Thursday, October 22 2020
Welcome to The Chronicle, our monthly newsletter for St. John’s | San Juan. An incredible amount has happened since I last wrote for The Chronicle! I’ve traveled around the state on sabbatical, visiting some truly gorgeous places, and also spent a lot of time in reflection and contemplation, wondering about where God is calling us as a community, and how we can respond together. I’d like to focus on some of that reflection this month.
One of the great luxuries of my sabbatical time was being able to spend a whole week by myself at Angie’s family cabin outside Leavenworth, on the banks of the Icicle Creek. I only went into town twice that week (mostly for groceries and books at the local bookstore), and otherwise spent the time at the cabin reading. I read the entire Chronicles of Narnia, which I hadn’t read since I was a young teenager (and which I’m hoping to read with my kids now that they’re getting old enough to really appreciate them), and a lot of poetry (which I enjoy tremendously), as well as reading a number of books on race in America.
My sabbatical time coincided with a continuing conversation about race in the United States that was inaugurated by the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, and was accelerated this summer by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I’ve written elsewhere of how personal the strife in Minneapolis has been for me; it’s my home, and many of my closest friends still live there today. My sister and I both used to live mere blocks from the Third Precinct, the building the policed abandoned during the unrest, and which was subsequently burned down (by young men, most of whom were white and causing mayhem). Good friends of mine opened a (wildly successful) pie shop on March 14 just a couple of blocks from where Floyd was killed (I only mention the day they opened because it’s so incredibly unlucky that they opened a storefront business just weeks before the whole world shut down due to COVID-19).
Jim Wallis, the founder of Sojourners and a public theologian and author, has described racism as (and even named one of his books) America’s Original Sin, and it’s hard to disagree with him. Racism has been part of our national narrative since the founding of the United States; while it’s true that the only time the word “slavery” is used in the US Constitution is in its abolition in Amendment XIII, it’s still clearly evident in the original document, including the three-fifths compromise in Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3, in which three of every five slaves is allowed to be counted toward the population of a state for the purposes of federal taxes and apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives.
Racism has only one beneficiary: white people. We are the ones who have benefitted from it since the founding of our nation. And it is our problem to fix. As the US saw in the years following the Obama administration, electing a Black president did not cure our country of racism, not did it prove that we had finally conquered it. In some ways, we brought racism into the light to really examine and begin dismantling. At the same time, it has shown us how far we have yet to go.
The overt, recognizable expressions of racism I denounce, and I know that you join me in doing so (as do most people of faith). But if we leave unexamined the more subtle ways that racism, white privilege, white supremacy, affect our community and those we love and support in Jesus’ name. As a multicultural community of faith, if we don’t wrestle with racism and work actively against it, we will never be able to truly become the Beloved community that God continually calls us to be.
This work will be uncomfortable for some of our members. If antiracism work were easy, I suspect our nation would already have done it. But this work is important precisely because it is hard. We can’t live the promises of our Baptismal Covenant fully without working against the insidious power of racism. And by persevering in this work, even though it can be uncomfortable and difficult, we will make the Reign of Christ real on earth now.
The Outline of the Faith (commonly called the Catechism) in the Prayer Book defines the mission of the church as “restor[ing] all people to unity with God and each other,” which is pursues “as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love.” (P. 855 of the BCP in English, and p. 747 in Spanish). These conversations, as uncomfortable as they may be, will help us all take part in pursuing the reconciling mission of the church, to the glory of God, and for the good of all creation. I look forward to continuing this conversation with you all in the months to come.
Tuesday, October 20 2020
Not long ago I lit a candle for Ben Louden in the rear of the sanctuary, a small act of ritual observance, but enough to help focus my thoughts and evoke lots of memories. I'd met Ben some thirty years ago, and though I hadn't seen him for a while I knew this last year had been challenging. Even though his passing was expected the news came as a jolt.
It's that old impermanence, slapping me upside the head again. I want to believe that things will stay as they are, that everything will be okay, but things don't necessarily stay the same and sometimes curve balls come our way. Either we accept the realities of life and death or live in denial--except that denial doesn't work very well. One way or another grief is inevitable, descending upon us like heavy weather; though the intensity of our sadness diminishes over time, it returns with anniversaries and birthdays and other sentimental seasons.
