Thank you for serving the First Unitarian Society as a leader! We are pleased to offer you this handbook of operational procedures we follow in the administrative office. It also answers frequently asked questions. We hope it will assist you as you serve the church.
We suggest you familiarize yourself with the contents, skim through it, and then use it as a reference tool.
The handbook will not answer every question nor cover every contingency. Please feel free to contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 414 273-5257 with questions or concerns.
Table of Contents
- Office Hours
- Who Do I Call?
- Staff Covenant
- Announcement Policy
- Bulletin Boards
- Coffee Hour
- Mail Slots
- New Member Interest Inventories
- Smoking Policy
- Disruptive Behavior Policy
- Wireless Internet
- Conflicts of Interest Policy
- MyFirstChurch Member Portal
- Communicating With Your Group
- Office Supplies
- Complete Communications Policy & How-to Documents
- Weekly Announcements
- Monthly Newsletter
- Calendar of Events
- Branding Guidelines
- Facebook & Instagram
- Annual Report
- Church Finances
- Committee Expenditures
- Budgeting Process
- Purchasing Goods and Services
- Income Producing Activities
- Assignment of Rooms
- Child Care
- Alcohol Policy
- Facilities Assistant Schedule
- Special Events
- Custodial Services
- Kitchen Equipment
- DVD, LCD projector
- Audio Visual Equipment
- Wireless Internet
- Main Entrance
- Hours of Access
- Security System
Section 1: Church Staff
- Church Office Hours: Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Please note that some staff members do not work on Fridays because they work Sundays. In summer, the office is closed on Fridays.
- Who Do I Call? This list can help you find the best staff members to help you with your particular need.
If you need information about:
Announcements, Order of Service: Shari Wright, Office Manager
Annual Report: Jean Johnson, Director of Administration
Budget: Jean Johnson, Director of Administration
Chanticleer newsletter: Shari Wright, Office Manager
Child Care for Events, Meetings: Any Staff Member
Church Building Hours: Any Staff Member
Copier Equipment (to make yourself): Any Staff Member
Copying (to arrange for office to make): Shari Wright, Office Manager
Custodial Services: Ken Liddell, Facilities Manager
Database: Shari Wright, Office Manager
E-nnouncements: Shari Wright, Office Manager
Equipment (LCD projector, etc.): Ken Liddell, Facilities Manager
Fundraisers: Lynne Jacoby, Membership Development Coordinator
New Members: Lynne Jacoby, Membership Development Coordinator
MyFirstChurch account issues: Shari Wright, Office Manager
Office Supplies: Shari Wright, Office Manager
Order of Service and Printed Announcements: Shari Wright, Office Manager
Room & Zoom Reservations: Shari Wright, Office Manager
- Staff Covenant: Our talented and dedicated staff works closely and cooperatively with many important teams and committees. They provide professional expertise as well as experience and continuity in their areas of responsibility. Some years ago, with the guidance of a UUA facilitator, the staff developed a covenant about how they will work together, as well as with church members. It is reviewed and affirmed annually, and updated as needed. The preamble speaks to its intent: “We enter this covenant to forge and to maintain strong positive relationships for the staff and for the congregation in support of its mission and vision. This covenant is intended to encourage and promote healthy behaviors in both the staff and congregation. …” The complete staff covenant can be found on our website here.
Section 2: General Information
- Bulletin Boards: There are two bulletin boards located in the hall near the courtyard. They are divided into sections labelled: “First Church Happenings,” “Denominational Info,” and “In the Greater Community.” Please respect the divisions when posting materials. The “Greater Community” refers to the wider Milwaukee, Wisconsin, or national community and is the best place to post news of concerts, lectures, protests, etc. The “Denominational Info” area is reserved for news of Unitarian Universalist denominational events and programs.
- Coffee Hour Tables: Some groups set up tables weekly in the Leenhouts Common Room during Coffee Hours after church services; others only set up tables occasionally. Each group is responsible for putting materials away after church. The only exception to this is the Guest Table, which is left up continuously. Contact the Office Manager if you’d like to reserve a card table for a specific Sunday.
- Fundraisers: Any fundraising event must be approved by the Board Fundraising Request Subcommittee. Please submit a “Fund Raiser Request” form found on our website.
