Teams and Committees fill many vital functions of the church and are made up of dedicated members, volunteers and staff. Click on the group names below to see information about the team or committee, including the group leader/ contact. A list of members for each group can be found in the Breeze database under “Tags” (if you have questions about using the Breeze database, please email office@uuithaca.org).

Ministry Teams function to support the Society’s ministry and programming, to implement policies, and to provide overall support for the Society’s operations.

Adult RE Team

Aesthetics Team

Anti-Racism Team

Babies First

Buildings and Grounds Team

Care Team

Celebrations

Engagement and Outreach Team

Hazel’s Backyard Team

Healthy Congregations Team

Hospitality Team

Library Team

Ministerial Support Team

Music Team

RE Team

SGM Facilitators Team

Social Justice Council

Tech Team

Way Forward Team

Committees

Committees, both standing and ad hoc, function to inform and support the work of governing the Society. Standing Committees shall exist through the years and provide continuity and means for fulfilling the mission of the Society. Chairpersons of these committees shall be empowered by the President of the Board and then confirmed by the Board as soon after the Annual Meeting as is practical. Chairpersons of Standing Committees shall be members of the Society and shall submit reports for the monthly meeting of the Board. Where appropriate, trustees shall be appointed as liaisons to standing committees. Special Committees are more transient in function and shall be empowered at any time at the discretion of the President and with approval of the Board. The Board shall, when necessary, take actions to fill vacancies in committee chairs and /or provide direction to committees to ensure Board policies are implemented and program areas are being adequately supported.

Communication Policy Committee

Endowment Committee

Finance Committee

Governance Committee

Ministry Fulfilment Committee

Nominating Committee

Open Questions Committee

Personnel Committee

Stewardship Committee

Team Descriptions

Adult RE Team

The Adult Religious Exploration (ARE) has a long history of adding to UUs’ search for intellectual, spiritual and
practical meanings among a variety of topics. Relevant discussion and lecture-based programs are planned by the ARE Team and reflective of congregational interests. We will soon be in the process of preparing our first offerings for the remainder of this celebration year. Presenting these programs will help the Society grow back from what it was before the pandemic closed us off from one another.

Contact: Preston Wilson, presbev1@gmail.com

Aesthetics Team

The Aesthetics Team is responsible for changing displays in the sanctuary, designed to reflect seasonal themes as well as the monthly themes around which the services are created. We are always interested in new members and new ideas! We don’t have formal meetings but communicate by email and occasionally meet after service on Sunday to work on displays. Contact Magdalen Lindeberg if you are interested in contributing.

Contact: Magdalen Lindeberg, ML16@cornell.edu

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Anti-Racism Ministry Team

The Antiracism Ministry Team strives for equity, inclusion and justice in our work within the congregation and beyond. We aim to help First Unitarian of Ithaca evolve into a truly anti-racist community, welcoming for people of all races, ethnicities and cultures, and actively engaged in work for racial justice. We welcome all who are committed to these goals to join us. We meet approximately monthly with rotating meeting leadership. We also have smaller working groups engaged in specific efforts, including but not limited to Living the Pledge to End Racism workshops, antiracism book and film series, discernment around the proposed 8th UU Principle, and support for local antiracist organizations.

Contact: Beth Howard, beth4howard@gmail.com

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Babies First

Babies First provides tangible help to babies, young children, and their families in need from all parts of Tompkins County by offering free baby equipment. Referrals are received directly from individuals or from 18 plus non-profit public agencies throughout the county. More Information.

Contacts: Walt Peck and Sue Rakow, babiesfirst@uuithaca.org, 607-269-5385

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Building & Grounds Team

The Buildings and Grounds Team is responsible for the care, preservation, and protection of all real property of the Society. We work to provide our congregation with an attractive and well-cared for environment. Working together to achieve that goal builds fellowship and community.

We are a loose group of volunteers, with a small core that shows up to meetings, and a larger group that helps with specific jobs and work days. We perform all the maintenance and repairs not done by the sexton. When we can’t do a job ourselves, the chair works with the administrator to hire an appropriate contractor.

Contact: Sara Catterall, team chair, sarafmc@hotmail.com

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Care Team

The Care Team acts on behalf of the congregation to provide pastoral care and support for members and friends of the congregation who are going through challenging times.

The Care Team can provide various kinds of support: meals for short periods, rides to appointments, rides to church, friendly phone calls and visits for those that are isolated, ill or needing support. Help is available for those who need groceries or food. For those who need referrals for health care, mental health or eldercare we have lists of resources and members with some experiences with these Community resources.

