Vestry News & Meeting Minutes
Vestry News, July 19, 2017
By Laura Ingersoll, Senior Warden
Before convening, the Vestry and others gathered in the church for Holy Eucharist, during which the Rev'd Geoffrey Hoare commissioned the new Vestry members.
The Vestry authorized a new employment contract for the Rev’d Debbie Kirk, providing that she will work half-time to continue serving the Parish’s Spanish-language worship community and half-time to support the Parish’s Global Mission program by working with CASA of Maryland to serve the people of Central and South America in the Washington area.
The Vestry approved the appointment of Mary Kostel to serve as Parish Chancellor (lawyer), a non-paid function most recently served by former Warden Jim Sottile.
Director of Finance Doug Dykstra reported that pledge payments and other contributions are strong, although no new pledges have been received recently, and expenses are closely tracking the budget. Geoffrey noted the serious challenge we face in increasing pledges by 20% in order to maintain our current level of mission and ministry in 2018 and beyond. He also reported on good progress in cleaning up and updating the parish rolls.
The Vestry voted to move the date of the annual meeting and parish elections to January 28, 2018, and every fourth Sunday of Epiphany thereafter. (A nominating committee will be formed in September.) The Vestry also elected Lucy Fraser to fill the Vestry position of Andrea Fraser-Reid, who will leave the Vestry at the conclusion of the August meeting in order to relocate away from the Washington area. Lucy will serve until the January 2018 elections.
The next regularly scheduled Vestry meeting will be on August 16.
Vestry News, June 21, 2017
By Laura Ingersoll, Senior Warden
At the new Vestry’s first meeting, we appointed Heather Sondel to serve as Secretary, and re-elected Hollis McLoughlin to serve as Treasurer, for the year. Sally Craig reported on plans for the St. Alban’s annual Memorial Lecture program, which will inaugurate in Lent 2018. Hearty gratitude was expressed for Phoebe Jane Winthrop and the volunteers she led in putting on a wonderful St. Alban’s Day picnic.
The Executive Committee presented a proposal to move the date of the annual meeting and parish elections to January 28, 2018, and every fourth Sunday of Epiphany thereafter. Our tradition has been to do this in May or June, but many other parishes have terms that are congruent with the fiscal/calendar year, and we believe this would be a better practice for St. Alban’s. It would allow each new Vestry to form just after the prior Vestry has finalized the budget, and while the September-June program year is underway – enabling the Vestry to manage and assess the budget and program year for several months before having to undertake the new budget and program planning process, instead of having to jump into both at a time when people are heading off on summer vacations. This proposed change can be made without amendment to the Parish bylaws, and the Vestry will vote on it in either July or August. A memo explaining the plan in greater detail is posted in the Wade Room and is available from the Parish office or from any Vestry member or Diocesan Delegate, whom parishioners are invited to contact with any comment. Members of the Executive Committee and Vestry will be available on Sunday, July 9, from 9:15 to 10:00 a.m., in Room 301 of Satterlee Hall, to informally speak with parishioners who have questions or comments about the proposal.
The next regularly scheduled Vestry meeting will be on July 19.
Vestry News, May 17, 2017
The last regular meeting of this Vestry on May 17 heard from Gala co-chair Abby Davis of the event’s record-breaking fundraising, benefiting our three partner schools – in DC, Jordan, and South Sudan – and we extended heartfelt appreciation to the many parishioners who worked to make the Gala such a great success and so much fun.
The financial year-to-date report shows us on track with the budget.
Geoffrey Hoare described, and the Vestry discussed, efforts among St. Alban’s, Church House, and the Cathedral to develop a coherent approach to our shared ministries on the Close, also incorporating the schools, which would both optimize scarce resources and enhance each part of our Close community. Responding to a comment about broken relationship, Geoffrey observed that “one of the first things to go when a relationship goes bad is gratitude” – and he urged us to make sure that the Great Thanksgiving (BCP 333 and elsewhere) is at the heart of whatever we undertake.
