Board Minutes

These minutes cover roughly the past year. To see older minutes, please contact business manager Llea McCarn.


Board Meeting Minutes

May 15, 2017


Present: Jan Gauvain, Jason Jones, John Criswell, Tommy Potts, Marianne Calvanese, Myla Rosebaugh, Maggie Alderman, Rev. Ellen Debenport

Also present: Llea McCarn, business manager; Chip Slade; Rev. Monica Driscoll by phone for part of the meeting

6:31 pm – Maggie prays in


6:45 pm – Minutes approved from board meetings and conference calls on April 17, April 24, April 26 and May 3.

6:46 pm – Financial Reports (Jason)
•    April was down $1400 a week in a 5-week month
•    Even though contributions were down, we made $1,000
•    Monthly budget to actuals showed budgeted expenses were $25,000 vs something like $40,000 in January, much lower

One person so far has canceled electronic contribution because Ellen is leaving.  Will watch that.

Tithes - $1,241
This is the month we give quarterly to Operation Good Shepherd. $1,000
$241 to Crisis Breadbasket

6:53 pm – Filling vacancies
Ellen urged the board to think about filling vacancies on the board to help with the coming workload. Board members will email ideas for possible board members to Jan.

The vice president’s role is currently vacant; no action now.

Board accepts John Lichtenberger’s resignation from board, emailed on April 25, 2017.

6:57 pm – Transition (Jan)

Jan conferenced in Monica Driscoll by phone, the UWM transition specialist

Maggie – Said she and Monica talked Friday about Maggie’s role within church as a ministerial student.
•    Being on the board is conflict of interest because the church is tithing toward Maggie’s tuition for seminary.
•    She is resigning this evening
•    Will work with Monica, maybe speak once a month
•    Opportunity to teach classes informally
•    Assisting where necessary through transition -- searching for guest speakers, filing in as needed, backbone support
•    This will further her involvement, understanding and education

Board members said they were sad but understood the rationale.

Monica suggested Maggie could serve on the search committee, too, since she won’t be eligible to apply for the minister’s job.

Monica said Melinda Wood Allen had decided she would like to apply for the permanent minister’s position when the time comes. Because she is not ordained in Unity, she would need to present a plan to the board for becoming credentialed.

Meanwhile, Melinda has to step down as associate minister and music director. Monica said it wouldn’t be fair to other candidates if Melinda had been working at the church during the transition period. Melinda is resigning at of end of May and was concerned about not giving 30 days’ notice, but Monica said it’s not an issue. 

Monica asked about notifying the congregation of Melinda’s decision. Ellen said she would read a letter from Melinda this Sunday.

Ellen asked whether there’s anything the church could do that would get it kicked out of Unity Worldwide Ministries. Monica said no. “You can do whatever you want when it comes to hiring your next minister.” Monica’s suggestions are UWM’s recommended protocols.

Marianne said losing the minister and music director would create an opportunity for the community to become more cohesive. Jason said it might do the opposite, that Melinda would have provided stability and familiarity.

Monica said her own speaking will add stability to Sunday messages and bring a consistent Unity message.

Maggie and Monica will find speakers for the first two weeks of June.

Monica discussed details of her monthly trips to Wimberley, according to the proposal she emailed earlier. The first three visits include a lot of congregational work to get their feedback and input, although it’s ultimately the board’s decision whom to hire. She also offered to be here for the Christmas services.

Jason had questions on finances. If the church finds a minister before her nine months are up, Monica says we’re good.

Jason asked how to budget for bringing in candidates:
•    transportation
•    putting them up (use apartment if Monica not in town)
•    honorarium for Sunday service
•    they’ll do a 3-hour workshop – 50% split

Monica estimates $1,000 per candidate but said it’s often less.


8:01 pm – Music
Ellen can get started finding a music coordinator. Will talk to Gail Gonzales and work with Llea about how much to pay.

Ellen will look at Melinda’s letter of agreement for severance. (Update: No provision for severance.)

8:07 pm – Llea’s role
Llea said she is “hanging in there, taking it day to day.” She wants help knowing what is NOT her task.
•    She is focused now on getting money in bank, paying bills, paying staff, Sunday services (she creates the slides, oversees Sunday coordinators and is the backup for any volunteer who doesn’t show).
•    Eventually she would like for someone else to do the slides.
•    Taking Events off her plate would be helpful.
•    She also hopes Diane Slade will take over scheduling platformers and slide clickers.
•    Llea will be taking on the newsletter and website.

Board expressed appreciation to Llea.

8:25 pm – Apartment
Ellen and Llea will talk about, solicit donations and ask for volunteers as needed to restore the apartment as guest quarters.

8:28 pm – Communication
•    Marianne volunteered to answer emails from
•    Ellen said she would add something about Monica to this week’s newsletter.
•    Maggie will be liaison to the platform people when something about the transition needs to be announced.

8:30 pm – Monica hired
Myla moves the board hire Monica Driscoll as transition specialist, Tommy seconds – all ayes, Ellen abstains.
Jason says the church will pay the fees and expenses she requested.

8:33 pm -- Staff and Minister Report (Ellen)
Llea will take this over, plans to attend board meetings
•    Care Team has been busy with illnesses, a death and a new baby.
•    Chip and Diane Slade continue to powerwash and clean the front beds.
•    Jeff is still working on the pump house siding.
•    Dirty sock syndrome in A/C hasn’t gone away.
•    Pool is ready; porta-potty delivered. So far nine church members and nine sponsored members have signed up for the pool.

8:35 pm -- Sound Solution (John)
For people who need hearing assistance, Chip Slade suggested Bluetooth system plugged into sound system, with small units to attach to headphones. Galaxy AS-900-4-K1 is $539.99 on Amazon. Chip said this frequency wouldn’t interfere with what we have. Congregants have to be comfortable wearing a headset or earbuds wired into the pack.

Marianne said it’s probably less “electromagnetically offensive” than the hearing loop the board considered last year, but it’s still EMFs.

Chip is gathering more info. Need to talk to people who would use it.

8:42 pm – Volunteer Appreciation (Myla)
Myla has been working with Katherine at Duchman Winery. Wines were picked out by John Lichtenberger before he resigned. They’re giving us John’s 30 percent discount, but John is not donating the wine. Church will pay for enough wine that everyone has the first drink free.

The board talked about how best to acknowledge volunteers. A small shower is also planned for Santa Heinemann’s new baby; Jan will emcee that portion of the evening.

8:49 pm – Fund Raising (Jason)
The fund raising team met today to assign leaders to various projects. Betty Potts’ themed dinners are planned and tickets are available for the first one on Friday, June 9.

8:57 pm – Safety Update (John)
Wheelchair was purchased to help anyone who needs it. The security team is backing off its training plans for a few months, but enough people in the congregation already can handle what comes up.

8:59 pm – Maggie prays out


Board Conference Call

May 10, 2017


Call with Cynthia Vermillion-Foster at  Unity Worldwide Ministries' Member Services

She works with Carrie Kenyon

Entire dance will change; shifts you don’t expect; will drop the ball at times; be attentive to own self-care right now

Five Focal Points

  • Heritage – what’s taken you to this point; also any patterns you should change; not static
  • Mission – purpose and intention in being as a spiritual community, moving forward
  • Connections – UWM; each other
  • Leadership – some will have to step up; shifts will occur; be intentional, notice people’s gifts, and empower them
  • Future – where we are going?
  1. What is working? Build on it.
  2. What would we really love to create to enhance and live in our mission
  3. What will we need from our next leader based on the above?
  • Melinda could not be our Transitional Consultant; she has not had the specific training
  • New Braunfels has Temporary Minister + a Transitional Consultant; Melinda could work similarly for us (as TM) in this situation
  • Search Committee doesn’t get formed till down the road with Consultant
  1. OOPCOF process
  2. Other trainings
  3. Vision / Mission / Core Values – we know who we are with Ellen; but we’ll change; so revisit your spiritual DNA. Hire to your mission.
  • Consultants negotiate contracts individually; paid expenses; in our case housing provided; $1,500-2,000 / mo
  • Most consultants prefer part-time work; 10-day is usually preferred
  • Full-time are scarce; 1 available in August
  • Half-time are more available; have two possibilities today
  • Temporary Minister doesn’t have to be fully ordained
  • There is no Ordination by Exception anymore, after this week It's a Special Dispensation program whereby someone unordained could possibly serve as minister
  • Temp Minister + Trans Consultant is not a recommended structure (experimental at NB)
  • Trans Consultant is not eligible for full-time
  • Temp Minister is not necessarily excluded for full-time (but Melinda would need to pursue ordination through UWM)
  • Path to ordination is now more individualized, but Cynthia can see a path for Melinda; not Cynthia’s area of expertise
  • Recommending we go forward immediately in talking with TCs
  • Consultants: Phil Smithstead, Monica Driscoll; Cynthia to email Jan contact info


Board Conference Call

May 3, 2017


On the call: Marianne, Jan, Tommy, Myla, John, Ellen, Maggie(?)