We are aware of the particular stresses of the COVID pandemic. COVID times have been particularly hard for families with working parents and young children as well as for our elderly and those isolated at home alone.

If you or any member or close friend of FUSIT need some assistance you can contact Madonna Stallmann at 607-216-5083 or madonnaoftheprairie@gmail.com.

Nancy Dolge, Ndolge@gmail.com and Rita Barber, barber.rita@gmail.com, coordinate Memorial Service Receptions when we are again able to have services at the church.

Kathy Hopkins at 607 592 -3025 coordinates finding rides for those who need transportation to appointments.

If you need a ride to any event at church, please contact Madonna Stallmann at the contact information above as early as possible, so that she can find a member who is willing to help. If you are willing to provide occasional rides for others, contact Madonna to give her your name and contact information.

As a congregation, we covenant to promote and affirm compassion and acceptance of one another. We seek to create and sustain a community of caring, in which we come together to do the work of kindness. To this end, we ask for your help in providing care and support to each other in times of illness, bereavement, and other life challenges.

Whether you have time for an occasional task or long-term commitment, please contact Madonna to volunteer!

Contact: Madonna Stallmann, madonnaoftheprairie@gmail.com.

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Celebrations Team

Sunday Celebrations are the time when we as a congregation join together for mutual support and inspiration. Carefully planned Celebrations are essential to the wellbeing of our community and support the many other activities that are an important part of our congregational life.

Celebration Associates work with the minister and director of music to design Sunday services. Together we consider how we can produce services that are stimulating, inspiring, and spiritually uplifting. Each Sunday one Associate assists in delivering the service, typically opening with announcements and a chalice lighting, doing a reading, and sometimes sharing a personal reflection.

Contact: Magdalen Lindeberg ml16@cornell.edu

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Engagement and Outreach Team

The Engagement & Outreach team (formerly known as the Membership Team), works to welcome newcomers and guide them through the path to membership, engages our members to strengthen our community connection, and supports all other ministry teams with volunteer recruitment and coordination. 

The E/O team is currently seeking volunteers for 2 important tasks:

1. Writers, interviewers and reporters to prepare “news stories” regarding our members’ activities within FUSIT and the larger Ithaca community.

2. Volunteers to staff the welcoming table before Sunday service and during social hour. 

Contact: Angela Zhang angela.jihong@gmail.com

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Hazel’s Backyard

Hazel’s Back Yard is a place of natural beauty owned by The First Unitarian Society of Ithaca. It was deeded to us by Hazel M. Hauck in 1964, an active member in the Society. The Back Yard is a sacred trust and there are certain policies in place to maintain it as a natural area. Members and friends of The First Unitarian Society of Ithaca can visit this site as a place of quiet contemplation and we can have our own cremated remains, and those of our loved ones, placed at this spot. The Hazel’s Back Yard Committee is in charge of maintaining the property and reporting any concerns to the Board of Trustees. This team is currently looking for additional members. More Information.

Contact: Andy Turner, ast4@cornell.edu

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Healthy Congregations Team

The Healthy Congregations Team (HCT) was chartered by the Board of Trustees in 2021 “to facilitate the well-being of the First Unitarian Society of Ithaca by fostering harmonious relations and meditating conflicts within the membership and to be a listening ear.”  The HCT consists of four members appointed by the ministry of the church in consultation with the Board of Trustees.  Congregants should contact us if they have a concern regarding a relationship within our community that the HCT may be able to help through mediation and with compassionate concern.

Contact: Walt Peck, wgp8@aol.com

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Hospitality Team

Hospitality Teams make the Sunday morning services run smoothly and effortlessly, providing a pleasant experience for all attendees  — and they also set out the snacks, wash the coffee cups, clean up the kitchen, and straighten the pews.


Hospitality Teams started about eight years ago, developing into four teams, each serving for four weeks on and 12 weeks off.  They are charged with doing the jobs that need doing every Sunday.  And, happily, we find that many other good things happen.  Teams provide an inter-generational activity; they connect people through team building and fellowship; they provide a glide path for newcomers to get involved with a good experience; and they allow a guilt-free 12 weeks of time off.   Team members sign up for one specific, easy and well-defined task: A greeter, an usher, a coffee prep maven, setting the snack tables, coffee server, or clean up.  Want to join up? Find out more by contacting the Hospitality Team Coordinator.  

