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Vestry Minutes: February 21, 2022

Updated: 3 days ago


St. Matthew’s Vestry Meeting

February 21, 2022, 7 p.m.

The meeting was held via Zoom.

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



Charlie opened the meeting with two prayers from the Common Book of Prayer.


The minutes of the January 17, 2022 meeting were approved as submitted.


Welcome to New Vestry Members

Melissa Warden outlined the typical vestry agenda format for new members and posed the question “Have you had a silver lining during the pandemic?” for everyone to answer as they introduced themselves.

Group Norms

Melissa explained the balance that’s needed to stick to time restraints as well as hearing everyone’s voice. Charlie shared the document Group Names and Ground Rules, reviewed them and explained that these ground rules should be considered as tools to help create conversations and promote successful dialogues.

RefugeeOne Update

Melissa noted that the partnership was one of the first to apply and receive a St. Matthew’s grant for mission experiments.

Cynthia Doucet gave an overview of St. Matthew’s/St. Andrew’s Pentecost family sponsorship project currently underway in collaboration with RefugeeOne. Thanks to the grant, fundraising has been achieved allowing the team to concentrate on how to prepare for a home for the refugee family and mentor them through their first six months in the Chicago area. The nationality of the family is not known at this time but we should know more in a few weeks. Arrival will be swift with maybe two weeks’ notice so subcommittees are already busy preparing. Currently there are 33 volunteers on the team from both congregations and from the community at large. Eight teams will focus on overseeing the project, acquiring household necessities, mentoring and providing family visits, communications, arrival day plans, moving, tech and translators.

Melissa mentioned that the vestry is there to assist in whatever ways they can. Cynthia replied that immediate needs are household supplies and another Core Mentor, which Charlie volunteered to join.

Cynthia also mentioned that Episcopal Migration Ministries invited members of the St. Matthews/St. Andrews Pentecost and RefugeeOne to participate in an upcoming HomeTown podcast to discuss their efforts and partnership.

Back-of-church Improvement Proposal

Deborah Williams elaborated on the efforts underway to assess the space at the back of the church and considerations for making the area more welcoming. One of the ideas was to expand usable space by removing the last row of pews and reversing the orientation of the second to last row to encourage socializing during coffee hour. Removal of the final row of pews is unavoidable if we are to enlarge space. No changes are permanent, and they can be reversed. Deborah invited Ginny to talk about her family’s offer of adding a votive altar as a memorial to her father, which had been tacitly approved by the vestry in 2019.

The congregation is invited to meet at the back of the church to provide feedback on proposed ideas on March 6 and 13 after the 10:30 service. Unfortunately, live streaming will not be possible.


Trust II Update

Damon Doucet explained that due to uncertainty over cash needs at the beginning of the pandemic, the trustees arranged with Northern Trust to keep $79,ooo in reserve as ready cash. Thanks in part to pandemic PPP government assistance and congregational support through pledging and fundraising, the trustees contacted Northern Trust in early January and instructed the bank to return the amount to investment. Damon described the church’s finances as doing well and confirmed that the church shouldn’t need to access funds to pay bills.

Parochial Report Approval

Charlie explained that the Parochial Report is filled out yearly by every congregation in the Episcopal church. The metrics are universal across the church and focus on attendance numbers and financial health. International in scope, the data is public and accessible. Charlie noted an incongruity in this year’s form requesting only in-person attendance figures during a pandemic year. Penny Whiteside requested that Green Team be included in the Narrative section, and Bill Siegfriedt pointed out that there was a typo in Christ Motigawa’s email address. Discussion ensued about how to bring back the recorded 360 members of St. Matthews once pandemic concerns lessened, perhaps in the form of a homecoming event.

Motion for approval of the Parochial Report with appropriate modifications was proposed, seconded and carried.

COVID Update

Charlie reported that the Diocese's expectations, though made before the State of Illinois lift of mask mandates scheduled for March 1, was to “keep doing what you’re doing.” One change to note was that as of March 1 so long as Covid-19 cases continue to diminish, masking was optional for those preachers, intercessors and lectors. The Diocese is also allowing congregations to allow food and drink so long as physical distancing is maintained and masks are only removed to consume. The Wednesday lunch program also may now serve indoors, again so long as physical distancing is observed.

Charlie credited St. Matthews for erring on the side of caution during the pandemic, which helped to keep the church free from being a source of transmission.

Deborah inquired about the resumption of a “normal” Eucharist with a shared cup or homemade bread. Charlie responded that there would be no change at this point.

Closing Prayer

Charlie offered two prayers from the New Zealand Prayer Book.

The meeting was adjourned into executive session.

–Submitted by Ginny Voedisch

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