Not on call: Jason

6 pm -- Jan prayed in

6:01 pm -- HUG Meeting

A HUG meeting is planned Sunday, May 7, for the congregation and board to talk about the coming transition. The board discussed various ways to structure the meeting, and some suggested sending a survey later.

Ellen urged board members to wait until she’s gone before asking what people want in a new minister. Tommy said the biggest concern he’s heard from congregants is that the church will move too fast.

Ellen also said the board should not have to take on any new duties regarding the daily running of the church. Llea is on top of things, and the board agreed they are very happy with her. John Criswell met with Llea and the bookkeepers and was satisfied money is being handled well.

6:23 pm – Volunteer Appreciation Dinner

Since John Lichtenberger has resigned from the board, Myla offered to be the liaison to Duchman Winery for the VAD on May 19. John Criswell will join her. Myla also will clarify with John L whether he still wants to underwrite the wine so we can offer the first drink free, then a cash bar.

6:29 pm – Guest Speakers

Ellen will schedule June speakers
Board is eager to have Donna Johnson, the CEO of UWM, speak on June 18
Marianne said it makes sense for Melinda to speak when she’s already here for music, to provide continuity and stabililty.

Anything Else?

Marianne reported on a long conversation she’d had with Melinda. She expressed Melinda’s desire to serve as a minister and her willingness to rearrange her life if UoW wants her as a temporary minister. But Melinda would like to know soon whether she has a future at UoW.

Ellen said it’s customary for an associate minister to step into the role if the senior minister leaves, knowing there’s no guarantee of getting the permanent job.

Some board members said Melinda would provide stability but agreed it was best to hold off on any action until after a call with Cynthia Vermillion-Foster at UWM Ministry Services next week. Jan said she would update Melinda tomorrow.

7:02 pm – Jan prays out



Board Conference Call

April 27, 2017


6:00 pm - 8:33pm

Pray In – Maggie

Thoughts from Ellen:

Order of service on Sunday

  • Ellen will make her announcement will be made at the end of the service this Sunday.
  • Then she will call on Jan to give information on the next steps from the board
  • Chaplains will be staffed and present
  • Molly has agreed to be available should people want to process immediately on Sunday.
  • HUG meeting will be held after service on May 7, potluck Sunday, for further discussion and support to the congregation.
  • We will set up an email for people to write in and comment on what ways they would like the next leader to provide support, structure and leadership to the church.
  • We will hold the announcement regarding change in the board president until the HUG meeting.

From Ellen – Answer to the question “Who or what is next?”

  • We don’t know yet.

(Ellen left the call as requested.)

Board leadership/presidency

  • Jan is Vice President and while the bylaws are very loose with a lot of holes, there is one thing clearly stated regarding the vacancy of the President position.  (See Section 14 Duties of Officers, pg 9 of 14)
  • Jan stated that she is willing to step up to fulfill the role of president.
  • Jason also expressed willingness to fulfill this role.
  • Organization of the board and the officers will be announced at the HUG meeting on May 7th.
  • Maggie pointed out the “double seat” in the Treasurer position – John has trained and supported Jason in that role this year so far.  Order at work before we even knew we might need it.
  • Tabling further discussion for time being as to next steps and the open position on the board.

Search team – committee head and board direction

  • Jason brought to the board consideration for John C. to lead the search committee as it may lend itself to more clear communication between the board and the search committee and transparency in leadership and progress. 
  • In summary the board seems to have confusion about what the role of the head of the committee is and the role of the committee in general is, along with timing of next steps and detail around what the exact next steps are.
  • John C. is comfortable with Tim Alderman maintaining committee head position and being the board representative and liaison to/for the board.
  • Tommy expressed support in having Tim leading that committee regardless of what we call that role.
  • Marianne expressed feeling called to be on the search committee.
  • Maggie commented on how the committee inevitably reports to the board and takes direction from the board and provides communication to the board.  By default we are connected in full to what is going on within the committee, regardless of placement or position on the committee itself.
  • Jan expressed full support for Tim maintaining the head of the committee and us leveraging his skills, experience and connections with UWM to guide us through this process accurately, timely and compliantly.
  • John C. will work with Tim to get an update and establish a schedule to connect and get a status update to report back to the board.

Next steps

  • We have questions!
  • We need Cynthia Vermillion-Foster training, insight/educational meeting to happen sooner than later. 
  • Jan is going to reach out to her to get details and date options for the board.

Melinda strategy

  • We need to do a better job of communicating with her.
  • We are not considering her for the “temporary minister” role at this time.
  • We need to help find out what is going to be required of her to be able to be considered for the position of Sr. Minister.
  • Booking June music – responsibilities should continue as she has been doing.
  • She will be back and in the pulpit on June 4.
  • We need to decide from there our schedule of speakers ASAP!


  • Myla reminded us to be patient and respectful of one another during this process.
  • All are in agreement of supporting each other, asking for help, being patient and helping to talk care of each other during this “marathon”.

Next meeting – conference call next week, May 3 at 6 pm

Pray out - Maggie


Board Meeting Minutes

April 24, 2017


Present: Jan Gauvain, Tommy Potts, John Lichtenberger, Myla Rosebaugh
(phone), Jason Jones, Marianne Calvanese, John Criswell

Absent: Rev. Ellen Debenport, Maggie Alderman

Agenda: To discus the decisions made at a prior meeting (of officers only)
that occurred on Sunday, 4-23-17, regarding the creation of a committee to
search for a new minister. To re-cap where we are, and where we’re going.

1. Information was shared about the search committee:

  • - May take 6 months
  • -UWM group is trained in this, will guide us through
  • -We’ll have extra prayer chaplains and Molly Steel available every
  • Sunday for congregation support. Jan will contact prayer chaplains
  • -John is in communication with Tim Alderman as a resource.
  • -The four officers decided on the people they would like to be on the
  • search committee with Tim leading. They chose people to be
  • representative of various voices of the community. Eight people were
  • mentioned with John Criswell being the board representative.
  • There was concern regarding the desire not to make the committee
  • ‘board heavy.’ Board agreed that team should be six people (including
  • Tim).
  • -Marianne expressed concern about this important decision being
  • made without any input from the full board. She also expressed an
  • interest to be part of the team.
  • -Consideration was brought up about bringing a teen into the team
  • periodically.
  • -Melinda was reached out to. She stated she would do whatever we
  • need to support us through this process.
  • -Board needs to contemplate what it is we want in a minister and
  • have a HUG meeting.

2. Discussed John addressing the congregation next Sunday
communicating that there is leadership and the plan to search for a minister
will include them. He invited us to email bullet points for him to cover.

3. John C noticed that there are ‘holes’ in the bylaws which everyone
agreed needs to be addressed. In particular the Minister’s job description.

4. Motion made to form the ministerial search committee, all were in favor.


Board Meeting Minutes

April 17, 2017


Present: John Criswell, Tommy Potts, Myla Rosebaugh, Marianne Cavanaugh, John Lightenberger, Jason Jones, Rev. Ellen Debenport

Absent: Maggie Alderman, Jan Gauvain

6:30 pm -- Pray in

Check in

Approve March minutes as corrected

6:53 pm – Financials (Jason)
With the financial report on the big screen TV, Jason said:
•    March was great month, ahead of last year by over $10,000, including one $8,000 contribution.
•    March technically ended in the red because the April 1 payroll had to be run in March.
•    We have brought in 100,000 this year, $21,000 ahead because of special contributions to make up the budget gap.
•    Payroll is up this year as expected
•    A new chart shows budget to actuals by quarter. We netted $13,221 in the first quarter.

The board talked briefly about marketing and decided to pursue it at next month’s meeting. Jason asked each board member to bring two or three ideas. He also offered to talk to other churches that Ellen recommends.

Tithes - $1,671 to tithe
$250 to Unity Worldwide Ministries to help sponsor food and drink for a break during the convention in June. Marianne suggested try to scholarship someone who would like to go and can’t afford it.
$1,421 to Camp Good Sam

•    Myla will research an organization Navsarjan that helps the lowest caste in India.
•    Ellen will gather more info about our youth volunteers for a possible tithe.