Contact: Fred Balfour, fred.balfour@gmail.com

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Library Team

Our library contains books in many subject areas pertinent to UU history and values. Subjects include: UU history and authors; World religions; philosophy: death and dying; meditation; social issues, particularly strong in anti-racism, environmental and other current social issues. Many of the books in the library are published by the UUA’s Beacon Press and members and friends donate books as well. The congregation is encouraged to use the collection by browsing or signing books out. The library can be accessed anytime the office is open. Email office@uuithaca.org to check the schedule. The library is located on the second floor of the Parish House, at the top of the front stairs. A book group, led by the Library Committee, is devoted to reading the UUA’s, ”Common Read”, a title chosen each year for all UU’s to read.

Contact: Barbara Shew, barbrandy51@gmail.com

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Ministerial Support Team

The purpose of the Shared Ministry Team is to facilitate the well-being of the First Unitarian Society of Ithaca by supporting the minister and to be available as a listening ear so that when an interpersonal conflict arises, the minister can seek support and advice before the conflict grows. Our purpose is not to evaluate, but rather to support the minister. The team also facilitates the wellbeing of FUSIT by providing occasionaly workshops and/or Sunday services on the ministers’ training and their role.

Contact: Rod Howe, rlh13@cornell.edu

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Music Team

The mission of the Music Team is to provide a variety of high quality music for Sunday Celebrations and to encourage and facilitate musical participation from the church community. At our Sunday morning services, congregational singing is accompanied by the organ, piano, or even djembe or ukulele. Guest musicians are frequent and include everything from solo cello, flute choirs, and recorder ensembles to singer-songwriters in the folk tradition, jazz a capella groups and rock bands. Our adult choir practices weekly to present music at one Sunday celebration a month. A larger choir is also formed for the Community Christmas Eve Service.

Beyond Sunday services, there are other opportunities to make music for and with each other. The Music Team collaborates with the Religious Education Team to sponsor regular Coffee House/Open Mic nights. The Unitarian Universalist Ukulele Union (UUUU) practices sporadically, but joins together for community events like the annual Ithaca Festival Parade and PorchFest. More Information

Contact: Stephanie Ortolano-Music Director, music@uuithaca.org

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Religious Exploration

Religious Exploration for children and youth is a cooperative venture involving both children and adults in the church community. In a liberal religious tradition such as Unitarian Universalism, religious learning, spiritual growth, and faith development are viewed as a lifelong journey each person takes. More Information.

Contact, Emily Richards-DRE, dre@uuithaca.org

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Small Group Ministry Facilitators

The Small Group Ministry Facilitators’ Team meets every other month with the minister (currently, in 2022, meeting without a minister).  Our meetings serve as a time for facilitators to experience SGM without the responsibility of leading, to bond as facilitators, and to observe the minister’s (currently each other’s) methods of facilitation. Also, time is set aside to talk about any issues in any of our small groups, about the state of SGM at FUSIT, and about how we can support and grow the program.  If you are interested in becoming a facilitator for SGM, contact Marsha Kardon.  

Contact: Marsha Kardon, mfkardon@gmail.com

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Social Justice Council

The Social Justice Council (SJC) exists to inform the congregation about important social and humanitarian needs and issues and to provide avenues for constructive service and action. The group meets monthly primarily to select each month’s Sharing Sundays recipient and get reports or proposals from SJC Action Teams (SJC Action Teams are formed by a person or group of people who identify a social justice topic on which they want to focus). New members are welcome! More Information.

Contact Jackie Jablonski, jackiejab@me.com

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Tech Team

Contacts: Russ Charif and Tim Ball

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Way Forward Team

The Way Forward Team’s purpose is to develop guidelines for a phased re-opening of the FUSIT campus (after COVID-19 necessitated closing in 2020), based on current local, county & state health orders and Unitarian Universalist Association Guidelines for Gathering. When creating these guidelines we will do so with care for the most vulnerable among us, while seeking to develop guidelines to reduce the risk of the First Unitarian Society of Ithaca (FUSIT) community to transmit or contract COVID-19 when either on the FUSIT property or when staff, church clergy, or church groups, are in official functions in the wider community.

Contact: Emily Richards, dre@uuithaca.org

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Committee Descriptions

Communication Policy Committee

The Ad Hoc Communications Policy Committee works to develop a set of policy recommendations for fostering open, constructive, and meaningful communication at all levels on an ongoing basis at FUSIT, and to advise the Board of Trustees on communication issues. Its scope includes communication in all directions among the congregation, teams, committees, staff, the Board, and the minister. (Communication between FUSIT and the wider Ithaca community is covered by the Engagement and Outreach Team.) The CPC includes two Board members, two staff members, and a member of the Engagement and Outreach Team. They will serve for one year or until the Committee has accomplished its goals, whichever comes first.

