Vestry News & Meeting Minutes
Vestry News - March 16, 2022
After an opening prayer recited by the Rector and a lovely meditation delivered by Carol Aschenbrener about Bishop Steven Charleston’s book The Four Vision Quests of Jesus, the Vestry’s meeting of March 16 turned to financial business. Upon motions by the Budget & Finance Committee, the Vestry first approved a budget for 2022 and then allocated an extraordinary gift among several non-recurring uses outside of the budget. The Vestry then turned to an in-depth discussion of the pros and cons of moving away under current circumstances from mandatory mask-wearing in worship and commissioned a working group to plan parish events for the near term with the goal of reinvigorating our common life.
The budget calls for $2,095,518 in revenue and an equal amount in expenses, continuing our healthy practice of balancing our annual budgets. That figure represents a significant increase over last year’s actual revenues and expenses of $1,712,172 for 2021. The increases contemplate the reopening of Satterlee Hall as we approach the fall as well as realistic cost-of-living increases in staff salaries, aligning associate rectors’ compensation with diocesan guidelines, funding the recently created position of Communications Director, covering expenses connected with our search for a new rector, and paying for necessary upgrades to computer equipment. The budget also maintains our outreach expenses at $247,000, divided in equal amounts, as has been our custom, between Christian Social Ministries and Anglican Episcopal Institutions (notably including the Bishop Walker School), on the one hand, and support for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, on the other hand. To meet all these needs, the Budget & Finance Committee recommended as prudent, and the Vestry approved, that we make a 6% draw on the Endowment this year, on a one-time basis, up from our normative 4%.
An extraordinary gift of $75,000 came in gratitude for St. Alban’s online services from a couple who no longer live in the Washington area. As recommended by the Budget & Finance Committee, the Vestry allocated this generous donation as follows: $10,000 to support Emily Griffin’s upcoming sabbatical; up to $17,500 for a study of the possibility of adding a sprinkler system to the existing fire-protection system in Satterlee Hall; $30,000 to equip Satterlee Hall with furniture for accommodating parish activities we are moving there from the Rectory; and $17,500 to provide for potential staffing needs. The Vestry also authorized our Director of Operations to enter into a contract for the sprinkler study once the Executive Committee is satisfied with the documentation of the agreement and to compensate Gary Baker at a reasonable hourly rate for his services in procuring the contract.
The discussion of our policy on masks was a lively one. Carol Ashenbrener, who is a retired physician and follows the news about the Covid pandemic very closely, summarized the currently low incidence and mortality rates associated with the virus in Washington, emerging evidence of its potential long-term health effects, and the risk that our region will experience a new surge in the disease like those now occurring in Europe and in China. It was noted that the Washington National Cathedral has recently made mask optional for services there. Almost all Vestry members as well as our Youth Representative then offered comments. What emerged was a strong consensus that the parish should adopt a mask-optional approach at this stage. The consensus, however, emphasized the need for each of us to be considerate and nonjudgmental towards those whose choice differs from our own. The Vestry also recognized that we may have to revert quickly to a mask mandate if conditions deteriorate and recommended that parishioners be forewarned of this possibility when the mandate under which we have been operating is suspended.
Vestry member Megan King has kindly agreed to head a working group tasked with coming up with a recommended set of parish gatherings aimed at revitalizing the parish’s sense of community – and fun! This planning group should include a mix of Vestry persons and other parishioners. It will need to work quickly so as to get some activities on the calendar for this spring and summer that will channel toward our church a goodly portion of the energy and enthusiasm that many people are feeling after months of being hunkered down in the pandemic. If you are interested in joining in this effort, please get in touch with Megan or with me.
ST. ALBAN’S VESTRY NEWS - January 19, 2022
by Junior Warden Ted Swett
The final meeting of the 2021 Vestry was convened by Zoom on Wednesday, and the main business of the evening was bidding farewell to those whose terms on the Vestry are ending on January 30. Accordingly, we heard reflections on their time of service on the leadership team from Paul Brewster, Susan Morris, Josepha Musabyemariya, Dudley Winthrop and myself.
In his Treasurer’s report, Hollis McLoughlin reported that we ended the year with a balance of income and expenses. While some administrative issues with the third-party business who handles the sale of stocks donated to the parish, and an unrelated delay in a contribution from a foundation, resulted in an inability to report as receipts approximately $180,000 in income for 2021, this was balanced out by a reduction of expenses of approximately the same amount. Moneys not expended in 2021 on outreach, owing largely to a reduction in activities associated with our feeding ministries due to the pandemic, will be rolled over for outreach spending in 2022. The church endowment ended the year at $6.3 million. In other financial business, the Vestry approved a continuing resolution that authorizes the spending levels for fiscal year 2021 operations be extended into fiscal year 2022 until such time as the Vestry approves an operating budget for fiscal year 2022 in February. Hollis also gave notice that at the February meeting the Vestry will be asked to accept the results of the 2019 and 2020 financial audits of the parish finances by an outside accounting firm.
Regarding the Annual Appeal, Lisa Garnett reported that the end is in sight for closing out the stewardship campaign to generate pledges to support St. Alban’s 2022 budget; however, we still expect a number of pledges will come in as this is usual in January. The campaign has generated $1,232,729, 93% of our aspirational goal of $1,325,000. The trend line for 2022 so far is that, while we are currently down as to the total number of pledgers as compared to 2021, the contributions by the households who have given have increased in amount, and we added a number of new pledging households. The amount pledged so far is still up 4% over what was pledged in 2021. The Vestry thanked Lisa Garnett for the great work she has done heading this campaign, and Geoffrey is already working with Lisa’s successor, Matt Cunningham, on planning for the 2022 Annual Appeal.
As part of the Rector’s report, we discussed a recent break-in to the office of the Finance Director. To date, no losses from the break-in have been discovered. We are taking a number of steps to improve security, including changing of lock codes, exploring separately locking the staff corridor, and working closely with a cooperative security force from the Cathedral to increase the police presence around Satterlee Hall. On a related note, the security camera system funded by the 2021 Capital Campaign has been installed and should be up and running very soon. The Vestry was assured of the protection for vital church records in a safe, and Geoffrey discussed plans to re-locate church archives now that Satterlee halls basement rooms are again safe from water infiltration. In another building-related news, a required City re-inspection of electrical upgrades in the kitchen has delayed the full use of the kitchen temporarily, and Susan Morris reported that Op Shop volunteers are excited about the re-opening of the Op Shop after construction that will hopefully be complete in February.
To all of you, please don’t forget to vote in the Annual Meeting election on January 30, which as you know will be conducted electronically. All eligible voters who have provided the church a current email address will receive an email from St. Alban’s at approximately 12:01 AM on January 30 and the “polls” will be open until midnight that day. Also, to those who have not pledged, I would like nothing better than, at the Annual Meeting, to hear the Treasurer report that we have made our full goal.
This is the final Vestry News I will pen. I will save farewells and expressions of gratitude for the Annual Meeting, but want to thank you all for reading these notes over the years, and for loving St. Alban’s like I do. It has been a distinct privilege and honor to be your Senior Warden.