7:05 pm – Staff and Minister’s Report (Ellen)

•    Marilyn Van Hoozer has agreed to be event coordinator on an ad hoc basis.
•    Llea is still working on solving the dirty sock syndrome in the office air conditioner.
•    Handrails have been added on both sides of the front steps.
•    Jason Marion will smooth out the uneven pavement near the kitchen door. It is a hindrance to people coming from the handicapped parking area.
•    A new pool pump was purchased for about $250, and the pool is ready for the season.

Upcoming events
April 21 – Suzanne Giesemann
April 23 – PosiDIVAs concert
May 5 – Family campout
May 6 – Gary McCoy memorial service
May 19 – Volunteer Appreciation Dinner

7:22 Safety report (John Criswell)

The safety planning team continues to meet with focus on the most likely events.

Identify a medical professional in church to lead a sub-team
Create policies for them
Train non-professionals
Needs – wheelchair, AED (defibrillator), fully stocked first aid kit

John and Llea were trained to open gates to White Wings subdivision if the dam is impassable.
Church cannot be canceled under our agreement with White Wings.
Shelter in place for storms – only the sanctuary and Fireside Room have no windows
Identify volunteers to bring the kids out of their classrooms
NOAA radio or phone app

Need policies created
Appoint evacuation team
Signage – new exit sign over kitchen door glows in dark
Training with fire extinguishers

John said there is much to consider if we evacuate for a fire. Don’t let people drive down the hill and block access to emergency vehicles. Find a way to get kids back to parents. Put everyone on tennis court.

A Knox box will be installed on the post outside the kitchen, with a master key for the fire department. Smoke alarms are connected and will alert the monitoring company even if no one is here.

The safety team is looking for team members, working on policies and talking to ushers and greeters about training.

7:40 pm – Fund Raising (Jason)

Jason Jones and Debbie Baumgartner rolled out the new ideas for fund raising at a HUG meeting on April 9. Since then, people have left sticky notes on poster boards and answered a survey to say which projects interest them. Jason and Debbie are now compiling names and hope to have a calendar shortly.

Myla said she would like to have another Strengthsfinder workshop at the church and believes it could be a fund raiser as well as a community builder. She will present more at the next meeting.

7:49 pm – Families update (Jason)

The families have a campout planned May 5-6, Friday evening to Saturday noon. Jason has prepared liability waivers and will not be using the church building.

7:54 pm – Volunteer Appreciation Dinner (John L)

John investigated off-site venues for the dinner and settled on Duchman Winery, next to Trattoria Lisina. Duchman will waive the $3,000 fee for us and will charge $30 per person for five passed hors d’oeuvres (plus tax and 20% gratuity). John will underwrite the wine so everyone can have one free glass, then it’s a cash bar.

Jason moved and Tommy seconded that we spend the money for this special event. John and Myla will work together on logistics and music.

8:03 pm - Ellen

Ellen told the board confidentially that she has been offered a job at Unity Village as vice president of communication and plans to resign. She hopes to announce to the congregation April 30 and will be here through May.

She suggested:
•    Asking Melinda Wood Allen to be the temporary minister.
•    Engaging a transition consultant from UWM.
•    Finding a point person in the church to be a liaison with UWM and learn the next steps for a transition and search.


Board Meeting Minutes

March 20, 2017

Present: Jan Gauvain, Tommy Potts, John Lichtenberger, Myla Rosebaugh, Jason Jones, John Criswell, Rev. Ellen Debenport, Maggie Wagner

Absent: Marianne Calvanese

6:32 pm – John L prays in

February minutes approved


6:52 – Financials (Jason)
What the treasure and assistant (John C) do:
•    Oversee money-counting on Sundays
•    Review monthly spending report
•    Review monthly financials before board meeting

February was about as expected, offering was a little low (compared to weekly average for 2017 budget) but still ahead with special donor gifts from January. John C says March is already looking better.

Tithes - $1889

•    Amigos de Jesus $621
•    Unity of New Braunfels youth department because they take our Y.O.U.’s to rallies with their sponsors $621
•    Daphne’s salary, admin at Operation Good Shepherd $638

7:03 Minister’s Report
Ellen said Llea McCarn is doing a wonderful job as the new business manager.
•    Taylor Norboge has been trained by David Conway to take over as pool manager.
•    Santa Heinemann will be on maternity leave in April, May and June.
•    Debbie Baumgarten is training Dianne Slade as Sunday coordinator.
•    Betty Potts continues to run the Care Team, responding whenever there’s a need.
•    Pump house rebuild continues. Next is replacing the rusty breaker box.
•    Two bids were received to build handrails on the front steps. Robert Blackburn Fabrications will make them for $480.
•    All paperwork for the 2017 pool season is ready. Pool opens May 7.

•    Finished teaching Healing and Wholeness online for Unity’s seminary and will teach it again beginning April 22.
•    Prosperity class has 18 students and ends April 6
•    Spoke at Unity of Houston and Unity of San Francisco the past month
•    Conducted a memorial service in Austin
•    Will perform wedding for Nancy Benedict and Mason Morton on April 1
•    Has been invited to write an article about Rocco Errico for Unity magazine

Upcoming events:
•    March 25 – All-Church Workday
•    April 1 – New Member Seminar
•    April 1 – Chaplain Training
•    April 2 – HUG meeting
•    April 16 – Easter
•    April 21 – Suzanne Giesemann speaks
•    April 23 – Melinda’s DIVA concert
•    Oct. 8 – David Roth speaks and sings
•    Nov. 19 – Karen Drucker is here for Guerra Series

7:17 pm Jason – Suggested we need to spend more on marketing. Our marketing budget is $21 a month for Constant Contact for the newsletter. Maybe social media. Maggie says direct mail. Ellen says maybe working with UWH and UWM.

7:22 pm Tommy – Wants to spend money earmarked for wildlife on lots of little things instead of one big water capture project. Done.

7:25 pm – Safety Team update (John Criswell)
John met with Llea McCarn and David Conway to talk about developing a church safety plan and build a team. Possible emergencies (in order of likelihood) are health, weather, fire, disruptions during service, active shooter – not just in services. Plus unique youth safety issues like custody battles.

•    Need someone to lead the team, ideally an active or retired law enforcement officer. Jeff Anderson and John Falcon have security background. Both have agreed to help but neither wants to lead.
•    Our insurance company has template for safety plan; so do other churches
•    Sanctuary is pretty well covered now, but not parking lot, Chaparral, etc
•    Has found resources for training
•    Fire chief toured church and grounds and made suggestions
•    Will meet with EMS personnel
•    Claire and Alicia, teachers for the small children, are certified in CPR.
•    Will need support from board, approval of plan after submitted, money, help with rollout.

For the interim:
•    Purchased three smoke alarms tied to each other and monitored by Simplisafe.
•    Purchased Knox Box from fire dept, secure box for key to building
•    Will consider lighted exit signs, evacuation maps, unlocking NW classroom door during services
•    Get plan together for medical, fire, weather
•    Task team plans to meet periodically to work thru this

Jan voiced a concern that we are setting up fear when we talk about active shooters. A plan for fire and medical are okay, but we need to trust God is our safety.

7:45 pm – Fund Raising (Jason)
Jason and Debbie Baumgarten have chosen six to eight fund-raising ideas to present at a HUG meeting April 2. They will give people a chance to sign up for the projects they want to help with (not just those they think are a good idea) to gauge interest.

Santa Heinemann has suggested turning our short ceremony on the International Day of Peace into a Saturday event for the community. It could be a fund raiser with prices for admission and food. The board generally didn’t see it as a fund raiser but liked the idea of a community event. Jason will talk to Debbie about it.
Ellen said Cherie Conway researched text-to-tithe programs and recommends Tithely for $19 a month. It could be set up and demonstrated at the HUG meeting. Ellen will run it by Debbie before buying. (Done – Debbie loves it and would like to present at HUG.)

8 pm – Volunteer Appreciation Dinner (John L)
John L checked into holding the VAD off-site. Duchman Winery was most willing to work with him. We could buy out the place on a Friday night with no rental fee if we buy the food from them. It’s $30 per person for five passed appetizers, with a cash bar. That’s $1800 for 60 people, which is more than the $500 budget (a carryover from last year).

John will pursue details with Duchman for an event May 12 or 19.

8:07 pm – Family Gatherings update (Jason)
The first family gathering organized by Jason and Charis Jones was a success. They had lunch in the Fireside Room, then created and painted gourds to make bird houses in Serenity Garden. Tommy Potts provided the gourds, paint, saws and drills. Future gatherings for families will be every month or two. Ellen expressed concerns about a campout in Serenity Garden, and Jason promised to consider all the details.

