Wednesday, May 27 2020
...As I write this, Thurston County has been approved to move to Phase 2 in the Safe Start Washington plan, which is certainly welcome news. It is a blessing that new cases of COVID-19 have been low enough that we are able to move toward recovering some semblance of normal life again, however incremental. It also puts us a significant step closer to resuming in-person ministries here at St. John’s; as I’m sure you all know, each phase must be at least 21 days (three weeks) long while also achieving specific milestones with testing and hospital capacity, so while this doesn’t guarantee a date when we might be able to resume meeting in person, it does get us closer to knowing the earliest that might happen. As of this writing, the earliest we could expect to begin Phase 3 is June 17, with Phase 4 beginning around July 8.
For us at St. John’s, Phase 2 is indistinguishable from Phase 1. The building remains closed, and all worship continues online. Phase 3 is the earliest that we have choices to make in how we will go about resuming in-person ministries I’ve asked a working group consisting of staff, medical professionals, and lay leaders from around the parish to evaluate the guidelines from the Bishop’s Office and propose a plan for our process of resuming in-person ministries, and they began their work last week. That group consists of:
It’s a large group, but the task before them is equally large: sorting out when and how we will resume in-person ministries, in order to keep everyone here safe.
We’ve met once already, and will be meeting again on Wednesday evening (May 27). As was said above, Phase 2 is identical to Phase 1 for our purposes. The question before us is what our worship and formation life will look like in Phases 3 & 4, and how we will adapt our customs and practices to ensure the safety of everyone who attends worship.
I will say that we will continue to stream our liturgy for the foreseeable future. Even once we are in Phase 4, there will be those who, for any number of reasons, choose not to attend worship in person, and we will continue to make the liturgy available online so no one will have to miss worship. We will send out updates as the committee continues its work (through The Messenger).
If you’re like me, you’d prefer that we just skip to the end and have the plan already; after being home these last two months, I’m certainly eager for us to “be there” already. The health of our congregation, both physical and spiritual, requires that we take a slower and more methodical approach. I am grateful for the hours that each of the members of the working group are spending to find the best solutions for our congregation, and I am equally grateful for the patience of everyone else while this group completes its work. This is work worth doing well; our community deserves our best efforts.
I am looking forward to the day when my articles for The Chronicle don’t include phrases like “COVID-19” and “hospital capacity;” I’m quite sure I’m not alone in that! Until that time, I hope that you and your family continue to be safe and healthy, and I look forward to welcoming you back to worship and fellowship in our church space, hopefully sooner than later.
Wednesday, May 27 2020
...Technology is the only challenge, first my grasp of the best way of creating this video and secondly, each choir member’s having the right computer and or phone as well as being able to print out the music, get a copy safely. The music is the easy part. Recording ones singing is a different challenge. I am confident we will figure it all out. Each singer has different computer/phone equipment, so the solution will be different for each, however we will overcome!
Many thanks to each soloist leading the hymns over the past weeks! You are brave souls.
Hopefully each anthem will become more confident! Not every week, but as often as practical in these times.
Tuesday, May 26 2020
...As noted before, the City of Olympia has now delayed adoption of the new building code until November 1st, so we have some cushion, but fully expect to apply in June as planned.
By the end of this month, KMB Architects will provide us with drawings, based on the February hazmat survey findings, that identify the types, locations, and quantities of hazardous materials that will require abatement prior to Part I work. We can share these plans with abatement contractors to obtain price quotes, and if we choose, proceed with this work by contracting directly with the preferred contractor. The advantage to contracting directly is we would avoid the typical ten percent price markup for completing the abatement work under the Part I construction contract with FORMA. No city building permit is required, only a special permit issued by the state Department of Ecology, which the abatement contractor will obtain. This work can be performed whenever it can be scheduled; it is not weather dependent.
Please contact me at email@example.com if you have any questions.