Ken Patterson, Senior Warden
ST. ALBAN’S VESTRY NEWS - January 12, 2022
by Junior Warden Ted Swett
As reported in the all-Parish email sent Wednesday evening, January 12, the Rectorcalled a special meeting on that date at which he requested that the vestry affirm his long-considered decision to step down from his position as our Rector, effective September 30, 2022. This decision comes after 40 years in parish ministry and at a time when he is approaching age 65 and a transition is timely for his family. The second matter considered by the Vestry was whether the Parish should begin a search for the new Rector immediately after the Annual Meeting and Parish election on January 30, and thus while Geoffrey is still in place as Rector. The Vestry unanimously approved motions by the Senior Warden, as recommended out of Executive Committee, to affirm Geoffrey’s intent to step down and to commence a search under current Diocesan guidelines as soon as possible after the new Vestry is convened.
Since the last search for a rector, the diocese has simplified and streamlined the search process and determined that a search, whenever it occurs should be conducted by the vestry rather than a separate committee.
Following these actions, vestry members expressed their gratitude for Geoffrey’s ministry and service to date, reaffirmed their support for his leadership in the coming months as we continue to work together on the business of St. Alban’s, and discussed that we anticipate a joyous “sending” celebration in the fall.
Geoffrey reminded us that, at the Vestry’s regularly-scheduled January meeting on the 20 th, those whose terms on the parish leadership team that are stepping down (myself, Paul Brewster, Susan Morris, Josepha Musabyemariya, and Dudley Winthrop) will be asked to give reflections on their service.
While not “Vestry News,” I would be remiss as your retiring Senior Warden if I did not urge all Parishioners to acquaint themselves fully with the candidates for election on January 30, whose written statements were shared by email on December 16, 2021 and whose videos were shared by email on January 13, 2022. The candidates for Senior Warden are Tom Gustafson and Ted Swett. The candidates for Vestry, from whom we will elect four, are Michele Armitage, Erin Bowers, Ted Cage, Brian Glosh, Tom Roth, and Jessica Vermooten. Given the important role the Vestry plays in the selection of our next Rector, I ask for your thoughtful consideration of who will join Ted Swett (either as Senior Warden or continuing as Junior Warden), Carol Aschenbrener, Rachel Colson, Matt Cunningham, Stephanie Curcuru, Lisa Garnett, Megan King, Suzy Mink and Karina Rodriguez to comprise your leadership team.
Senior Warden, Senior Warden
ST. ALBAN’S VESTRY NEWS - December 15, 2021
by Junior Warden Ted Swett
Our Vestry meeting this month began with Matthew Cunningham’s reflection on this season of the year as one of remembrance, generosity, and gratitude, and on how these themes relate to his experience at St. Alban’s. Matt shared a favorite Christmas memory illustrating his mother’s loving care for him and his brother. He spoke of his involvement in “Movember” fund-raising for men’s health causes, a way of honoring his father, who died of prostate cancer. Having lost both parents while he and his brother were still quite young, Matt has found at St. Alban’s some friendships so close and strong as to form what amounts to an extended family, and for this he is deeply grateful.Our Vestry meeting this month began with Matthew Cunningham’s reflection on this season of the year as one of remembrance, generosity, and gratitude, and on how these themes relate to his experience at St. Alban’s. Matt shared a favorite Christmas memory illustrating his mother’s loving care for him and his brother. He spoke of his involvement in “Movember” fund-raising for men’s health causes, a way of honoring his father, who died of prostate cancer. Having lost both parents while he and his brother were still quite young, Matt has found at St. Alban’s some friendships so close and strong as to form what amounts to an extended family, and for this he is deeply grateful.
Turning to the business portion of the meeting, Dudley Winthrop, a member of the Finance Committee, summarized the monthly financial report in the absence of the Treasurer, who was unable to attend. Overall, the report showed a healthy state of affairs. Although income from pledges and other sources for November and for the year to date have fallen modestly short of budget, expenses have also come in lower than budgeted, so the overall results of operations are not unreasonable. To achieve the budgeted revenue, we will need to collect in December about $250,000 against outstanding 2020 pledges, which history would suggest is an ambitious but quite achievable amount. The capital campaign to fund our HVAC, kitchen, and security upgrades has already collected 61% of the amounts donors have promised to contribute over a three-year period. The endowment is in good shape, having enjoyed growth of 9% so far this year.
The Vestry adopted resolutions proposed by the Executive Committee to authorize the opening of a new brokerage account at Lincoln Financial Services. The function of this account will be converting to cash any gifts of securities that the parish receives from time to time and routing the proceeds to the parish’s operating accounts or its endowment accounts, as appropriate. Lincoln has fulfilled this function in the past, but a change of internal procedures there has made it necessary to create the new account. Douglas Dykstra and Hollis McLoughlin are each designated as authorized signatories on the Lincoln account. Only one authorized signature will suffice for transactions on the account, but both Doug (as Director of Finance) and Hollis (as Treasurer) will receive Lincoln’s regular statements of account.
Upon the motion of the Governance Committee, the Vestry also resolved to submit two proposed bylaw amendments to a vote by members of St. Alban’s at the Annual Meeting to be held on January 30, 2022:
- An existing bylaw provides that only persons who have previously served on the Vestry for at least two years may stand for election as Senior Warden. The first proposed amendment would eliminate that requirement.
- Other existing bylaws contemplate that Vestry members whose terms are expiring shall serve on the Nominations Committee and that members of that committee may not stand for election as Junior or Senior Warden. The second proposed amendment would make clear that a departing Vestry member who wishes to be considered as a candidate for Junior or Senior Warden may decline to serve on the Nominations Committee.
The Vestry’s rationale for these proposed changes is straightforward: Although prior Vestry service is a factor the Nominating Committee may weigh as it sees fit in recruiting candidates, it is not desirable as a mandatory criterion, does not prevail as such in this diocese, and tends to restrict the pool of potential candidates unnecessarily. In an abundance of caution, furthermore, it seems desirable to make clear that any outgoing Vestry member who wishes to be considered as a candidate for Junior or Senior Warden may decline to serve on the Nominating Committee and thereby avoid what would otherwise be a disabling conflict of interest.
Lisa Garnett, co-chair of the annual stewardship campaign, provided an oral report on the progress of the campaign. The overall response to the campaign has been a little sluggish. The number of pledges received is lagging somewhat, so our goal of adding to the ranks of pledgers in comparison to last year will depend on a robust response in the final stages of the campaign. In monetary terms, however, the campaign is doing well, because of a healthy 9% uptick on average in the dollar amount of pledges received so far – a testament to the generosity of the faithful minority of pledgers who have chosen to increase their donations. As a result, we are about three-quarters of the way toward our goal of raising $1.3 million in pledges for 2022. We will likely reach that dollar goal if the historical pattern of end-of-year pledging holds true.
In regard to the ongoing capital projects, it was reported that the new HVAC equipment serving the church and Nourse Hall has restored heat to those spaces and that anti-microbial technologies built into the upgraded system are also operating. The HVAC contractor has therefore shifted most of its forces to Satterlee Hall, where the installation of a totally new system is underway, including in the OpShop, which accordingly has shut down temporarily. The new kitchen range and range hood are fully installed and ready to be placed in service in time for the Christmas dinner St. Alban’s will host for IONA folk. Significant progress has been made in the ongoing project of enhancing the security of our premises by means of new security cameras and other protections.
The Vestry, it should be noted, was pleased to welcome as observers to the December meeting several of the candidates who will stand for election in January: Michele Armitage and Ted Cage, who have been nominated for Vestry membership, and Tom Gustafson, a candidate for Senior Warden.
