Following God’s Call One Step at a Time

As we enter this liminal space in the life of St. Michael’s, sharing this time of memories and parting, there will undoubtedly be anxiety as part of our mix of emotions. Certainly that’s true for me. “What will happen when Mother Leslie leaves?” you might be asking. “How do we find a new rector? Who will lead our worship? Will we be okay?” These questions are good ones to ask, but they both reflect and can exacerbate the anxiety that happens in a parish upon their rector’s leave-taking.

I wrote to you of answering a call to go to a new parish. I have accepted this new call knowing that it also means that God is calling St. Michael’s to new challenges as well, perhaps challenges that you need someone other than me to help you embrace and realize in your ministry. God is always working God’s purpose out, as a grand old hymn says. Call is the Holy Spirit leading us; our response is to follow wherever the Spirit leads.

The temptation is that we all want to see the map. We ask God, “Are we there yet? How much longer?” Abraham and Moses wandered without knowing exactly where they were going. They were called to trust God by putting one foot in front of the other. It takes faith to take those steps, and it is the only way we’ll make it to the place where God is calling us to be. God may not reveal the next step until we’ve taken the one preceding it. I have absolute faith that God is leading St. Michael’s to live into your call to be a vibrant parish where the Gospel is lived and loved. What that will look like with only be revealed as you explore the call together, one step at a time.

In this journey, St. Michael’s is blessed by an outstanding Vestry led by dedicated wardens. The Diocese of Virginia will provide guidance and support in your interim period. Most importantly, you have each other as companions on the journey. Remember that the church is shaped by much more than the rector whose name is on the sign. It is shaped in the baptismal reality that “there is one hope in God’s call to us.” (BCP p. 299)

My presence with you in the next month is to help us all to say goodbye well that we may all take the next steps in pursuing God’s call. That journey is only just beginning and requires faith. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” May God grant you grace, patience, and faith throughout your journey to be the St. Michael’s God is calling you to be.

With much love in Christ,

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September Outreach Offering

ChildFundThe September outreach offering will support the five children St. Michael’s sponsors through ChildFund International. We have engaged in five sponsorships for many years, and some of our previously sponsored children have graduated from the program. Our currently sponsored children are Gabriel in Brazil (7), Nicholas in Ecuador (8), Dery in Honduras (11), Mailyn in the Philippines (15), and Wihelmina in Indonesia (17). Our support helps to ensure that essential necessities (nutrition, health care, education, clean water, etc.) are provided to the sponsored children, their families, and the villages they live in.
This last spring, members of our youth choir wrote letters to Gabriel, Dery, and Nicolas, who are all about the same age as the choristers who wrote to them. The letters to Dery and Nicolas were written in Spanish, their native language, by Zoe Korejwo and Annabelle Monahan. Suzanna Monahan wrote to Gabriel in English. Letters were also sent to our two older sponsored children, Mailyn and Wihelmina. Letters are sent and received through ChildFund interpreters in the various countries so it takes some additional time for our letters to them and their letters to us to be delivered, but we have just received a reply to Suzanna’s letter to Gabriel, which will be posted on the outreach bulletin board downstairs.

Your contributions to this important outreach effort are much appreciated. For more information about ChildFund International, please visit their website or contact our Mission & Outreach Committee via Caroline Haynes.

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July Vestry Meeting Minutes

Monthly Meeting of the Vestry
St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Upper Classroom, July 19, 2016

Attendees:  Mother Leslie, Julia Carter, Mary Cushing, Dwight Densen, Tad McCall, Dan Plafcan, Karen Ruff, Tom Sheldon, Alice Thomas Absent: Cathey Dugan

 Actions Taken

  1. Vestry approved Minutes from our June meeting.
  2. Vestry approved Treasurer’s Report with the June financial reports.
  3. Vestry approved the contract for the installation of two full HufCore dividers for upstairs and downstairs classrooms for $11,515.
  4. Vestry approved that it move forward to put together a plan to engage the parish on our Welcoming Initiative to LGBT people in a forum in mid-October.

The meeting was called to order at 7:30 pm by Mother Leslie, and Karen led us in prayer.

The prior month’s Vestry Minutes were approved with no further discussion.

