2. The UUA and UU GBP congregations have moved to more flexible hiring arrangements and away from ministerial positions as strictly “called.” To be called requires a majority vote of members at a special congregational meeting, and it creates an employment relationship that can only be severed by that person or the congregation. Under GBP principles and as drafted in the proposed Cedar Lane Bylaws, Senior Ministers will continue to be called. For other minister positions, the Senior Minister will guide a board-appointed search committee in selecting a final candidate for Board approval, to be hired by and report to the Senior Minister. Past experience and further research strongly suggest it is unwise to have subordinate ministers or other senior staff report only to an all-volunteer Board, which is by its nature ill-equipped for essential personnel oversight. Although the Senior Minister would likely seek the Board’s views and support for any termination decision, the ultimate responsibility must be the Senior Minister’s, for purposes of maintaining the clear lines of authority essential to GBP.

3. Cedar Lane’s current Bylaws require the person responsible for the Religious Education program to be “called,” even if not an ordained minister. This requirement dates from the 1950s when our church was a pioneering advocate for Religious Education. Calling R.E. leaders just like ministers intentionally demonstrated our great respect for their status. While our high regard remains undiminished, Religious Education as a UU career track has changed significantly. There are now vanishingly few Ministers of Religious Education. Today’s R.E. leaders have a range of degrees and qualifying backgrounds. GBP and current UUA best practices suggest that congregations like ours need a variety of contractual options available to fit our specific needs and budget as well as the needs and career goals of available candidates. As with other senior staff, the R.E. leader will be hired by and report to the Senior Minister.

The Board of Trustees looks forward to seeing you at the meeting!

December 16, 2016

What do church bylaws mean to you? Bylaws may not sound like the sexiest topic to most members, but they are an important foundational document, says Board of Trustees Chair Dave Hawver.

In a Congregational Conversation hosted last Sunday, December 11, by the Board of Trustees, Hawver and Bylaws Subcommittee Chair Dian Belanger explained to more than 20 attendees that Cedar Lane’s bylaws have been out of date for some time. The Bylaws Subcommittee of the Governance Committee has been working for many months to simplify, clarify, and bring the bylaws up to date now that the church is operating under Governance by Policy.

Changing the bylaws is of particular importance now because, as currently written, the bylaws require the congregation to call (vote on) all ministers, associate ministers, assistant ministers, and directors of religious education.

The proposed revision to the bylaws would stipulate that only the Senior Minister would be called, and that other ministers and senior staff (e.g., Director of Music, Director of Lifespan Religious Education, and Executive Director) would be recommended by a search committee, selected by the Senior Minister, and approved by the Board. These individuals would report to the Senior Minister, in line with the reporting chain typically followed under Governance by Policy.

A congregational vote is required to change our church bylaws. Cedar Lane will hold a Special Congregational Meeting on Sunday, January 8, 2017, at 12:30 PM, to vote on the proposed changes to the Ministers section of the bylaws and discuss other important church business. The completed revision of the bylaws will be presented for discussion in sections over the coming months.

To propose future topics for Congregational Conversation with the Board, email with your name, contact info, and a brief description of the topic you hope to discuss.

December 2, 2016

If you don’t already know Pratima Dharm, you should get to know her. The Board of Trustees voted unanimously in its November meeting to cosponsor the retired Army chaplain’s ordination this spring here at Cedar Lane. Dharm, her husband Dharmendran Rajendran, and their two daughters have been Cedar Lane members since 2014.


Originally from northern India, Dharm moved to the United States in 2001. She joined the U.S. Army as a Christian chaplain in 2006 and served in Iraq, leading humanitarian aid missions for the Kurdish people and the families of enlisted Iraqi soldiers. Disenchanted with theology that did “not include ‘all’ in God’s grace,” she became the first Hindu chaplain in the Department of Defense in 2011 and established the first Hindu worship services for the Pentagon and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. She is a recipient of the Bronze Star Award, among others.

Dharm found her way to Cedar Lane in 2013 and says, “Within UU, I am able to integrate my pluralistic Hindu culture and my affinity for social justice…” Dharm holds BA and MA degrees in psychology from India, and an MA in Theology from Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, Ohio. She will receive her Master’s of Divinity from Ashland Seminary this December 2016. She was recently offered a Preliminary Fellowship as a UU Minister after completing a year-long internship with the Accotink UU Church in Burke, Va.

At Cedar Lane, Dharm is a member of the Stewardship Team and Mosaic Makers, and is also active in AIM and Black Lives Matter. The Board congratulates Dharm on her accomplishments and wishes her great success in her journey as a Unitarian Universalist minister. (Mazel Tov!)   

October 28, 2016

Sara Deshler has been appointed as Cedar Lane’s new Executive Director, Rev. Abhi is devoting more of his time to strengthening Cedar Lane’s community outreach and social justice initiatives, and Rev. Michelle is giving more of her time to Cedar Lane’s pastoral care and membership activities. These and other staffing-related changes at Cedar Lane were discussed by about a dozen Cedar Lane members and several Board leaders at a “Congregational Conversation” Question and Answer session in the Chapel on Sunday, October 23 after the 11 o’clock service.

In her new role as Executive Director, Sara will take responsibility for all administrative and business affairs of Cedar Lane’s operations and facilities, allowing Abhi to better focus his efforts as senior minister and on strengthening and growing Cedar Lane.

Sara’s new position comes following a Staffing Assessment conducted in 2015 by UUA representatives to help Cedar Lane operate more efficiently under Governance by Policy (in which the Board focuses on articulating vision, updating and creating comprehensive policy, and ensuring both are pursued and measured appropriately).

