Vestry Minutes - March 2021
St. Matthew’s Vestry Meeting
March 15, 2021
The meeting was held via Zoom.
Present: Penelope Boardman, Connie Conley, Charlie de Kay, Kristin Jacobsen, Karen LaBranche, Chris Motogawa, Bob Purse, Bill Siegfriedt, Steve Steiber, Melissa Warden, Penny Whiteside, Deborah Williams, Rick Worden, Allison Zidek
Charlie offered Psalm 119:9-6 as a corporate prayer. He requested that we bear in mind John 12:24-25 during the meeting’s discussion.
ACTION: The minutes of the February 15, 2021 meeting were approved as submitted.
Discussion: Living into our new mission
Charlie opened the discussion with a recap of the questions vestry members had been asked to reflect on, with consideration of Buechner’s insight “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Each vestry member responded briefly to the question “What specific human hurts and hopes do you have longings to help with?”
· I am drawn not to a particular mission area but rather to help people who feel less worthy (eg, those who have a mental illness, identify as LGBQ, are lonely)—people who need love.
· I would like to help people within our congregation or community who need a helping hand (eg, elderly people, families), perhaps with yardwork, rides to appointments, and other services. We shouldn’t forget those close to us (in the congregation).
· I would like to present opportunities for men in the congregation. I work with an organization that mentors junior high and high school students who hope to become first-generation college students. The personal connection and early start are important factors in a successful mentor-student relationship.
· The specific human hurts that I am drawn to are grief and loneliness. I feel called to pastoral care, as through the Stephen Ministry and my former visits to nursing homes with my therapy dog.
· I want to help with human hurts and hopes. My strength in communication can be used to create a community within our congregation, extending to our neighborhood and social contacts.
· Awareness and understanding of racial and cultural diversity are important. I am a crisis worker and therapist for individuals and their families who live in an underserved area affected by centuries of racism.
· I tend toward problems that can be solved. I like helping wherever it’s needed, just chewing away at little bits of the world’s problems.
· I’m the fix-it man rather than the idea man (eg, feeding ministries, work with children). My strength is in organization. It’s important for congregational projects to be multigenerational and offer different levels of involvement.
· My interests revolve around health care and basic human needs such as food. The question is how to respond to a lot of need in the world (eg, human trafficking, the plight of immigrant children).
· I am interested in communication and community building. Everyone needs love and attention at times. We need to be there for one another. It’s important to ask people to do things—people need to feel needed.
· I am looking for moments of grace within the church or congregation. Some ideas are to offer weekly coffees for young parents and to write up profiles of individual parishioners for the newsletter.
· I love spending time with the home communion folks and have found a heart for elderly people. My strengths are in getting people organized and making plans.
Charlie concluded the discussion by asking everyone to open up the conversation by communicating with others in the parish. The focus will be on phone calls to ask specific questions. Kristin stated that the hope is to narrow down the mission by June, experiment during the summer, and bring the result to the congregation in the fall.
Kristin and Melissa believe it would be valuable for every parish group to have an assigned vestry liaison. The specific role of the liaison will need to be defined. Kristin requested each vestry member to send her a list of the groups they are involved in and to specify which they are most passionate about.
Welcoming: Counting and reaching out at the service
Bob completed the count during the first Sunday service in March. He commented that the tendency of people to enter and leave the Zoom meeting created difficulty in making an accurate count. He greeted the two people whose names he didn’t recognize.
Spotlight on Service: Mary Jo Deysach
“Spotlight on Service” highlights the volunteer work parishioners do outside the church. Mary Jo is passionate about hospice. Her work as a hospice volunteer began in the 1980s and more recently has continued for 17 years with JourneyCare. She particularly enjoys providing respite so a caregiver can take a nap or run errands, and she has formed friendships with several patients. As a notary, she is called to a patient’s bedside when documents such as a power of attorney are signed. In addition to her hospice work, Mary Jo continues to support Family Matters, the not-for-profit organization of which she formerly was administrative director. She also is involved in several music-oriented organizations.
Antiracism team resolution on BIPOC businesses
Jennie Woodring read a resolution prepared by the antiracism team:
“To illustrate our commitment to anti-racist action, it is resolved that St. Matthew’s Church and its ministries shall make good faith efforts to utilize Minority Owned Business Enterprises, Women Owned Business Enterprises, and enterprises dedicated to serving historically disadvantaged groups for all purchases and services. This resolution will be put into action by making intentional efforts to seek out and consider MBE/WBE and service organizations when RFPs are issued and when purchases are made for items such as food and maintenance, cleaning, and liturgical supplies.
“Further, St. Matthew’s will make this policy known to building users to encourage them to do likewise in purchasing supplies used in the building.”
Jennie stated that the mission of the team is to educate and act on matters pertaining to antiracism. There is precedent for vestry action in its approval of the green team’s proposal to require compostable supplies for all events held in the building. Charlie pointed out that St. Matthew’s informally adheres to a similar antiracism policy and that there is never a requirement to hire any but the best company for the job. The antiracism team will compile a list of local vendors who meet the requirements of the resolution.
ACTION: The motion was made, seconded, and carried to approve the resolution, with the term “RFP” spelled out.
Report on music for Zoom
Charlie stated that Mark and James want the vestry to have a sense of what is required to prepare a choir or solo anthem for presentation via Zoom. Mark’s report emphasizes that the amount of preparation required on their part as well as that of the singers has greatly increased. For example, a 3-minute video can require 7 to 8 hours to complete. Everyone involved is working harder and saving the church money.
Kristin suggested that vestry members might express their appreciation to Mark and James via a card, an email, or another means. They have access to the many appreciative chat comments made during the service.
Planned giving group
A group has been assembled to ask parishioners to consider planned giving to St. Matthew’s through provision in a will or otherwise. The group will begin its work in May. Its members are Sandi McPhee (chair), Tim Patenode, Damon Doucet, Mary Clark, and Charlie.
Rector’s report highlights
Jennie Woodring and others have begun researching the history of the land occupied by the St. Matthew’s buildings. The goal is to acknowledge the original land ownership by Native Americans.
April 11 at 11 am has been set for the upcoming joint St. Andrew’s Pentecost–St. Matthew’s service.
The St. Matthew’s book group returns on April 15 with a discussion of Caste by Isabel Wilkerson.
Christina was recently approached by Phyllis Kravitz of Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation and Citizens Climate Lobby to request that St. Matthew’s support Illinois HR 763, “Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.” There is a question as to the basis for deciding on such an action and whether it would fall within the mission of the church. The discussion was tabled until the April vestry meeting.
Wardens’ report highlights
The St. Matthew’s–St. Andrew’s Pentecost team is supporting DACA students (without using funds from St. Matthew’s). Kristin and Melissa hope to start an intergenerational technology team to run livestreaming and develop other projects.
Steve summarized pledge numbers as they were affected by the matching grant offer. The number of pledging units is down from 79 to 74, but the average pledge has increased by approximately $600. The match campaign led 26% of pledging units to increase their pledge. Steve emphasized the importance of a mentality of abundance rather than scarcity.
Members of the thank-you team, who are Ann Searles, Penny Whiteside, Mike Muyres, and Steve, are looking for creative ways to thank people for a gift of money or an act of service.
Chris and Allison said that the February year-to-date financials are significantly better than last year’s, thanks to the match grant and pledge prepayments as well as underbudget facility and utilities expenditures. The second PPP loan has been received.
Charlie closed the meeting with a prayer.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:58 pm.
Submitted by Deborah Williams