Treasurer’s and Finance Committee Report (7:31-7:46 pm)

The 6/30/16 Finance Committee report provided by Tad who noted that pledge income was 98% of the expected (budgeted) amount YTD.  STAMP funds have been transferred to the checking account to cover expenses for MFIF Phase 2 renovations. The Audit Committee will begin its work soon. Updated figures for MFIF: $362,000 (67 pledges) has been pledged with $312,000 received as of July 14, 2016. MFIF2: $38,130 pledged (30 pledges including diocesan grant,) $9,122 received as of July 14, 2016 (does not include grant money.)

MFIF Construction Report & Financing (7:46-7:59 pm)

Alice provided a chart with proposed expenses for the second phase of renovations. Work has begun on the fixed wall with pocket door in new nursery space. The cost will be $2,216. The Vestry approved the contract for the installation of two full HufCore dividers for upstairs and downstairs classrooms for $11,515. Flooring for the Parish Hall has been selected. The color matches the one that received the most votes from parishioners. New flooring has padding and texture to prevent slippage. Contract for $14,416 was approved by Vestry via email earlier this week. Installation in August is possible because camps are ending early.

Care of Creation (8:75-8:02 pm)

Tad McCall made the following report: Religion is as relevant to caring and acting to protect the earth and all creatures as is science, social science and law.  In fact, caring for God’s creations is the foundation.

In our Care of Creation sessions, we learned the relevance of faith to caring for all life and living so as to protect and sustain it.  We learned of the traditional tools Christianity brings, prayers, fasting and reflection, and collective action for good.  And in our final session, the bishops called us to act to stand with nature as co-dependent members of this earth.  They mentioned the need to take steps to combat climate change, and in general be active in protection of the environment.

When we relate this to St. Michaels, it teaches us that when we bring our parish into the larger community as a model of caring for nature, caring for human kind, and protecting all in our society, we bring a wonderful joining message. We bring new avenues of thought and caring to our neighbors, and we show the relevance of St M. to our community.

Tickets for viewing the documentary “Time to Choose” on July 27 are available to St. Michael’s parishioners.

Visioning, Planning and Assessment Committee (8:03-8:05)

Three volunteers (Nancy Tate, Roberta Thibodaux, and Diane Rickey) have come forward to be on the committee. An invitation has been extended to a possible fourth member of the committee.

Newcomers – Invite. Welcome. Connect. (8:05-8:10 pm)

Karen is working with several parishioners to create a brochure. A draft will be available at the August meeting for Vestry review. Vestry members expressed very positive experiences when serving as greeters before the 10:00 service. There are several slots available in August.

Volunteers (8:10-8:15)

Julia provided an update on the “inventory” of volunteers and ministries. Vestry liaisons will be asked to obtain further information from their ministries to identify needs. A need was identified for more LEMS and Lectors to serve at the 8am service.

Welcoming Congregation Listing (8:15-8:53)

This discussion was postponed from the June meeting. In May, it was proposed that St. Michael’s be listed as a congregation that welcomes LGBT on the People of Faith for Equality in Virginia (POFEV) web site. History of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion was discussed. It was agreed that St. Michael’s has been a welcoming parish for years and that the listing on the POFEV web site is not changing who we are, it is letting people know who we are. The LGBT community has been marginalized from churches of all denominations for years. The listing on the POFEV web site lets folks who may be looking for a church know that they are welcome at St. Michael’s. The statement on the POFEV web site can be our mission statement or another. The desire to obtain input from the congregation for the statement was expressed. It was unanimously approved that the Vestry move forward to put together a plan to engage the parish on our Welcoming Initiative to LGBT people in a forum in mid-October.

Ministry Liaison Reports  (8:53-9:04 pm)

  • Dan Plafcan: VBS was a success, big thanks to Melanie Monahan and the many volunteers for the great week.
  • Mary Cushing: Summer choir is going well, next opportunity is August 21.
  • Tad McCall: There will be two acolytes scheduled for services again in the fall.
  • Dwight Denson: Altar Guild has saved money by using flowers from the church yard and home gardens this summer.
  • Tom Sheldon: Shrine Mont planning is in full swing. A draft brochure was distributed for comment.
  • Julia Carter: Children’s Chapel leaders will meet soon to set schedule for upcoming year.

