Wednesday, August 26 2020
In 1983 I began attending a 12 Step group called Happy Hour that met in the Guild Room. The meeting was so popular we often had to break up into two or three different rooms to just give everyone a place to sit. Smoking was still permitted back then and lots of people smoked, so you can imagine the cloud we generated over the course of an hour--it must have looked like the church was on fire when we opened the windows to air the place out!
Eventually Happy Hour moved to another location, and in the intervening years various 12 Step Groups have come and gone. Four were meeting here when the building was closed, and three of them continue as virtual meetings on Zoom. My job came in a roundabout way as a result of my involvement with one of the groups.
I was known to the office from having rented the parish hall for regional 12 Step assemblies over the past few years. Last summer I noticed that there had been a change in the church cleaning routine, and when I returned the key I mentioned that I was available if needed. A few weeks later I got a call asking if I was still interested, and shortly after I met with Fr. RC and was hired on an interim basis.
Now, nearly a year later, I remain grateful for the work and honored by the trust invested in me. The building can be a challenge--it's a blend of the Forties, Fifties, and Eighties, and the complexities of its various incarnations have baffled me from time to time. Fortunately I have an excellent mentor and can get help when I need it.
Alas, by the time I'd gotten into the swing of things everything had changed. The bustling activity slowed as we adjusted to the new reality of the corona virus, but we did adjust, and today services, meetings, and events are shared with the community over the internet through the resourcefulness of the clergy, vestry, volunteers, and staff. I admire those who continue to make it happen under demanding circumstances and give you my thanks.
Of course it's not the same as being together in person. I miss seeing the people who make St. John's such a vital place, the happy noise of the school upstairs, the choir practices and orchestra rehearsals that filled the sanctuary with glorious sound, and so much more, and yet I know the St. John's community is out there, loving and faithful and committed, eager to return when the time is right.
Wednesday, August 26 2020
Our building permit remains under review at the City of Olympia. So far, the city reviewer has not asked questions or requested modifications – a good sign. I expect approval by the end of August. Remaining fee due is $7,727.
I contacted Lonny Mason, project manager at Forma Construction, about our project and the process for engaging them contractually. Initially, we can contract solely for preconstruction services at standard rates, then add the actual bid cost to the contract later, after the results of our capital campaign show what we can afford. Forma often structures contracts in this way to reduce the risk for both parties.
Lonny is sending me a standard AIA contract template for review, along with contact information for reputable asbestos abatement contractors Forma has worked with in the past. He agreed that doing the abatement work as a separate contract would save us money.
Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACM) Abatement
Last month, I reported that KMB had sought clarifications on the hazmat survey recommendations from Advance Environmental (AE) to better understand how ACM abatement would be done and its associated cost. AE has submitted a revised survey report. Its findings are unchanged, but it now provides more useful information for planning and price comparison.
We learned that the ACM does not permeate the entire depth of the plaster on the east, west and south walls of the Sanctuary. It is only present near the surface of the plaster, beneath the visible paint layer. Abatement can be done by wetting the surface with water, then scoring and scraping off the wet outer layer, leaving most of the underlying plaster intact. It is not necessary to remove all the plaster down to the underlying wood furring or bare concrete.
KMB also had AE mark up a plan drawing to show the perimeter of the areas within the Sanctuary where ACM is present and requires abatement. We can now share the revised report and drawing with abatement contractors to obtain three price quotes:
Because abatement work is not weather-dependent, it can be done any time prior to the start of Part I construction. If the church remains closed due to the pandemic, the fall or winter may be the ideal time to schedule this work.
Please let me know if you have any questions or further guidance as we move ahead.
Chair, Renovation Committee
Wednesday, August 26 2020
St. John’s Episcopal Church
Due to scheduling conflicts, the regular monthly meeting of the Finance Committee was cancelled.
Our Current Financial Condition
All our accounts at Columbia Bank have been closed and the balances transferred to corresponding accounts at Commencement Bank. Our bank balances as of August 18, 2020 are:
Our Budget Report for July 2020 can be reviewed by following this link. As of July 31, our year-to-date operating deficit was -$81,994.13, a negative variance to budget of -$64,796.30. The negative variance in July is attributable primarily to:
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) loan proceeds 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 until such time as they may be needed to apply to certain operating expenses.
