December 2014 Vestry Minutes

Series: Minutes

Minutes of the Meeting of the Vestry of St. Paul’s Church

December 19, 2014

Call to Order:  The meeting was called to order by Bishop William Gregg at 10:00 a.m. Present were Vestry members Bishop Gregg, Adrian Ross, Raquel Martin, Isobella Kreizel, Bonnie Eriksmoen, Marco Espinosa, Bud Lawrence, and Elaine Sells.  Craig Tylosky was absent.  Clergy members present were: Bishop William Gregg, Jeff Sells and Sibylle Van Dijk. Ernie Townsend was absent.

Prayer: Bishop Gregg opened the meeting with a prayer.

Minutes: Upon motion made and seconded, the minutes of the May 2014 meeting were unanimously approved.  Upon motion made and seconded, the minutes of the November 2014 meeting were unanimously approved.

Wardens’ Reports:

Adrian Ross reported on the success of the service installing Bishop Gregg as rector of St. Paul’s in November. The luncheon afterwards was also a great success, thanks to Bonnie Eriksmoen’s hard work.

He also reported that Charlie Hall had once again donated candles to the church, saving us a substantial amount of money.  He suggested that Bishop William write a letter of thanks to Charlie. Bishop William suggested giving him a framable certificate of appreciation.  Adrian wondered whether St. Paul’s should give Charlie some kind of gift acknowledging his contribution.  It was mentioned that Charlie gives a lot of financial assistance to poor families and that perhaps he would appreciate St. Paul’s making a making a donation to a charitable cause of his choice.

Raquel Martin reported that the Religious Association is still not finalized and that the federal offices would be closed until mid-January.  She reported the resignation of Hortensia Dominguez as chair of the Medical Equipment Closet due to friction with the Sexton. 

Treasurer’s Report:

Elaine Sells presented the November financial report, which reflects the fact that we will not have to take the full $100,000 draw from the reserve fund authorized to cover this year’s deficit -- we will only be drawing $75,000 for the year from the reserve fund due to the fact that there has been about a 25% increase in contributions this year.

The quarterly meeting of the reserve fund oversight committee with our Ameriprise   representative was this week.  The fund is currently performing adequately but not as well as previously.

Elaine reported on Arrigo Hernandez, for whom the Vestry has established a fund to pay for his education.  Arrigo continues to make top grades and will finish high school in June.  We plan to start a church-wide drive to fund a college scholarship for him

Rector’s Report: 

Bishop William reported that the church’s electricity had been partially cut off due to an error on the part of Banorte through the bill-pay aspect of its website.  Steps have been taken to get it turned back on and to see that this does not reoccur.

Bishop William met with Jeff Ross, the rector of our companion church St. Peter’s of Lewes, Delaware to discuss the renewal of the relationship which is due in January 2015.  They want to have an exchange trip to maintain a visible face of the relationship.  One idea they discussed was to have a group from St. Peter’s come down for a non-working visit during Day of the Dead, in November of 2015.

Bishop William reported on the work of the Marketing/Branding Task Force, consisting of himself, Mary Jane Miller, Susan Robinson, and Nancy Gardiner. They will be hosting a meeting on December 22nd to get more input as to how St. Paul’s presents itself to the public physically.  Nancy and Mary Jane will present three options based on that input and then the Vestry will adopt one of these.  Bishop William has invited 27 people to attend the December 22nd meeting and hopes that at least 12 will participate.

Bishop William reminded Vestry of the following upcoming special events:

  1. Lessons and Carols will be on Sunday, December 21st at 5pm.
  2.  A screening of the Passion Play will occur at St. Paul’s on the Sunday and Monday after Christmas.  A new screen has been purchased for 8400 pesos to be installed in the church.  Adrian Ross commented that the timing is very bad, since so many people are away and since the Passion Play is usually associated with Easter, not Christmas.
  3. The Christmas Eve service will begin with carols at 4:45pm and Eucharist at 5:30 pm.

Bishop William reported he has been thinking about our connections with the Mexican community and how we can facilitate the participation of our Mexican members in the life of St. Paul’s.  We’ve talked about trying to be a haven for the disenfranchised, especially divorced Mexican women and unmarried Mexican mothers who are not welcomed in the Catholic Church.  Will we be a place where these groups naturally come?  He believes not, due to cultural issues and thinks we need to do a reality check by focusing on two questions:

How do we be the best expatriate church we can be in San Miguel?

and

In what ways do our connections to the Mexican community support that role?