- New Member Interest Inventories: You may periodically receive a letter from the Membership Development Coordinator when new members express interest in your group. Integrating new members into the life of the church is vital to the continued growth and health of First Church, so it is important that you welcome new people to join your team.
- Smoking Policy: Smoking is not allowed in any indoor areas of the First Unitarian Society’s facility. Smoking is not allowed in the courtyard on Sundays, or at any time when drifting smoke coming into the building is a problem. The courtyard patio doors must be kept closed at all times, not just to keep smoke out, but also to keep out unwelcome “critters,” be they insect or mammal!
- Storage – Parlor Closet: There is a closet in the southeast corner of the Stevenson Parlor with room for teams and groups to store items. Feel free to make use of it within reason. Mark your items clearly, and please help keep the closet neat and orderly. Social Justice Council, Forum, and Book Sales Group have storage on the second floor.
- Disruptive Behavior Policy: While openness to a wide variety of individuals is one of the prime values held by our congregation and our denomination, the Board of Trustees also believes that our congregation must maintain a secure atmosphere where such openness can exist. In rare instances it may be helpful for you to know that the Board developed a policy for dealing with disruptive people in situations when there is a perceived threat to the safety of any individual, when church activities are disrupted, or when that person’s actions diminish the appeal of the church to its potential and existing members. The full policy can be found on the website.
- Wireless Internet (WiFi): The entire facility has password-protected wireless internet access. The password changes periodically. It is posted on the bulletin board in the central corridor and in the RE alcove on the lower level.
- Conflicts of Interest Policy: Please note that the Board has approved a “Conflicts of Interest” policy which applies to church members and staff alike. Please see the full policy on our website.
- Help For Those In Need: When neighbors and visitors to church request material assistance, especially cash, we refer them to the 211 Milwaukee social service line instead, where more effective and substantial assistance can be provided. Business cards with the phone line info are available at various literature tables on the first floor which you can give to people. Visitors are welcome to free coffee and tea, and to make a donation to have a bagel. Please do not give out cash. Please be clear that it is not okay for them to continue to ask for money.
- MyFirstChurch Member Portal: All church members can establish a MyFirstChurch account to access information on their database record. You can update contact information and check your pledge payments. You can upload your photo to help create a member directory. Use your account as a member directory to see contact information about your fellow church members. For more information, see the church website under the Members tab: https://uumilwaukee.org/myfirstchurch-member-portal
- Communicating With Your Group: As a leader of a church team, you can further explore communicating with your team via a “groups” function. Please contact the Office Manager for more information about how this useful church management software can help you with your church connections.
Section 3: The Church Office – Full Service or Self Serve
- Full Service: The staff in the admin office can provide many services for your team or group, provided your request is turned in at least two weeks before your deadline. Work requests should be submitted to the Office Manager.
Copying & Folding: The staff can provide black ink copies for you. We usually have an assortment of colored paper on hand, but if you need a specific color or type of paper, you may need to provide it. We also have a folding machine that will handle most normal folding jobs.
Mailing:The church has a postage meter for church-related mail. If you have a large mailing, please make arrangements with the Office Manager to run it through the meter for you. If you are planning a large special mailing, you should check with the Office Manager well in advance so she can be sure we have adequate postage in the meter.
Etcetera: If you need something, ask the Office Manager, who will be able to tell you if we can do it and, if we can, to schedule it.
- Self Serve: We keep the administrative office stocked with normal office supplies, paper, envelopes, etc. If you need something you don’t see, just ask a staff member. Feel free to use the photocopier for church related materials only.
- Please Don’t Touch the Computers: The IT Team has agreed that the church’s computers and ancillary equipment should be used by the church staff only. This rule was made to insure the integrity of the system and the database. Any exceptions to this must be made by the IT Team Chair in consultation with the church staff.
Section 4: Church Publications and Communication
There are many ways to promote and educate the church community about events and programs. Currently, the most widely read are the weekly E-nnouncements with links to more detail on our website, our monthly Chanticleer newsletter, and Facebook posts. Below is an overview.