Rector’s Report (9:04)

Mtr. Leslie will be on vacation 7/21-28. Mtr. Adrianna Shaw will be our Celebrant on July 24. Kevin Laskowski will preach that Sunday. Mtr. Leslie will also be on vacation 8/7-8/13. Kevin will preach again on 8/14.

Senior Warden’s Report (9:08)

Tad made the following remarks: Every vestry member should be fulfilled with a role that fits their special gifts.  I am pleased to see how well this vestry has sought and found roles that let them share their special gifts within the vestry and for the good of all the parish.  For we lead by example and by serving our parish, and our individual capabilities can then strengthen the faith within the church, the caring within the congregation, and strengthen our bonds with our Arlington community.

We are on a meaningful path forward and I ask that we all pray to care for one another and for our mission to serve our parish and enrich our community

Junior Warden’s Report (9:12)

Karen reported that new signs for Washington Blvd will be ordered this week.

No new business was put forward.  Alice agreed to lead prayers at the August meeting.  The Vestry meeting adjourned at 9:15 and Karen led us in Compline.

Respectfully submitted,
Karen Ruff

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Mission & Outreach August Collections

Outreach Envelope: ERD

“Episcopal Relief and Development is the compassionate response of The Episcopal Church to human suffering in the world.” This is the first line of the mission statement of Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) and encompasses the wide range of work that ERD does both in the United States and in over 40 countries around the world. Our contributions to ERD provide a collective response to disaster relief, advocacy, economic assistance, hunger alleviation and anti-poverty programs. Most recently, ERD provided disaster relief for flooding victims in West Virginia, ongoing support of Syrian refugees, and emergency humanitarian aid for refugees from the civil unrest in South Sudan. The outreach envelope collection for August is designated for ERD and we hope you will join in this collective mission.

Basket Collection: APAH Back to School Drive

The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) is collecting new backpacks and school supplies for 400+ school-age children who live at their affordable housing properties. You can help a student, whose family might not otherwise be able to afford it, arrive at the first day of school with the supplies they need and feel ready to learn. You can bring a new backpack or supplies (particularly glue sticks and binders) to St. Michael’s during the first three weeks of August. Or, you can donate online.

For more information, contact Linda Kelleher or APAH.

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June Vestry Meeting Minutes

Monthly Meeting of the Vestry
St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Upper Classroom
June 28, 2016

Attendees: Mother Leslie, Alice Thomas, Mary Cushing, Julia Carter, Dwight Denson, Cathey Dugan, Dan Plafcan, Tad McCall, Karen Ruff, and Tom Sheldon

Not Present: Not applicable.

Actions Taken:

  1. Vestry approved Minutes from the May 2016 meeting, with one small correction.
  2. Vestry approved Treasurer’s Report with May 2016 financial reports.
  3. Vestry approved spending $1,100 from the Memorial Fund to replace four exterior St. Michael’s signs located on either side of Washington Boulevard.
  4. Vestry accepted the Peter James Lee Small Matching Funds Grant by signature from Rev. Mother Leslie and Sr. Warden, Tad McCall.
  5. Vestry approved a motion that would ensure kids can attend Shrine Mont for free.

The Vestry meeting opened at 7:31 p.m. led with prayer by Tad McCall. A quorum was present. Thanksgiving was expressed for the response to MFiF, as well as the turnout to the Wednesday evening Care of Creation series. Expressions of thanksgiving were also voiced for the recent service attendance of Anne Jacoby and Gen. Jack Babcock. Before the meeting began, two people asked for special prayers for people in their lives.

Minutes from May Meeting & Treasurer’s Report (7:50 – 7:59 p.m.)

