MSUS Welcomes New Board President Laures Young

Laures Young

I want to thank past president Lisa Monson-Hokenson for her leadership the past three years. A lot was accomplished under her leadership and we are now well positioned for future growth and capitalizing on the assets of having a full time minister.

I am honored to have been elected president of the Board. The other officers of the Board elected at a recent Board meeting are:

  • Kate Burek, Vice President
  • Jennifer Ray, Secretary
  • Christopher Greene, Trustee
  • Connie Metcalf, Trustee
  • Santhi Muniandy, Trustee
  • Lynne Schuman, Trustee
  • Chad Snyder, Trustee
  • Gerald Wichmann, who is not a Board member, will serve as treasurer

I would like to say a few words by way of introduction for those who don’t know me. I live in Shoreview with my husband Ben who is retired from a non-profit social service agency serving senior citizens. We have two children, Amy who lives in Minneapolis with her husband John and son Emmett. Son Benjamin lives in Pine River. I have been retired for 1 ½ years from the Department of Natural Resources where I worked with the state park and trail system as a planner. I have been a member of Michael Servetus since 1994. We decided to attend for two reasons, religious education and Sunday services. We wanted our kids to have a religious education background. We also came for the Sunday Service experience to gain knowledge and insight. We found so much more - adult religious education, service auction events, covenant group, book group, music, and the loving caring people. Most importantly, we found a unique community. A supportive community that fosters the spiritual growth and insight we seek in multiple ways and is also a place we can serve others, both within the congregation and the community beyond our walls.

I am excited about the future and also feel challenged due to the uncertainty. I’m confident we’ll see the fruits of our investment in the future. We have prepared Michael Servetus Unitarian Society for growth by making a number of decisions – some bold, some bureaucratic, some risky, some mundane. Combined, these have prepared us for future growth and the changes they bring. The following list summarizes what I see as some of the key, but not all, of the congregation’s accomplishments in investing for the future.

1. Electing to Call a Full Time Minister
It is so exciting to have Reverend Laura Smidzik as our first full time minister. With increased ministerial capacity and her skills and abilities we can move forward toward achieving our vision.

2. Increasing the Hours of Support Staff
Increasing the number of hours support staff work will ensure the new minister can focus on her work and not other areas that need attention.

3. Conducting Two Services
Adding a second service created more space in the sanctuary. It also allows teachers the opportunity to attend
Sunday Service and then teach in the classroom. And it adds another option for early birds (not me except when I
teach) to get their Sundays started early.

4. Adopting a Vision Statement and Aligning our Work with the Direction Set by that Statement
A vision statement is key to a successful organization. It sets direction and will serve as a touchpoint when we
question whether or not to take a certain action. A lot of discussion and editing went into the statement and I
appreciate how it is stated in the services.

5. Removing the Wall between Two Classrooms Upstairs
This has created space for larger groups to meet. It has also allowed the combination of our youth in religious
education classes creating an exciting synergy. You can feel the energy and keen interest when working in the

6. Increasing our Visibility in a Number of Ways Including Developing a Sign Placed on Mississippi every Sunday.
We have taken some positive steps in getting our name out in the community. More needs to be done in this area,
but we have made a good start and “picked off the low hanging fruit."

7. Realignment
The realignment task force is working to identify changes in our structure so that we are more effective and
efficient and use the skills and abilities of the congregation to their best advantage.

We’re well position for the future and I look forward to working with the Board and congregation as we advance
toward achieving our vision. Thanks to the congregation for working in these areas and other areas that have
positioned MSUS for the future.