For a simple outline of how to publicize your event or message at First Church, see this “How-to Guide for Effective & Welcoming Communications.”
Please see our comprehensive communications policies for complete details.
Both of these documents are always available on the website for your reference: https://uumilwaukee.org/policies-and-procedures/
- Weekly Announcements
E-nnouncements: Our weekly email bulletin is one the best tools for promoting events, programs, and church needs. It is emailed on Fridays. Content is intended to be current (highlighting events within two weeks). Rich in website links, it is designed to encourage readers to forward the email to friends and to interact with our website.
Printed Announcements in the Order of Service. We do not put “advertising” flyers in the Order of Service except on very rare occasions and then only with the Senior Minister’s advance approval. Similarly, flyers are NOT to be handed out at the door.
Deadline: 9:00 a.m. for submission of e-nnouncements and Order of Service announcements.
Word Count Guideline: 100 words, but if you have more information, we will include links to more details on the website.
Submit announcements with this web form: Announcements Form .
- Monthly Newsletter: The Chanticleer: First Church’s newsletter, The Chanticleer, is published monthly. It is distributed via email and is posted on our website. We recommend that major events be advertised beginning a month in advance which means it is best to submit your first notice in time for the prior month’s Chanticleer.
Deadline: 9:00 a.m. the third Monday of each month.
Word Count Guidelines: Articles and announcements: 250–300 words. Advertisements: 50–150 words. Please submit the copy in MS Word and graphics as JPEG or GIF files. We will accept rough designs but they may not be PDFs. We will only publish flyers for events of institutional importance such as annual congregational meetings.
Submit articles using this web form: https://uumilwaukee.org/announcement-submissions/ .
- Facebook Business Page & Instagram: You are welcome to participate in the conversation on the church Facebook Business page. Please support the church by sharing our posts. If you’d like a church announcement of your event posted, please contact the Digital Outreach Coordinator who administers the page.
- Facebook Group: This is a “closed group” for First Church and friends to have community discussions. “Closed” just means you need to apply first to become part of the group; then only other members of the group will see your posts. Once you join, you can directly post FB posts before an event (like a reminder & welcome) or pictures afterwards, or share news and views of other activities of interest to the First Church community. To join (tip: it helps to sign into Facebook first, then click this link): https://www.facebook.com/groups/UUMilwaukee . There, under the photo, you should see: “+ Join Group” (below the cover photo). Click that. In a day, you’ll get our approval and you’re in!
- First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee Logo/Branding Guidelines: The First Church logo is part of our brand identity, which provides a consistent look and feel for all communications. The brand identity also includes colors, design elements, fonts, key messages, and images. Download branding guidelines (PDF) for information about how to use the church brand identity. The Communications Team will review your brochures, flyers, posters, campaigns, etc. for proper branding.
- Calendar of Events on Website:You can find a complete listing of church events on the church website. We do not list each business meeting. Note that each event has its own page for rich copy, photos, and links to further resources. Submit information for website event pages to the Director of Administration as soon as the information is available. We encourage you to then share the link to the post with your team, the presenter of the program, your personal networks, and each team members’ personal networks to help promote the event.
- Website Pages: Church groups and programs should have presence on First Church website so as many people as possible can access them. They should not create a separate website. Contact the Director of Administration about updating current copy or discussing adding information to our website.
- Annual Reports: The Annual Report is distributed to members at the Annual Meeting in May and is available on our website. It contains reports from the ministers, staff, and congregation’s President; minutes of last year’s Annual Meeting, financial reports, listings of dedications, weddings, new members and memorial services. It also includes brief reports from teams, ministries, and groups. Usually sometime in March we will send each chairperson an email letting you know when your annual reports are due.
Section 5: Financial Matters
General Information Regarding the Church’s Finances: The church’s fiscal (budget) year runs from July 1 to June 30. Monthly financial statements are sent to the Finance Team and reviewed with the Board of Trustees quarterly. Any church member may request a copy from the Director of Administration. An annual financial statement is published in the church’s Annual Report.
Our primary source of income is pledge payments contributions. Our income also includes things such as cash in the Sunday collection, rent from the apartments over the church office, income from the Memorial Trust Fund, Religious Education fees, building rental fees, special fundraisers, and bequests. The Director of Administration manages crediting and depositing the income.
