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,