Ted Swett, Junior Warden
ST. ALBAN’S VESTRY NEWS - November 17, 2021
by Senior Warden Ken Patterson
The Vestry conducted an abbreviated meeting for November in order to allow the Vestry members time to place calls or other contacts to parishioners who have not yet pledged to annual appeal. We were pleased to be introduced officially to Mery Montenegro, the Parish’s new Communications Director. Mery has a marketing and branding background, and her last job was with the 2020 Census focusing on outreach to the Latino community. She will be taking on a number of Charles Porter’s responsibilities, and is the lead on livestreaming services.
Treasurer’s Report. Hollis McLoughlin reported that we are track with pledge income for 2021, especially given a reduction in some expenses and our history of receiving a surge of income in December. We see nothing to suggest that won’t happen again this year. Our cash situation is very strong; we have now dispersed over $250,000 toward the HVAC project. The Finance Committee is still formulating a recommendation on how we bridge the gap between capital-campaign pledged amounts and the amount of those pledges we have in hand (we offered three years to pay pledges). The Vestry approved the second of two required motions to support withdrawing up to $300,000 from the endowment as needed to address the deficit between the pledged amounts of the capital campaign and the eventual final costs. That draw can now be made when necessary. The endowment is doing well at $6.6 million as of this writing.
Lisa Garnett, chair of the Annual Appeal, reported that we have received pledges from 117 households (our goal is 286) toward our 2022 budget, and a total of $653,000 toward our goal of $1.35 million. Parishioners are urged to get their pledges for 2022 in as soon as possible. There are two weeks left in the public phase of the campaign, as we will turn our focus inward during Advent.
Nominating Committee. The Vestry voted to accept the slate of candidates proffered by the Nominating Committee for the January 2022 election. For Senior Warden the candidates are Tom Gufstafson and Ted Swett. For the Vestry election, to fill four upcoming vacancies, the candidates are Michele Armitage, Erin Bowers, Ted Cage, Brian Glosh, Tom Roth and Jessica Vermooten. Nominating Committee members are Paul Brewster, chair, Josepha Musabyemariya, Dudley Winthrop, Laura Ingersoll, Joe McLean and me.
During the Rector’s report, Geoffrey sought the sense of the Vestry about how we should respond to the likely relaxation of the mandate in the District of Columbia to wear masks. The Diocese is deferring to individual parishes on how to react. A number of factors were discussed by Vestry members including: the current incidence of new cases in DC is above the CDC guidelines for when to stop masking; the percentage of children who have been vaccinated is low; our HVAC improvements in the church building that will better filter the air are not yet complete; and, it is likely that holiday gatherings and travel will increase infections. The general sense of almost all the Vestry members who spoke is that we should maintain the requirement of masking at our services through the holidays, regardless of what the Mayor does. The Rector will notify the Parish of this continuation of our requirement.
In the Senior Warden’s report, I was pleased to announce that the kickoff for collecting (and taking) photos and confirming contact information for a new online Parish directory is January 9, 2022. Mery Montenegro will take the lead on the project, and Stephanie Curcuru and Deborah Potter have been kind enough to agree to assist. My thanks to all!
As required by the Bylaws, the Vestry will approve the voting procedures for the January 2022 election at our December meeting. I informed the Vestry that my recommendation, and that of the Executive Committee, would be that we once again conduct the voting online using ElectionBuddy.com; this will allow more people to vote regardless of ongoing concerns they may have about gathering indoors.
Junior Warden’s Report. Many aspects of Ted Swett’s thorough report were covered in Geoffrey’s detailed parish-wide email earlier this month describing the plans and impacts of the capital improvements to the HVAC, security and the kitchen. Ted highlighted the generous gift from John Nickum and Linda Lear that enabled us to replace all the chandelier lighting in the church with LED lights, brightening and cheering up the space.
In his report, Jim Quigley informed the Vestry that he and Megan King (Parish Life lead on the Vestry) are in conversation with the director of IONA Senior Services about St. Alban’s hosting a small Christmas Day dinner for the vaccinated members of the IONA community who use our church reach week. This smaller event will enable the parish to serve a group who will welcome this holiday food and fellowship, but do so in a way that is safer in Covid times and requires only a small number of volunteers. Instructions on how to contribute will come out soon. Jim also reported about the recent gatherings of the “We Care” group, our dedicated group of lay pastoral caregivers, and cited in particular Marcy Fisher for her extra efforts leading this group while her co-chair Margie Delaney is assisting husband Paul as he rehabilitates from an accident.
Ken Patterson, Senior Warden
ST. ALBAN’S VESTRY NEWS - October 27, 2021
by Senior Warden Ken Patterson
In her meditation opening the October 27 virtual meeting of the St. Alban’s Vestry, Lisa Garnett talked of finding our “true north,” that thing that if we keep our eye on it will guide us through the storm to a life well lived. She described an aunt she recently lost as someone who lived by a set of principles and simple actions (like always having coffee ready for whomever came to her door, or having a joke at the ready when someone needed to laugh, or knowing whose dog liked which kind of treat) that together caused her to be surrounded by loving friends and family. The combination of all these “little” things resulted in her aunt being “aligned with who she was,” and left a positive mark on Lisa’s life.
Treasurer’s Report. Hollis McLoughlin reported that we continue to be in good shape on both an income and expense basis. Though the third quarter was weak in terms of pledge income and we accordingly will proceed cautiously, there is no indication that suggests that we won’t receive all that was pledged for 2021. Hollis also offered a motion to accept the 2018 Audit Report; as a governance matter the Vestry just “accepts” the audit. Our outside auditor already presented the audit to the finance committee who reviewed it. It was a clean audit with no material weaknesses, but there were a couple of recommendations relating to how we post credit card expenses and how we document the wishes of a donation to the endowment by a living donor. The Vestry accepted the report on the Treasurer’s recommendation. Hollis also reported that the Finance committee is currently reviewing how the endowment is being managed, and at their next meeting will meet with our representative from Vanguard, our endowment manager. The committee also is formulating a recommendation about how to handle the cash flow for the capital improvements, as we secured pledges of $2.1 million but, as anticipated, have to date received only approximately $1.1 million in cash from those pledges. Even with the endowment draw not to exceed $300,000 (noticed to the parish last month), funding the capital work apace may require that we take a short-term loan, or borrow the differential from the endowment to be paid pack when full pledged income is realized. Finally, as required as a matter of financial governance, the Vestry approved one of two sequential votes required to withdraw from the endowment the $300,000 draw referenced above.
Adult Formation. Suzy Mink reported that, even in the face of pandemic, adult formation is going strong. Fall offerings are ongoing in Education for Ministry, Adult Enquirers, Sacred Ground, Way of Life and Growing in Faith Together. There are also plans underway that, should they come to fruition, will bring James Alison, British author and theologian, for a Memoriallecture in March 2022. Writings by Mr. Alison are currently being used in two of the adult classes.
In her first report of the Annual Appeal season, Lisa Garnett reported that we have received pledges for 2022 from 46 households totaling $265,056; the campaign goal is $1.325 million from 286 households. Lisa was pleased to report that, of those households pledging for 2022 that also pledged in 2021, pledges are up by an average of 4.9%.
Nominating Committee. Paul Brewster, chair, reported that the committed is on target to present a full slate of candidates for Senior Warden and four Vestry positions at the November meeting.
From his thorough written report on the state of the capital improvements, Junior Warden Ted Swett highlighted for the Vestry a delay in the kitchen-range hood replacement caused by a failed inspection; the Project Manager for capital improvements is on top of resolving the issue.