8:17 pm – Seminary update (Maggie)
Maggie has finished her first quarter as a ministerial student, one of 38 in the first year of the new Unity Worldwide Spiritual Institute. She said she has been shocked by the workload, and a student council has been formed to speak for the students. She will be at the Village twice this year for intensives, and will also go through Licensing and Ordination. She has signed up for four more classes in the spring quarter.

8:24 -- John L prays out


Board Meeting Minutes

Feb. 20, 2017

Present: Jason Jones, John Criswell, Tommy Potts, John Lichtenberger, Jan Gauvain, Marianne Calvanese, Myla Rosebaugh, Rev. Ellen Debenport

Absent: Maggie Alderman

Also Present: Rev. Melinda Wood Allen

6:30 pm – Ellen prays in

Check-in – John L welcomes new members Jason Jones, John Criswell and Myla Rosebaugh

6:49 pm – Approved January minutes

6:49 pm – Abundance – Jason Jones, treasurer

Jason reviewed the financials, which included lots of money from the Top 10 donors who pledged extra giving to cover a $20,000 gap between expected revenue and expenses this year. Even without the extra, Jason said we’re on track for the year financially.

He said he had met with Llea McCarn to talk about the roles of treasurer and business manager.

6:53 pm – Signatories

A motion was made, seconded and passed to amend the Ozona Bank Checking Accounts’ signature authorizations as follows:

Patrick Dattore
Cheryl G. Conway.

Board President, John Lichtenberger (currently authorized)
Board Treasurer, Jason Jones (new authorization)
Business Manager, Llea McCarn (new authorization; replaces Cheryl G. Conway).

General Fund 1004-0909
Sinking Fund 1005-1864

As soon as possible.

6:54 pm – Fund Raising
Jason said he was intrigued by Debbie Baumgarten’s ideas for fund raising, presented in December, and excited about her expertise in that area. He looks forward to taking her ideas and formulating a plan.

The board agreed it’s nice to have “the gap” already covered, which takes the pressure off of fund raising. Do we need another goal?

Debbie, Ellen, Cherie and Llea had already scheduled a meeting Feb. 28 to talk about next steps in fund raising. Jason and maybe Marianne will join that meeting. Myla also expressed interest but cannot attend.


$2,276 to distribute after standing tithes

John suggested giving to the Islamic Center of Victoria, TX, where the mosque was burned in an arson fire.

Ellen noted that we have been sharing 25 percent of proceeds from Howling Moon with Operation Good Shepherd in Wimberley, but we’re not doing Howling Moon this year. The board agreed to tithe quarterly to OGS and give a minimum of $4,000 this year.

Jeff Richardson, who oversees facilities, has been on our list of possible tithes because of his dedication and instant service whenever there’s an emergency. This month he’s been in the attic working on HVAC.

Islamic Center of Victoria - $638
Jeff Richardson - $638
Operation Good Shepherd - $1,000

UPDATE 2-21: The mosque in Victoria is no longer accepting donations. The $638 will be held until next month.

7:08 -- Dirty Sock Syndrome (Ellen)

Ellen explained that a bad smell had permeated the church the past two weeks, diagnosed by Reliable Air as “dirty sock syndrome.” It happens when fungus grows on coils in the air handler. This was traced to the unit that serves the business office, hallway and two back classrooms.

Reliable treated it with hospital-grade anti-bacterial and suggested we buy a $1,200 air filter. But Melinda Wood Allen, who owns an environmental services company with her husband in Fort Worth, said disinfectant actually makes it worse. She said the air handler needed to be thoroughly cleaned by someone with a license in mold remediation, or better yet, the coils should be replaced She used the word “sporulating” to describe what happens as this spreads.

The board took no action. Melinda reached Bob Allen by phone, and although he can’t do the work himself, he said he would talk about it with Llea McCarn tomorrow. He said if we can find someone to replace the coils on the air handler, he can buy the parts for us at cost.

The board plans to vote by email once a plan is laid out and price determined.

The board also discussed briefly an air purifier for the sanctuary, regardless of the fungus, but no action was taken.

UPDATE 2-21: Bob Allen will do the work himself in two weeks.

7:17 – Security (Ellen)
After the security overview on Sunday, Feb. 12, from Lt. Dennis Gutierrez, the next steps are to organize training for fire evacuation and medical emergencies and offer it to Sunday volunteers and anyone else interested. More specific training for more intense situations will come later for a smaller team. Lt. Gutierrez gave us contact names, and Llea will set it up.

7:21 Minister and Staff Report (Ellen)

•    1099s and W2s have all been sent out
•    Llea has been training in her new business manager job with Cherie Conway
•    Lori Gosnell’s last day will be Feb. 28, and she will train Llea on property management next week
•    Cindy Millonzi is giving up her job as slide creator after five years. Taylor Norboge, Llea’s 24-year-old son, will take over, with Llea as backup. (Llea was the slide creator before Cindy.)
•    Taylor will train with Jason Marion for backup sound and recording engineer. (Taylor was on sound before Jason.)
•    Taylor is also taking over pool management from David Conway. These three jobs for Taylor are paid at $15 per hour, each a few hours a week.
•    Debbie Baumgarten has trained Zach Frederick as Sunday Service Manager but would like a second person. Myla said she will look for a volunteer.
•    Cherie attended the Red Hawk Road Maintenance Association’s annual meeting in January.
o    Assessment is rising from $500 to $550 a year.
o    They talked about the liability in reassuring drivers the dam is safe to cross. We should reword our notices, urging people to use their own judgment.
o    RHRMA also talked about Wimberley’s Dark Sky initiative, and Cherie wonders about the floodlights that are always on at night on the south end of our building. Putting them on motion sensors would require rewiring, but Myla said they might be okay because they’re pointed downward.
•    Chip Slade has been power-washing all the limestone surfaces he can find. Dianne Slade wants to take over the flowerbeds, working with Susan Drews.
•    Jeff Richardson and his brother are rebuilding the pump house.
•    The board looked at an email from RHRMA about the Needmore Ranch and a water permit that could affect our aquifer. David Conway is gathering more information.

Upcoming Events:
March 25 – All-Church Workday
April 1 – New Member Seminar
April 16 – Easter
April 21 – Suzanne Giesemann, special speaker
April 23 – DIVA Concert with Melinda and friends

Melinda schedules platformers and slide clickers each month, and said she needs more of both. Myla said she would work on recruiting volunteers. John L and Jason both said they would be willing to be trained for the platform.

7:38 pm – Board Orientation
The board set 9 am to noon on Saturday, May 13, for board orientation, to be conducted by Ellen and Tim Alderman.

Ellen said it’s sometimes difficult to know what is a board issue and what isn’t. When board members hear suggestions they think are good ideas, best bet is to email Ellen and Llea before bringing it to the board. The board can’t act without information and costs anyway. Research can be done by the person making the suggestion, OR the board member who think it’s a good idea, OR the staff. A great many issues never need to reach the board.

She also said board members should assume there’s a history behind everything and a reason why things are done the way they are. She urged the board to ask about the history before they form an opinion.

7:45 pm – Volunteer Appreciation Dinner
The board agreed to postpone this year’s VAD beyond April and come up with a new way to honor volunteers besides a plated, sit-down dinner that requires dismantling the sanctuary.

Possible ideas:
•    Hors d’oeuvres and wine on the porch without the dinner inside
•    A barbecue and pool party (Jan Gauvain said we do that too often already)
•    A house concert with Kit Holmes where everybody brings food.
•    A brunch, which might cut down on drinking at the event, even with mimosas
•    Buying out a restaurant that would handle food and cleanup.

John L said he would check with friends at Hays City Store, Leaning Pear and Duchman Winery about what it would take to have the event at their facilities. Jason also suggested breweries as a possibility.

The budget is $500 for this event.

7:58 pm – Coleen Hilton resignation
Coleen emailed the board earlier in the day to say her training as an herbalist will keep her away on Sundays and Mondays for several months, so she had decided to resign.

The board voted to accept her resignation, and chose not to appoint a replacement right now.

8 pm – Other
Jason and wife Charis are organizing family events, starting next month. Tommy will cook for them in Serenity Garden.

Further discussion on Dirty Sock Syndrome.

8:08 – Ellen prayed out


Special Meeting Minutes

Jan. 22, 2017

Present: John Lichtenberger, Jan Gauvain, Marianne Calvanese, Tommy Potts, Jason Jones, John Criswell, Myla Rosebaugh, Maggie Alderman and Rev. Ellen Debenport

Absent: Coleen Hilton

Immediately after the Annual Meeting, the new board met to choose officers for 2017.

