2015 Annual Meeting

Editor’s comments – Annual meeting documents provide a unique look into a particular year in the history of the Parish. What are the important items ? It is not only the events but how participants reacted to them. 2015 was the Rev. Joe Hensley’s first Annual meeting having arrived earlier in 2015


Annual Parish Meeting

December 6, 2015  10:00 a.m. Sydnor Hall

St. George’s Episcopal Church

Growing into Christ + Reaching out in Love

Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:  The St. George’s Episcopal Church’s annual meeting was called to order by Rector, The Reverend Joe Hensley at 10:00 am on December 6, 2015 in Sydnor Hall. There were more than 150 members in attendance.

After Singing a Hymn, Seek Ye First, we read in unison the Scripture reading: Philippians 1:8-11

And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.”

After hearing the rector’s introductory comments we reviewed the three questions that had been previously posed to us:

  1. How is the love of God flowing freely in and around our congregation?
  2. How might we share in God’s love more abundantly?
  3. What gifts do you/others bring that will help St. George’s as we respond to these questions together?

INTRODUCTIONS OF VESTRY NOMIMEES:  Jessica Atkinson, Vanessa Howard Byrd, Bill Carter, Pat Davis, Jack Farrington, Alan Gayle, Ethel Hellman, Brian Vaughan.  After 30 seconds of silence to ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the outgoing vestry members conducted the election.  Joe announced the rules of voting which were: 

Adult (age 16+) communicants in good standing, registered as members of St. George’s are eligible to vote. The canons (rules) of The Episcopal Church define “communicants in good standing” as persons who, for the previous year, have been faithful in corporate worship and have been faithful in working, praying and giving for the spread of the Kingdom of God.

Reflections on commissions were given:

EVANGELISM:  Helen Mosher, Coordinator of Communications and Facilities gave a brief tour of the new website which she has created.  Things are easier to locate and more mobile friendly. 

OUTREACH:  Chris Cook, Chair of Outreach Commission

Where is the love of God flowing freely in our congregation? How might we share in God’s love more abundantly? What gifts do you/others bring that will help St. George’s as we respond to these questions together?

Outreach is certainly where I see God flowing freely in our congregation.  The Table is the one part of Outreach where we routinely cite as “community”.  It is comprised of those who serve in many, many ways, seen and unseen.  Being at The Table on Tuesdays is only a part of this community.  Those who quietly leave the products we ask for in the narthex, those who act as our urban gleaners, those who come just to help clean up, those who support us financially are all part of this community.  Side by side we see members of St. George’s, students, citizens, shoppers, doing the work.  God is everyway in this endeavor.  And it is so much more than just the food.  The Table is a food market but also a place of prayer, a place of all human conditions and emotions, a place of friendship and a place of love.

Our hope in Outreach is that we can take this spirit and infuse it in our other work such as the community dinners, the cold night shelter, rally Sundays, building repair projects, whatever is our mission.  This is the work of sharing in God’s love more abundantly.

The Outreach Commission has begun a discussion about why we do what we do.  There are very personal stories among our members.  We may come from various places spiritually, emotionally and psychologically but we end up at the same place —- called to serve.  And this discussion is not just for the commission members – this is a discussion for the congregation of St. George’s.  We all have gifts to share — our personal experiences, our professional experiences, our hobbies, our passions.  I think everyone should consider what gifts they have to offer as we respond to the questions Joe has posed …..where is God flowing freely and how do we share in God’s love more abundantly.

PASTORAL CARE: Joe Hensley

Churches often divide their activities into the categories of outreach and inreach. Outreach is caring for people who are not actual church members, not part of the flock. It is ministry beyond the church walls, so to speak, and often involves meeting basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. In-reach, sometimes called pastoral care, involves caring more for church members and their emotional and spiritual needs. It involves care of the sick and dying, responding in times of personal crisis and loss, visiting the lonely, weddings, funerals. During the last year at St. George’s, I have seen the lines between outreach and in-reach blurring. This past week I visited a man in the hospital who had listed himself as a member of St. George’s. He does not attend services but does come to the community dinner on Monday evenings. This is his church, and when I visited him, he welcomed me as his minister, even though I do not really know him. We are beginning our Tuesday sessions at the Table, before people start shopping for food, with a prayer and sometimes a song. And what we are finding is that people want more of that pastoral care. They come to us asking for spiritual support. Who is part of the flock is more than simply who is a registered communicant in good standing. As we move forward in the coming year, we will be thinking and praying more about how pastoral care is outreach and the other way around.