Highlights from clergy and staff reports included: previously-funded upgrades to the organ are
underway; the move from recorded services to livestreamed ones will be made for the Spanishlanguage service this Sunday, and for the English services the change will come in mid November; on November 7 we will celebrate All Saints Day in a multi-cultural way, as Yoimel will lead a forum on the background and symbolism of the Day of the Dead, and after the 11:15 services we will have an outdoor gathering in the Columbarium with potluck food (family favorites that can be picked up by tongs requested) and will read aloud the names of those we love and see no more.
As to the Christmas community dinner, the Vestry began discussions led by Jim Quigley and Megan King about what we should do about our holiday tradition of serving a community dinner as we continue to live in times of the Delta variant(s). Options being explored range for having a smaller event, perhaps targeted at the patrons of the IONA Senior Services we host each week, to channeling parish resources toward some other more Covid-19-friendly way of providing food for the holidays to those in need. The volatility of Covid-19/variant situation, which could affect both attendance and availability of volunteers, may dictate against an inperson gathering. More to come.
Ken Patterson, Senior Warden
ST. ALBAN’S VESTRY NEWS - September 15, 2021
by Senior Warden Ken Patterson
The Vestry’s September meeting opened with a meditation by Rachel Colson centered on the book The Body Keeps Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk. The author, a psychiatrist whose specialty is trauma/PTSD, posits that traumatic experiences become imbedded in a primal part of our brain beyond conscious awareness. The discussion was timely given the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01. Rachel asked the question of what impact a different type of traumatic event, the prolonged experience of Covid 19, might have on our post-pandemic lives. What will we carry forward, and will we be able to recognize the subconscious pain if it surfaces in the future in ourselves or others such as fellow members of our faith community?
The Vestry was pleased to welcome to our meeting and to our parish our new seminarian, Omar Rodriguez de la O from Virginia Seminary. Emily Griffin will be supervising Omar.
Treasurer Hollis McLoughlin reported that pledge income is down, but this is typical during this time of year. Because expenses remain on track with the 2020 budget, and St. Alban’s pledgers historically fulfill or exceed their pledges, we project from an operating standpoint our financial position will remain sound. Our endowment is at a record $6.5 million. In response to questions from the Vestry, Hollis reminded us that 10-12 years ago the parish had little to no endowment. Generous bequests have changed this, and we benefit from the current performance of the stock market. The endowment is currently managed by Vanguard, subject to a 65%-35% equities/bonds split. The Finance Committee will review at its next meeting whether to retain that split. The Vestry was reminded that the 2021 Annual Appeal is nearing kickoff, and were asked to make their pledges immediately, increasing the amounts from last year as they are able.
Rachel Colson reported out on Children’s Formation, which includes Children’s Chapel, Sunday School/Godly Play, Acolytes, and the Chorister Program. Most of these activities are underway in one form or another; however, utilizing children as Acolytes, additional activities for 2-3 year olds, and staffing the nursery remain on hold pending availability of Covid vaccines for children or other changes that increase parishioner comfort with children being indoors. Outdoor Children’s Chapel around the Peace Cross and has been well received, and Sunday School for children is meeting in the tents on St. Alban’s School campus. The Chorister program is under way with both online and in-person rehearsals.
As part of the Junior Warden’s report, the Vestry approved a budget totalling $2,314,505.12 for the upgrades to the physical plant that were the subject of the Hallelujah Homecoming Capital Campaign: replacing the existing heating and cooling systems in Satterlee and the Church, improved security for access to the buildings, and the new stove and exhaust system in the kitchen. Also included in the motion were: granting the authority to compensate the project manager, who is now overseeing all construction activities and not just the HVAC improvements; allowing money within the approved budget to be moved from one line item to another with approval of Charles Porter and the Junior Warden as long as neither the total amount or the amount paid under any individual contract is not exceeded. The budget as approved includes some contingency funding for unknowns (for example, opening of some walls may require additional asbestos abatement). By way of update on work that is already under way or completed, asbestos abatement has already taken place, the Op Shop had to be refurbished after the old radiators were removed, and the installation of the new stove and kitchen exhaust system is ongoing.
The largest expense of the capital improvements is the approximate $2.1 million for the HVAC systems. We will replace the Church system with a new system similar to the old one. Satterlee Hall will be receiving much improved equipment that allows for each room in the building to be heating or cooled separately as controlled by computer; this will allow that only those spaces under use at a given time will be served, reducing our utilities and our carbon footprint.
There are two major next steps for the overall capital improvement project. First, now that the Vestry has approved the overall budget, the mechanical contractor will prepare a schedule for when certain construction activities will take place and what effect these activities will have on our use of different parts of the facility. The mechanical contractor will then convene clergy, relevant staff, and lay leaders to receive feedback about any problems the schedule may present. This information will then be shared parish-wide. We have prioritized for the contractors our wish to be able to have Christmas services in a warm church; the Satterlee work to expected to be finished next spring. The other upcoming major step regards accessing the endowment because the total amount of the capital improvement budget ($2,314,505.12), exceeds the amount pledged for the capital campaign assuming we receive no further pledges ($2,012,934). Accessing the endowment requires notice to the parish (which will be issued formally this week), and then the Vestry must approve the endowment draw at two consecutive meetings. In order to not have to repeat this process in the event that there are unanticipated overages in capital project costs, notice will be provided that accessing the endowment in an amount not to exceed $300,000 is under consideration by the Vestry.
In my Senior Warden report, I updated the Vestry on some items I hope to see completed before my term as warden ends in late January. Jim Quigley and I continue to work with wood craftsman and former Gaithersburg rector Joe Clark to have designed and built an altar table for use at the Spanish-language service in Nourse Hall, as well as a second complementary table, shorter in height, to serve both as the altar for Children’s Chapel and as a credence table at adult services. These altars will be in memory of the late Ron Hicks, faithful servant of this parish. Some time in mid-October, we hope to begin work on an online parish directory with photos and contact information for all members. Finally, I am working with Doug Dykstra to add a Venmo or similar link to the bulletin to allow for easy contributions to the parish, particularly during services.
Ken Patterson, Senior Warden
ST. ALBAN’S VESTRY NEWS - August 18, 2021
by Senior Warden Ken Patterson
Dudley Winthrop led off our August virtual meetings with reflections on a quote from author E.B. White (Charlotte’s Web, among others): “If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” How do we as a church and as individuals improve the world in which we find ourselves, and how do we live an enjoyable life while doing so? Dudley also emphasized that as we gather together in the new church year it is important to bring more people into our ranks, not only to fill our pews but to increase the cadre of folks to go out into the world and do good on St. Alban’s behalf.
Treasurer’s Report. Hollis McLoughlin reported that, while pledge income was down somewhat for July, it continues to be our experience that the people of St. Alban’s invariably meet and often exceed their stewardship pledges by year’s end. On the expense side, as the church begins to reopen and we deal with the vagaries for the impact of the continuing pandemic, increased expenses will continue to be monitored closely. The Annual Appeal campaign will be particularly important this year, because (hopefully) 2022 will be more of a “regular” year with “regular” expenses; this year our ability to stay within the operating budget has been aided by reduced expenses associated with building closure. The Endowment stands at $6.245 million.