Our largest expenditures are for human resources, organization dues (such as the UUA, MICAH), building costs, and basic supplies and services. We currently have no debt or mortgage. Once the Board of Trustees approves the budget, these major expenses are paid by the Director of Administration when due (payroll) or as bills are received (utilities, etc.). Other expenditures, such as R. E. program expenses, Membership program expenses, Social Justice Council expenses, or building maintenance, are handled by staff or team leaders and payment is made by the Director of Administration once proper authorization is received from the chair or appropriate church staff.
- General Information Regarding Committee Expenditures: Those committees that have budgets may spend them as they see fit, for the purpose designated. They may not spend the church’s money for the benefit of the committee members. Generally inappropriate expenditures include: food and beverages for committee meetings, mileage and parking.
- Budgeting Process: In late January staff, committees and teams are informed that the process of budgeting for the coming church year is underway. Budget requests are generally due at the end of February. Budgeted funds remaining at the end of the fiscal year cannot be carried forward to the next fiscal year. The budget is finalized in May and communicated to the teams, ministries and staff who have responsibility for purchasing goods and services. Any church member may request a copy from the Director of Administration.
- Purchasing Goods and Services: Forms for authorizing expenditures are on our website. If you or a member of your team pays for goods or services, please complete a Check Request form and attach receipts. If you charge goods or services to the church, please complete a Check Request form found on our website. This form tells the Treasurer that the bill from the vendor is for a valid expenditure and identifies the team that used the vendor. Check requests are processed every second week.
- Activities That Produce Income: When income is produced, the checks and cash should be given to the Office Manager or Director of Administration so that they are credited to your group and deposited promptly at the bank. Count the money, seal it in a deposit envelope, and fill out the form printed on it. On Sunday, cash collected such as the Forum and Book Sales income should be placed in a deposit envelope and given to the staff at the Member Services Table or, slid under the Director of Administration’s office door. If income is delivered during the week, it may be given in person to the Director of Administration or Office Manager who will put it in the safe.
- Fundraisers: Any fundraising event must be approved by the Board Fundraising Request Subcommittee. Please submit a “Fund Raiser Request” form: https://uumilwaukee.org/fundraiser-request-process/ .
Section 6: Meetings and Events and Church Equipment:
- Reserving Rooms: Our active church is incredibly busy! The Room Use Calendar is the central tool for keeping track of all the activities taking place at the church. You can view the room use calendar on our website under the Members tab.This calendar should be consulted before events are scheduled to make sure there are no conflicts. Regularly scheduled meetings should be put on the calendar at the beginning of the church year, or whenever they are arranged. Also, please request to have removed any canceled meetings so that someone else can use the space.
To reserve a room, use the Room Reservation Form found on our website. You will need to provide: name of church team that is reserving the room, kind or name of event/meeting, date, starting and ending times, and your preference for which room. You will receive an email confirming your room reservation. Please note that all performance events must be approved by the Lead Music Director.Also note that programs using the Sanctuary require approval of one of the ministers. If you request the Sanctuary for your program, the Office Coordinator will bring the request to the minister(s) and then let you know about the minister’s approval.The Office Coordinator manages the Room Use Calendar and will resolve any scheduling conflicts. Generally, we work on a first-come, first-served basis, but will always try to accommodate as many groups as we possibly can. If you have set-up or equipment needs, or will be serving food, please also use the Room Reservation Form. Finally, submitting copy promoting an event does not constitute reserving space at church. Rather, we will not promote events until they have been scheduled on the church room use calendar.
- Childcare: Arrangement of child care is the group’s responsibility and is not handled by the church staff. First Church has a list of child care providers and procedures for any events or meetings. The list and procedures are kept in the “Child Care Coordinator” mail slot and the procedure is on our website. When making arrangements please consider the estimated number and age range of children expected. If you have any questions about arranging for child care, please call the church office.
- Alcohol Policy: In 2011 the Board of Trustees adopted a policy about alcohol use at church events and on the church premises. It is intended to ensure compliance with the law and enhance the safety and comfort of members and guests. Please see the complete Alcohol Policy on our website.