2015 closed with a net income/surplus of $22,756. We were $37,495 over what we originally budgeted, which put us 154% over the estimated budget total. The May 2016 Balance Sheet shows St. Michael’s General Fund (Line 1531) at $7,775 and the STAMP Fund (Line 1532) at $228. As money comes in from the Capital Campaign, these funds will go back into St. Michael’s General Fund. Since 2015 has closed out, we need to start the audit this August. This is discussed under the Finance Committee Report below. Cathey was asked to make a last-minute edit to the May minutes. The Profit/Loss Budget showed that May was a good month for Pledges (Line 4100) coming in. We took in $24,165 are back at 97% of what we’ve budgeted for Pledges. Other Contributions (Line 4101) has taken in $6,699 Year-to-Date. These funds come from people who give but have not officially pledged. Miscellaneous Income (Line 4520) is currently at $9,419 Year-to-Date. We budgeted that at $5,000, so we are 452% over what we originally budgeted. Overall, we currently have a net income/surplus of $12,152.

Finance Committee Report (7:59 – 8:15 p.m.)

The Finance Committee approved to present the Final Phase of MFIF to the parish. The committee recommended the use of money from the Memorial Fund to cover the replacement of the exterior St. Michael’s signs on either side of Washington Boulevard. There is a company that replaces many of the signs for Episcopal churches in the area. Two of the double-sided signs cost $400 each; two additional signs on the church-side of Washington Boulevard cost $150. Replacing all four signs totals $1,100, which does not include shipping or other costs. The existing pillars would be kept; new, rust-free hardware would be used. Arlington County has confirmed that the sign at the church side of Ivanhoe and Washington Boulevard may stay where it is. The Memorial Fund gets its income by gift donations, designated or otherwise, over which the Vestry has authority. Currently, the Memorial Fund is at $23,314. $2,500 of that (originally as part of a total $15,000 gift from Mother Ann Truitt) will pay for new green vestments. The Memorial Fund also pays for things like the upkeep of Memorial Garden or a new altar book. The Finance Committee also noted that fire security expenses increased. This was due to an Arlington County fire safety inspection that required equipment replacement. This expense should decrease next year. The Finance Committee reported that insurance will pay all but the $1,000 deductible of the contracted $14,185 to cover damages sustained during the February 2016 snow storm. James R. Walls Contracting Co. will soon begin repairs to the gutters. Regarding our StormwaterWise Grant, Caroline Haynes is checking with Arlington County to ensure we are compliant in our plans to use those funds. These plans must be submitted by July 29, 2016. The need for adjusting the Endowment Fund was also raised. It was discovered that the Diocese continued to send us $10,500, although this amount should be lower. The Finance Committee is working with the Diocese to correct this matter. The next quarterly payment from the Diocese will therefore reflect a lesser amount. The Finance Committee also asked the Vestry to accept the Peter James Lee Small Matching Funds Grant as we have raised funds over the required match amount. The Finance Committee suggested using the overage match amount to start a Roof Fund. The annual audit is approaching this August. John Hughes and Terry Dinan were on the Audit Committee in August of 2015, but Terry will rotate off for 2016.

MFIF Construction Report & Financing (8:15 – 8:33 p.m.)

We just signed the Peter James Lee Small Matching Funds Grant, and will receive the $7,950 check from the Diocese. With this grant, we have exceeded our $30,000 total project goal. As soon as Lance receives the contract and down-payment from us, he’ll begin work on the Nursery wall. Space must be made for work to take place in the upstairs room. Therefore, that room must be cleared out prior to work being done. It will also require a childproof doorknob on the outside of the door that is code compliant. The wooden playground needs to come down; we may be able to get volunteers for that. It was suggested that a large “do not use” sign be placed on the structure before VBS. Mother Leslie will check with Sandra Phaup to find out who donated the Memorial Gift that paid for the wooden play structure so that we can inform them about the structure coming down. We received 55 votes on the four Armstrong Tile choices for new Parish Hall flooring. The two lighter choices received two-thirds of the vote. Another manufacturer (FloorFolio), has vinyl plank flooring with rubber backing. It is flexible and designed so that sound vibrations are not transmitted. With the rubber backing, it will be better for yoga and heels. The lightest one is different from the light hue the parish voted on earlier. It is more gray in hue, but does not come “ready-made.” Alice will research colors similar to the selected Armstrong ones, checking on textures to prevent slippage, yet not so grooved as to retain dirt. The cost for the contract using FloorFolio is $14,416. Using Armstrong Flooring, the contract is $13,586. Both have a ten year warranty. Both choices caution against the floor becoming too wet, as puddling will cause the laminate to separate from the backing and pucker. Both prices are good through September. We need to order the flooring four-to-six weeks before the replacement start date. It will then take approximately two days to replace the floor.