We have so many ministries of pastoral care here at St. George’s. If you are involved in a pastoral care ministry, please stand. There is one ministry that has been going for several years which I would like to highlight today. Our One Body Response Team or OBRT empowers our lay ministers to reach out in a variety of ways to fellow parishioners, from delivering meals after a surgery or death in the family to providing rides to appointments to simply making a phone call to one of our homebound parishioners to say, “How are you doing?” Thank you to Ranny Corbin who is coordinating this ministry now and to Joanna Catron who helped get it started and to Gay Rahn who brought the concept to St. George’s from Tennessee. For a parish our size that has so many people, it helps those who are feeling vulnerable feel connected. Please stand again if you are part of the One Body Response Team! Please stand if you or someone close to you has benefitted from the ministry of this team. What an impact!

Pastoral care happens in many, many ways here. My last word is about our youth, our 11 to 18 year olds. The vestry made youth ministry one of its priority areas this year. We are exploring the possibility of expanding the 3rd floor where the youth classrooms are so that there can be a larger meeting space. This is a pastoral care matter, because we want youth and their families to know that we support them and are providing space for them during this wonderful and sometimes challenging phase of life. My hope is that for every youth in our parish, there will be five adults with whom they have a meaningful relationship. Those webs of connection are pastoral care.

STEWARDSHIP:  Cindy Helton, Chair

The Holy Spirit has been at work at St. George’s. This is evident in the inspiration that has produced these results in our Giving as One Campaign.

As of last Friday, three hundred fifty-eight pledges have been made. (We only need 14 more to reach our goal of 70%).  The pledge total, so far, is $858,556.00. That must have come from the love of God flowing freely around our congregation; we pledged as individuals, but the result is as one body of Christ.  We did so much more together than any of us could do alone. Thank you for giving as one!  For those who have not yet pledged, it is not too late to complete a pledge card and send it to Ben Hicks in the church office.

This campaign was new and different.  We found that some things worked well and some did not. A positive result was that we got to know our parish family better and we were able to clarify our database.

We also learned that some revisions would need to be made if we were to use this format for a campaign in the future. In fact, we have several pages of ideas to consider resulting from the evaluation conducted by the Stewardship Commission. Thank all of you who shared your stories and insight about the campaign, either at the Adult Forum on Nov. 22, by email, or in discussion with commission members.

Speaking of the Stewardship Commission

It has been my honor and privilege to work with this dedicated church commission. Pam Jewett-Bullock did the graphic design for our Giving as One Logo, created the mascot “flat George, produced the folders, procured GO cupcakes and Go-nuts.  She and Charles worked tirelessly to see every process through. Brian Davis made an instructional video on using the folder. The commission members served as guides, supported the kickoff with food and provided their creative support throughout the campaign:  Pam Asamoah, Pat Davis, Bethany and Richard Friesner, Dick Juergens, Meghan O’Connor, who served as our Vestry Liaison, and Ben Wafle, all of you who are here, please stand.

Ben Hicks’ knowledge of this parish and his organizational skills were invaluable. Thank you to Helen Mosher, Michele Midkiff and Jan Meredith for their support with the database, printing and production of materials.

Our clergy also contributed their special gifts, and the commission felt the power of their prayers and support. Our rector was there from the start. He lifted us up when were down. His inspiration was energizing. He guided with the power of 2 Cor. 8….always encouraging us to finish what we started.

Finally, I want to thank the rector and you for giving me this opportunity to experience how God’s love works to bring us all together as one body in Christ in this church. Thank you!

FINANCIAL:             Tom Meredith, Treasurer

1) St. George’s Church is “debt free” and continues to be a richly blessed downtown parish.  All costs for the renovation of the front steps ($84.5K), and earthquake repairs ($91.6K) were paid off in 2015; plus the Vestry was able to establish a Long-Term Building Fund which currently has a balance of over $60K.

2) Although for 2015 operations, the Vestry approved a faith based deficit budget of negative $23.7K, we are currently in the black by $21.6K due to increased contributions and savings in both general expenses and personnel costs.  With continued December donations, we hope to end 2015 with a surplus like in 2014.

3) As always, if you need to know your pledge balance, Ben Hicks, our Parish Business Manager, will be glad to talk to you.

