Special Congregational Meeting July 27

The church’s aging boiler failed repeatedly last winter, causing expensive emergency repairs.  Recent, professional assessment resulted in a strong recommendation for replacement this summer rather than risk catastrophic failure when we need heat the most.  Research on appropriate equipment that meets engineering standards for our historical building has produced one bid of $225,000 and another bid has been requested.  Because this is an unexpected and unbudgeted expense, the Trustees have explored ways to finance the work in a timely way. To meet the heating season deadline, maintain reasonable reserves, and avoid significant debt, the Trustees recommend dividing the cost so that half comes from reserves (to be replaced over time) and half comes from a loan (to be repaid on a reasonable schedule).  The Facilities Committee would evaluate bids and forward a recommendation to the Trustees for review. The Moderator and Treasurer will then sign a contract with the chosen vendor and the Trustees will arrange a loan with acceptable terms.  Facilities and Trustees will approach the project holistically, engaging independent engineering advice, seeking a highly-energy-efficient installation, and anticipating the likelihood of eventual air conditioning.

At the special congregational meeting after worship on July 27, we will vote to grant the Trustees and Facilities committee the authority to pursue the plan outlined above.

Congregational Meeting on March 16th

The Council has called a special Congregational Meeting March 16th immediately following worship. At that meeting the Congregation will vote on whether to purchase a solar array for the office wing of the church on the condition that we receive state incentives. First UCC has entered a state lottery for incentives along with other organizations wanting to install solar. Here is a proposal from AllEnergy Solar and Ten K, a company out of Bloomington.

The solar group felt this was the best proposal we’d seen. Our initial cost will be $58,363, but through state incentives we will receive payments over the course of ten years that will reduce our cost to $24,255.73. This is $7,000 less than other proposals. AllEnergy Solar has been using the Ten K panel for three years and is confident that it is a high quality and durable panel.

We will need to replace the shingles on the office wing before the solar array is installed, and we expect that cost to be close to $5000. We are exploring the change in our insurance, but we don’t expect it to be substantial.

If we do not receive funds through the lottery the deal is off, and we are free to apply for another incentive program in April or May. Other incentives will not be as generous.

The church has funds to pay the initial cost. Leadership is exploring selling and reinvesting our Excel Energy stock to cover half of the cost of the array. Various options for covering the rest of the cost of the array are being considered.

The Solar Group is excited to be at this place in the process. Please plan to attend the Congregational Meeting on March 16th.

Core Organizing Team Begins Work

One of the questions that emerged from last spring’s Mission 4/1 Earth project was, “How can First UCC better mobilize itself to have a positive impact in Northfield and beyond?” In November, we welcomed Doran Schrantz and Paul Marincel from Isaiah Minnesota to First UCC to talk about the possibility of becoming connected to Isaiah. Isaiah organizes churches so that Realm of God values can have an impact in the political arena.

One thing we heard in that conversation is that we need a better understanding of the passions, interests, and concerns of First UCC members and friends.

A group we are calling the “Core Organizing Team” has been formed for this purpose. The members of this team are David Beimers, Mitchell Campbell, Sarah Carlsen, Matthew Fitzgerald, Carolyn Fure-Slocum, Shannon Garlitz, Janet Mitchell, Janet Muth, and Matt Rohn. Over the next two months, each member of the Core Organizing Team will be having eight one-on-one conversations with members and friends of First UCC. If you would like to have a conversation with one of the core organizing team members, please contact Pastor Todd.

The purpose of these conversations will be to unearth passions, interests, and hopes, and to deepen relationships. The hope is that by having conversations with this small sampling of our congregation, we will begin to see a clearer picture of who we are, what we care about, and what God is calling us to do in the world as a church. We hope to involve the whole church in this work in some way in the future.

Thank you in advance for being willing to participate in these conversations, and thank you to the Core Organizing Team.

Solar Discussion Before Worship and at WFFF

In an effort to lower the church’s carbon footprint and encourage wider use of renewable energy, a group has been meeting to consider the possibility of a solar array at First UCC.  The Solar Group has a particular proposal for the congregation to consider.  We will discuss this proposal Sunday Feb. 2 from 9:30-10:15 a.m. and on Wednesday evening Feb. 5 from 6:15-7:00 p.m.  Both discussions will be held in the church library.  This proposal involves submitting an application for state incentives for a 15.2 kw solar array on the roof of the office wing of the church.  The church’s cost after incentives would be approximately $31,600.  The church has the cash on hand to pay the expense and would plan to pay it back through an upcoming capital campaign.  To enter the “lottery” for state incentives, the church needs to sign an “installation agreement” before February 28.  If we receive state incentives we would then be obligated to pay the expense and install the system.  If we do not receive the incentives the agreement is null and void.  This decision would need to be made at a special congregational meeting to be called before the end of February.  Please bring your questions and your feedback as we continue to discern the appropriateness of this proposal for First UCC.

Congregational Budget Review

The congregational budget review will be held following worship on Sunday.  Please join us for an opportunity to discuss the proposed 2013 budget.  At this meeting the proposed budget will be explained, questions from the membership will be answered, and feedback from the congregation will be taken.

The Annual Meeting will be held following worship next Sunday, January 27th.