Wednesday, April 29 2020
This month’s update is brief due to the slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. We’re nearing completion of the final design phase of Part I renovation, but Governor Inslee’s stay home order has delayed completing the scope definition and pricing of hazardous materials abatement, information that’s crucial to developing a final cost estimate. We now anticipate having that in May, as the state is expected to begin relaxing some of its stay home restrictions soon.
Even with this delay, there is still enough time for us to apply for a Part I building permit by mid-June. The City of Olympia has extended the new building code adoption date until November 1, which gives us some cushion if we need it, but at present we expect to apply for the permit as originally scheduled.
Much more to come next month. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Wednesday, April 29 2020
I began my spiritual formation and vocation in the First Presbyterian Reformed Church of Havana, Cuba. There, I served doing youth leadership, teaching adult Bible study, and overseeing the missionary work for my local church. I was later approved by The Committee for Education and Christian Vocation of the Havana Presbytery to be a candidate for pastoral ministry and later that year I began my theological studies at the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Matanzas, Cuba.
I received my degree in Theology in 2009 and in 2012 went on to received my Theology License from the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Matanzas, Cuba and was further ordained as minister of the word and sacraments in the Presbyterian Reformed Church in Cuba after passing examinations in Pastoral Care, Liturgy, Church government, Bible, Theology, Sacraments, and Church history.
From 2006 to 2012 I spent my weekends attending to and performing the pastoral duties for seven Presbyterian Churches that were a part of three different Presbytery’s of the National Synod in Cuba. After graduation I accepted and served as Senior Pastor at the Presbyterian Reformed Church in Camajuaní. While serving as Senior Pastor I simultaneously took on the additional responsibilities of: working as moderator for the session of Presbyterian Churches in the cities Encrucijadas, Placetas, and Remedios, all located in Central part of Cuba; varied responsibilities in service of the National Synod and Presbytery of the Center; and was President of the Committees on Social Policy in the Synod, the National Center for Activities of the Presbyterian Church, in the Council of the Presbytery of the Center, Pastoral Relations Committee. I further served as Chair of the Committee on Education and Christian Vocation of the Presbytery and as Vice Moderator of the Presbytery of the Center in Cuba.
I have maintained an ecumenical position throughout my spiritual formation and pastoral ministry. Along with my pastoral work as described previously I have also worked as the general coordinator for Youth Programs sponsored by the National Council of Churches of Cuba (CIC) and the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) and maintained exchange and ecumenical relationships with organizations including: The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Memorial Center; The Community of Sant' Egidio; The Christian Center for Reflection and Dialog; The Kairos Ecumenical Center for the Arts, Liturgy and Social Service; The Evangelical Church Berlin-Brandenburg-schlesische Oberlausitz; and the Evangelical Church of Anhalt (EKBO-EKD), and Berliner Missionswerk in Germany.
I have great passion for the Bible and its teachings, and the practice of community prayer. I have always dreamt of participating in a church whose role in the society is one driven to serve, reconcile, and promote peace, while being accessible and welcoming to all without regard for race, color, ethnic origin, nationality, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. For me, the Church is called to be the salt and light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16), to give meaning and flavor to the life of all and to enlighten the way God gives us in faith in His Son Jesus Christ.
I joined St. John/San Juan in 2016 and it has been an honor to serve and support the Hispanic community. With the support of St John’s Episcopal Church, I started the discernment process into the Episcopal Church some years ago and I was ordained to the transitional diaconate last December 2019. My ordination to the priesthood will be in June 2020.
I join you and look forward to being of service with my wife Louise, and my children, Samuel, Gabriel, Nile and Martin. I’m grateful for the continued support of my family throughout this journey. I enjoy swimming, hiking, time by the water and dancing salsa.
I look forward to learning more about you.
Peace and Good,
Tuesday, April 28 2020
The Monday after Easter I felt the need for a little more and lit a candle in the rear of the sanctuary. As I put a match to the candle I thought of those who had died from the virus, grateful that as far as I knew none of our own had been among them. May it remain so. Our lives go on quietly, and quite differently, and yet the connection continues through the internet, Zoom, and the telephone. I am in the building at odd hours, trying to minimize contact with others, but I see our efforts on Facebook and Vimeo, and I know that bible study continues on Zoom and that members are reaching out to each other on the telephone. It's not the same, but it shows how we still care for one another, how we continue as best we can in adversity.
It's tricky at times. We have to stay a safe distance from each other and limit how many people are present. It requires planning and cooperation and discipline, along with considerable patience with the technical demands of sharing worship on the internet. Cables and cords snake out across the sanctuary floor, various connections have to be made, things have to be relocated to allow us to stay safely apart. Before Easter the altar was moved up two steps to make more space. Now I see it is back in its customary position. I helped move it up, but how it came back down is a mystery.
Every day brings surprises. Just yesterday as I was blowing off the sidewalk along Capitol Way I noticed flowers at the base of the shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe. At first I thought they were artificial flowers, but upon closer inspection they turned out to be fresh, placed there recently. What secret visitor had put them there? I asked Michael, our new Curate, but he didn't know. It is yet another mystery, a private act of devotion by a member of Iglesia Episcopal de San Juan.