On Sunday, June 4, the polls (for elections to fill Vestry and Diocesan Delegate vacancies) will be open from 8:30 am to noon, with the Annual Meeting starting at 11:30.
Members present whose terms are concluding, Sandy Kolb and Youth Representative Emma Morrison, shared moving reflections on their Vestry service. Following the meeting, the Vestry launched the mid-year Canvass by beginning to phone parishioners to express gratitude for each one’s participation in the life of our community, to elicit questions or concerns, and to update parish records. The Canvass will continue, through the Vestry and other volunteers, with the goal of reaching every person on our parish contact list.
The next regular Vestry meeting will be on June 21.
Vestry News, April 19, 2017
By email vote on April 4, the Vestry unanimously accepted the Nominating Committee’s slate of candidates for election (on June 4) to fill four Vestry seats and one Diocesan Delegate position. The Vestry expressed gratitude to the Nominating Committee and all willing to stand for election.
Written reports from associate clergy noted high attendance at Children’s Chapel (averaging 47 in the past month) and Rev’d Geoffrey Hoare’s 5-Forum series on worship (averaging over 110). Geoffrey thanked the community for its warm welcome, and reported that he is deeply engaged in addressing the parish’s immediate challenges (including the music, Spanish liturgy, and youth programs, as well as inadequate administrative and communications staff support), their staffing consequences, and the need for increased resources to develop these ministries.
Geoffrey announced he would attend the Urban/Suburban Clergy Conference, a longstanding annual week-long gathering of a couple of dozen leaders of the country’s largest Episcopal parishes; he has participated in this group for several years and is grateful to be able to continue doing so as Priest-in-Charge of St. Alban’s.
After business concluded, Geoffrey led the Vestry in a reflective discussion of Edwin Friedman’s fable, The Bridge.
The next regular Vestry meeting will be on May 17.
Vestry News, March 8, 2017
After previous discussion, we approved a $45,000 Reserve Fund draw for major repair and refurbishment of our organ (which hasn’t been overhauled since it was built nearly 20 years ago, and has gone badly out of tune). The work will be done by Michael Hart, the organ’s builder, during Spring/Summer, and isn’t expected to disrupt worship services. Governance Committee Chair Ken Patterson reported that a Vestry vote on proposed bylaws changes would be deferred until our new Priest-in-Charge, Geoffrey Hoare, has a chance to consider and weigh in on them, giving us the benefit of his substantial experience.
Emily DiBari reported briefly on the City’s proposed Ward 3 short-term housing project for families (sited next to the 2nd District Police Station near McLean Gardens), and we agreed that the God’s Work in the World team would track the project and recommend support as appropriate.
The Vestry engaged in robust discussion of a Global Missions team proposal to provide certain support for the still-evolving “sanctuary movement” forming among religious institutions. Geoffrey Hoare stressed that for St. Alban’s the issue of how to respond to concerns around current immigration policies is pastoral, not political. The Adult Forum Committee will sponsor a related 3-part series after Easter Sunday. Our pastoral and social service ministries will continue to address immigration-related issues in the context of ongoing work. And the clergy and Global Missions team will monitor the “sanctuary movement” and the Episcopal Church response to it, and propose St. Alban’s participation or action if and as appropriate.
Upcoming events include an Earth Day event on April 22 (with a related OWLS Luncheon speaker on 4/20), and the Parish Gala on May 13.
This was the first Vestry meeting presided over by Geoffrey Hoare, and he and the Vestry expressed mutual appreciation for the opportunity to work together to build a strong future for St. Alban’s. The next regularly-scheduled Vestry meeting will be April 19.