- Doors: The entrance to the building (except Sundays) is the glass doors at 1342 N. Astor Street. The Ogden Street and Sanctuary doors are to be used as an emergency exit only. The inner door at the south service entrance corridor must remain locked at all times. If you find it necessary to use the service entrance, it must be attended at all times.
- Facilities Assistant Schedule: A Facilities Assistant is on duty to let people into the building and to assist you with any set-up or equipment you might need according to the following schedule:
Monday through Wednesday: 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Sunday: 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Summer: Since activity at the church is reduced considerably in the summer, building hours are reduced during the summer. Please schedule your summer meetings during the following hours. If you need to schedule a meeting outside these hours, please contact the Facilities Manager.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday: 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Saturday: 10:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m.
Sunday: 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
- Special Events: Often committees sponsor events, classes, or programs which require advance registration. The office frequently receives calls about these events. Especially if there is a limit to the number of people who can be accommodated, please:
- Give the Office Manager the name and number of a contact person who can be called during the week if there are any questions.
- Leave the sign-up sheet along with any pertinent information with the Office Coordinator so she can record phoned-in registrations.
- Please give the Office Coordinator as much information on each event as possible so we know what to tell people who call. For instance: Is child care provided? Is a deposit needed to hold the registrant’s place? Do participants need to bring anything?
- Custodial Services Required For Special Events: A Facilities Assistant (FA) need not be at church for regular committee meetings. However, an FA must be present for any event with 25 people or more, and for any size group that is serving food or coffee.Please schedule your meetings and events during the FA’s regular working hours whenever possible. If you need a Facilities Assistant outside their regular working hours, please request their assistance using the Room Reservation form, two (2) weeks in advance of your event. The Facilities Manager will confirm with you that a Facilities Assistant’s services have been secured. Note that there is a fee to pay FAs outside their budgeted schedule.Facilities Assistant is on duty during the following hours during the church year:
Monday through Wednesday: 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Sunday: 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. If such events are outside the Facilities Assistant scheduled working hours, a separate custodial fee must be paid. If a fee is required for a church committee event, the church treasurer will pay the fee to the Facilities Assistant and charge it to the committee’s budget. The standard custodial fee is $100.00.
- Church Equipment: The church has a variety of equipment for your use that can enhance your program or meeting. Please indicate on your room reservation form which equipment you’d like to reserve for your program. See the form for a complete listing, but here are some commonly used items:
Audio/visual equipment: microphone, AV cart with large screen & Zoom capacity, projector with laptop or DVD player—it’s easiest to put your program on a thumbdrive and use our equipment and/or connect with church WiFi as needed. Or if you’re showing a feature-length film, use a DVD player. Easel with paper or CD player. The Leenhouts Common Room and Max Otto Hall have audio capabilities for presentations to larger groups. The Sanctuary and Max Otto Hall are equipped with hearing assistive devices.
Wireless Internet: The entire facility has password-protected wireless internet access. The password changes periodically and is posted on the first floor bulletin board in the main corridor and in the RE alcove on the lower level.
Kitchen equipment: dishes, coffee percolators, hot or cold beverage dispensers, refrigerator, freezer, stove/oven, etc. Miscellaneous: card tables, banquet tables, chairs, etc.
Section 7: Security Policy, Keys and Alarm System:
- Main Entrance: The glass Astor Street door is the primary entrance to the church facilities at all times. The Ogden Street door may only be used as an emergency exit.The inner door at the service entrance corridor must remain locked at all times. If you find it necessary to use the service entrance, it must be attended at all times.
- Hours of Access: No one is allowed in the buildings between 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. daily, subject to specific qualified exceptions which must be discussed with the Facilities Manager.
- Security System: The security system is armed during times the building is not staffed.
- Keys: Distribution of keys to the church are limited to staff and people who service the building and equipment. Key distribution guidelines are the following:Any key holder must be trained on the security system before the key is distributed.Only staff and members in good standing may qualify for keys.
Team and ministry chairs and/or their designee(s) may request keys, to be distributed after training.If a key holder sets off a false alarm three times, he or she may be asked to give up the key.Please follow these guidelines. Unfortunately, we all need to be extremely attentive to building security