It will help us if we clarify what we can do effectively as good ex-pat guests in this country. 

Adrian posited that we have a good start since we host Martha’s grief counseling group which is 90% Mexican.  We also help Louis Patlan, who is homebound and bedridden, by providing him with internet service to connect him to the outside world.

Bishop William requested that all Vestry members consider these questions in preparation to our consideration of the 2015 budget on January 23rd.

Reports from the Assisting Priests:

Sibylle Van Dijk reported that her health continues to improve and that she hopes to resume taking Eucharist to the homebound soon.

Jeff Sells reported that he has been assisting Bishop William as needed, as well as working with stewardship this year.  There have been three sermons focused on stewardship issues.  The stewardship effort has a two-fold hierarchy now.  There isthe Dream Team which is an umbrella group serving for 3-5 years, made up of Isobella Kreizel, Darlene and Tony Marinello, Jane McGinnis, Bishop Bill, and Jeff.  Then there is a sub-group charged with this year’s pledge drive.  Those members are Jane McGinnis, Ellen Judson, Jim Wright and Doug Craig, Bishop Bill and Jeff. 

The Dream Team has adopted a mission statement defining stewardship as the joy of making things possible with God through commitment, gratitude, and participation.  How do we, as people of God, live out our Christian lives through commitment, through gratitude and through participation? 

Jeff stated that the pledge drive will focus on emphasizing that stewardship is everything we do after we say “I believe.”  How do we take our baptismal vows and make them incarnate -- live them?  As we look at the 2015 budget, we need to ask how the budget reflects our commitment, our gratitude, and our participation in God’s mission.  What priorities are reflected by the budget “Does our budget tell the story that we want it to tell?”  Money is only part of it.

Adoption of Spending Policy as it Relates to the Reserve Fund:

Bishop William reported that for the last 6-7 years, the church budget reserve fund has been 1.4 million dollars, and that we have been drawing down 4-6% of the reserve fund, so the corpus has not grown.  He proposes that we adopt a spending policy that caps the annual amount that can be withdrawn from the reserve fund to 5% of the average value of the portfolio over the prior 20 quarters as September 30 each year.  Over time that limit will provide a cushion again volatility in the market.

Bonnie Eriksmoen asked what would happen in the event of a catastrophe, such as the roof collapsing at a cost of $20,000 in repairs for that alone.  Bishop William said crises would have to be dealt with individually as they occur but the Vestry has a fiduciary duty to maintain the assets of the church (i.e., the building).

Bishop William reminded the Vestry that the Vestry adopts the budget and presents it to the annual meeting but the parish does not vote on it --it is the duty of the Vestry to adopt the budget.

Marco moved to establish an annual limit to withdrawals from the endowment and reserve fund of no more than 5% of the average value of the portfolio over the  previous 20 quarters as of September 30 of each year.  Bud Lawrence seconded the motion, which was unanimously approved.

Insurance Issues:  Bishop William raised the question of whether we need to purchase insurance for the building, its contents, and for liability in the event someone is injured on the premises.  After discussion about how little we know about Mexican law on liability issues and the efficacy of Mexican insurance policies, Bishop William decided to appoint a task force to investigate Mexican law, insurance practices and cost, as well as self-insurance issues.

Nominating Committee:

Bishop William reported that the nominating committee meeting was sparsely attended.  There will be a notice seeking nominations (and consents) in the upcoming Sunday bulletin, after which the committee will meet and select a slate to present, with bios, to the parish.

Upcoming Events:

Bishop William reminded the Vestry that there will be a Ministry Fair on January 11 to give information to the parish about the three ministry groups.

The last meeting of this Vestry will be on Friday, January 23, 2015.

The Annual Meeting will be on Sunday, January 25, 2015.

The date of Canon John White’s fall 2015 retreat has not yet been set, as it must be fit in among several other commitments he must attend in Mexico City and Monterrey.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 11:40 am and closed with a prayer.

Raquel Martin

Acting Clerk

Approved as corrected, 23 January 2015