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Vestry Minutes-July 18, 2022-


St. Matthew’s Vestry Meeting

July 18, 2022, 7 p.m.

The meeting was held via Zoom.

Present: Charlie de Kay, Damon Doucet, Penelope Boardman, Karen LaBranche, Molly Purse, Bill Siegfriedt, Steve Steiber, Melissa Warden, Bill Widmer, Deborah Williams, Penny Whiteside and Curt Nilsson



Charlie opened the meeting with a selection for St. Matthew’s Day from the prayer book. He then invited vestry members to reflect on the gospel text concerning Jesus’ invitation to Matthew to join him, his disciples and a host of “sinners” for a common meal. In a round-robin discussion, vestry members shared their thoughts. Charlie ended the prayer with a prayer by Steven Shakespeare.


The June 20 minutes with one correction were approved.


Updates on Welcoming Experiments

–Refugee One Partnership

Cynthia Doucet shared a photo collage showing pictures of the family, their apartment and the airport welcoming party. She said the apartment is in a nice, leafy green neighborhood on the garden level. The family has made friends with their neighbors, and the house is always busy, welcoming and joyful. She mentioned that mentor team members have made an effort to not solve issues, but invite the family to help problem solve. To date, more than 50 volunteers have joined the partnership effort. Cynthia asked for help with assisting Corky in writing thank-you notes to donors/contributors (Penelope Boardman volunteered) and helping to organize a pot-luck picnic this fall. She also mentioned that everyone is welcome to attend virtually Refugee One’s trauma informed training. She concluded with the idea that we might engage again in a refugee sponsorship program, maybe as early as next year.

–Making the Back of the Church More Welcoming

Deborah invites all to see what’s been done so far. Jorge has moved pews, patched up holes and moved furniture. She explained that the basic furniture layout is done for now, until such time we want to refresh with newer pieces. In preparation for our back to church Sunday, she expressed the need for a simple sign to direct people to the church entrance.

–Making the Church More Accessible

Damon is waiting on plans and ideas from the consulting architect. He explained that the vestry will have fleshed out plans by the next vestry meeting. He relayed that the architect determined that all aspects of phase one are doable. Melissa asked if the curb cut could take a higher priority since it’s basically separate from the building renovation. Bill Siegfriedt answered that the curb cut can be done at any time.

-Welcoming Research

Steve Steiber went through a powerpoint presentation of his detailed research, which consisted of eight interviews with people with little to no exposure to St. Matthews. While the participants were overall positive about the church—beautiful windows, European looking—a consistent number remarked on the lack of signage and sufficient lighting as well as the clutter at the back of the church. Some of Steve’s takeaways were to improve interior and exterior signage, think about how lighting might be improved, cultivate and train a core group of ushers who could welcome guests and provide the history and context they expressed curiosity about.

Vestry members expressed their thanks for the thorough presentation and analysis. Penny Whiteside expressed the value of having feedback from younger persons and advocated for banners, pictures of our refugee partners and explanation of the division between teaching and the eucharist made more clear in the bulletin.

Dreaming about the Future

Melissa in conversation with Charlie and Damon explored the idea of dreaming about the future and asked that the vestry dream along with them. How shall we celebrate our 150 birthday in 2026? With a big event or maybe an entire season of celebration? How can we get the community to celebrate with us? How do we see St. Matthews evolving? The Vestry will brainstorm together at the next meeting.


Keeping Parishioners Safe

Noting the Highland Park shooting, Melissa asked the vestry to consider how we are prepared with an emergency? Are we familiar with procedures, exits, the location and use of the fire extinguishers and first-aid kit? She asked whether we invite the Evanston police and fire departments to come out and talk about best practices for an emergency. Charlie mentioned that the Unitarian church did active shooter drill with EPD. Karen LaBranche wondered whether we could have a designated person to sit in the back and keep an eye out for suspicious activity. All agreed that we are overdue in considering emergency preparedness. Melissa will start an email thread for vestry members to add questions and thoughts.

Rector’s Report

Charlie updated on the staff situation, noting that Julie's position has been divided into two positions: a communications specialist and a parish administrator. The personnel team suggested that the position openings be shared with Evanston colleagues, peers in deaconry, Interfaith friends rather than official job websites. Melissa inquired whether it would be helpful to share job descriptions with vestry. Other suggestions for posting locations were the Moody Bible Institute, the Levy Center and Garrett seminary at Northwestern.

Charlie noted that the beach concierge would not be able to help out on July 31 and August 7 when he is out of town. He asked whether those Sundays should be in-church services. Steve will ask Sam Frederickson if could help out as a concierge and will report back after he’s spoken to him.

Late Agenda Add

Melissa asked whether Charlie knew how much money St. Andrews needs to complete their repairs. Charlie replied that they are $10,000 short of what insurance has provided. The question was asked whether we should consider a donation using some of the distributable yield from the trust to help them out. Penelope will kick in up to $1,000 from her own foundation.

Closing Prayer

Charlie closed the meeting with a selection from the prayer book on the good use and value of leisure time.

–Submitted by Ginny Voedisch

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