Vestry News, February 15, 2017
The Vestry heard from two of our Diocesan Delegates, Leo Coco and Eliot Edgar, about last month’s Diocesan Convention. We had an open discussion with members of the Music Advisory Group (MAG) about their final report, and we expressed deep appreciation to the MAG for a careful and deeply insightful examination of our community’s wishes and hopes for the future of our parish music program: Andrew Brown, Bruce Barrow, Eliot Edgar, Mary Beth Evans, Richard Leland (chair), and Paul Loether. We received proposed Parish Bylaws amendments, which after further work will be published to the Parish and put forth for approval in May. The Nominating Committee presented “job descriptions” for the positions of Vestry member and Diocesan Delegate, and noted that names of potential candidates for election in June must be submitted by March 1. Junior Warden Rich Turner presented a detailed plan for badly-needed but costly repair and refurbishment of our otherwise-excellent organ (which had not been regularly maintained for several years); the Vestry will carefully consider the proposal in the context of other anticipated demands on the budget, and will likely vote on it in March. In furtherance of the conversation that began with our January 31 mini-retreat on multiculturalism, the Senior Warden distributed a draft document compiling all Vestry records, and related information, reflecting the history of the St. Alban’s Spanish-language worship ministry since it began in 2009. The next regularly-scheduled Vestry meeting will be on March 8, 2017.
Vestry News, January 31, 2017
The next regular meeting of the Vestry will be on February 15.
Vestry News, January 18, 2017
2016 Finances: In a strong signal of our community’s faith and hope for the future, payments of 2016 pledges soared in December, bringing us just above the budgeted $1.1 million. Other year-end income (such as bequests and the annual Nascelli Trust distribution) also came in higher than expected. At the same time, because of cautious and restricted spending, 2016 expenses fell sharply in all categories except outreach. These factors, together with the carried-over 2015 surplus, allow us to close the 2016 books with no deficit. The Executive Committee has lifted the spending freeze the Vestry imposed in October.
2017 Pledges: As of this day, we’ve received 241 pledges totaling $990,893, putting us very close to the $1 million on which we’ll build our 2017 budget. The Vestry calls on parishioners who haven’t yet pledged to please do so, so we can finalize the budget with confidence. (Of course, we hope to end up with significantly more in 2017 pledge income.)
2017 Budget: The Vestry received the proposed 2017 budget, which will be voted on at the end of January. Treasurer Hollis McLoughlin described a new management-oriented financial reporting format, to supplement our regular detailed monthly accounting reports, to equip the Vestry with actionable information supporting our policy and planning work.
Other action: The Vestry received the Music Advisory Group (MAG) final report, which will be posted on the parish website; MAG members will attend our February meeting to discuss the report and its implications. The Vestry appointed Warren Clark, Sally Craig, and Alex Netchvolodoff to serve as the Principal Members of the new Memorial Lecture Committee created by a living-endowment from former parishioner Paul Cawein; advisory members will be appointed once the Committee gets established. The Vestry approved a nominating committee to develop a slate of candidates to stand for election to fill 4 Vestry positions and one Diocesan Delegate slot: Sandy Kolb (Chair), Glen Davis, Lauri Fitz-Pegado, Marcus King, Sandy Loether, Kiki McLean, and Marty Welch; they will welcome your suggestions! On January 31, the Vestry and clergy will hold a mini-retreat to begin conversation about what multiculturalism could mean for St. Alban’s. The next regularly scheduled Vestry meeting will be February 15, 2017.
Vestry News, December 20, 2016
Vestry News, November 2016
On November 10, the Vestry held a special meeting, at which Rector Deborah Meister chose not to be present. Following an Executive Session, all voting members present approved a resolution extending a call to The Reverend Geoffrey Hoare to serve St. Alban’s as Priest-in-Charge (the resolution to remain confidential until after the call had been announced to the Parish). The two members unable to be present subsequently approved the resolution, retroactively.