His passing brings to mind the help he gave to others, his love of reading, the wonderful cookies he baked, and the stories he told--particularly one about a boyhood misadventure back in his native Ohio. Though it was hilarious in the telling, I'm sure it couldn't have been very funny when it happened.
He and his brother had acquired an old wreck of a car and were thoroughly pleased with their good fortune--that is, until they began to tow it home and discovered it was full of bees who didn't care for travel--you can imagine the complications. I can picture him telling the story, so tickled he kept interrupting himself with laughter.
Lighting the candle brought so much to mind--memories of him saying and doing things "for the right reasons," organizing meetings, mentoring other men, and more. There was a constancy to Ben that marked him as a man worth knowing, and I am truly blessed to have known him.
Tuesday, October 20 2020
With the coming of autumn, elements of the Part I renovation project are falling into place. (We could all use a bad pun about now, right?) With God’s help, we continue to move steadily through this long, slow process, despite the pandemic, economic downturn, and much uncertainty. Here’s the latest:
We have our building permit! It expires March 31, 2021, so by not later than mid-March we will write a letter to the city’s Planning Department to request a one-time extension, as previously planned, to carry us into the warm weather construction season.
Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACM) Abatement
You’ll recall from previous reports that we found a considerable amount of ACM in the Sanctuary’s interior wall texture, as well as in the roof tar seams (but not the roof shingles). The ACM must be removed before Part I re-roofing and seismic upgrades can begin. Contracting for ACM abatement directly, rather than as part of the larger Part I construction contract, will save us money.
We have invited three asbestos contractors – Rhine Demolition and Dickson Company of Tacoma, and Advance Environmental of Olympia – to bid on removal of ACM from the roof tar and interior walls. We will ask them for three price quotes:
Our plan is to conduct a site walk-through for the interested contractors this week or next, with a firm due date for bids in early November. After evaluating the bids, the Renovation Committee will forward them with an award recommendation to the Vestry as early as its November meeting for consideration. Of course, the decision to contractually commit to this work will depend on funding and require Vestry approval. The actual work can be completed in about one-two weeks’ time.
Contract for Pre-Construction Services
We have begun talks with FORMA Construction about engaging them contractually as our general contractor for Part I construction. Initially, we can contract only for pre-construction services – preparatory things, like more accurate pricing based on approved permit plans, current economic conditions, and most efficient means and methods of construction – for a fixed price. Then, if the capital campaign raises the necessary funds and the Vestry approves, we can add the Part I scope of work and its dollar cost to the same contract. FORMA often structures contracts this way to reduce the risk exposure for both contracting parties. It’s a prudent way to best position ourselves for a successful construction project.
Please let me know if you have any questions on these topics, or other questions related to the renovation.
Chair, Renovation Committee
Tuesday, October 20 2020
St. John’s Episcopal Church
Treasurer’s Report for The Chronicle
October 19, 2020
The regular monthly meeting of the Finance Committee was held on October 15. Joining me were members R.C. Laird, Gerry Apple, Christian MacMillan, and Ric Weatherman. We reviewed our current financial condition and progress on the upcoming annual campaign.
Our Current Financial Condition
Our Budget Report for September 2020 has been posted to the Vestry's page on our parish website. Or, click here to read the report. As of September 30, 2020, our year-to-date operating deficit was -$62,638.30.
At current levels of giving and personnel costs, we are barely generating sufficient revenue to meet payroll and have little left to apply to other expenses. We have two additional sources of funds: the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) we received in July and our endowment account at with the Diocese of Olympia Master Trust.
One of the conditions for Diocesan approval of our acceptance of the EIDL loan is we would not spend any of the proceeds until completion of an independent audit, currently planned for some time in January 2021. The EIDL money is currently being held in a segregated account at Commencement Bank pending our investment of some or all the funds in an Investment Advisory Account with Edward Jones until such time as they may be needed to apply to certain operating expenses.
