Vestry Minutes - July 2021
St. Matthew’s Vestry Meeting
July 19, 2021
The meeting was held via Zoom.
Present: Charlie de Kay, Damon Doucet, Kristin Jacobsen, Bob Purse, Bill Siegfriedt, Steve Steiber, Melissa Warden, Penny Whiteside, Deborah Williams, Rick Worden
Absent: Penelope Boardman, Connie Conley, Karen LaBranche
Charlie offered a brief version of Lectio Divina based on Ephesians 3:14-21. He described Lectio as a method of praying the scriptures in which each of us listens for what God is saying through the passage and how we are being called to respond.
ACTION: The minutes of the June 21, 2021 meeting were approved as submitted.
Discussion: A welcoming church
Preparation for the meeting included reading chapter 1 of Becoming a Welcoming Church by Thom S. Rainer. Vestry members emphasized several points from the chapter as applied to St. Matthew’s and specified one point that particularly struck them:
· The suggestions were practical and obvious (such as signage, cleanliness, security of children’s areas) but nonetheless valuable. The magic bullet is to take care of the practical things.
· We need to walk through the church as if we were newcomers.
· The efficiency of cleaning and maintenance could be improved by dedicating a room to supplies and equipment. The old choir room might be used for this purpose.
· The back of the church seems dark, crowded, and unwelcoming. We could remove the last few rows of pews to create a welcoming area.
· The restrooms need updating.
· Signage is important—it’s not clear where the entrance is.
· Newcomers are welcomed, listened to, and included. Childcare is important for families.
· What we may think of as weaknesses may be strengths. We can reimagine what we do by talking with other people and learning their needs.
· The author based his conclusions on research data.
· The prevalence of complaints about the Peace was surprising. This moment in the worship service may need to be better explained.
· The author’s style fits in with Bishop Curry’s Love Is the Way. Perhaps we need to be more Baptist (ie, less stuffy, fewer words).
· To discern recurrent themes, we may want to conduct qualitative, in-depth market research with a sample of parishioners. What works and doesn’t work about St. Matthew’s?
· The book is a little depressing in that our facilities, especially restrooms, wouldn’t score well.
· The book comes from a large-church perspective. We should consider first impressions, including whether the building looks like it needs care.
· Many prospective visitors decide whether to make an in-person visit on the basis of a church’s website. Our website should be current and provide plentiful information (eg, programs, staff biographies, newsletters, a statement of who we are and what we believe).
· We could make one or more field trips to observe other churches.
FaithX demographic information offer
Kristin described the demographic data and consultation package sold by FaithX. She attended a webinar that described how one church used such data to plan its activities. Charlie commented that a late-1990s program of the national Episcopal Church encouraged this data-driven approach as a tool for evangelism. The modest price of the FaithX “missional intelligence report” could be appropriately covered by the Trust III distributable yield.
ACTION: A motion to spend $500 on a demographic data report and consultation from FaithX was made, seconded, and carried with eight affirmative votes and one negative vote.
Kristin will contact FaithX to proceed.
Next steps on mission passion
Melissa stated that the next step is to identify ideas we will support with funds from the Trust III distributable yield. Twelve parishioners have accepted an invitation to participate in an impact-exercise effort on July 26, including heads of ministries, members of the parish at large, and people who attended the July 1 book discussion. This meeting will be an opportunity for different viewpoints to be expressed, possible blind spots to be revealed, and creative ideas to emerge. The ultimate goal is to decide on one or more ideas to take to the congregation. Each potential experiment will need a champion, who will begin by writing a proposal. The experiments might take place this fall, but some could require years. A children’s library was mentioned as a possible project.
Vestry members are encouraged to inform the congregation generally about subjects of vestry discussion and vestry decisions. Doing so creates transparency and opportunities for the larger church community to provide feedback and have a sense of engagement and ownership.
Tools for Mission: Parish Business
Masks inside church
Charlie reported a little mask resistance on July 11, when the beach service had to be moved into the church building because of weather. Although the CDC has not required indoor mask wearing, the expectation is that masks will be worn indoors at St. Matthew’s, with only brief exceptions (eg, for consuming the Communion elements).
Rector’s report highlights
A show and sale of artwork by Jack and Elise Pike Lerman will be held November 12-14, with the art displayed in the church as it was for the earlier show of works by Elise. There will be an opening reception. Jack has generously agreed to donate 50% of the proceeds of the sale to the church. (This amount is higher than standard gallery commissions.)
Charlie expressed gratitude to the Bishop-Steiber family. Steve has agreed to once again head the stewardship campaign, and Charlotte has agreed to chair the fall gala.
The fall calendar is filled with special events. Among the confirmed dates are the opening celebration on September 12, St. Matthew’s Day on September 26, the St. Francis Day pet blessing on October 10, the St. Andrew’s Pentecost joint service on October 24, and All Saints Day on November 7.
Melissa outlined planning for the return-to-church celebration on September 12. Hartrey Avenue will be blocked off, a meal will be provided, and there will be planned activities including games.
Steve reported that he is meeting with a representative of Howard Brown Center, which serves the LGBTQ community, to learn how we can support the center and address its needs.
Charlie closed the meeting with a prayer.
The executive session was not held. The meeting was adjourned at 8:38 pm.
Submitted by Deborah Williams