Contact: Margaret Nichols, mnr1@cornell.edu

Committee Charter

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Endowment Committee

The Endowment Committee manages the FUSIT endowment funds, discusses investment strategies, makes investments, and discusses support of operating. We work to ensure the preservation of endowment principal for future use of the society. We invest in socially responsible investments without jeopardizing return and monitor our investment with the UU Common Endowment Fund.

Contact: Rich Dolge, rdolge@yahoo.com.

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Finance Committee

The Finance Committee assists the board in its oversight of the congregation’s finances, ensures that routine financial reports are clear and helpful, and coordinates the annual audit. From time to time, holds educational sessions to ensure that board members have adequate understanding of the congregation’s financial status and goals. The committee has no management authority and does not participate in day-to-day financial decision making.

Contact: Nathan Fawcett, nf11@cornell.edu

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Governance Committee

The Shared Partnership Governance Committee (GovCo) is a standing committee advisory to the Board charged with monitoring all aspects of partnership governance and making recommendations to the Board to improve our society’s governance, as appropriate. Specific areas of GovCo focus include FUSIT Constitution and Bylaws, the Board Policy Book, and other topics as requested by the Board. GovCo members and Chair are appointed by the Board.

Contact: Laura Free

Committee Charter

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Ministry Fulfillment Committee

The Board of Trustees established the Ministry Fulfillment Committee on March 16, 2022 as a special committee to advise the Board on fulfilling ministry responsibilities in service to the Congregation and subsequently appointed Betsy East, Scott Grover, Magdalen Lindeberg, Margaret Nichols, Sue Rakow, and Andy Turner to serve on the Committee. The Committee is charged with discerning how the Congregational Ministry Priorities (Spiritual Leadership, Pastoral Care, and Operations/Administration) can best be met given current financial realities. The Committee is further charged with actively communicating with the Board, the Congregation, and the Staff while respecting confidentiality. The Committee held its first meeting on April 26, 2022.

Contact: Magdalen Lindeberg, ML16@cornell.edu

Committee Charter

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Nominating Committee

The Nominating Committee (NomCom) is elected each year by the full congregation at the annual meeting. 

Traditionally the Committee took its mission from the Bylaws’ charge: “The Committee shall work throughout the year to identify and assess members whose interests, abilities and talents would provide leadership on the Board of Trustees.”  Over the 2020-21 church year NomCom  began to consider the second Bylaws charge that hinted at a broader role: “The purpose of the Nominating Committee is to assure that the Society has effective and diverse leadership to guide the future operations of the Society.”

For the 2021-22 church year, NomCom will be reviewing the range of leadership skills needed and preparing a proposal for long term success of the Society. The proposal will consider any necessary funding, staffing, and management of such a program.

Contact: Fred Balfour, fred.balfour@gmail.com

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Open Question Committee

On September 15, 2021 the Board of Trustees created the ad hoc Open Questions Committee and at a subsequent meeting named all Trustees to the Committee. The charge to the Committee is that it will:

  • provide education for the entire congregation and staff on Open Questions and their role in planning for the future of the Society;
  • provide for an Open Question process that is broadly inclusive of the entire congregation and its staff to include congregational conversations, discussions with committees and ministry teams, small group ministry gatherings, staff meetings, individual communications, and other modes;
  • record and collect responses and information from each forum;
  • compile information gathered and present results to the Board.

Contact: John Gaines,  jagivjagiv@gmail.com.

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Personnel Committee

The Personnel committee shall oversee and review compensation and benefit matters for employees and make recommendations on these to the Board for all FUSIT staff.  The Personnel Committee assists the board in developing personnel policies, ensuring compliance with applicable state and federal laws and statutes, and carrying out the staff-grievance process as defined by these policies. The Committee has no staff management authority and does not participate in supervision or personnel decision-making. The committee shall serve as liaison to the Board and to other committees and staff regarding personnel matters. This committee’s membership must be confirmed annually by the Board and at least one member of this committee shall be a member of the Board.

Contact: Jenna Rosenberg, rosenberg.jenna@gmail.com

Committee Charter

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Stewardship Committee

The Stewardship Committee is dedicated to ensuring the financial health of the congregation. We devise and develop out the annual pledge drive. During the pledge season we meet regularly, often once a week, to create the various documents and events used to solicit and collect pledges.

We work with other teams to establish the pledge goal for the year; create a theme for the pledge drive; generate  the written and graphic materials that are sent out to our members to solicit their pledges; organize  an event or events during the pledge season to celebrate our community’s generosity; analyze pledge data and trends.

Contact: Matt Hare, stewardship@uuithaca.org

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