As of September 30, 2020, the balance in our General (Unrestricted) Account with the Diocese of Olympia Master Trust was $208,299.14. The Vestry approved the withdrawal of $60,000.00 from this account to apply to anticipated expenses in excess of projected revenue for the remainder of the calendar year and beyond.
…Bob Le Roy, Treasurer
Tuesday, October 20 2020
Fall is probably the season I like most. That crisp feeling in the air you notice when you take a walk, the way the sunlight seems to make everything glow, the smell of Lin making apple cider doughnuts or enjoying a cup of the hot cider itself. All these mark the season to me. We know a change is in the air, we can literally feel it. It's time to transition from summer to winter. That's fall. Let's enjoy the beauty of this blessing, especially during this time.
Your Vestry met last night to continue the work we have been called to do. I'd like to share some key points from last night's meeting with you.
We welcomed Fr. R.C. back from his Vacation/Sabbatical. Fr. again expressed his gratitude for being able to have some reenergizing time away from his duties at St. John's | San Juan. I know he found the time busy, yet rejuvenating and productive. Welcome Home, Fr.! It's nice to see you back!
As mentioned in his The Messenger notes for Sunday, October 18, Fr. R.C. commented on our desire to return to in-person worship. This was also a topic of discussion at last night's meeting. There are many things to consider before safely reopening, and I think Fr. did a wonderful job explaining all the things that have to be taken into consideration before we resume in-person services. Please CLICK HERE to read his The Messenger article, if you missed it.
The Olympia Community School has informed us they will be moving into a permanent facility at the end of the calendar year and will no longer need to rent space from us. While we are happy to see they have found the building that can better meet their needs, it does mean a loss of monthly income to us at a difficult time; however, it does mean we will not have to make a significant, financial investment in a sprinkler system that is required for schools. Jr. Warden Ric Weatherman has told us that system would cost somewhere in the $70,000 range, if my memory is correct.
Ric also let us know he is still working on getting bids to repair our crumbling sidewalks. The work will need to be done professionally to be in compliance with city ordinances.
Annual Pledge Campaign Chairperson Sarah Clifthorne provided an update on the progress of the campaign. The campaign will run for nine weeks with an end date of November 29, 2020. She reported pledges are beginning to be returned and expressed her "Thanks!" to those who have pledged their financial support of St. John's | San Juan.
I would also like to thank those folks and would encourage others to prayerfully consider supporting us financially. I understand this has been a difficult year for a variety of reasons, but would hope you can find it possible to maintain or increase your level of support and return your pledge as soon as possible. If you did not receive a pledge card, please contact the church office.
Our Renovation Committee Chairperson, Lou MacMillan, let us know we have a building permit ready to be picked up! Progress is being made on the project. I know you are as excited as I am to see work begin on the plan to replace the roof! Lou is also working on bids to address the mold abatement process needed to rectify that issue. To read Lou's complete report, please CLICK HERE.
Wearing two hats, Capital Campaign Chair and Tresaurer Bob LeRoy brought us news of where we were regarding both. The Capital Campaign will be officially launched in January. With the beginning of a new year, we trust we will begin a new chapter in the story of St. John's | San Juan with a successful and highly anticipated campaign!
As always, Bob keeps us apprised of how we are doing financially. He noted an increase in giving, which is typical for this time of year, and he is working on the budget for the coming year. We will be getting that information out to you as soon as possible. To get a better picture of our financial status, please CLICK HERE to access Bob's report.
We also learned Vestry member George Guthrie will be leaving us to move to Portland to reconnect with family and friends. Thanks, George, for your commitment and support of St. John's | San Juan! We wish you and Cathy well as you begin a new adventure, even though you'll be returning to a city with which you are familiar.
Our Communications Director, Evie Fagergren, will be leaving us as well. Evie has been with us for about two years. During her time with us, Evie has proven to be a much appreciated staff member. We will certainly miss her dedication and contributions as she pursues working with her family in the shellfish business. The best to you in all your future endeavors!
Talking about folks leaving is never a pleasant thing, but it does remind me of the need to offer a sincere "Thank You!" to all the people who have become so dear and important to us at St. John's | San Juan. Thanks to all the Staff, Vestry, various Chairpersons and their Committee members and all our church family for all you do!
Until next month, stay safe and well!