Renovation Committee Chair
Tuesday, May 26 2020
St. John’s Episcopal Church
The regular monthly meeting of the Finance Committee was held on May 14. Joining me were members R.C., Gerry Apple, Sarah Clifthorne, Mark Hampton, Ric Weatherman, and Christian MacMillan. The Committee reviewed our current financial condition and affirmed the decision to transfer our banking relationship from Columbia Bank to Commencement Bank as soon as is practicable.
Our Current Financial Condition
Bank Balances as of 5/12/2020:
Statements of Activity and Financial Position as well as our Revenue & Expenditure (Budget) Report as of April 30 have been posted to the parish website. Please follow this link and scroll to the bottom of the page to view the financial reports. As of April 30, our year-to-date operating deficit was -$86,083.66, but with receipt in May of $60,000.00 from our DIF Account, $54,577.00 in Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) funds, and $5,000.00 in Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funds, we have—for now—a positive variance to budget..
Pledge payments increased significantly in April to $26,892.19, up $11,603.66 from March, reducing our year to date shortfall to budget to -$12,612.58 (14%).
Our projected Diocesan Assessment for 2020 is $56,346.00. The January, February, and March 2020 payments have been made. A payment was not made in April, as our priority was retaining sufficient funds to meet our monthly payroll. Both the April and May payments will be made this month.
…Bob Le Roy, Treasurer
Tuesday, May 26 2020
...I had always heard I had Cherokee ancestors and a few years ago, my daughter-in-law who lives in Oklahoma, did the necessary leg work to prove my heritage. Although it is a very small amount of Cherokee blood that I have, I am very proud of my Native American roots.
After visiting the museum, we spent some time at a gallery that featured weaving, pottery, paintings, etc. all done by local Cherokee artists. I was drawn to the piece you see above, even though I had no idea what it meant. It is written using the Cherokee alphabet and means "Strength." It hangs over our front door. Little did I realize how meaningful that piece would become.
As I walk out the door or notice it as I pass by, it causes me to stop and think about the strength it is requiring during this unprecedented time. Strength to DO this or NOT to do that, depending on the choice we are forced to make. It also reminds me to be thankful for the variety of blessings we all receive.
I know I speak for all St. John's Vestry members as I say "Thank You!" for all you do and continue to do to support St. John's! Thanks to you for your continued financial support! Thanks to Fr. R.C. for his tireless efforts to ensure our opportunities to worship or gather socially are made available via technology! Thanks to Fr. Michael for his work to provide virtual worship opportunities for our Hispanic family members and the other duties he is performing! Thanks to Jim for all the music he continues to direct or perform! Thank You to Deacon Terry for those weekly Gospel readings!
Thanks to all those involved in the production of those worship services! Be you in front of or behind the cameras, Thanks! Thanks, Evie, for making sure our communication vehicles (The Messenger and The Chronicle) are still being regularly produced! Knowing what is going on is so vitally important right now! Thanks to Dan for his constant efforts in maintaining our building and preparing for the time we can get back together! Thanks to all those who are involved in determining how we can once again gather physically!
Please know that if I missed anyone's specific contributions to St. John's, it is not intentional and accept my apologies and a big "Thank You!
I close by wishing you continued strength, safety and health.
In the attempt,
Tuesday, May 26 2020
...Now I encounter abandoned clothes, suitcases too worn to roll another day, empty liquor bottles, food wrappers and personal items, and an occasional hypodermic needle--all of which are carefully disposed of. If there's a big mess I may feel annoyed with the people who left it, but that diminishes when I get rid of their leavings. After all, it's not an insult, it's just a mess.
From time to I encounter people on the grounds. One night a fellow was shoving weeds into a metal strap around a downspout, thinking he was fixing it. When I asked him what he was doing he said, "Trying to survive." Another night I met Jeff, a dumpster diver who lives in a camp off of Wheeler, going through our trash. He told me he was respectful and simply wanted to salvage useful items. I let him carry on and the next day the area was tidy.
And then there are people I see on the street who are obviously out of control. Of course I give them plenty of leeway. In each case they seem to be getting by as best they can, but I can't help wondering what had happened to them. Very likely combinations of bad luck, misjudgments, illnesses mental or physical, or any number of other misfortunes may have befallen them. In effect they have run out of wiggle room, which brings me back to one of my favorite duties at St. John's.