President – John Lichtenberger
Vice President – Jan Gauvain
Treasurer – Jason Jones
Secretary – Maggie Alderman

John Criswell agreed to serve as an understudy or assistant to the treasurer.


Board Meeting Minutes

Jan. 16, 2017

Present: Scott Price, Tim Alderman, John Lichtenberger, Tommy Potts, Marianne Calvanese, Jan Gauvain

Absent: Coleen Hilton, Andrea Ballentine

Also Present: Rev. Melinda Wood Allen, Jeff Anderson

6:30 pm – Jan prays in

Check-in with appreciation for Tim and Scott as they end two full terms on the board

6:45 pm – Approved December minutes

6:46 pm – Abundance
Tim – “We’ve got plenty of money.”
John – “Rosy and beautiful as usual.”

$1,416 left to tithe
$500 to Hays County Sheriff
$916 to Message of Hope, which distributes free Unity publications to hospitals and prisons

Sunday, Jan. 15, the board handed out 97 envelopes with $12 each to the congregation as a way to tithe back to the church. Tommy suggested that next year, we tell them to support the community by passing on the money in a way that’s meaningful to them.

Ellen reported on her dessert and coffee gathering with the Top10 donors. She told them about this year’s budget and the $20,000 gap, mainly to cover the new full time business manager’s job, a larger music budget and the minister’s health insurance. They have pledged $16,000 to be paid within the month.

7:15 pm – Business Manager (Ellen)

Ellen said Llea McCarn seems to be the perfect candidate for the new full time business manager’s job. Llea’s resume and reference letters had been emailed to the board before the meeting. She is one of the original members of the church who has been living in Bellville the last three years to take care of her father. She ran River House on Wimberley Square and has been working at an Episcopal church in Bellville. The board quickly agreed Llea is the right person to hire. She will start as soon as she moves back to Wimberley.

7:20 pm – Security (joined by Jeff Anderson)

Ellen reported on the new security system to be installed this week. She also expressed desire to train a security team for the church on Sundays. A man who has been attending the church, Michael Uzuanis, owns a martial arts studio and offers security seminars specifically for churches.

Jeff Anderson was on hand to offer his expertise in security and offer suggestions.

John would like to re-activate the gate to the property. He has worked with a gate person and will ask him to come look at our gate.

7:30 pm – Minister and Staff Reports (Ellen)

•    David Conway and Jason Marion pulled a new cable from the business office to the minister’s apartment to try to improve wifi reception.
•    David also convinced Texas Wireless to increase our bandwidth, which has sped up the Internet in the church.
•    Jason Marion replaced the rollers on the Chaparral Room sliding glass door.
•    Will replace the little plastic things on the bottom of chair legs so they will pull smoothly across the carpet.
•    Cherie Conway has mailed 178 tax donation letters.
•    We had 52 blue cards filled out by visitors in 2016.

7:41 pm – Jan prayed out


Board Meeting Minutes

Dec. 19, 2017

Present: John Lichtenberger, Jan Gauvain, Tim Alderman, Scott Price, Tommy Potts, Coleen Hilton, Marianne Calvanese, Andrea Ballentine and Rev. Ellen Debenport

Also present: Cherie Conway, business manager; Debbie Baumgarten, Susan Drews, and board candidates Jason Jones, Maggie Alderman, John Criswell. Rev. Melinda Wood Allen on speakerphone.

6:30 pm – Tim prays in

6:31 pm – Cherie Conway presents draft budget for 2017

The budget estimates next year’s revenue at $358,291 and expenses of $355,912.  Notable changes:

•    The average weekly “nut” for income will average $6,844 per week.
•    Tithing will total $35,829, so the monthly tithe based on the budget will be $2,985.75, plus more if more comes in that month.
•    The primary increase for 2017 is to create a full time position for an executive director, which would combine the jobs of business, property and administrative managers, currently held by Cherie, Lori Gosnell and Nancy Benedict. All three will leave their jobs, and candidates are being vetted to start March 1. Cherie estimated a salary of $60,000 for this position, plus $7,000 for health insurance. (See board action below.)
•    The music budget will almost double in order to have a pianist at each service. Music director Melinda Wood Allen will be here 26 Sundays a year and has a budget to hire three band members for those Sundays. The rest of the money is for full service guest musicians.
•    Pool membership fees will increase by $10 in each category.
•    A paid position for an events coordinator is being revived at $500 a month.
•    Two child care assistants will be paid each Sunday to oversee babies and tots. The two women who have been working with us for years, Alicia Guerrero and Claire Jones, can also take over each month on the Sundays that Santa Heinemann is out.
•    At Cherie’s suggestion, the budget includes $1,404 as an annual gift to the Barnabas Connection to cover Donor Perfect and Constant Contact, software for Barnabas to track and communicate with its donors. Giving also includes the usual $100 monthly donation to Operation Good Shepherd.

Other notes:
•    57 percent of expenses goes for personnel, which is typical of a non-profit
•    84 percent of the budget is covered by giving from congregants, the rest from fund raising and events

7:30 pm – Fund Raising ideas from Debbie Baumgarten

Debbie is a new member this year with experience in fund raising for a nonprofit. She and husband Wayne have a business in marketing and PR. Her ideas included:

•    Forming a fund raising team
•    Creating donor status levels with special recognition for the big givers, such as gold nametags or flowers given during a service or personal attention from the minister
•    Text-to-tithe
•    An auction that stands alone, promoted through a website the Baumgartens could build. This could be year-round and promoted beyond the church.
•    Dinners and dances
•    House concerts with hosts drawing on neighbors and friends outside the church
•    A luau by the pool
•    Wine tasting
•    Community discount cards
•    Bingo, T-shirts, car wash

The Annual Meeting on Jan. 22 may be used to gauge interest in various projects.

Ellen suggested she will have a dinner with top donors, preferably before the Annual Meeting, to explain the extra expenses for 2017 and ask them for gifts over and above their usual giving.

Cherie estimated how such gifts might add up:
2 gifts of $5,000
5 gifts of $2,000
5 gifts of $1,000
10 gifts of $500
TOTAL $30,000

Ellen also urged the board members to increase their individual giving, perhaps from a 10 percent tithe to 12 percent. Their commitment was unclear.

8:05 pm – Approved minutes for November

8:05 pm – Financials
November looked good, included Howling Moon money

Tithes: $2,122 after standing tithes
•    $1440 to give each congregant $12 on Jan. 8. Marianne volunteered to get the cash and stuff the envelopes.
•    $682 to Mike Kemp for his work on Howling Moon

The board also voted to rescind last month’s tithe to Crisis Bread Basket, then voted to give that money to Standing Rock. The switch already had been carried out by email. Tim Alderman reminded the board its policy is to use email only for emergencies.

8:15 pm – Minister and staff report
•    Santa will be on maternity leave in April, May and June. Looking for someone to oversee youth during those weeks, although Santa will be available to help. She will be paid for two months, and the third month’s pay will be used for the substitute.
•    Our permit to use 1.75 acre feet of water was approved by Hays Trinity Groundwater.
•    Chip Slade power-washed the front steps
•    David Conway repaired another small leak in the pool. New sand filter valves approved at the last meeting have been installed.
•    Loose ends remain from Howling Moon; Cherie is pursuing
•    Ellen recorded two PSAs at the Wimberley radio station to promote Unity
•    She is planning a book study with home groups early next year. Lori Gosnell has offered to help organize hosts, facilitators and sign-ups.
•    Upcoming Winter Solstice Ceremony Dec 21, two Christmas Eve services, Burning Bowl and White Stone on New Year’s Day

8:30 pm – Executive Session
Rev. Ellen and all non-board members left

8:45 pm – Open session resumes

The board voted to give Ellen a $5,000 raise to be added to the proposed budget.

The board voted to cap salary for the new executive director’s position at $60,000 and NOT to pay health insurance, because costs are rising so quickly each year.

8:55 pm -- Tim prayed out


Board Meeting Minutes

Nov. 21, 2016

Present: Scott Price, Jan Gauvain, Tommy Potts, John Lichtenberger, Rev. Ellen Debenport, Coleen Hilton, Marianne Calvanese, Andrea Ballentine

Absent: Tim Alderman

Also present: Rev. Melinda Wood Allen

6:30 pm – Ellen prays in
Approved October minutes

6:45 pm – Abundance

The board voted to tithe $400 to Santa Heinemann and $970 to Crisis Bread Basket. Later, the board agreed by email to send the money to Standing Rock instead.