4) Moving ahead to the 2016 Budget, if you look around at everything that takes place here, it’s pretty obvious this church is a million dollar operation…

  1. a) the increases in the 2016 Budget requests 1) restore Program spending to previous levels (instead of drawing from savings/restricted accounts); 2) address previously deferred care of this historic building; and 3) they help to prepare for longer term personnel expenses related to staffing.
  1. b) Making your pledge is important…. both spiritually to you and financially to your church….. On that note, we are having the best pledge drive in recent history and as of this past Thursday, December 3rd, we only need another $121K in additional pledges to fully fund the 2016 Operating Budget.

5) Thank you for allowing me to serve as your church treasurer for the past 6 years.  Let me add my special thanks to Ben Hicks and the Finance Committee for carefully monitoring all the financial aspects of the parish. 

6) Financial handouts are available with the numbers for both 2015 and the proposed 2016 Budget.  As always, I’ll be happy to answer any questions after the meeting. (see attached handout)

JUNIOR WARDEN:  Earl Baughman

Mr. Baughman highlighted the cooling shed, which has been installed this year.  He complimented the ARB of the city of Fredericksburg on their willingness to work with us on making the shed meet their requirements.  One thing we are working toward now is to install LED lightbulbs to replace the now incandescent ones.  It could take up to 1 ½ to 2 years to replace these bulbs, but they won’t have to be replaced for a very long time.

SENIOR WARDEN:  David Morgan

Joe asked me to talk about the Vestry in response to two questions

  1. Where is the love of God flowing freely in our congregation?
  2. Where do we need more “knowledge and insight to help us determine what is best”?

Well, I think a great example of the first was the Vestry expressing our support for our Muslim brothers and sisters after that recent hate-filled community meeting. On a lighter note, our Vestry members got along very well with each other. We had a very articulate group which had many great discussions.

My answer to the second is a lot longer.  From the get-go, Joe wanted the Vestry to do more long term visioning and planning. This started at our retreat in Feb and has been carried forward into our monthly meetings.  We left the retreat with a long list of things that we thought we could work on. 

In our March meeting we condensed our list down to 3 main topics: 

How to better serve our youth,

How to make us fall in love with God, and

Stewardship.  

Over the course of the rest of the year, we discussed these topics.  Concerning youth, we realize we have space issues, and are considering how to rework the 3rd floor of McGuire Hall to better serve them.  We talked about ways to get our youth more involved. We were reminded that strong relationships between kids and adults are what bring the youth back to church when they come of age.

Concerning how to make us fall in love with God, we decided that individually we need to be better listeners to the conversations within our congregation and bring possible opportunities back to the Vestry and staff.  We also need to encourage people to take initiative and not necessarily follow a top/down approach for approval.

And our stewardship discussion led us to the decision to try what ended up being our GO Campaign.

So, we are trying hard to look beyond the day-to-day stuff and get to the big picture.  The bottom line, though, is that the Vestry wants and needs your “knowledge and insight to help us determine what is best” as we move into a new year.

Finally, I wish to recognize our out going members:  Dick Juergens and Meghan O’Connor, who also served on the Search Committee, and our remaining Peggys:  Peggy Conway and Peg Johnson:  all served faithfully and joyfully and will be missed.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF VESTRY ELECTIONS:

New members elected for a three year term beginning January 1, 2016 are Jessica Atkinson, Bill Carter, Ethel Hellman and Brian Vaughan.

ACKNOWLEDGES AND THANK YOUS:

Joe acknowledged:

            Those who had a role in making the cooling shed a reality.

            Those who are a part of a ministry group, a committee, or a commission of any kind.

            Janice Brunson and Vicki Lewis for serving 8 years as chair of World Mission Commission.

            Betty Dodd and those who have worked or volunteered with the preschool.  (They are celebrating their 5th year)

            The Vestry, especially David Morgan and Earl Baughman, senior and junior wardens.

            The outgoing Vestry members, Peggy Conway, Meghan O’Connor, Dick Juergens and eggy Johnson.  They will receive a special gift at the last meeting later this month.

            Our staff:  Gay Rahn, Carey Chirico (clergy colleagues, John Vreeland (music director), Helen Mosher, Michelle Midkiff, Jan Meredith, Ben Hicks and Nicholas Perron (office staff), Lisa Bogardus, Robin Roberson, and Kelly Kazik (music staff) and Tom Way.

            John Vreeland and Gay Rahn marking ten years of service at St. George’s.

Motion was made to adjourn the meeting.  Motion was seconded.  All that were in favor of adjourning this meeting and going forth to share the love of God with the world signified by saying “Amen!”

Meeting adjourned at 10:55 am.

Respectively submitted,

Jan Meredith

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