In finance-related business, the Vestry approved a motion to ratify the Executive Committee’s action of approving an additional $6,306.60 from the reserve fund to cover the full cost of a contract to prepare the church for quality live streaming of services. This was necessary as it is the amount by which the contract led us to exceed the previously authorized $50,000 Covid fund within the reserve fund. A second motion was approved authorizing a further expenditure from the reserve fund of $10,700 for the purpose of preparing the library and Room 301 for hybrid meetings (with some folks online and some in person).
The Annual Appeal for 2022, led by Lisa Garnett assisted by Matt Cunningham, kicked off with the first committee meeting on August 18. To that effect, Geoffrey urged the Vestry members to set the tone for the campaign by pledging early and increasing their pledge for 2020.
Youth Ministries. Having coordinated with Yoimel, Matt Cunningham reported on the status of our ministry to youth. Highlights included the observation that, Covid protocols allowing, we should strive to have as many of the Youth activities in person, particularly those of the Senior Youth, as an antidote to 1.5 years of Zoom-call burnout. The plan is to start in-person classes on September 12. In addition, we will involve “Senior Senior” Youth (our 12th-graders, of which there are four this year) in actual church ministries (lay reading, ushering, etc.), and then have them reflect on the impact of this service. The J2A youth have a new curriculum this year. Also, as the pandemic impact has affected some traditional fundraising efforts (e.g., food-related ones), ideas on other ways for our youth to raise money for their pilgrimage are being sought. Finally, while we have seven committed teachers/leaders for youth classes, we could always use more!
In my Senior Warden report, I was pleased to remind the Vestry about the rousing success of the Hallelujah Homecoming Capital Campaign, having exceeded its goal with donations and pledges that total $2,012,934. These gifts came from 165 donor households and two bequests, and individual amounts ranged from $50 to $315,000. Each donor has been thanked individually by letter, but plans are underway for perhaps a (likely outdoor) cupcake and coffee celebration in the early fall. Again, I join my co-chair Suzy Mink in thanking the campaign leadership team, the clergy and staff, and especially all those who generously contributed.
One priority of mine before my tenure as Senior Warden ends is to complete a lasting project for the church in memory of Ron Hicks for which a fund was established from parishioner contributions. To that end, after consulting with the other Clergy, Jim Quigley and I are meeting with a wood craftsman (a retired Rector) on September 1 to discuss building a portable altar for Nourse Hall. Tentative plans are to design a piece to serve the Spanish-language services that can be adjusted down in height for use in Children’s Chapel. Other priorities of mine for the rest of year include establishing some alternative easier ways to donate to the church, particularly during services, such as VenMo or Paypal links in the bulletin, and working with staff to ramp up work on creating an online church directory with contact information and photos of all parishioners.
Junior Warden Ted Swett shared timing information about the HVAC portion of the capital improvements project. The top priority articulated to the contractors is having the HVAC work associated with the Church building completed in time for Christmas services to be conducted in a warm Nave. The equipment for the Church has already been ordered. We anticipate that the Satterlee equipment will be ordered in the next two weeks as soon as final drawings and prices are confirmed.
Robin Rudd announced that during the five weeks the Op Shop was open, it generated over $10,000 in income despite the rooms being quite warm. Over 30 volunteers helped achieve this.
Emily Griffin noted current efforts to recruit new layreaders. One focus of the recruitment is to diversify the number of voices we hear during worship. Into the fall, we will continue to have at least one lay reader who remains seated in the congregation and does not vest; it is hoped that the opportunity to lay read without taking on the added responsibilities of vesting, processing and serving the chalice, will attract new folks.
ST. ALBAN’S VESTRY NEWS - June 16, 2021
by Senior Warden Ken Patterson
Junior Warden Ted Swett presented this month’s meditation to open our virtual meeting by referencing writings by Amy Joy Levine, an Orthodox Jew who is an expert on the New Testament, and retired Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. Levine, in her work Short Stories by Jesus, posits that modern Christians have always misunderstood the parables. Ted’s reflections centered around whether we can we truly be expected to understand the gospel without putting ourselves in the shoes of people who lived 2000+ years ago and being guided by the morés and cultural assumptions in place then. Must we be steeped in the nuances of the Aramaic and Hebrew languages in which the New Testament was written? Even though we may acknowledge these as hurdles, we continue to rely upon these texts as the source of our religious inspiration. Can we take comfort that, in the same way we believe the Holy Spirit guided the original authors, the same Spirit enables us to meaningfully understand words that are cultures and centuries away? It was a very heady topic that folks agreed gave excellent food for thought.
Treasurer’s Report: Hollis McLoughlin reported that we remain “on track” with regard to pledge income, promising that again in 2021 we will come in on budget. There will be upticks in expenses since we are regathering for in-person events sooner than we thought would be possible when the budget was developed. The endowment remains strong at $6.3 million. The principal financial business of the evening involved enabling the beginning of ordering of materials and moving forward with the capital projects to be funded by the capital campaign. To that end, the Vestry authorized: (1) the engagement of Interstate Service Co., Inc. as mechanical contractor and general contractor for the HVAC project, subject to formalizing a construction contract; and (2) the spending of up to $2 million to fund the HVAC project and additional capital improvement projects, subject to the Executive Committee’s determination that the economic terms thereof are reasonable in the circumstances. The Executive Committee and the Project Manager will develop for presentation to the Vestry a formal budget for the HVAC project, etc., when more detailed cost information is available.
Nominations Chair Paul Brewster put forth Susan Morris as the nominee to serve out the remainder of the Vestry term of Barbara Manard who has relocated. The Vestry unanimously approved the nomination, and we welcome and congratulate this long-time servant of St. Alban’s in her new role!
Vestry member Karina Rodrigues updated us on the Spanish-language services and our Spanish-speaking community. Good news included: (1) new folks are joining from the immediate neighborhood; (2) Danielle Bendjy and Samuel Munguia are now providing music for the services; (3) among our congregants who attend the Spanish services we have over the last year had three baptisms and a reception into the Episcopal Church; and (4) the recorded services have provided an opportunity for now distant alumni of San Albano to not only “attend” but to participate in readings, etc. Rev. Emily announced that Virginia Theological Seminary student Omar Rodriguez de la O will join St. Alban’s as a seminarian in September, working with both Spanish and English speakers in the Parish and at services in both our languages.
Joined by co-chair Suzy Mink and Leadership Committee member Stephanie Curcuru, I was happy to update the Vestry on the progress of the Hallelujah Homecoming Capital Campaign. As of Thursday afternoon, June 17, the campaign has received pledges and donations totaling $1,894,050 from 116 households! I cannot express our gratitude enough for that generosity! I would like to remind the approximately 185 other households that are use these wonderful old buildings, and delight in being together in them, that you have until Sunday morning for your pledge to counted among the ones we will celebrate on St. Alban’s Day. Only $105,000 to go to our working goal!
There will not be a regularly-scheduled Vestry meeting in July. On behalf of the Vestry, I send you all good wishes for midsummer. As we begin to venture out with renewed freedom, I leave you with this prayer:
O God, our heavenly Father, whose glory fills the whole creation, and whose presence we find wherever we go: Preserve those who travel; surround them with your loving care; protect them from every danger; and bring them in safety to their journey’s end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Ken Patterson, Senior Warden
VESTRY NEWS - May 19, 2021
by Senior Warden Ken Patterson
The May 19 virtual meeting of the Vestry began with an opening meditation by Vestry Secretary Carol Aschenbrener who described the profound effect that participation in the Sacred Ground curriculum has had on her. She described how growing up in one of the “whitest places in America,” Dubuque, Iowa, among parents who taught her to treat all people as equals, and then enrolling in medical school in North Carolina where she experienced racism practiced with some regularity, had shaped her perceptions. However, her learnings in Sacred Ground truly caused the “scales to fall from her eyes” as to how she had negotiated life more smoothly than people of color. She has come to understand how “white privilege” does damage to all of us, not matter our skin color, and the important role the church can plan as we strive for justice, equity and inclusion.