Sara’s transition from Church Administrator to her new role as Executive Director will occur in stages, reported Jack Welch, Board Treasurer, and a member of the Human Resources committee which has been working on updating Cedar Lane’s job descriptions. Her new responsibilities will be phased in over the coming months, to allow Sara, Rev. Abhi (as her supervisor), and other members of the staff time to assess the transition and make adjustments along the way.

Rev. Michelle’s added responsibilities now include providing direct pastoral care to members and friends of the congregation through office appointments, and hospital and home visits. She has already begun working more closely with the Welcoming & Membership Ministry Team to engage persons along the entire spectrum of faithful relationships including visitors, friends, and members. She will also give added focus to developing, implementing, and coordinating outreach activities that offer the multicultural community within which CLUUC lives a range of services for exploring the eternal, nurturing community, and building a more just world.

Here’s a summary of some other topics covered at the small Congregational Conversation:

Q. How does our new Director of Lifespan Religious Education fit into these staffing changes?
A. Hillary Collins-Gilpatrick reports to Abhi. Her predecessor, Greg, had more responsibility for social justice, but Hillary will focus on RE.

Q: What is the status of our moving to Governance by Policy?
A. The Board is in the process of creating measurable desired outcomes that relate to each of the Strategic Directions agreed upon by the congregation last year through our Vision 2020 work. For each outcome, the Staff will create corresponding measures, by which those responsible for the outcome can be assessed and monitored, so we can track our progress.

Q. What happened to the list of Ministry Teams that used to be on the website?
A. The Ministry Team list was taken down due to member concerns about privacy; someone felt uncomfortable having their contact information online, available to the public. We can put it back up without each team leader’s contact info until a better solution is found.

The Board plans to hold a Congregational Conversation each month, focusing on the primary issues it’s working on and rotating each month’s conversation from after the 9 a.m. first service to following the 11 a.m. second service, to give as many members as possible the opportunity to attend.

Got questions you’d like to see addressed at a future Congregational Conversation with the Board? Email with your name, contact info and a brief description of the topic you hope to discuss.

October 7, 2016

How will Cedar Lane look, act, and be in the future? The primary topic of the upcoming October 18th Board meeting will focus on Cedar Lane's Strategic Directions (view report here for information - go to page 6). Specifically, the Board will discuss the fifth Strategic Direction it recently created: "Live out our Vision and Mission through transformational giving."

In June, at the Board's retreat and kickoff of the new fiscal year, new and returning members agreed it is vital to create a culture of giving at Cedar Lane in order for us to pursue and fulfill our plans to build a community where love works. The Board has fleshed out three key elements of this fifth Strategic Direction to help Cedar Lane reach its goals:

  1. Give generously of our time, talent, and treasure
  2. Create and follow a path toward financial stability by planning for and managing our resources through responsible stewardship
  3. Create and implement a comprehensive asset management plan that includes funding annually into a replacement reserve that anticipates ongoing capital needs over a 20-year period.

The Board will discuss and refine desired outcomes and measures for these goals at the October 18th meeting.

In addition, our governing body will plan for the upcoming Congregational Conversation, scheduled for Sunday, October 23rd, at 12:30 PM, during which time Cedar Laners can learn more about some important changes being made in the job descriptions of Rev. Abhi, Sara Deshler, and Interim Associate Minister Michelle Collins.

We look forward to seeing you and serving you.

September 23, 2016

The Board of Trustees is pleased to announce its approval of Sara Deshler’s appointment to the newly created position of Executive Director. This is an important part of our congregation's transition to Governance by Policy, recommended in a Staffing Assessment of Cedar Lane conducted last year by UUA representatives Pat Infante and David Pyle.

In her new role, Sara will ensure that all of the administrative and business affairs of Cedar Lane and its operations and facilities management are conducted in an effective, efficient, and ethical manner, and deal with all related questions and concerns. Sara will continue to supervise the Communications and Facilities Coordinator (Sara Davidson), the Church Accountant (Marcia Montanio), Database Administrator (Lucy Dubinsky), and Facilities Manager (Terry Sloan).

This shift in responsibilities will enable Rev. Abhi, as senior minister, to concentrate on the ministerial aspects of his role, including added responsibilities for overseeing activities to strengthen and expand the congregation, playing a lead role in social justice ministry, speaking and acting prophetically on behalf of the congregation, and monitoring staff activities and programs to ensure they are fulfilling Church’s mission under Governance by Policy.

Rev. Michelle Collins, our Interim Associate Minister, has been assigned added responsibilities for coordinating pastoral care, membership services, and assisting with activities designed to strengthen and expand the congregation.

The Executive Director position will replace the Church Administrator position that has been held by Sara for the last 10 years.

The Board looks forward to discussing these changes and what they mean for the congregation in a Congregational Conversation on October 23.

September 9, 2016

How best can Cedar Lane grow to achieve its Vision/Mission, what will that growth look like, and what steps will members and staff need to take to bring our goals to fruition? Growth will be the main topic of discussion at the next Board meeting, on Tuesday, September 20.

At its June retreat, guided by the feedback from last year’s Vision 2020 efforts, the Cedar Lane Board of Trustees committed to working on five priorities this 2016-17 year: Creating and measuring outcomes, funding the priorities members expressed during the Vision 2020 process, growing our membership (which directly affects our ability to fund our priorities), transforming the physical space at Cedar Lane to best meet our goals, and reviewing all Board committees to ensure their activities and outcomes focus on Cedar Lane’s Vision/Mission.

Cedar Lane Board Meetings are open to all members. The Board meets the third Tuesday of each month, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., in Rooms 1-2. To propose an item for consideration at an upcoming meeting, drop a note in the Board mailbox in the church office or email with your name, contact info, and a brief description of the subject you hope to discuss.