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Some Important News Updates

THE UFP BOARD and other core Fellowship working circles have been exceptionally busy this fall with routine and special tasks. Here are some key updates — in addition to the big one in yesterday’s Flame, our Congregational Budget Meeting on December 10.

“Contract to Call” — 
A Settled Ministry with Rev. Peter?

One of the exciting aspects of our contract arrangement with Rev. Peter Boullata is that it includes the option of moving to Settled Ministry, through a formal process of congregational discernment, if we all wish it.

At this month’s Board meeting we initiated a Task Force to lead the congregation through this important, participatory community exploration over the next six months. We have begun recruiting 5-7 members, separate from the Board, to lead this work.

Safe Gathering — Our
COVID Measures and Policy

COVID is very prevalent again this fall (along with other respiratory viruses), with the local Public Health risk factor currently and often at “High.” Many of us and/or friends and families have been affected.

The Board has carefully reviewed our COVID measures and policies and re-tested our air circulation and quality improvements, with highly valued support from our Safe Gathering advisor. We have found that our air quality measures are working, and no policy changes are needed at this time. This result relies on multiple filters in place since spring, and specific designated open doors and windows during gatherings. These measures have made it possible and responsible to gather. We hope this can continue uninterrupted; we continue to track weekly local data and Public Health advice.

We remain a “masks strongly encouraged but voluntary” venue. Masking works when practiced consistently, and is welcomed in our space. We are committed to continuing our hybrid in-person/online services, and are grateful for all who help that happen each week! Among many other benefits, this lets us self-screen as symptomatic, sick, or vulnerable to illness, and still attend. We have often had 15-25 people online on Sundays.

Our Governing Documents,
Our “Purposes”

Provincial changes require all Ontario non-profits, including UFP, to make substantial updates to our governing documents by October 2024. To meet this task and deadline, the Board struck a Governing Documents circle in the spring. Ian Attridge, Paul King-Fisher, Leigh Symonds and I (Ben Wolfe) are at work on this project, and treating it as an opportunity to be visionary and creative about our values and future rather than merely compliant.

The next step in this work is a reconsideration of our “charitable purposes,” for the first time in more than a generation. Our stated purposes are part of what enable our legal use of our charitable resources. These have been very narrowly defined until now. For example, they do not yet include social justice work, refugee sponsorship, and other things we clearly deem important. Watch for news and a community conversation on this early in the new year!

The Challenge of Building Security

Rising anti-semitism and violence in the Middle East have unfortunately led to a heightened sense of risk and need for security in synagogues and many other places of community gathering and worship. We are no exception. Our joint UFP and Beth Israel security committee has proposed some draft measures in response. Some of these measures may seem uncomfortable or daunting, and they clearly need further discussion.

We deeply value our friendship and partnership with Beth Israel. At its most recent meeting, the Board has accepted the need for “tiered, consistent, evidence-based security” for the building. In doing so, we have also affirmed “the constant need to balance the felt experience of necessary security with our deep values of welcome and inclusion, grounded in love.” Watch for more on this too.

A “Wake Up Call” Budget

Don’t forget the Budget Meeting on December 10. It’s important. As many of us discussed in the Finance Committee’s congregational engagement sessions this month, Finance and the Board see this year’s draft budget as a wake-up call. If you missed those sessions, you can view a recording here. If you haven’t read Treasurer Scott Donovan’s message and invitation in yesterday’s Flame please do!

With love and commitment for this community,

Ben Wolfe, President
(for the UFP Board)