Friday, December 13 2019
The days have gotten short, and it feels like all the light in the world has been snuffed out. As Christians, we spend Advent waiting and watching for Jesus. We remember that he was born to Mary, which we celebrate each year at Christmas, but we also watch for the mystery of it happening again, among us now. We watch for him to return in majesty. We see the light disappear bit by bit, knowing that it will return again, and when we welcome the light again, we will also welcome Christ.
In a way, we’re waiting in expectation like this as a parish as well...
....We look to this summer, when the roof of our worship space, which has leaked since the day it was completed, will be replaced. We look to a time when our beautiful church won’t have any more water stains, and everyone will be able to approach the altar, regardless of their ability on stairs. And we look to a time when our community is about to celebrate the tremendous accomplishment of renewing our church building, a task which has been dreaded by generations of St. John’s members.
As the light comes back into the world at Christmas, so it will grow in our parish, as we get closer and closer to seeing this dream become a reality. You’ll hear more about how we’re working to get there in this month’s edition of The Chronicle. Our Senior Warden Mark Hampton has written about all the incredible work your Vestry has done to get us to this point, and our Treasurer Bob LeRoy will talk about the budget he and our leaders have created, which was adopted at the December Vestry meeting.
The Vestry has also adopted a plan for me to take a sabbatical next summer, from June 1 – September 30. Sabbaticals are referenced in the Bible, but are better known from the world of academia these days. The Biblical sabbatical was every seventh year. In the Diocese of Olympia, the standard is not a year, but 3-6 months every five years. It’s a time of ceasing what you would normally do, so you can take up a new activity for a time, to enrich your vocation when you return to it.
I will be spending the first half of my sabbatical, all of June and July, studying Spanish by immersion at the Spanish Institute of Puebla. I will then travel with my family some, and then visit members of my clergy group before concluding my time with a pilgrimage to the ecumenical monastery at Taizé, France. You’ll be hearing a lot more about this sabbatical time in the coming months, as we prepare together for my time away. I know that this sort of opportunity a rare gift, and I am incredibly grateful to the entire congregation for the chance to do this.
Finally, I’m also making final preparations for having my left hip replaced on December 31. It has been bothering me since I first came to St. John’s, and January is usually slow enough at St. John’s that I felt it was a good time to get this addressed. I am grateful to my colleagues here at St. John’s who will keep everything running smoothly while I am recovering, and to my colleague, the Rev. Evan Clendenin, who will be the priest-in-charge until I return. I hope to be back on Sunday, February 2, but that will depend on how my healing is going.
I wish you an Advent of wonder, and a Christmastide of joy. Many happy returns of the season!
Friday, December 13 2019
Sanctuary Renovation Committee Report
Many people – architects, owner representative, renovation committee, capital campaign chair, Rector and Vestry – are hard at work on the Sanctuary renovation. We are blessed to have such a talented, thoughtful design team and engaged leadership working together on this project. Herewith, a summary of our recent progress.
Part I - Roof & Structural Improvements
Design work reached a milestone on December 5, when we approved the Schematic Design (SD) for the roof replacement and structural improvements. This means the basic roof and structural design is done and can go into the next phase, called Design Development (DD). The DD phase will finalize design, structural, and material details; we expect it to be completed by the end of January.
The new roof material will be a single-ply, rubber-like membrane (no shingles!) with a 20-year manufacturer’s warranty, plus a one-year workmanship warranty. Structural upgrades will include two X-braces between the concrete portal frames closest to the back (south end) of the nave, and add extra concrete to support the large stained glass window over the red entry doors.
Part II - Chancel Remodel
We authorized our architects to complete a Schematic Design (SD) of the Chancel remodel to provide a conceptual plan for our consideration, as Part II work had less overall support than Part I in last summer’s feasibility study responses. The Part II Schematic Design will include a narrative, floor plans and elevations (side views) to illustrate the basic design, forms, spatial relationships, systems, and scale of the remodel. The architects are revising it to incorporate our latest feedback and corrections to the initial design concept. SD drawings, while not a final design, will provide the basis for further funding consideration and ultimate decision-making. We expect to receive the completed SD package from the architects by early January, in time to include it with the materials for the capital campaign.