Care of Creation (8:33 – 8:40 p.m.)

Our StormwaterWise Grant from Arlington County has been discussed during the Wednesday night Care of Creation sessions. Attendees at this session on the theology behind Care of Creation has fluctuated, but has been well received. Music is part of each program. There are other options, and Mother Leslie will check into these. Care of Creation will be our theme at Shrine Mont this year (September 16-18), and Mother Leslie is working on securing the Crenshaw building for St. Michael’s. Mother Leslie invited Dean Markham to present at Shrine Mont this year, but he is currently on sabbatical. The cost of Shrine Mont was discussed. Cost should not be a deterrent, especially for families with children. The Vestry approved the motion to ensure kids can go free, as this is a cost we can cover. Mary noted that we now have a separate Web-page on our site dedicated to Care of Creation. It contains links to various resources.

Visioning, Planning, and Assessment Committee Proposal (8:40 – 9:17 p.m.)

The Vestry reviewed and discussed documents from Dan and Julia, including: outlined noted on the possible duties, membership, work plan, schedule, and parish outreach; a proposed Vestry resolution for Dan and Julia to continue work on establishing such a committee; a “kick-off” description of the proposed committee’s duties and responsibilities; and Dan and Julia’s questions before the Vestry on this proposed committee. The Vestry discussed these items at length, mainly: how would we recruit committee members; how many parishioners should make up the committee; what should their meeting schedule be; what should their terms of reference and length of service look like; and what, if any, deadline and follow through should be given to them? Mother Leslie suggested that we recruit a cross-section of potential members while concurrently requesting volunteers within the parish. It was also proposed by Dan and Mary that the committee might include a young adult. Mother Leslie also suggested that the Visioning, Planning, and Assessment Committee be done with a new strategic plan draft by March 2017, and that they should meet “at least monthly” in the months leading up to next March. After that time, the Vestry will review the document at our next Vestry Retreat, and decide on the next steps to take. The Vestry may need an executing partner to help implement the goals of the Visioning, Planning, and Assessment Committee. Their plan should include Care of Creation. The committee should examine “Steps Along the Path” and update it to fit our current needs. The committee will be comprised of six persons, two of which will be Vestry members. Dan and Julia volunteered for this work. Julia will write up something to go out to the Parish regarding this initiative.

Newcomers: Invite, Welcome, Connect (9:17 – 9:20 p.m.)

Vestry members are reminded to use SignUpGenius to help greet at the 10:00 a.m. services. Karen Ruff has been in touch with Barb and Fran about working together on a brochure this summer. Karen hopes to have one in print this fall. Mary took a photograph of the visitor’s welcome table at Falls Church Episcopal. The table included a wide array of information: brochures, forms, and flyers. This might be something we’d want to do in future, although on a smaller scale. Mother Leslie mentioned that we are still getting visitors to the church, so Welcoming Ministry is important.

Volunteers (9:20 – 9:22 p.m.)

Mary has worked on matching the list of parish members with “who does what.” Her findings are that everyone seems to be engaged with some group or ministry. There doesn’t seem to be much surplus availability. Mother Leslie mentioned that a new parish directory is forthcoming. Julia mentioned that all groups express a need or wish for more members. The Altar Guild was mentioned, and the fact that Linda Denson has recently been using both her own flowers, as well as those from our garden, as flowers for St. Michael’s Altar.

Welcoming Congregation (9:22 – 9:26 p.m.)

Mary will draft a paragraph for Vestry review on what it means to be a welcoming congregation. We will plan a forum around this initiative to introduce it to the parish. The Vestry will readdress this issue at the July 2016 meeting. We will also discuss what Web-sites to list on our church site.

Ministry Liaison Reports (9:26 – 9:35 p.m.)