Several months ago, the Vestry adopted a strategy of withdrawing funds from our General (Unrestricted) Account with the Diocese of Olympia Master Trust to pay for costs relating to work to replace our sanctuary roof, undertake related structural repairs, and prepare for our upcoming capital campaign. We have, so far, withdrawn a total of $180,000.00 and applied the funds to architects’, contractors’, and consultants’ fees and expenses. From the onset of this work in 2017 thru August 18, 2020, these fees and expenses total $259,770.37. As of June 30, 2020, the balance in our General DIF Account was $263,982.53.
The Vestry approved the withdrawal of $70,000.00 from our General DIF Account, with $50,000.00 to be used to reimburse our Operating Account for capital expenses previously paid from the Operating and Designated Fund Accounts, and the remaining $20,000.00 combined with the current balance ($13,783.60) in the Capital Campaign Account to be applied to anticipated expenses relating to architects’ fees, enhanced building security, and sprinklers. As with earlier withdrawals, we intend to reimburse the General Account with interest from funds raised in our capital campaign.
…Bob Le Roy, Treasurer
Wednesday, August 26 2020
Despite the difficult circumstances with which we are all being forced to deal, your Vestry continues to do the work needed to keep St. John's | San Juan the place we seek during times such as these. We met Thursday, August 20, to continue work on that mission.
At that meeting, Deacon Terri Lolcama, Sherry Sulivan and Andre Unicume, all members of our Outreach Committee, approached the Vestry with the idea of displaying a "Love Your Neighbor" banner on church property. The banner, displaying our logo, would be printed in Spanish on one side with English on the other. Similar projects have been successful across the United States, and, as one Vestry member pointed out, now would be a wonderful time to display something of such a positive nature when you consider the disruption and sometimes turbulent period we have experienced.
Terri, Sherry and Andre are pursuing details of the project with hopes of being able to display that banner in the near future. There may even be a possibility of selling individual yard signs for parishioners to purchase and display. We look forward to hearing more about this project from our hard working Outreach Committee. By the way, put me down for one, no make that two signs!
50th Anniversaries are really significant events. Vestry member Mary Bruce celebrated 50 years as a parishioner at St. John's | San Juan. What an accomplishment! Thank you for all you have done for our church family during that time! Mary had technical difficulties joining us visually, but was able to attend via telephone. We all sent applause, cheers and virtual hugs to her!
We also celebrated the attendance of Columba Fernandez, who attends our 6:00 p.m. service on Sunday. We were certainly excited to welcome her and look forward to more opportunities to strengthen our ties with members of our San Juan community. Thanks for taking the time to join us, Columba!
For those interested in serving as a Lector, please contact Rev. Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org and Evie at email@example.com. Mary Law would appreciate being CC'ed should you volunteer to read. You can CC her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested in learning more about our most current financial status from Treasurer Bob LeRoy, please click here.
While speaking of money, I would personally ask you to remember El Hogar, Outreach Committee work, and other projects close to your heart during this time. Valued services continue to be needed, meals need to be prepared and served and bills must be paid. Be sure to indicate where you want your money to go by writing the name of the service on the memo line of your check or in the approapriate space if you choose to give online. Please remember to let Rev. Michael or Evie know of your celebrations by email.
Lou MacMillan's Renovation Committee report may be accessed by clicking here. I know we're all anxious to return to in-person services and are looking forward to replacing that roof! It's still exciting to think about that, and maybe even more so now.
Over the past few weeks, we are all aware that our live streaming efforts that had been going so well have been hampered with technical difficulties. Primarily, those issues seem to revolve around sound.
Lin and I have found that printing off the Order of Service and Rev. Michael's sermons before the beginning of the service helpful. We may miss some words, but it's the spirit of the service that is our focus. Remember, people are working so hard to make all this happen!
While we have overcome problems with delays or pauses with the streaming, those have been replaced with audio issues. Please know church leadership is as equally frustrated as you, and is working with our dedicated Audio-Visual team to resolve the problems. Tim Tayne and Troy Atwell have graciously agreed to tackle this awesome responsibility. I'm sure you join me in thanking them for their efforts!
Moving to the actual live event has proven to be a steep learning curve, with a far more involved system. Placing and adjusting microphones appear to be causing some of the problems, from what I understand. This is simply not a "Turn it on and go." situation.