Solar Panel Proposal
At the request of some members of the parish, we have asked Capstone Solutions, an alternative energy provider, for a detailed proposal on the technical and financial feasibility of installing a high-efficiency solar panel array on the Sanctuary roof. We are in the early stages of discerning whether such a system could work for St. John’s, but several issues must be better understood before we can make a recommendation to the Vestry. We’re working diligently to determine its potential.
Lou MacMillan, Renovation Committee Chair
Friday, December 13 2019
The Chronicle, December 13, 2019
Treasurer’s Report & Capital Campaign Update
Our current financial condition
Bank balances as of November 30, 2019:
As of October 31, 2019, the balance in our General (Unrestricted) Account with the Diocese of Olympia Master Trust was $450,954.88. It will be reduced by $40,000 as of November 30, 2019 and by another $80,000 as of December 31, 2019 to apply to our architect’s fees and expenses to-date for their work to replace our sanctuary roof and undertake related structural repairs. We intend to reimburse the General Account from funds raised in our upcoming capital campaign.
Looking ahead to 2020
A Profit & Loss Budget Overview for 2020 (our 2020 Budget) was approved by the Vestry on December 12, 2019. It reflects a projected deficit of $99,423.66. It can be viewed by clicking on the embedded link or by following this link and scrolling down to the bottom of the page.
$56,346.00 (57%) of the projected deficit is our Diocesan Assessment for 2020. Bishop Rickel has advised that—so long as we remain current with our Assessment payments in 2020—we will not be required to make any payments in 2020 on the balance owing from 2018 and 2019 (approximately $77,000.00), and in 2021, we may petition for forgiveness of all or part of this unpaid balance from prior years.
The projected deficit is likely to increase as we fail to secure pledges from those who gave in 2018 and/or 2019 but have not pledged in 2020 and we incur additional expenses related to our buildings and grounds, including repairing and replacing cracked concrete on the sidewalk, work required by the fire marshal to satisfy code requirements in the space leased by the Olympia Community School, and potential mold remediation.
If you have any questions or would like additional information regarding our budget or financial condition, please contact Cynthia Knapp, our Bookkeeper, at firstname.lastname@example.org or me at email@example.com.
…Bob Le Roy, Treasurer
Sing to the Lord a New Song
Capital Campaign Update
Given the priority to raise additional revenue to sustain our operations in 2020, Jerry Campbell, our consultant with the Episcopal Church Foundation, has recommended that we delay the start of our capital campaign by two months. Early gift solicitation, the “Quiet Phase” of the campaign, will now begin on Sunday, March 15, 2020. The Campaign Kick-Off for the “Congregational Phase” is scheduled for Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020 and we’ll celebrate the conclusion of the campaign on Pentecost Sunday, May 31, 2020.
In January, we will complete the recruitment of campaign leadership and begin work on printed materials for the campaign, including the brochure, pledge card, and content for the website.
Thanks so much for your interest in and support of our capital campaign. We look forward to keeping you informed as our preparations continue. If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Onward together in faith…
…Bob Le Roy, Capital Campaign Chair
Friday, December 13 2019
December 13, 2019
It certainly seems as if it's been quite awhile since I last had the opportunity to bring you up to date on what was occurred at the most recent Vestry meetings. My last communication with you was at Thanksgiving when I summed up what your Vestry had accomplished or is continuing to work on, as our liturgical year ended. Now it's Advent with Christmas just a few days away. Time to wrap up the calendar year and look ahead to 2020!
As you may be aware, this publication of The Chronicle was delayed in order for the latest information be given to you after the December Vestry meeting. With that in mind, I'm providing information from the November Vestry Meeting, as well as what we have learned at last night's meeting.
Let's backtrack to November and look at some highlights:
1) Our monthly Recognition Sunday for December will be focusing on the Pastoral Committee. That group will be recognized on Sunday, Dec. 8.
2) Fr. R.C. led us through an exercise from the College for Congregational Development Model that focused on an organization and the dynamics of the personal interactions with those involved in the organization. Of course, this is a VERY brief summary of the activity.
3) An update on the pledge campaign was provided. We learned that (A) pledges had been received from new folks at St. John's (Thank You!), (B) pledges are still being collected and (C) that we would probably need to make some follow up phone calls to parishioners regarding their participation in the campaign. I need to extend a much deserved Thank You! to Sarah Clifthorne for producing a program containing much needed information that can be used in future Pledge Campaigns!
