Vestry Minutes - May 2021
St. Matthew’s Vestry Meeting
May 17, 2021
The meeting was held via Zoom.
Present: Penelope Boardman, Connie Conley, Charlie de Kay, Kristin Jacobsen, Karen LaBranche, Bob Purse, Bill Siegfried, Steve Steiber, Melissa Warden, Penny Whiteside, Deborah Williams, Rick Worden, Allison Zidek
Kristin asked us to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the work of discerning our mission. Charlie described the baptismal covenant as a touchstone of our commitment when we enter the Church; the covenant set forth in the prayer book consists of the Apostles’ Creed, which is a summary of the Christian faith, and five questions that summarize our calling as Christians and hence are particularly relevant to our mission discernment. Together we recited the baptismal covenant as our opening prayer.
ACTION: The minutes of the April 19, 2021 meeting were approved as submitted.
Discussion: Liaison meetings about our new mission
Vestry members reported on their contact with a specific ministry group to discover how the group is living out our mission statement, “Welcoming all in community, joyfully doing God’s work in the world.” The suggested questions to focus each discussion were
· What energizes you about being part of this ministry? (This is the “joy” part of our new mission statement.)
· How does this ministry meet a need in our faith community?
· How does this group already fulfill the new mission statement? Do we fulfill part or all of the mission?
· What changes would the group have to make to fulfill the entire mission statement?
· Is there anything else you would like to share that we should know?
St. Matthew’s–St. Andrew’s Pentecost partnership: The group is focused on shared events, study, and social justice issues, particularly as relevant to the plight of refugees. The current project is to assist potential DACA beneficiaries by paying the $495 fee required to apply for temporary legal status. Group members from Caribbean islands expressed concern about the welcome today’s immigrants may receive. The group believes they fulfill the welcoming function of the mission statement by encouraging people to look for Jesus in everyone and especially by making love a spiritual practice.
Movie group: This is a purely social group. The participants, who sometimes are intergenerational, enjoy fellowship and exposure to a variety of movies. Those interviewed believe that small social groups within the parish are important. They fulfill the mission statement by generating feelings of welcome, joy, and fellowship.
Home communion ministry: The home communion ministers greatly miss this work, which has been on hold during the pandemic. They have found that bringing the church out into the world is spiritually satisfying and joyful. As technological capabilities allow, it could become possible to bring St. Matthew’s services to home communion recipients. To the extent possible, ministers would like to be kept informed of what is going on with the recipients. Members believe that the mission statement “was written for our group.”
Ushers: The ushers are small-scale ambassadors of the church. It is energizing and joyful to be a personal, welcoming part of the service. It would be helpful to receive feedback on how to be proactive in greeting newcomers and others. The ushers talked about fulfilling the mission statement further by being proactive and greeting people during the Peace and making contact with people in other ways.
Altar guild: A survey of altar guild members revealed that many members are energized by their sense of community. Their hands-on work often is contemplative and provides a time of spiritual preparation for worship. The ministry could be expanded to meet more of the mission statement by asking others to join, including men and teens, and by thinking creatively about how some tasks are accomplished. Coordinating Sunday scheduling with the ushers might make participation feasible for more parishioners.
Stephen ministry: The Stephen ministers are energized by a call to individual, personal, and confidential pastoral care. During the past year the ministry has continued even though face-to-face interaction has not been possible. The Stephen ministry can draw people into the community in the face of an isolating crisis, but it can be difficult to encourage people to ask for help. The rules that guide the Stephen ministers are set by the national organization, so change is not feasible at the parish level. They believe, though, that they already fulfill the mission statement.
Green team: This collegial, energetic group of eight people is committed to taking care of God’s creation. The focus is on educating and explaining the need for environmental sustainability. The group’s work toward achieving zero waste in the church building over the past 10 years (with vital support from the vestry) has had a ripple effect on other churches as well as homes and other organizations. St. Matthew’s is considered a leader among Episcopal parishes. The group would welcome new members, including men. The overlapping memberships of the green team, antiracism team, and St. Matthew’s–St. Andrew’s Pentecost partnership may offer opportunities for synergy among their missions.