Because Maggie Alderman didn’t enroll in seminary this term, the board decided to hold onto her $500 for this month (kind of an escrow) and wait for her to enroll for next term.

Discussed tithing to Mike Kemp for his work organizing Howling Moon and decided to wait until next month when the Howling Moon proceeds should give us extra tithe money.

Tim suggested (by email) tithing back to the congregation, giving every person $10. The board loves the idea and said January might be a good time for that.

Later in the meeting, ideas surfaced for future tithing:
•    Unity of New Braunfels youth department because they include our Y.O.U.’s on trips to rallies
•    The volunteers who teach in our own youth department
•    Messages of Hope, which distributes Unity literature to prisons and hospitals for free. A booklet for cancer patients has been especially popular and money is being raised to reprint it.

7:20 pm -- Minister and Staff Reports (Ellen)

•    Bookstore – Cindy Millonzi is still planning to buy some gift items to sell in the bookstore, all within the bookstore budget. Baxter has recruited Dorothy Knight to back him up, along with Stanley Tartakov.
•    Debbie Baumgarten is phasing herself out of the Sunday coordinator job. Melinda Wood Allen will take over scheduling the platform and slide people; volunteers will rotate the job of Sunday floor manager with Debbie as organizer. Debbie is hosting a party at 4:30 pm Sunday, Dec. 18, for Melinda to meet everyone who works on Sunday teams, and the board is invited.
•    Karen Stocki has taken over organizing the Welcome Team from Caroline Harper.
•    Our request to use more water is still working its way through the government.
•    The pool leak that was losing 1,000 gallons a day turned out to be a hole in one of the skimmer bays. It was plugged by David Conway and Jon Clayton using pool putty, and our water usage is back to normal. One of the main drains in the bottom of the pool is also leaking. If it worsens, we can plug that drain and get by with the other one. We do need to replace three sand filter valves. High Tide estimated a cost of $1,056, which the board approved.
•    No Christmas party this year; Cindy Anderson dropped out of hosting. We usually raise about $2,500 there, but that money has already been replaced by more than $2,000 from Mary Morrissey for the people from Unity of Wimberley who signed up for Dreambuilder Live in Dallas.
•    Santa is going ahead with a kids’ Christmas party the night of Dec. 17.
•    We need to schedule a budget session with business manager Cherie Conway at next month’s meeting. Typically, we have met early for board business, then started the budget review at 6:30 pm. Cherie said she’s open to ideas about where to spend more money or less money. Tommy said he would like to spiff up the flowerbed in front of the church.
•    Seven people are in the new member class.
•    Ellen has written a column this month for the Wimberley View.
•    Unity had 30 or 40 people at the Community Thanksgiving Service, including 10 in the choir. Great showing, with Ellen, Melinda and Kit Holmes all participating.
•    Ellen has served on the board of the Barnabas Connection for a year and has recruited Cherie Conway to help on the communications team.
•    Jim Blake, the new CEO at Unity World Headquarters, has been describing his vision for the future of Unity. “We will talk less about marketing and money and growth, and more about service and helping people,” he said. Ellen promised to send a link to his speech.
•    After tithing last month to Mariatheresa, a woman in Tanzania who is rescuing homeless children, the board decided to ask Lisa Cole, who knows Mariatheresa, to talk to the board about an ongoing relationship. Ellen will talk to Lisa.

Howling Moon
Ellen enumerated the decline in attendance and proceeds from Howling Moon, the burnout rate of key volunteers, the difficulty in organizing such a massive event, complaints about the drinking, uncertainty of music and the sameness of each year. If people want a dance party, there are other places already set up for that.

The board quickly agreed Howling Moon should die, at least for now, and that it was trying to die even before this year’s event.

Two steps to take before the December meeting:
•    John Lichtenberger will talk to the owners of the Duchman Winery, who are friends, about holding a dance event offsite. They would be responsible for the bar, they have parking, etc. 
•    Debbie Baumgarten has extensive experience as a fundraiser and has raised hundreds of millions of dollars. She has offered to put together a list of fund raising ideas that might not be as much work as Howling Moon and present them at the December board meeting.

8 pm – Ellen prays out


Board Meeting Minutes

Oct. 17, 2016

Present: Tommy Potts, Tim Alderman, John Lichtenberger, Jan Gauvain, Coleen Hilton, Marianne Calvanese

Absent: Scott Price, Andrea Ballentine

Also present: Jon Clayton

6:33 pm – John prays in

Hogs – The board rearranged the agenda to let Jon Clayton talk about hogs on the property. The subject arose last week because Marianne was frightened by hogs on a recent trail walk and wanted the board to discuss it.

Jon said hogs are devastating the environment and reproduce like rats, but they’re rarely aggressive toward humans. They just want to get away, although any animal mother is protective of babies. He has seen hogs run away from him, and wouldn’t worry about anyone taking a walk or about danger to the congregation. However, Jon believes controlling them is our environmental responsibility. They eat baby quail nests, turkey nests, bunnies, armadillos and pull up saplings so the natural forest can’t re-grow.

Coleen suggested putting in the newsletter what people should do if they encounter a hog on the trails.

Tommy, who attended a hog seminar, said trappers will come for free. But they want a large area of dedicated land to set up a cage, and the hogs become most dangerous when they are trapped.

John L asked Jon C to do research and come back. Tommy expressed concern about our liability if caged hogs hurt anyone.

6:49 pm – Check-in

7:13 pm – Approved September minutes

7:14 pm – Financials (Tim)

The dashboard for September had a mistake. We’re only in the red $884. September was an anomaly because it included three pay periods, and we had extraordinary expenses like the new sound board, computer and advance expenses for the women’s retreat. (The church should net about $1,000 from the women’s retreat.)

$2,444 to tithe

The board discussed the difficulties in making tithing decisions. What’s the difference in charity or tithing? Are we giving to need or where we see Spirit in action? Better to tithe locally or globally?

The board discussed the Kids of Africa project to rescue homeless children in Tanzania, which was brought to our attention by Lisa Cole, who worked in the Peace Corps there. Ellen will invite her to present something to the board if Lisa thinks Kids of Africa could be an ongoing project that involves the congregation. Tithe $944.

The board also discussed at length how best to support Maggie Alderman as she goes through three years of seminary. Ellen made a motion and everyone seconded that we should create a standing tithe of $500 a month to Maggie as long as she is actively involved in seminary. Tim Alderman abstained. (The board did not set a policy but agreed we would like to support anyone from our church in ministerial studies.)

Tim suggested we participate in the UWM Partners in Education program. We could link from our website to the seminary, and when anyone goes through our church website to register for a class, we would get 30% of the class fee. Ellen will find out more from UWM.

We’re also sending $1,000 to PAY OFF our sculpture at Unity Village.

Minister’s Report (Ellen)

•    The office has a new computer, just $480
•    Cindy Millonzi is buying a few gift items to sell in the bookstore as an experiment.
•    Debbie Baumgarten has resigned as Sunday coordinator. Melinda Wood Allen is taking over scheduling the slide and platform people. Sunday floor person TBD.
•    Jason Marion is currently handling sound in the sanctuary as well as recording the service, and he could use a second person just to focus on recording. That person could also serve as backup for Jason. Seeking interested sound engineers.
•    Marilyn Van Hoozer has agreed to start Jan. 1 as events coordinator.
•    David Conway has resumed the pool and water well oversight jobs (Water Czar) and discovered we are losing 1,000 gallons a day through the pool. The board approved hiring a leak detection company for up to $975.
•    Cindy Anderson has backed out of hosting the annual Christmas party. We’re hoping she’ll come around after the election Nov. 8, but we might not have a party. Not announcing anything yet.
•    Ellen previewed Howling Moon auction items, ranging from a Spanish dinner for four to private riding lessons to eggs and butter.

At Ellen’s request, the board approved a $3,000 annual housing allowance for her tax purposes.

John appointed Tim and Jan to look at Ellen’s contract for possible revisions and to add the housing allowance.

John also signed a letter appointing Ellen to work for Ellen Debenport Transformations as part of her ministry, which is necessary for her Charitable C-Corporation.

7:56 pm – Travel with a Purpose (Marianne)

Marianne was interested by an article about Unity Center of San Diego’s “Travel with a Purpose.” Every two years, they go to work in Peru, and Marianne thought some from our church might like to go. She will explore it. The next trip isn’t until July 2018.

8:01 pm – John prays out



Board Meeting Minutes

Sept. 19, 2016
















Board President John Lichtenberger canceled the meeting for lack of a quorum.

By email, the board authorized spending up to $1,000 for a new sound board for the sanctuary, and Tommy Potts volunteered to serve as board representative to the Nominating Committee.