At the regularly scheduled meeting on November 15, the Vestry approved the terms of a letter of agreement with Rev. Hoare, providing that his three-year period of service as Priest-in-Charge St. Alban’s will begin on March 1, 2017, and at the halfway point we will mutually discern whether he should become Rector. (This arrangement is further explained in the announcement to the Parish.) The Vestry acknowledged the skill and dedication of our clergy and staff in committing to sustain the Parish during this interim period. In other business, the Vestry approved draws from the Reserve Fund for (1) necessary exterior woodwork repair and painting (take note of our beautiful freshly-painted red doors!) and (2) urgent replacement of the deteriorated boiler system in the Rectory with a high-efficiency model that will also meet our property insurance certification standards. In perhaps our most critical business, the Vestry heard two pieces of dismal news: (1) Payment of current-year (2016) pledges is behind schedule, leading to concern that we might not have the income needed to fulfill our current-year budget. (2) As of November 15, our community has generated only 115 pledges for 2017, so far ensuring us only just under $647,000 in pledge income – yet we need to raise at least $1.1 million in pledges in order to maintain our operations. The Vestry expressed abiding hope that with the announcement of our call to our new Priest-in-Charge, the community’s confidence in our future together will be reinvigorated, and our fellow parishioners will come forth with the financial commitment to ensure that our future is strong and productive. From our mouths to God’s ear! The next regularly scheduled Vestry meeting will be on December 20.
Vestry News, October 18, 2016
As we begin developing the 2017 budget, the Vestry voted to freeze non-obligated expenditures (i.e., other than payroll, utilities, and already-contracted-for goods/services) through the rest of 2016 except as approved in writing by the Executive Committee. This is a precaution to ensure we carefully manage our limited remaining 2016 budget resources. (Any parishioners anticipating a need for parish funds during this period should speak with Doug Dykstra.)
We appointed Vestry member Tom Gustafson to chair the new Standing Committee on Personnel, and parishioner Lisa Birchard as member; the third member will be appointed soon.
We had a robust discussion of the Governance Committee’s Report and recommendations, many of which we’ll begin implementing in the near future.
Vestry member Sandy Kolb and Treasurer Hollis McLoughlin will work with Rev. Debbie Kirk on strategies for supporting the Spanish-language service in 2017.
The Property Committee’s subgroup on grounds maintenance and landscaping reported on efforts to better coordinate work with Cathedral staff/contractors and plans for general improvements to our grounds.
The Rector reported on progress in seeking a Youth Minister to be jointly employed by St. Alban’s and nearby St. Margaret’s Church; Vestry members reaffirmed our commitment to have the Youth Minister on board after the New Year. (Throughout our meeting, we reminded ourselves that our ability to sustain the Youth and Spanish-language programs, among others, depends upon parishioners’ willingness to commit now to pledges for 2017 – because we can’t plan without knowing what our income will be!)
The Senior Warden reported on progress in identifying an Interim Rector; suitable candidates will initially be vetted by the Executive Committee, and then will interview with the staff and the Vestry, with the Vestry voting on the call itself.
At the conclusion of this last Vestry meeting presided over by Rev. Deborah Meister, she encouraged the parish to celebrate a loving vigilance toward the health of our community and urged the vestry to support our excellent staff.
Our next regular meeting will be on November 15.
Vestry News, October 2, 2016
In a special meeting – which was called following the Vestry’s weeks-long period of non-public discussion and careful deliberation – your Vestry unanimously passed a resolution consenting to the resignation of the Rector effective November 13, 2016; approving the terms of the Agreement Concluding Pastoral Relationship between the Rector and the Parish (to which the Bishop is also a signatory); and specifically subscribing to the Agreement’s reciprocal non-disparagement clause. Every lay voting member of the Vestry signed a statement in response to the Rector’s resignation statement, both of which would be published to the Parish. The Vestry acknowledged that the single financial provision of the Agreement – to pay the Rector her full compensation for one year following her resignation – is appropriate in light of the gifts she brought to the parish and in recognition of our community’s failure to fully support her Rectorship. Regarding that provision, the Vestry reviewed a written offer from the Diocese to (1) provide to the Parish a free grant to cover the pension contribution portion of that compensation and (2) extend to the Parish the full balance of the compensation amount, with no interest, under re-payment terms stretching to December 2022. The Vestry gratefully noted that this Diocesan support will enable the Parish to pay an Interim Rector during 2017 within the scope of a normal budget. The Vestry reaffirmed its commitment to transparency for these transactions. The Vestry also unanimously passed a resolution expressing unqualified appreciation and support for our Associate/Assistant clergy and our staff (paid, contract, and volunteer) during the transition ahead. In other action, the Vestry constituted an Executive Committee, consisting of the Wardens, the chair of the Standing Committee on Governance (Ken Patterson), and the Treasurer (Hollis McLoughlin), as proposed by the Governance Committee. Our next regular meeting will be on October 18.
