April Vestry Meeting & Annual Retreat Notes

Monthly Meeting of the Vestry & Annual Retreat
Regency of Arlington, Conference Room
April 18, 2015

Attendees: Mother Leslie, Dwight Denson, Cathey Dugan, Molly French, Tad McCall, Sandra Phaup, Karen Ruff, Tom Sheldon, Alice Thomas; Tom Linthicum (TDL Group Inc.) as Facilitator of the Retreat; Absent: Dan Botticello

The Vestry meeting occurred during lunch at the Annual Retreat (8:45-4). Summary & highlights from the Retreat itself are below the Vestry Minutes.

Actions Taken

  1. Vestry approved changing Section 7 paragraph A of the Charter of the St. Michael’s Fund as proposed by the Trustees of the Funds.
  2. Vestry approved the proposed “Payout Policy” of the St. Michael’s Fund as recommended by that Fund’s board.
  3. The Vestry agreed to schedule two open-forums on a Sunday with members of the Finance Committee summarizing the status of all funds (operating, capital, etc.)

The meeting was called to order around 12:45 by Mtr. Leslie, and we joined in reciting the Lord’s Prayer as required by our Diocese for every Vestry meeting.

St. Michael’s Fund, Finance Committee Recommended Policy Changes

The purpose of this fund as written in its charter is to “ensure a firm financial foundation in furtherance of our Mission Statement”. It was established to hold endowments and other gifts as the savings of the church. It is invested primarily with the Trustees of the Funds of the Diocese of Virginia. The change proposed by our fund’s Board, led by Barb Adams, adds stability to the use of the fund. The revision has the Board create a payout policy to govern how much to distribute each year from the fund; the calculation is based on the annual distribution from the Trustees of the Funds (TOTF) of the Diocese of Virginia. The revision replaces the blanket statement in the Charter capping distribution at 5% of the total market value of our fund. This change helps our Charter conform to the majority of Trust Charters within our Diocese.

Accordingly, the Vestry then read the Trustees’ Suggested Payout Policy for St. Michael’s Fund. The two purposes of this policy are (1) specify a portion of the Fund available to spend on church needs and (2) protect and grow the body of the Fund. The annual amount begins with notification (usually in the Fall) from the Diocese of Virginia as to the amount by which the Fund increased in that year; receiving that, our Trustees recommend by this new policy that at least 80% of that increase be available to be used as the Vestry approves.

Both the Amendment to the Charter of the St. Michael’s Fund and the new finance policy were recommended by the Finance Committee for approval by the Vestry. After discussion, the motion to approve these documents passed.

Financial Forum

At their April meeting, the Finance Committee discussed the timing of a vestry/finance committee coffee hour forum. This forum is intended to update the parish on our current financial picture. Members will show the income and pledges to both the operating fund and the Moving Forward in Faith fund; and show the uses of these funds to our many ministries and projects. The calendar permitted forums at both “coffee hours” on Sunday May 17th. Our Senior Warden will work with the Finance Committee to have members present the information and be available to address parishioners’ questions.

After this agreement, the Vestry meeting adjourned at 1:40 and we returned to the topics led by Tom Linthicum at our Annual Retreat.

Respectfully submitted,
Alice Thomas, Register

Vestry Annual Retreat Highlights

Mother Leslie kicked off the 2015 Retreat by hosting supper at her house on Friday night April 16th. Katie and she prepared the food and amazing atmosphere in their “upgraded” Rectory (thank you to the Moving Forward in Faith campaign!). We met Tom Linthicum, the Facilitator for the Retreat. Tom and his wife attend St. Paul’s in Alexandria, and he came highly experienced and recommended. And so the gifts of time and talent began to manifest.

Saturday morning at 8:45 we reconvened. Only one member of the current Vestry, Dan Botticello, could not attend due to travel. We began with 30 minutes of prayer structured cross-culturally with the Northumbrian liturgy and “African” Bible study. Then our Facilitator wrote each of our responses to years as Episcopalian, years at St. Michael’s, favorite places:

  • About six years is the middle (median) value of time at St. Michael’s for these Vestry members; your Vestry is geared for NOW even as we respect our roots & traditions.

We then offered thoughts on “what I need/expect from other Vestry members.” Below are a few:

  • Availability to all parishioners, confidentiality about personalities and transparency about decisions and the thoughts behind them;
  • Questioning:  seek more to understand than to resolve;
  • Consideration to “have I done my job as Vestry member?”

Around 9:30, Tom guided us to note “things that are going well at St. Michael’s”. Some examples are:

  • Parish Office Administration;
  • MFIF communication;
  • Children’s Chapel;
  • Liturgy, Sermons;
  • Nursing Home Ministry;
  • So many Outreach activities;
  • Adult Education.

Of course then we reflected on “things we could do better at St. Michael’s”. Our facilitator helped us categorize these challenges into four areas:

  1. Guiding volunteers including recruiting, training, celebrating, rotating;
  2. Attracting new members to the Parish; recognizing not every visitor is seeking a church home; equipping those visitors to recommend St. Michael’s to people who are;
  3. Engaging “older youth” especially high school ages;
  4. Providing pastoral care by the laity as well as by the Rector.

Before the lunch break, we reflected on which of these would most benefit by having this group “drill down into” them in the afternoon session, and which could be addressed outside of the Retreat. We agreed that the first was the largest and most comprehensive. Tom helped us break it into two components. Half the group (after lunch) worked on a SMART goal to increase number and satisfaction of volunteers; the others worked on a SMART goal to evaluate where are existing volunteers “work” –current “ministries” (like Altar Guild) – and provide a path to creating new ministries. (SMART = Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time frame) Each group met for 45 minutes, and we reunited to present our results. We learned that 45 minutes was not enough time to do this work!

  • We will increase the opportunity for members of St. Michael’s to use their passions and skills for Michaels and through St. Michael’s via existing or new ministries.
  • Conduct a Ministry Fair on St Michaels Sunday for the purpose of identifying volunteer interests on the part of parishioners.

Both groups recognized the importance of taking immediate steps to increase the visibility of gifts resident in our members and the opportunities to release or multiply those gifts. We will continue to plan steps to achieve our goals, and agreed on two dates for events to channel individual awareness of spiritual gifts: The Day of Pentecost (May 24) and St. Michael’s Sunday (September 27). Tom reminded us that the gift of prayer is one way each and every member can support the community within St. Michael’s and all communities outside our safe and sacred spaces.

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