The board also approved by email tithing $1,000 to Maggie Wagner to support her seminary tuition.


Board Meeting Minutes

Aug. 15, 2016

Present: Tommy Potts, John Lichtenberger, Scott Price, Andrea Ballentine, Jan Gauvain, Marianne Calvanese, Rev. Ellen Debenport

Absent: Tim Alderman, Coleen Hilton

6:30 pm -- Pray In - Ellen
Check In
Approved July minutes

The good news for the middle of summer is that we’re less in red than last July and in the black year-to-date by $4,574.


This month’s tithe included $340 left from July.

The board agreed to tithe $1,000 to Wimberley Fig Tree Outreach, a nonprofit that helps provide food for low-income kids on weekends when they are not getting free meals at school.

Another $980 goes to the Hays County Sheriff’s Department to support law enforcement officers.

As usual, 20 percent of the $2,784 base tithe goes to Unity Worldwide Ministries, 10 percent to Unity World Headquarters and 10 percent to Unity Worldwide Spiritual Institute.


•    Our new website is live, but we’re keeping the old website with Wild Apricot so we will have a searchable Member Directory. That means we’ll be paying $230 per month to have two websites.
•    Don Thompson has become busy with his fulltime job at Serenity Farmhouse but says he still wants to work at the church.
•    HVAC tune-up for all units scheduled for Aug. 29.
•    Potholes filled from mailbox to drive
•    New router for Ellen’s apartment
•    Lots of painting projects for a good painter who works for free!

•    Water usage still high; trying to pinpoint increased usage at the pool.
•    Pool is $6,076 in the black, which is on track to cover maintenance the rest of the year.
•    We made $1,825 more in pool memberships this year than last.
•    Lori is creating online pool membership registration for 2017, which will eliminate hours of data entry.

Peace Park
•    Kimberly Kruger arranged for six limestone benches to be created for the Peace Park and is sending another $1,000 for park maintenance. She and Cherie Conway devised a Statement of Purpose for the park.
•    Jan McGowan has been paying her groundskeeper, Dimitri Clements, $50 a month to maintain the Peace Park. Now the church has hired him to work around the close-in grounds and flowerbeds for $15 an hour, with a deadline of mid-September.

Howling Moon
•    Kickoff is Sunday, Sept. 4, with Mike Kemp making the announcements. Cynthia Millonzi is currently working on graphics to promote the event.

Music Director
Melinda Wood Allen signed a letter of agreement with the title Associate Minister. Tim Alderman checked with UWM and learned Rev. Ellen can ordain Melinda just for purposes of our church. Melinda, who was ordained at the One Spirit seminary in New York, is also pursuing ordination by exception through Unity Worldwide Ministries.

•    July 30—Adopt-a-Highway Cleanup, Richard Newsum
•    August 6—Chaplain Training with Rev. Linda Martella-Whitsett
•    August 7—Kit Holmes farewell concert
•    August 13—Back to School Fiesta, Judy Bradbury & Dorothy Knight 

•    September 19—Peace Pole Ceremony & Picnic, Santa
•    October 7, 8, 9—The Edge of the Light Women’s Retreat, Ellen & Kit, event manager, Cindy Millonzi
•    October 7,8—Turner/Clayton Wedding, Cherie (Jon Clayton Sr.)
•    November 4—Howling Moon, Mike Kemp
•    November 6-27—Sundays, Membership Class, Ellen
•    December 16—Christmas House Party, Andersons’ “bring your Christmas gift to UoW”
•    December 14 or 21—Winter Solstice Ceremony, Kit Holmes (tent.)


Ellen talked about plans for the Nominating Committee to start work in October. Tim Alderman and Scott Price will be rotating off the board after two full terms. Patrick Dattore’s term will also end in January, and his now-vacant position will be filled through the nominating process. Andrea Ballentine is finishing her first term and has not decided whether to run again.

The board discussed what makes a good board member.
•    Volunteer experience
•    Regular giving
•    Interest in the business side of the church
•    Sense of humor
•    Team player

7:45 pm -- Ellen prayed out




Board Meeting Minutes

July 18, 2016

Present: Tim Alderman, Andrea Ballentine, Tommy Potts, Rev. Ellen Debenport, Coleen Hilton, Jan Gauvain, Marianne Calvanese, Scott Price

Absent: John Lichtenberger

6:30 pm – Tommy Potts prays in
June minutes approved

7:21 pm – Board accepted resignation of Patrick Dattore and decided not to appoint a replacement for his term ending in January 2017.  His position will be filled through the nominating process in the fall. Tim Alderman volunteered to serve as treasurer until officer elections in January.

7:24 pm – FINANCIALS
Ellen said Cherie Conway has put together the six-month budget-to-actual that shows expenses are exactly in line with our plans. The pool has made $2,000 more this year than last.

•    An extra $709 is left over from June, plus $1,300 for July.
•    The board agreed to send $709.40 to pay down our sculpture at Unity Village, leaving $1,000 due by May 2017.
•    Tim suggested giving part our tithe each month to a police department to show our support. He will find out where to send it, starting with Dallas. Tommy moved and Coleen seconded sending $1,300 to Assist the Officer Foundation in Dallas.
•    The other half goes to Unity, Unity Worldwide and UWSI.

7:38 pm – Tommy said Lisa Cole has donated a composting outhouse to the church. He will put it in Serenity Garden for campers.

7:40 pm – STAFF REPORT

Starting Aug. 1, carrying guns into churches will be illegal, whether concealed or open carry. If we see someone with a gun, we should let them know guns are illegal in Texas churches and ask them to lock it in the car. They aren’t breaking the law until they refuse such a request.

•    We’re still looking for an events coordinator. Marilyn Van Hoozer has expressed some interest.
•    Cherie Conway carved off part of her job (and pay) to create a position for Nancy Benedict as admin manager. She does the weekly financial reporting and other administrative tasks.
•    We have been way over our water allotment, probably because the pool needed extra attention when the water became cloudy. Our permit with Hays Trinity Groundwater renews Oct. 1, and we will ask to double the amount of water we’re allowed to use.
•    Ellen previewed upcoming events, including a change in date for the Christmas party. It will be Dec. 16 at Jeff and Cindy Andersons’ home.

Howling Moon update
Coordinator Mike Kemp, working with Cindy Millonzi and Lori Gosnell, has decided on an admission price of $35 in advance, $40 at the door. Advance sales will be online only. He is planning “experiential auctions” offering people and their services. He will be working in the next couple of weeks to solidify team leaders.

Melinda Wood Allen has been hired as music director to replace Kit Holmes, starting in September. She has finished seminary and is ordained in New Thought but not specifically Unity. Our bylaws require that an associate or assistant minister be ordained in Unity.
Melinda is researching Unity’s ordination by exception. It also might be possible for Ellen to ordain Melinda just for our church.

The board discussed various titles – music minister, assistant to the minister – and left it to the discretion of Ellen and Melinda.

8:02 pm – Re: natural burial cemetery on the property
Tim discovered a website about Bios urns. Choose the tree seed you want and add the cremains, then plant the tree. The board received the idea enthusiastically. Tim suggested handing it off to Lisa Cole, who proposed a natural cemetery, for further research.

8:12 pm – Tommy prays out


Board Meeting Minutes

June 20, 2016


Present: John Lichtenberger, Patrick Dattore, Marianne Calvanese, Tim Alderman, Tommy Potts, Jan Gauvain, Rev. Ellen Debenport, Coleen Hilton

Absent: Scott Price, Andrea Ballentine

Also Present:  Kit Holmes

6:30 pm – Jan Gauvain prays in

6:58 pm – Approve minutes from May and email vote

7 pm – Financials (John and Patrick)
•    Dashboard -- $9,984 left end of May
•    Net income up for May compared to last year, as well as year to date
•    Pool has 62 members so far, 7 more than last year at this time; revenue $11,500 so far

$1,418 to tithe after Unity, Unity Worldwide and Bring It Home Fund (now Unity Worldwide Spiritual Institute)
•    $1,000 for sculpture
•    $418 to Camp Good Sam

7:10 pm -- Staff and Minister Report (Ellen)
•    Looking for a new events coordinator
•    Nancy Benedict is training on administrative and bookkeeping tasks that Cherie Conway is currently doing. Nancy might take over some of Cherie’s hours.
•    Susan Drews is looking for a backup wildlife manager.
•    Don Thompson sealed the hot water closet in the minister’s apartment to keep out mice.
•    Don also painted the pump house and will put on a tin roof.
•    Still working on the new website
•    Chaparral A/C is working all right; no urgency to replace
•    One pool pump was replaced for $635.