This year's Easter Vigil brought surprises, too, combining Fr. RC's chanting in the darkened sanctuary with recorded readings. Our friend Fr. Evan was one of the readers; as he read his dog wandered in front of the camera, adding a grace note that confirmed my long held belief that God has a sense of humor.
And so we persevere, doing what we can. Of course I'd rather see things back to normal, the building packed with people and bustling with activity. I wouldn't mind cleaning up a big mess in the Parish Hall, or wiping up squashed cake from the floor and mopping it clean again. In fact I would be delighted to haul out buckets full of green waste and recycling and trash. I know it will happen, I just don't know when. For now I will continue to clean and disinfect, water the plants, and encounter the various mysteries that enrich my days.
And each Wednesday I shall light a new ambry candle, knowing that one day it will welcome us home.
Tuesday, April 28 2020
...Singers were placed approximately 10 feet apart. Entrance into the building and movement about in the building was preplanned with restroom use and sanitation protocols preplanned. Music sheets were prepared carefully using email .pdf files for home rehearsal with backup sheets as needed. Hand washing and sanitizing are our constant vigilant protocol. Singers that live in close proximity to the church and were confident in their health status risk factors as described by the diocese and the governor were approached to serve.
The music director, in conjunction with the rector, chose hymns, liturgical music, choral or solo anthems appropriate to the small forces allowed for Sunday morning services. These materials were preplanned, rehearsed, and recorded for use in live streaming performance and for our prerecorded services downloaded to our internet platforms by our team. Fr. R.C., does all the recording, though he is teaching the music director established protocols to ensure a consistent outcome, especially as we approach summer’s needs.
During this period of emergency reformatting and creation of new ways of meaningful worship, the music director has basically been on call 7 days a week to respond at a moments notice and create music as needed in any format that might present itself. Being able to practice on the organ has been easy enough, both at the church and on my home studio large practice organ. Both organs are easily recorded for downloads to our website. Office time has become more intense as our virtual choir product is being built while still doing normal planning, rehearsing, practicing, and recording. Mondays are usually quiet. Late mornings, afternoons, and some evenings get filled up. Scheduling is around team and performers availability. The attempt is to complete all Friday, but there is always something more!
Rehearsing small ensembles, vocal soloists, and instrumentalists is far more intense than normal rehearsal of our choirs since the finished product doesn’t hide small mistakes hidden by other choristers singing the same part. The final musical offering must be of the highest possible quality each solo individual can deliver. Pre Recording performances help some since one can have a “do-over” or two, but since live streaming must be completely presentable, putting in the time with strong rehearsing becomes mandatory.
Creating and practicing for small organ recitals in addition to normal service music occupies quite a bit of my time once the above priorities have been accomplished.
The music director is presently creating a high quality virtual choir product that is hopefully better than what can be seen now on most websites. We believe our completion of this web based product will be quite soon.
The Second Sunday of the Month Compline Service has been enhanced with an organ recital immediately following the Compline Office. This will continue with the music director being the performer until other organists are available to move about. The overall interest in this offering is more valuable during the pandemic.
In addition to Sunday services, the singing of a hymn at the Wednesday morning's 7 am service continues, but now my studio organ is heard on Zoom instead of our wonderful harmonium from the chapel.
Solo recitals and small ensembles is the plan for our concert season. Live streaming of these concerts will be offered with viewers being given the opportunity to contribute to our efforts in offering fine performances to the community.
A strong brass ensemble presence is now emerging with a seven member ensemble participating for Festival Easter Services and during Christmas, as well as trumpets added to services from time to time just for fun!
Our 6th annual Festival of Advent Lessons & Carols service, led by the Parish Choir, Compline Choir and Jubilate Choir confidently lead the congregation in traditional Anthems and Carols for the Season.
Our Christina Beckman’s Nookta Rose Baroque concert was a hands down spectacular success, solidifying expectations for St. John’s Concert Series offerings to come. Christina’s choice of music from the Baroque reveals both the sensitive and the exciting sides of Baroque life. Hearing the fine reproductions of period instruments, violins, cello, baroque guitar, and the visually exciting archlute introduced many listeners for the first time to the world of early music. Expert interpretation of this styled music along with pithy narrative was a hit.
It remains to be seen how St. John’s Concert Series will continue with its traditional procession of outstanding visiting choirs such as The Esoterics and Seattle Pro-Musica. St. John’s agreement with the Olympia Chamber Orchestra for their performing their annual season as a part of St. John’s Concert Season will be re-evaluated. We expect players will accompany St. John’s choirs and ensembles in various projects throughout the year. Many of you enjoyed OCO’s Concerts this past Fall and we look forward to more.
We will reschedule Gabrieli and Friends, Music for Brass and Organ extravaganza with scholar Rebecca Edwards, and the Dedicatory Recital of our finished Schlicker Pipe Organ to be performed by Douglas Cleveland. Again, we thank Bond Organ Builders of Portland, Oregon for stepping up as they work to complete the installation in time for the concert.
