Heard it at Council: March 2023

By Kate Silfen, Church Historian | March 14, 2023 Council Meeting Report

The Reverend Rick Spalding opened our busy March Council meeting with a reading of Marge Piercy’s poem “To Be of Use.” Rick said that this eloquent poem is an apt description of Old South’s Council members. It was an appropriate tribute to the new members who were joining us for their first Council meeting. 

Treasurer Bill Bulkeley had important financial news to report. With the upcoming retirement of Helen McCrady, the Board of Trustees is re-thinking accounting operations. They have analyzed Helen’s work in this area, and have concluded that this is not work geared for one person; some of these responsibilities have to be reassigned. A consulting firm has been hired to advise the Trustees on how to manage the church’s accounting operations. Bill also shared the sad news that City Mission no longer has the resources to promote poverty alleviation and social justice. The leaders at City Mission are preparing to transition their services to different churches in Boston. In doing so, they will be transferring a fund of $450,000 to Old South. A percentage of these funds will be distributed to the Christian Service & Outreach Committee on a yearly basis and will be used to support organizations that promote social justice initiatives and poverty alleviation. Old South will plan to honor City Mission with a celebration of its ministry and history. 

Council members shared some key personnel updates. Rick thanked everyone (including Helen) who helped write the Church Administrator’s job description. John Braught has been screening the applications and a group of five or six possible candidates have been selected to have an initial interview with the church staff and a group of Old South volunteers. The interviews will begin next week, and this puts us on target to make an offer by Easter. Maren reported on the work of the Senior Minister Search Committee. After many hours of deep discernment, the search committee has identified finalists to bring to Old South for a day and a half of interviews, conversations, and various activities. In additional good news, Rick reported that he is turning his attention to inviting applications for the Taylor Fellowship.

After these updates, Phil invited committee chairs to share how their groups are promoting Old South’s anti-racism efforts. Tim Longman reported that the Godly Play series now includes a lesson on Martin Luther King’s life and ministry. Grace Speaks now leads the 10am forums during Black History Month. They will also feature a forum to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the publication of Phillis Wheatley’s poems. The Planned Giving Committee offered a talk by Richard Kigel, author of Heav'nly Tidings from the Afric Muse: The Grace and Genius of Phillis Wheatley during the Annual Mary Norton Society gathering. Old South’s Climate Crisis Task Force is working with Habitat for Humanity to plant trees in a racially diverse Dorchester neighborhood. Rick lifted up the work of Mitchell Crawford, who arranged for the visit of David Hurd, one of the foremost church musicians of this generation. Leadership Committee Chair David Becker said that the committee is looking to establish term-limits for various subcommittees; this will enable them to recruit a more diverse group of volunteers to participate in the work of the church. Rick was glad to note that more than 60 members of Old South participated in the Winter Walk, an important event that supports people who have been historically marginalized. Phil commended everyone for these heart-felt efforts.