Romans 12:12 tells us "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer."
Lin and I will be traveling around parts of Washington this September in our motorhome for a bit. I'll be speaking with you again in October.
Until then, stay safe and well!
Wednesday, August 26 2020
Today's Gospel refers to an ancient and venerable feast within the Christian liturgy: The Feast of the Transfiguration, which in some places is also known as the Feast of the Savior. This celebration is about remembering that glorious moment in which three disciples (Peter, James and John) had the opportunity to see Jesus Christ transfigured and resplendent, a moment of deep spirituality, which they would never forget in their experience with Jesus. That is why St. Peter, being very old, remembers it in his second letter (2 Peter 1: 13-21): "We hear this voice brought from heaven while we are with him on the sacred mountain."
The Transfiguration of Jesus confirmed the faith of the apostles and went to them as a light "that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the light is born in our hearts."
The Transfiguration of the Lord raises a question that is fundamental in Christianity: faith is for the apostles something bright, like immense joy, that no one can steal from them.
But today's Gospel account instructs the attitude of the disciples on their way of following Jesus. When we hear "This is my beloved Son; listen to him": This affirmation of God our father, proposes to the disciple a receptive attitude for listening. Listening not only includes the word, but also the acceptance of the new Servant of God our Father, who is nothing more than, the enlightened Jesus on the sacred mountain.
The art of listening.
Sometimes human beings no longer have time to listen. In a fast and busy life, we find it difficult to approach silently, calmly and without prejudice in our hearts to other people, with the willingness to listen to the message that person can communicate to us. Locked in our own daily problems, we pass by people, without just stopping to really listen to anyone. We could say that the contemporary human being is forgetting the art of listening to others and to each other.
In this same idea, it is not so strange that Christians have forgotten that being a believer: "is to live listening to Jesus." And yet, only from that listening does the life of a Christian take on its true meaning and originality. Even more. Only when we listen to Jesus, is when true faith in God is born in our hearts.
The experience of listening to Jesus can sometimes be disconcerting. The words of Jesus on many occasions, is not what we expected or had imagined. It may even happen that, at first, the words of Jesus in the gospel disappoint us, in our pretensions or expectations.
When we hear that Jesus says, love your enemies (we would think: “it would be that Jesus went crazy”, love who hurts me)… or when Jesus tells us in the gospel: “all that you wish for yourselves you must also wish for your neighbor”. These are hard words sometimes difficult to understand. That's why I always say being a Christian is a path of constant challenges that reminds us that no one can love God, the virgin or any other saint unless we love our neighbor first.
Then our life begins to illuminate with a new light. We begin to discover with Jesus what is the most humane way of facing life's problems. We realize where the big mistakes of our daily lives are. But we are not alone anymore! Someone close and unique, like Jesus, frees us again and again: from discouragement, wear and distrust. Jesus invites us to seek happiness in a new way, trusting unlimitedly in our Father God, despite our sin.
How do we respond today to that invitation addressed to the disciples on the mountain of transfiguration? "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." We may have to start by raising from the bottom of our hearts that prayer repeated by the monks of Mount Athos in Greece: "Oh God, give me a heart that knows how to listen."
Let us remember these two important points of today's Gospel:
1) We must remember that we must not only listen, we must not only pray, we must also act. Saint Francis of Assisi said: "acts speak louder than words." We must have actions that speak of God's love for others. The disciples in today's gospel not only saw Jesus but did the things that Jesus commanded them.
2) The disciples were transformed along with Jesus, they changed their idea about Jesus, but they also changed. This is a personal call for each of us ... sometimes we want others to change, but we must understand that change must begin first with us.
Finally, the central point of today's Gospel text: is the order to "listen to Jesus." Listening is what characterizes a disciple, his ambition is not only to be with Jesus, but to be a servant of the truth, in a position to always listen to God in that sacred space of silence.
In this last weeks of Summer, I would like to invite everyone to be purposeful during these days about reflection and personal and spiritual discovery that are coming. May we listen to Jesus every day through the words of the gospel, through personal and community prayer, through communion and liturgy.
Together with the apostles Peter, James and John, we take advantage of the opportunity to contemplate, with calm and attention, on the presence of God and Jesus that can open us to recognize God's love, power and goodness for each one of us. Amen.