From the Treasurer: Hollis McLoughlin reported that April brought a substantial increase in pledge dollars paid, and we have already collected 50% of the pledge income budgeted for this year. Parish support (contributions from parishioners and others who did not pledge) still lags behind last year. The Treasurer, Finance Director and the Vestry will continue to closely monitor income against expenses, particularly because of the increased expenses associated with a somewhat earlier expanded opening up of the church for worship; we had originally budgeted for a September opening. The endowment closed in April at approximately $6.2 million.
The Hallelujah Homecoming Capital Campaign: All parishioners should have received a snail-mail letter and an email this week introducing them to the plans, and need for, a capital campaign to ready our buildings for re-gathering. I was pleased to report that as of the meeting, we have pledges and donations totaling $1,381,000 from 42 households. Our working “goal” is $2 million, but this may change as estimates of the various components (topped off by the cost of the HVAC renovation) are bid out. I urge all St. Albanites to be alert to invitations in the near future to participate in Zoom calls that will explain in more detail the needs for the campaign with a video and testimonials by folks who have pledged during the “silent phase.”
Pastoral Care: Carol Aschenbrener reported out on the current state of lay pastoral-care efforts at St. Alban’s. We currently have 45 “We Care” volunteers who carry out the good work of spreading the word when folks are in need, and providing meals and other necessities. This group can always use more folks and you can contact Margie Delaney and Marcy Fisher. As to the Stephen Ministry, current Ministers are being interviewed to update their interest, availability and need for training. This ministry is also preparing to better address the needs of our Spanish-speaking parishioners, as well as exploring strategies to help our people who have suffered any type of loss as a result of the pandemic.
Nominations: Paul Brewster, Nominations Chair, introduced and the Vestry passed a motion on behalf of the Nominations committee to add three non-vestry people to that committee: Laura Ingersoll, Joe McLean and Bob Witten. These three, together with Ken Patterson, Josepha Musabyemariya, Dudley Winthrop and Paul – all whose officer/vestry terms end in January -- comprise the full committee. Paul also moved for, and the Vestry approved, the addition of Susan Morris to the Buildings and Grounds Committee. In the coming weeks, the Nominating Committee will prepare to recommend a candidate for filling the vacant position on the Vestry that occurred when Barbara Manard moved away; the Vestry will act on this nomination in June.
After consideration of the Junior Warden’s report, the Vestry approved a resolution to ratify an additional payment of $6800 to Apex, an environmental consultant who has abated contamination from asbestos and mold in certain areas of the church and the mechanical rooms of Satterlee Hall. The Vestry also approved the expenditure of up to $20,000 in legal fees associated with ensuring that the contracts for services related to the HVAC and other capital improvements are protective of the church’s interests. In the near future, the Vestry will approve an overall budget for all capital expenditures related to re-opening the buildings (and being funded by the capital campaign) and upon doing so, the Vestry will no longer have to approve individual expenditures that are within that budget.
As the final matter of the evening, the Rector discussed revised worship guidelines that will allow for greater participation in person. These can be found in the email from St. Alban’s yesterday afternoon, May 20, at 3:38 p.m. In addition, Associate Rectors Emily Griffin and Yoimel Gonzalez Hernandez recognized and thanked the Sunday School teachers and youth leaders who served so faithfully and flexibly to virtually minister to our children and young people this year.
Vestry News, April 2021
by Senior Warden Ken Patterson
The April Vestry meeting was a somewhat melancholy one as we bid farewell to Vestryperson and Diocesan Delegate Barbara Manard, who after 30+ years of loving service to St. Alban’s is relocating to Florida. Barbara shared a poem by English poet Philip Larkin as part of the opening meditation, and per Vestry tradition was offered a chance to close the meeting with her advice and observations as a “retiring” vestry member. She said it was hard to contain the gratitude in her heart as she bid the parish farewell, and advised us to “be not afraid” about the future. She also expressed her desire that we continue to enthusiastically support the Spanish-language services. Geoffrey and I presented her with the first ever “Is there Anything Around Here You Haven’t Done?” award, and earlier in the day Yoimel had delivered to Barbara’s home a signed collage of photos from the Spanish services.
From the Treasurer: March produced a strong pledge income of $72,000, and with expenses being on target, the operating budget is in sound shape. We will continue to monitor the impact of reduced amount of parish support (contributions that come in outside pledged income). The endowment is at $6.119 million, and the Reserve Fund is holding at $377,000. In Vestry finance-related action, we acknowledged with gratitude the generous bequests from the estate of Barbara Yeomans in the amount of $59,452.56 and the estate of Samuel W Lewis and Sallie Kate Smoot Lewis in the amount of $200,000, and approved $50,000 from the combined requests being placed in the Reserve Fund and $209,452.56 to be allocated to the Capital Campaign. The vestry also approved spending up to $10,000 from the Reserve Fund to update the outdated gadgetry on the church organ console that has resulted in the organ lacking features that are standard on most organs today. After this upgrade, from a music-technology standpoint, the organ will be brought up to “iPhone” standards that, among other benefits, will enable Matthew to be more communicative to the choir while playing.
From the Junior Warden: Ted Swett produced a thorough written report on the repairs and renovations related to safe regathering, including the HVAC project at the heart of those renovations. Ted lauded the project manager, Gary Baker, for his work to date. Ted also cited the many issues that will affect the pace of repairs, including in particular: (1) the fact that the complexity of the repairs requires the involvement of multiple professional disciplines, including a design engineer, a mechanical contractor, and an architect, as well as an environmental engineer to ensure that work can proceed safely given the presence, albeit relatively minor, of asbestos; and, (2) the balancing of an expeditious construction schedule against how to make optimal use of our buildings during that construction (particularly given the desire to gather fully for worship as soon as that is safe) as well as getting the work done well so as to serve us into the future. Ted will continue to work with the Vestry, Charles, the contractors and Geoffrey on all these issues, and as soon as a more complete picture of the work and schedule therefor is available, the parish will be informed and kept updated.
“New Power:” Geoffrey led a discussion, with more to follow in the future, about “new power,” in managing issues related to our common life as a church and the church’s role in our world. The Vestry had been asked to read an article by Jeremy Heimens and Henry Timms on “Understanding New Power” in the Harvard Business Review. (https://hbr.org/2014/12/understanding-new-power). A quote from a review of Heimens’ and Timm’s book New Power, helps to understand this way of thinking: “[p]ower is shifting as never before, and [this book] addresses a vital issue for our times: how to make the voices and choices of all, not just a few, count for something.” While this topic was broached to the Vestry within the context of developing a new church mission statement, it has broader implications for how the larger church tackles the issues of the day, notably how to be who we are in such a way that we are still relevant to what is going on in the world.