Ellen briefed the board on informational conversations she’d had with the Hays Caldwell Women’s Center and with Laura Pfeifer, a development officer from Unity Village.

Alcohol Policy (Ellen)
Reviewed the spotty information about alcohol policy, which has mostly been no alcohol in the church or on grounds. Currently, the policy is for champagne toasts only at weddings. (That policy is fine with upcoming wedding in October.)

The board agreed to continue to serve alcohol at Howling Moon with more attention to spotting people who have had too much and cutting them off.

Howling Moon (Ellen)
Mike Kemp has agreed to take over Howling Moon, now that Cherie Conway is retiring from the event. His background is in sales and marketing for big hotels.

7:25 pm -- Hearing Loop
•    Marianne’s research on electromagnetic frequencies was inconclusive. EMFs are ubiquitous in our environment, and this would increase our exposure. It emits a “fairly high” EMF.
•    Coleen’s research said you can find different opinions about how bad it is. Laptops have been shown to cause testicular cancer or cellphones in bras cause breast cancer.

Is this the only alternative? Marianne says this is the most sophisticated technology; it’s all over England as part of their disabilities act.

•    Tim – Whoever wants this should research other alternatives and present them to the board.
•    John – No matter what you do, someone’s going to be unhappy.

Tim moved, Coleen seconded to send it back to people who want this and let them find an alternative. (Something you wear around your  neck?)

7:38 pm – Family Promise program to help homeless families
This was researched by Marianne as possible project for us. It’s a national program with affiliates -- local organizations of 13 churches or orgs that house people every night, then during day the homeless families go to a daytime program.

Becoming an affiliate is a big deal. Unity of New Braunfels is part of an affiliate program. It’s not feasible for homeless families from New Braunfels to come here, but we might be able to volunteer in some way – it’s very volunteer intensive.

The board decided we would rather have a project of our own.

Tim will announce Sunday that the idea of having a service project keeps bubbling up and will encourage congregants to research and suggest volunteer opportunities. Marianne will be the point person when they submit ideas.

In general, Tim suggested, and the board agreed, that board members should not be doing so much footwork and research. That can be done by people who are interested in projects or changes, then presented to the board.

7:50 pm – Kit Holmes resigns
Music minister Kit Holmes told the board her last Sunday will be August 7. She is pursuing her coaching and music careers, as well as refurbishing a building in Manistee, Michigan, with wife Cindy Millonzi. She said she is not planning to move away from Wimberley anytime soon.

8 pm – Coleen Hilton prays out


Board Email Vote

June 8, 2016

Motion that we spend an estimated $635.48 with High Tide Pools to replace the motor in a pool filter pump.

John Lichtenberger moved and Jan Gauvain seconded. Approved by email.


Board Meeting Minutes

May 16, 2016


Present: John Lichtenberger, Tim Alderman, Scott Price, Coleen Hilton, Patrick Dattore, Andrea Ballentine, Tommy Potts, Marianne Calvanese, Rev. Ellen Debenport

Absent: Jan Gauvain

6:30 pm – Tim prays in


6:45 pm – April minutes approved

6:45 pm – Financials (John)
Tithing is up from last year
Net income $3,049 in the black YTD, last year $3,061 in red

Tithe after Unity, Unity Worldwide and Bring It Home – $1,735
$1,000 to Casa Marianella to care for refugees in Austin
$735 to Matt Heinemann with acknowledgment for his work with YOU. He is going on hiatus this summer to finish his master’s thesis.

6:49 pm – Staff and Minister Report (Ellen)

Staff changes –
•    Don Thompson has taken over as facilities maintenance man and pool supervisor, replacing Jason Hilton and David Conway in those jobs. He’ll work 11 hours a week.
•    Debbie Baumgarten is the new Sunday Coordinator, replacing Cherie Conway as a volunteer to keep Sunday services running smoothly.

Operations –
•    Don Thompson might be able to fix the leak around the kitchen vent.
•    Don and Lori Gosnell are taking steps to replace the air conditioner in the Chaparral Room. Don tied up ductwork to reduce noise.
•    Hays County says we’re 26,000 gallons over our water allotment, but it should even out over the course of the year. We know the pool is not leaking; water use there is steady.
•    Jason Marion says we’re going to need a new sound board, which will cost $800 to $1200.

Peace Park –
•    Scott Price says King Feed might donate hog wire to build a retaining wall filled with rocks (like the one at the labyrinth).
•    Kimberly Kruger might donate stone benches.
•    Tommy Potts is repairing a couple of the existing benches at home.

Pool –
•    Membership sales are on a similar track to last year, with more sponsored members than church members
•    Don Thompson cleaned the pool tile and will re-grout this winter.

Volunteers –
Tommy Potts will take over for Jim Bishop as the head of potlucks while Jim is away for several months.

7 pm -- Alcohol policy (Ellen)
Jon Clayton’s son wants to have wedding reception at the church in October. What is our policy on alcohol?

The board decided to stick with the policy of champagne toast only with a hefty clean-up fee, a licensed pourer provided by the renters, and a staff person onsite during the event.

Board requested that Cherie check again on our insurance coverage for liability when people drink at the church.

Next Day from Cherie:
INSURANCE: Mike Willert, our insurance guy, said there is no exclusion in our coverage related to alcohol.  So, if accident due to over-consumption were to occur, we’re covered same as if they just fell down sober.

Other discussion:
Marianne said when she made calls to invite specific volunteers to the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, several mentioned discomfort with the alcohol and drinking at church events. She has talked to some people who won’t come to events because of excessive use of alcohol, some who won’t come to Wise Women gatherings, and she said we are known in the Wimberley community for excessive alcohol usage. She was personally horrified by the drinking at the most recent VAD and asked whether alcohol has a role in spiritual development.

Several other board members said they were aware of a few people who overindulged at VAD or Howling Moon. Ellen suggested a HUG meeting on this topic.

How could we present the topic for a HUG meeting?
Marianne – We want to open up a conversation about alcohol at church events.
Scott – Talk about steps we have taken to create policy and manage drinking at events.
Patrick – Tie it to revisions in new Vision and Mission statements because it’s a health issue.
Tommy – Say we want to set policies for events and weddings at the church and include alcohol.
Marianne – Does alcohol have a role in spiritual development?

Ellen will try to find previous policies and discussion about alcohol for the next meeting.

7:33p – Hearing Loop

We have a quote just under $3,300 to install a hearing induction loop in the sanctuary. Soriya Estes, an audiologist, came to the service April 17 to explain the process and answer questions.

Eighteen people returned pledge cards:

  • 8 checked “I would benefit”
  • 7 checked “I know someone who would benefit”
  • 2 voiced concerns about the electromagnetic field
  • 13 committed to a total of $1700 and two paid $350

Total committed is $2,050
Balance is $1,250

We would keep first two rows unwired for anyone who doesn’t want to sit in the EMG field.

After extensive discussion, the board voted 6-3 to install the hearing loop, then decided too many questions were unanswered. Marianne and Coleen will do more research, Scott will talk to Jim Beal, Patrick will talk to Soriya.

8 pm – Howling Moon
Still seeking a replacement for Cherie Conway to oversee Howling Moon. Darrow Harris, the event planner, bowed out. Ellen and Cherie have a couple more people to ask about it. Ellen suggested if board members talk to anyone who might be interested, have them call Ellen or Cherie to set up a meeting.

8:04 pm – Small groups - Andrea
The visioning session with Kit brought up the idea of small groups and more opportunities to get together and practice principles. Mendhi Audlin promotes small groups as a way to grow churches. Andrea will talk to Mendhi, and Tim will pass on a contact at Unity of Fairfax, VA, to talk to about small groups.

8:10 pm – Global Outreach (all)
Scott talked to Lisa Cole, who believes people would give more to the church if we were donating to non-profit orgs with a global perspective, such as Doctors Without Borders or Pachamama Alliance. Some board members suggested she may not be aware of where we already donate and encouraged Lisa to come share her ideas with the board.
Marianne mentioned Family Promise, a program for the homeless under way at Unity of New Braunfels. She will gather more info on that as a possible project for our church.

8:20 pm – Vote to allow Tim Alderman and Baxter Lawrence to be delegates at the Unity Worldwide Ministries convention

8:21 pm – Tim update on UWM and seminary
The UWM board, which Tim chairs, has formed a task team for Unity to take a stand for LGBTQ people and speak out against the discrimination laws being passed in many states. Jan Gauvain is on the task team.

8:26 pm – Tim prays out