At least one jazz offering and one Celtic style offering are being worked on for this next season.
Tuesday, April 28 2020
...Maybe some of them are still unfamiliar. Who would have thought we would be living through this pandemic? Our world has certainly be impacted in a dramatic fashion because of this devastating health crisis. Loved ones have been lost. Unemployment has soared. Lives have been forever changed.
Despite all the challenges and uncertainty we are facing, Fr. R.C. and your Vestry continue to try to meet the demands of keeping our St. John's family connected by providing opportunities to worship via Virtual Church technologies. While this effort has not gone as smoothly as we would have liked, it was another step in trying to keep our family engaged in this manner, and we are working on improving the delivery of services. We appreciate your patience as technological issues are being resolved and encourage you to keep checking the website for information and current updates. This past Sunday's service (April 26) ran quite smoothly. Please check it out, if you haven't already done so. I know you'll appreciate the service. A big Thank You! to all involved in the production of this.
We welcomed Fr. Michael Beaton Oakley to our St. John's Vestry family last night. We are blessed to have Fr. Michael join us in a part time capacity as he joins us a Curate. While at St. John’s, Fr. Michael will be learning the craft of ministry. Along with Fr. R.C., Fr. Michael is sharing the responsibility for both English and Spanish language services. Along with those responsibilities he will be working to build his knowledge of and familiarity with Episcopal Church polity, worship, leadership and customs.
If you haven't had the opportunity to read the message from Vestry Clerk Sarah Clifthorne entitled "Being the Church During the Crisis," I would encourage you to do so. Sarah addresses financial Stewardship during this particularly trying time. I think you will find her words informative. To read her message, please click here.
As I mentioned at the beginning of these thoughts, I included the term the "New Normal." We are all being forced to do things differently for an unknown amount of time.
This "New Normal" has begun. You stay at least six feet away from friends. You visit with them through closed doors and windows or from the opposite side of the street while wearing a mask. Visits to the grocery store may cease or you go wearing that mask. You begin marking your calendar with times indicating when a food delivery will take place or you take advantage of curbside pickup or the next Zoom meeting. Travel has to be cancelled or postponed. You can't physically go to church. You can't . . .
But what you can do is take the time to offer thanks for all you have, and use this opportunity to help those who need it most, if you can. If you find yourself needing any kind of support, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I close with the same scripture from Isaiah 41:10 that I referenced in my last letter.
Do not fear, for I am with you,
Tuesday, April 28 2020
St. John’s Episcopal Church
The first meeting of our new Finance Committee was held on April 16. In these challenging times, I think it is more important than ever to give R.C., our Vestry, and our congregation the benefit of a shared and balanced perspective on how best to manage our finances. Joining me as members are R.C., Gerry Apple (Vestry Member), Sarah Clifthorne (Vestry Secretary), Mark Hampton (Senior Warden), Ric Weatherman (Junior Warden), and Christian MacMillan (Lou’s son, a Financial Advisor with Edward Jones in Olympia). We plan to meet each month one week before the Vestry meeting to review our financial condition and offer recommendations to the Vestry as appropriate.
Our Current Financial Condition
Bank Balances as of April 22, 2020
Use of Endowment Funds
As of February 29, 2020, the balance in our General (Unrestricted) Account with the Diocese of Olympia Master Trust (DIF) was $325,247.96. To-date, we have withdrawn $120,000.00 and applied these funds to our architects’, contractors’, and consultant’s fees and expenses to-date for their work to replace our sanctuary roof, undertake related structural repairs, and prepare for our upcoming capital campaign. Since January 1, 2018, those expenses total $207,599.37. At last Thursday’s meeting, the Vestry approved the withdrawal of an additional $60,000.00 from the DIF Account to pay the latest invoices from our architects, KMB. We intend to reimburse the DIF Account with interest from funds raised in our capital campaign.
Our Budget Report for the First Quarter of 2020 has been posted to the parish website. Please click on this link and then scroll down to the bottom of the page to access the report.
As of March 31, our year-to-date operating deficit is -$78,788.91, which will be reduced by $60,000.00 upon receipt of the withdrawal from our DIF Account.
Although total pledges for 2020 have increased to $265,892.00—including $11,532.00 in supplemental pledges—pledges received through March 31 are below budget by -$17,029.77 (24%). Pledge payments have decreased each month since January.
We are currently raising only about ½ of what we need to cover our operating expenses.
Our projected Diocesan Assessment for 2020 is $56,346.00. The January, February, and March 2020 payments have been made. The April payment was made last week.
Commencement Bank has accepted and approved our application for a Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) grant in the amount of $74,000.00. We received word earlier today that the money has been reserved for us, and we may receive it within the next few days.
We have been approved for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) from the SBA and are awaiting receipt of $5,000.
If you have any questions or would like additional information regarding our budget or financial condition, please feel free to reach out to Cynthia Knapp, our Bookkeeper, at email@example.com or me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
…Bob Le Roy, Treasurer