Capital Campaign: I am pleased to report that as of today, the (recently named) “Hallelujah Homecoming Capital Campaign” to fund the safe reopening of our buildings and invest in our infrastructure for the future, has amassed $1,092,416 in pledges and donations during what we have called its “quiet phase.” This is a great, but we have more to do. Stay tuned for the parish-wide rollout of the campaign in the next two weeks, and prayerfully consider your personal gift to this important effort.
In other business, Paul Brewster reported out on the Special Diocesan Convention to consider “Canon 54 Diocesan Stewardship and Parish Vitality,” that would allow the Diocese/Bishop to intervene in a parish whose health and vitality is in question. After a good deal of wordsmithing, the Canon was approved with few nay votes.
Finally, like the rest of the Parish, the Vestry awaits the results of the announcement on May 1 of who will be the next Bishop of South Carolina, a position for which our Rector is one of five candidates. We stand equally ready to celebrate with Geoffrey and immediately turn to the task of finding our next Rector, or continue on the good path we are on as a church with Geoffrey at our head – a path to which Geoffrey has remained fully committed while God’s will makes itself known for South Carolina.
Ken Patterson, Senior Warden
Vestry News, March 2021
by Senior Warden Ken Patterson
March’s virtual meeting of the Vestry opened with a meditation by Paul Brewster. Paul spoke on Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s book Love is the Way, in which Bishop Curry posits, “Imagine, if you will, the impact of each and every person on this planet taking the time to define and then live out loving principles. In fact, imagine 50% of everybody doing this, and being successful even half the time. Politics, business and commerce, religious life, and community would be transformed.” The loving principles include: meditating daily on Jesus’ teachings; remembering that the nonviolent movement seeks justice and reconciliation, not victory; walking and talking in the manner of love; praying daily for God to use us to help make all men free; sacrificing personal wishes for the good of others; observing with friend and foe the rules of courtesy; regular serving others; refraining from violence of fist, tongue or heart; and, striving to be in good spiritual and bodily health. Vestry members talked about the roles these principles play in their own lives, and which ones they find more difficult to implement.
St. Alban’s Mission Statement. The business of the evening commenced with a discussion of St. Alban’s mission statement, led by Geoffrey. We have had a number of statements of mission and purpose that have been embraced and/or used publicly, ranging from relatively brief ones like below, to longer ones:
- We welcome the faithful, the seeker and the doubter, for God’s embrace is wide and God’s good news is for all.
- One parish, two languages.
- Our mission is to nourish an inclusive, diverse Christian community, transforming lives by doing God’s work inside and outside our walls.
We discussed some of the themes that any such statement should contain, including the concept of accessibility to all regardless of their background, race, or preferred language, and the extent to which our statement should reflect how we demonstrate the Diocesan “Vital Signs of Parish Health.” Geoffrey and Megan King will examine current and past language that has been used, and pull together an up-to-date mission statement for future Vestry consideration.
Finance. Treasurer Hollis McLoughlin reported that we had a very strong February in terms of pledge income receipts (7% higher than last year). Parish support (people who contribute with some regularity but don’t pledge) came in significantly below last year, and expenses were down approximately 6%. Cash balances are strong, driven partially by the receipt of contributions to the Regathering Capital Campaign. The endowment continues to be strong, closing in February at $5.9 million. It was noted that, in good times and bad, we benefit from a culture of extreme generosity in the parish.
Nominations. After a report from Paul Brewster, Chair of the Nominations Committee, the Vestry appointed Candice Brown to a three-year term as a Diocesan Delegate, and Amanda Gilman, Asha Matthei and Anton Vanterpool to one-year terms as Alternate Diocesan Delegates. The Nominations Committee was benefitted in their process by nominations received from the Parish in response to a solicitation for candidates distributed parish-wide by Paul in keeping with the Bylaws. Paul and the Governance Committee are reviewing minor changes to the Bylaws regarding the election of Delegates. The Vestry thanks Heather Sondel, whose term just expired, for her service.
Facilities/Regathering. The Junior Warden’s Report focused on the latest in our efforts to upgrade our facilities to make them safer for regathering. The next major step in the most extensive part of that work -- updates to our HVAC system -- was to appoint a Project Manager to help develop and oversee an engineering plan and schedule that will minimize disruption in the use of our buildings once COVID restrictions are relaxed. Four candidates were interviewed, and on motion out of the Executive Committee, the Vestry approved the following:
Resolved, that St. Alban’s hire Mr. Gary Baker, through his firm, Realco Project Management Services, as Project Manager for the job of upgrading and retrofitting the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems in church, Nourse Hall, and Satterlee Hall, for a fee of up to $20,000, subject to such further inquiries as the Executive Committee may deem advisable and to the concluding of a written agreement with the firm.
Ted expects we will be licensed to begin work on the exhaust system in the kitchen imminently, but this work may be somewhat delayed by the need for an environmental assessment to determine whether the kitchen ceiling-tile glue contains asbestos. In addition, the new stove for the kitchen, funded by a donation from Linda Lear and John Nickum, has been ordered. The Vestry also expressed gratitude to the Strimple family for their generous donation in memory of daughter Karen that will be used for upgrading the plantings around the church and in particular around the Columbarium.
Global Missions. In her report, Josepha Musabyemariya highlighted how St. Alban’s yearly contributions, and this year’s Mustard Seed donation directed at humanitarian relief, continue to change the lives of the students at Hope and Resurrection School in the South Sudan and St. Saviour’s School in Jordan.
In other business, Lisa Garnett, chair of the 2021-2022 stewardship campaign, has begun early planning for the campaign. Matt Cunningham will be joining her as co-chair, and will lead the campaign in 2022-2023. I reported out that Suzy Mink and I are finalizing plans for the official rollout of the Regathering Capital Campaign to the whole parish, and forming the Campaign Leadership Team; the campaign has already raised almost $860,000 in pre-kickoff contributions and pledges. Please contact Suzy and me if you already prepared to make a pledge. Finally, Paul Brewster briefed the Vestry on the April 17, 2021 Special Convention of the Diocese at which the business will be consideration of a proposed canon that allows the Diocesan Council, at the request of the Bishop, to conduct a health and vitality assessment of a parish that is struggling. The draft canon provides that, where appropriate, the Bishop may intervene in parish activities in a range of ways that range from providing counseling to a parish and its leadership, to closing the parish or merging it with another.
Respectfully submitted, and in hopes you all remain safe and well,
Vestry News, February 2021
by Senior Warden Ken Patterson
For the February 2021 meeting of the Vestry, we continued the tradition that the opening meditation of the first meeting of a new Vestry is assigned to the Senior Warden. I took the opportunity to discuss my reaction to the recent controversy around allowing the Texas mega-church pastor Max Lucado to present a recorded sermon from the National Cathedral pulpit. Dean Randy Hollerith of the Cathedral invited Lucado to the pulpit unaware of his position against same-sex marriage (a position he has neither recanted or apologized for) and even after Lucado’s anti-gay statements and writings in the past were brought to the attention of the Dean and Bishop Mariann, the invitation was not rescinded. After Dean Hollerith and Bishop Mariann addressed the controversy in writing, they convened a call last Sunday evening to hear from their LGBTQ+ constituents from across the Diocese, and due to the reach of the Cathedral’s message, from across the country. Apologies were made as were promises that more intense vetting of future Cathedral preachers would occur. Both the Bishop and the Dean said that had Lucado’s past statements been racist instead of anti-gay, his being given a spot in the pulpit would have been nipped in the bud.