As I mentioned last month, each Wednesday I change the candle in the sanctuary (pictured above). Though we replace it every seven days, it will actually burn for eight. In effect it is a day of grace, and although I haven't needed it, who couldn't use a little more grace in their lives? Imagine a grace period as cushion against errors, omissions, and bad luck. Some of us have had to use it--perhaps we have even taken it a bit for granted.
But not everyone enjoys such benefits. Many in the larger community have exhausted their resources and find themselves living on the fringe of society. Given the recent economic wreckage we may be seeing more of it. Alas, I don't have a solution for that, but I refuse to give up hope, seeing evidence of it all around me, particularly in the work of the good souls who serve in so many ways, casting a light of their own.
It's one of the reasons I continue to love working at St. John's--it challenges me to think and feel in new ways--but I don't spend my evenings in the church philosophizing. That happens on my own time. Instead I go about my business, cleaning up such messes as I may encounter and striving to see the light in others.
Friday, May 01 2020
In the time since the last edition of The Chronicle came out, it feels like the world is a different place. We haven’t had public worship in our sanctuary since March 8. As of today, we’ve held 23 services online, either streaming directly to our website or by Zoom. Our Vestry has met three times by Zoom, and is really getting the hang of it. We’ve even started having coffee hour by Zoom following the morning service (which it turns out is more fun than you’d think!) Things are decidedly different, and there’s no telling when they’ll get back to the way they were before March started.
I’m particularly proud of our staff, and how they’ve all gone out of their way to make things work in this trying time. Our sexton, Dan Kapsner, comes in late at night whenever he knows others have been in the building to sanitize everything he can. Our bookkeeper Cynthia Knapp has been working remotely to do most of our books but comes in every Thursday to cut checks and make sure our deposits are made. Jim French has been working diligently to coordinate singers and instrumentalists for our liturgies, getting everything recorded in advance, so we can keep the building as empty as possible while still having beautiful music for worship. Evie Fagergren has been coordinating the office remotely, coming in once a week to bring the mail (and the pledges that so many of our members are mailing in- thank you!). Fr. Michael Beatón Oakley has had to get to know the congregation while not being able to actually see anyone in person- and has been doing a remarkable job at it! Isaura Fernandez has come in each week to record the music for our Sunday evening service; it sounds glorious (you should check out one of the services, which are all archived online).
We are incredibly fortunate to have gotten word this week that our application for a Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan has been approved, and our funds have been reserved with the Small Business Administration (SBA). This will provide payroll funds for us for eight weeks, and as long as our spending meets the program guidelines, that loan will be forgiven at the completion of those eight weeks. This is truly a blessing for us; our bank stopped accepting applications within 24 hours of starting to accept them because they were overwhelmed. Thankfully, Cynthia Knapp used her connections to submit an application with Commencement Bank, who have been fabulous to work with, and got us the loan in the second round of funding. Thank you to Cynthia and our treasurer, Bob LeRoy, for their work in making this happen.
As of today, we still don’t have word on when we might be able to open the church for worship again, and we can’t even begin making preliminary plans until we get more guidance from both the governor’s office and our bishop. What I am sure of is that coming back will happen slowly, and in stages, and that social distancing will make communion a challenge for the foreseeable future. The Vestry, staff, and I are planning on making live-streaming part of our permanent plans for St. John | San Juan, because so many people will continue to be excluded due to health concerns even after we start slowly opening up again. We are developing plans for implementing live-streaming with all of our services, both Sunday and weekday services, in the church and in the chapel. We will have more to say in the next edition of The Chronicle, which will come out just after our next Vestry meeting, which is scheduled for May 21.
We hope that you are staying home, and staying safe. If you need anything, please let us know. We have had folks volunteer to do grocery shopping, pick up prescriptions or other goods, and we have funds available in the Clergy Discretionary Fund to provide assistance if you’re having trouble paying your bills. All you need do is ask, and we’ll do everything we can to help.
Many blessings to each of you. This distancing is hard, but it’s worth it.