Acolytes: There are seven active acolytes (down from nine at the beginning of the pandemic). The one respondent among the four acolytes who were contacted stated that she enjoys being part of the services and misses the acolyte ministry as well as her friends in the group. The adult who was interviewed said she thinks the acolytes live up to the mission statement.
Choir: The choir has met only online during the past year. James Janssen and Mark Crayton stated that the choir is passionate about music and reaching out to others. The mission is education and inspiration. The choir is more diverse than the congregation. There is not as much reaching out beyond the choir as they might like. The change they are looking forward to is to get back into the church.
Antiracism team: Loving Christ in all persons is holy work. The group is engaged in educating themselves and working toward a welcoming, expanding community. The St. Matthew’s–St. Andrew’s Pentecost partnership already is doing the work of antiracism and can offer opportunities for cooperation. The team members hope to fulfill the mission statement further by going beyond the walls of the church to work against systemic racism.
Kristin stated that the work of the next month will be to narrow the focus of the mission into one project or area. On June 7 at 7:30 pm, she will host a Zoom meeting for all parishioners who want to voice their thoughts, especially if they haven’t yet done so. She asked vestry members to communicate the information to anyone who wants to attend. Kristin showed a short video on asset-based community development, which re-envisions the concept of service away from something involving a giver and a recipient to instead being a reciprocal response to one another’s poverty (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFxmQi1jaqM&list=PLHah8EaU-asHLKwpMytV5khnCVkI_Dw3R&index=2).
Trustees’ report on distribution from Trust III
Tim Patenode and Dustin Vincent joined the meeting. This year’s distributable yield (DY) from Trust III is approximately $18,000. The DY must be used for the primary purpose of the trust, which is to support specific parish-related ministries as designated by the vestry. It cannot be used for normal operating expenses or maintenance. However, a modification of the building that is necessary to make it more suitable for the mission (eg, adding ventilation to permit a mission-related group to meet inside the building) is likely to be a permissible use. The trust principal is invested in a moderate-growth mutual fund. It is important to remember that the DY can vary greatly from year to year.
Kristin remarked that the DY seems to be usable for starting or changing a program for the first year, after which another funding source would be needed. Melissa stated that one year’s DY could be expended over 2 years for a modest program. There is no need to segregate the DY from other trust funds; it can be allowed to accumulate for future use, regardless of market conditions.
Welcoming: Counting and reaching out at the service
On May 2 Penelope counted 42 Zoom attendees, some of whom could not be identified. The total had dropped to 37 by the end of the service. Twelve additional people attended the outdoor service. Allison commented that some people who attended regularly before the pandemic have not attended Zoom services and may not come back when we return to the building. Kristin asked whether vestry members would be willing to reach out to encourage people to attend when we return to the building. One vestry member suggested we have a grand re-opening celebration. Steve commented that the new livestream setup will serve people who cannot or prefer not to attend in person.
Kristin asked for comments to be sent before June 5 on ways to celebrate the return to in-person worship.
Tools for Mission: Parish Business
Rector’s report highlights
Charlie thanked the vestry and parish for the thoughtful, unexpected recognition of his 10th anniversary at St. Matthew’s.
In contrast with a livestreamed service, access to a Zoom service must be restricted to parishioners and others who are invited. It can be difficult to be welcoming. Charlie and other staff members are unable to greet people using the chat function during the service, but the ushers and congregation could reach out. Would the vestry consider doing this? Per Kristin, this topic will be an agenda item for the June meeting.
The vestry will help decide when to invite St. Andrew’s Pentecost to St. Matthew’s this fall, probably for an in-person service.
For the June 19–20 virtual Race Against Hate, St. Matthew’s has joined St. Mark’s, St. Luke’s, and St. Andrew’s Pentecost to form Episcopalians United Against Hate.
Wardens’ report highlights
Kristin asked vestry members to consider becoming part of a small, nimble task force to experiment with approaches to the new mission. She also encouraged vestry members to join the newly formed tech team. The equipment installer will provide training in using the new system. Melissa emphasized the importance of continued weekly brainstorming to develop the mission.
Charlie closed the meeting with prayer in the form of alternate endings to the baptismal service.
The meeting adjourned into executive session at 9:04 pm.
Submitted by Deborah Williams