My meditation focused on the fact that members of the LGBTQ+ community are already treated as less than equal in the national Episcopal Church as a result of the compromise reached on gay marriage that allows individual Bishops to discriminate against gay people by not supporting their marriage, as long as they can find a neighboring bishop to advise and care for those priests who wish to bless same-sex unions. While this compromise did allow for gay marriage to “pass” in the Episcopal church, it still placed LGBTQ+ people in a “lesser than” status than other minority groups and gave credence to the argument that homosexuality is inherently wrong from a Biblical perspective, although many learned theologians read Leviticus and other passages in a way that supports that a religious body should not discriminate against anyone based on who they love; in addition, attempts to justify segregation and slavery based on Old Testament scriptures were seen through for what they were decades ago. The national Church thus has a way to go on full equality for all, but the bottom line of my musings was that I feel fully equal and beloved by my parish, and despite the hiccup with Lucado, by my Diocese. I’ll keep fighting the good fight.
Nominations. The first business of the evening related to comprising the 2021 Nominating Committee and then acting on nominations for Officers and Committees. The Vestry approved the Vestry members of the Nominating Committee (i.e., as required by the Bylaws, all those Vestry members or elected officers whose term ends in January 2022): Ken Patterson, Barbara Manard, Paul Brewster (Chair), Dudley Winthrop and Josepha Musabyemariya. Also approved for one-year terms were: Carol Aschenbrener as Secretary; Hollis McLoughlin as Treasurer; and, David Ridenour as Chancellor. The Youth Representatives to the Vestry were approved and we are pleased to welcome Annie McLean and Hana Keenan.
Laura Ingersoll and David Brown remain as members of the Memorial Lecture Committee, with a third member still to be selected, and the following Vestry Committees were appointed for 2021:
- Executive Committee: Rector, Senior and Junior Warden, Secretary, Treasurer
- Personnel: Ted Swett (Chair); Tom Gustafson, Lisa Birchard, Abel Smith
- Buildings and Grounds: Junior Warden (Chair), Bob Witten, Barbara Manard, Lucy Fraser Cage, John Nickum, Noel Sottile, Bob Pinkard
- Budget and Finance: Treasurer (Chair), Dudley Winthrop, Bill Cline, Ashley Bianchi, Lisa Garnett, Stephanie Curcuru
- Governance: Senior Warden (Chair), Bob Pickard, Rachel Colson, Matt Cunningham, the Chancellor (ex officio)
Governance. Two bylaw amendments were discussed for possible action at the 2022 Annual Meeting: correcting an inconsistency in the bylaws related to selection of Diocesan Delegates, and changing the Bylaws to allow that a person whose term as a Vestry member ends in January of a given year is eligible to be nominated as one of the Wardens that same year. Currently the Bylaws say two things that read together prevent this: (1) that all retiring members of the Vestry shall be on the Nominating Committee; and, (2) that no Nominating Committee member is eligible to run for any position.
2021 Parish budget. The Vestry approved the budget for 2021. Notable aspects of the approved budget include the following:
- Despite a reduction in overall income (lower pledged amount and no contribution from Op Shop revenue, among other factors), our budgeted amount for outreach ($247,000) is the same as last year. Effectively, this means we are spending a larger percentage of our budget on outreach.
- The overall budget, using conservative numbers for income (e.g., anticipating lower parish support -- contributions by folks who have not made pledges but contribute with some regularity—and that we will receive no additional pledges) shows a deficit of only approximately $10,000. Because of the conservative income assumptions, and the possibility that expenses will be even depending on how long buildings are closed, the deficit may be lower or zero. In the event that the deficit between income and expenses remains at year end, the Vestry authorized that the standard yearly draw from the endowment may be increased from 4% to as much as 5% if needed to fill the gap.
- St. Alban’s is not going to seek a loan from federal Payroll Protection Plan moneys.
- On the personnel side, the budget contemplates filling the currently-vacant Parish Administrator position this coming fall. No cost-of-living raise has been authorized for existing staff; the hope is to make up for that in next year’s budget.
Facility Upgrades to Facilitate Safer Re-gathering. Junior Warden Ted Swett reported to the Vestry on continuing work toward upgrading the HVAC systems in the church and Nourse Hall and in Satterlee Hall. This project will be complicated, time consuming, and costly but the result will be safer and more healthful buildings in which to regather the parish once the pandemic wanes. Although COVID-19 has underscored the vital importance of ventilation and air exchange indoors, the upgrade would be needed in any event because many components of our systems are well beyond their useful lives, resulting in frequent breakdowns and excessive repair costs (note: the Executive Committee is also considering what procedures to recommend to the Vestry for avoiding excessive deferral of maintenance in the future so as to not have this history repeat itself). Charles Porter, Bob Pinkard and Ted have been in discussion with an engineer who has analyzed our systems and made some recommendations, along with rough cost estimates, and his firm this week presented a proposal for designing retrofitted systems, which we are now considering. We are also seeking out a project manager for this large job as well as a firm to conduct a necessary environmental assessment. The extent of the work involved presents a serious question as to the amount of time reasonably required to carry the project to completion and requires us to think through how best to operate during the disruptions involved.
Re-gathering Capital Campaign. To fund the HVAC work and other repairs and upgrades to make St. Alban’s able to more safely reopen, the Vestry formally approved moving forward with the anticipated capital campaign for the purpose of regathering safely with an initial goal of raising at least $1,750,000. Please stay tuned for the formal rollout of the campaign. I am pleased to announce that new Vestry member Suzy Mink has agreed to co-chair the campaign with me, and that as of this writing we have already received pre-campaign-kickoff contributions and pledges totally $857,963 from 23 households.
Diocesan Convention. Diocesan Delegate Barbara Manard reported out about the 2021 Convention. The Convention was virtual, and Barbara reported that while this helped make voting on resolutions more efficient, the downside -- with which we are all too familiar-- is the lack of human contact and networking normally afforded by this meeting. The convention was also conducted bilingually, an advance facilitated greatly by our own Associate Rector, Yoimel . Yoimel was also the sponsor of a resolution that passed regarding support for Episcopal Migration Ministries, the focus of which is on immigrants and recent detainees. Barbara cited the participation of numerous other St. Albanites, including Paul Brewster, Jim Quigley, Sarah Thorne, and Anton Vanterpool, and noted that the recorded musical contributions provided by St. Alban’s music program were “beyond fabulous.” Other significant issues included: resolutions on equity and justice; a resolution regarding making the lectionary-recommended readings during Holy Week ones that were less anti-Semitic; and, a change to the Canons providing a process for the Diocese to make a determination of “whether the continued vitality or viability of a particular parish as a self-sustaining entity furthering the mission of the Episcopal Church is in jeopardy to the extent that Diocesan oversight or intervention is necessary.”
Other Business. The Parochial Report to the Diocese was approved, and Jim Quigley shared the news that the recent Mustard Seed offering, directed at addressing urgent humanitarian needs at the schools we support in Jordan and the South Sudan, generated $18,000, the largest Mustard Seed offering ever.
I also reported that I have had discussions with Bishop Mariann and the Diocese’s Canon for Leadership Development and Congregational Care, the Rev. Dr. Robert Phillips, whose portfolio includes helping a parish plan for an actual, or as in our case possible, change in Rector. The Executive Committee, the Vestry and I continue to plan ahead should Geoffrey’s candidacy for Bishop be successful, or to stay the happy course if he stays at our helm.
|May 1 2021|
|May 10 2021|