4) Treasurer Bob Le Roy has been working with Sarah to stay abreast of the progress of the Pledge Campaign and determine how it relates to the 2020 budget. That budget is being worked on by Bob, Fr. R.C. and our Bookkeeper, Cynthia Knapp. That work will be presented to the Vestry for consideration on December 12. Preliminary information indicates we should expect a shortfall for 2020. Bob will present a detailed report regarding the shortfall at the December 12 Vestry meeting. There was also discussion as to how to address the deficit.
5) Fr. R.C. provided an update on his Sabbatical plans for 2020. The Sabbatical is a contractual agreement between St. John's and Fr. R.C. He is entitled to a three to six months leave after completing five years service to St. John's. Expect more detailed information regarding the plan from Fr. R.C., as he plans to address his plans during a Forum session at 9:15 AM on December 22. There is much more to a Sabbatical than honoring a contractual agreement. The concept, of course, has Biblical roots. There are many references to the need for the rest and the renewal that all of us need. It is a time to refresh, renew and rejuvenate ourselves both physically and spiritually. It is with this spirit that the Sabbatical leave should be approached.
6) Lou MacMillan provided information from the Sanctuary Renovation Committee to let us know where we were with regard to the anticipated construction project.
Please remember once the minutes of a Vestry Meeting are approved, they are available in the office or on the website for your review. Other things are always discussed at Vestry meetings. The intent of my communication is to provide just a highlight of things.
In addition to the regular November Vestry meeting, we held a short, informational meeting on Sunday, December 1 at 9:30 AM. The main focus of that meeting was an update on the Budgeting process for 2020 and a specific plan for making the follow up phone calls to parishioners regarding their participation in the Pledge Campaign.
The December meeting of the Vestry was held on December 12th. During the meeting, Jr. Warden Ric Weatherman reported that after a walk through with the Fire Marshall, it was found that we are in need of upgrading our fire alarm system as well as the potential need to address an upgrade to our sprinkler system upstairs in the area used by Olympia Community School. In other action, the Vestry approved the Sabbatical plan for Fr. R.C. that was introduced back in August. More information regarding the leave will be provided by Fr. R.C. during The Forum session on December 22. The Vestry also approved the budget for 2020 that was submitted by Treasurer Bob Le Roy.
Again, several other things were discussed, and as always I will refer you to review the complete meeting minutes after they are approved either in the office or on the website. The item most likely on everyone's mind centered on the Budget for 2020 and the anticipated deficit for the coming year and how to address the financial situation in which we find ourselves. Please refer to Bob Le Roy's article in this edition of The Chronicle for the specific details of our financial position.
In previous communications with you I have expressed your Vestry's efforts to have a better understanding of where we were financially. 2019 has been a difficult year. Our financial accounts were in need of a thorough examination. The manner in which things had been done and records kept were in need of an overhaul. It took a long time and required a tremendous amount of work from Fr. R.C., Treasurer Bob Le Roy and Bookkeeper Cynthia Knapp to figure things out and get a handle on things. They completed their part of the journey. My heartfelt Thanks! to them for their efforts!!
We were in the dark about things regarding finances. Now we're in the light and can actually tell where we are. We may not like what we see, but at least we know where we are.
The bottom line is we have a financial problem and we need to deal with it. Just like we're having to deal with things like a leaky roof, potential safety issues from the lack of adequate seismic construction, crumbling sidewalks and smelly and potentially hazardous mold. These problems have been around so long we've become oblivious to their existence and effect on us, to some extent. Your Vestry has demonstrated courage and leadership in stepping forward with a willingness to address these problems and make St. John's an even more wonderful place.
Your Vestry also finds itself in the most uncomfortable position of having to ask for more financial support. With that in mind, we have decided to delay the beginning of our Capital Campaign until Easter. That delay will allow us time to focus on the complete financial position in which we find ourselves and develop a plan to address our needs.
Asking for help is never an easy thing for any of us to do. I think most of us would rather try to figure things out on our own. If we are lost, we try to figure out where we are with the use of a map (or phone these days). If we can't figure out how to put that Christmas present together, we turn to the assembly instructions, with reluctance probably. But there comes a point in time when we have to say, "Can you help me, please?" Difficult words to utter, and ones that require a good bit of strength and faith.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is an acknowledgement of a need. A need for help. I do this all the time in prayer. I ask for guidance, strength, understanding, the right words to say or write, etc. Whatever the need, I'm asking God for help.
This is surely a time when we all need to offer our prayers for direction and for thanksgiving.
In the attempt,