Vestry News, September 20, 2016
Your Vestry joyfully heard about the rollicking great start of Children’s Chapel and the Sunday School (now in the beautifully renovated Children’s Wing of Satterlee’s 2nd floor – go check it out!), with 49 children already registered and 7 new teachers among the “faculty” of 18. We agreed to move forward toward the important goal of hiring a Youth Minister by the end of the year, and in light of our budget constraints discussed alternative designs for the job. We accepted the 2016 Audit Report on parish finances, which found our finances and accounting procedures to be extraordinarily accurate and thorough, for which we heartily congratulated our diligent and skillful Director of Finance, Doug Dykstra. We will carefully read the lengthy and detailed final draft report/recommendations of the Standing Committee on Governance and discuss it at the next regular Vestry meeting. Vestry member Marty Welch and parishioner Lucy Fraser were added to the Property Committee. We all signed a congratulatory letter to Matthew Hanisian, which will be delivered to him at his institution as Rector of St. Martin’s-in-the-Field next week. The Rector described plans for both long-range and short-term action in response to the ongoing water problems in the Columbarium. Our next regular meeting will be on October 18.
Vestry News, August 16, 2016
Following the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Human Resources Task Force, the Vestry voted to create a Standing Committee on Personnel to advise the Rector on personnel issues, serve as a resource for resolution of employee grievances, work with the Standing Committee on Governance to renew our staff management procedures, and review/update the Employee Handbook. The Vestry also ratified the existing membership of the Standing Finance and Property Committees. The new Stewardship Co-chairs Alexandra Johns and Joe McLean presented their preliminary ideas for an exciting pledge campaign that will focus on our community’s mission and ministries, and they previewed their plans to develop a year-around program for ongoing stewardship. The Junior Warden described work underway to convert the second floor of Satterlee Hall – newly-vacated by the non-Parish “St. Alban’s Early Childhood Center” – into Children’s Ministry classrooms, adult formation and meeting space, and a new Center for Spirituality and Creativity (funded by a bequest from late parishioner Diana Smith). The Vestry was encouraged to invite folks to register for the upcoming Parish Weekend on September 16-18, and made plans for hosting the September 7 “First Wednesday” fellowship dinner. Our next regular meeting will be on September 20.
Vestry News, July 26, 2016
Your Vestry received and discussed a proposal for creation of a Standing Committee on Personnel, presented by the Ad Hoc Human Resources Task Force that we established last February to ensure St. Alban’s personnel practices are “competent, effective and legally compliant [and] serve the best interests of the parish, staff and managers.” The Task Force also proposed an expanded employee complaint resolution/grievance procedure. The Vestry will vote on the proposals in August. The Junior Warden laid out Property Committee plans for ongoing maintenance projects and communications infrastructure improvements. The Rector reported that the new Interim Music Director has been selected. Vestry liaisons have been assigned to Parish committees and will be posted in the Wade Room. Our next regular meeting will be August 16.
Vestry News Early July, 2016
In a special meeting on July 7, your Vestry approved a revised 2016 Budget reflecting certain net downward adjustments in both income and expenditures that have been actually realized as of July 1, resulting in a slight operating surplus. The revised Budget Resolution, with explanation, will be posted in the Wade Room and the revised Budget itself will be available on the Parish website. The Vestry elected Emily DiBari to serve as Secretary for the year. Read more.