VBS is July 11-15th. Children’s Chapel held its last service on June 26th, and will pick back up in September. A program for Youth Ministry is still being planned. Women of Wisdom (WOW) is doing well. Bridge is slowly growing, thanks to “PR” help from Linda Denson and Maria Abbott. Care of Creation is doing well, with the Wednesday night programs led by Mother Leslie. Tom and Mother Leslie will meet with Elenor Hodges of Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (ACE) after VBS. Vicky Barnett is working on a program during Epiphany season on the Holocaust and Christian theology. Wholly Knit and Whine continues to do well. We are low on Acolytes this summer; Mary has volunteered to fill this gap. Rebecca Guild continues to do well. Nursing Home Ministry was discussed. It was decided that a copy of our Sunday Bulletin and a print-out of The Guardian should be placed in the bag that goes out on Nursing Home Ministry visits. Wil Harkins and Linda Denson will help in this effort.

Rector’s Report (9:35 – 9:37 p.m.)

Regarding our Diocesan Delegate and Alternate, we are late with submitting this list. Mother Leslie will be gone the weekend of July 24th and the second week of August. She is unsure if she will miss a Sunday in August. If so, coverage must be found. The parish office will be closed on Fridays during the summer, but Wil is continuing to provide coverage for any group that meets regularly on Fridays. This temporary change has not posed any issues.

Senior Warden’s Report (9:37 – 9:37 p.m.)

The Senior Warden deferred his report to the Junior Warden.

Junior Warden’s Report (9:37 – 9:47 p.m.)

The arts-based camp Creative Differences needs to have an Arlington County “use permit” to utilize church space. The onus is on them to fill out the application; however, we will have to work with them on it. St. Michael’s neighbors will have to agree as well. Not everyone has to sign off on it, but the application will require a letter of support from the Bluemont Civic Association. Parking may be an issue. Also, the wooden playground area wouldn’t meet county code standards, but if any requirements are issued by the county, we will work with J. Jaye Steen to ensure that Creative Differences meets any costs associated with any findings. Karen and Mother Leslie will meet with J. Jaye Steen to discuss all this. It will take the summer to work on the application, and it will take Arlington County 68 days to process the application. Once we have a plan in place, we will approach the church’s neighbor that made a complaint in the past. The damaged gutters will be repaired end of June/early July.


Karen volunteered to lead prayers at the next Vestry meeting, to be held on Tuesday, July 19, 2016. Tad led us in compline from the Book of Common Prayer. The meeting adjourned at 9:47 p.m.

These minutes respectfully submitted by Cathey Dugan.

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Care of Creation: ‘Life of Grace’

It has been gratifying to see the high level of interest in the parish for our incipient care of creation ministry. The recent adult education series, “A Life of Grace for the Whole World,” attracted about a dozen people for each of its five sessions. The new native plantings on the parish grounds are flourishing. The question now is, “what next?” As we reflect on that as a parish, there are some resources that can both guide our discernment and offer practical help in daily living.

  • The new care of creation page on the parish website includes links to over a dozen other sites, most of which approach environmental issues from a faith perspective.
  • Parishioners have recommended several books that address the impact of climate change and the challenge of developing sustainable practices. These include, “Gaining Ground: A Story Of Farmers’ Markets, Local Food, And Saving The Family Farm,” by Forrest Pritchard; “Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now,” by Walter Brueggemann; “Living Green: The Missing Manual,” by Nancy Conner; and “Nature’s Trust: Environmental Law for a New Ecological Age,” by Mary Christina Wood. All are available on and as e-books.
  • Most of us already recycle at home, and we will step up efforts to recycle at St. Michael’s as well. For questions about whether particular items are recyclable or not, consult the county’s on-line index. Those interested in composting virtually all their trash can consider signing up with a for-profit service which a parishioner highly recommends.

Any other recommendations and input are most welcome!

Mary Cushing

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Care of Creation: Viewing of Time to Choose

Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (ACE) are sponsoring a viewing of a new documentary about climate change. It is sure to be thought-provoking.

When: Wednesday, July 27, at 7:30PM
Where: Courthouse Plaza 8 movie theater in Courthouse (2150 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, VA)
Tickets: We have a block of 10 tickets at $14, more tickets may be available if needed
RSVP: Mother Leslie at

Please do not purchase tickets online. Reserve them through Mother Leslie.

Carpool: If you’d like to carpool please let Mother Leslie know. We’ll gather at St. Michael’s at 6:20PM for a 6:30PM departure to Courthouse.

From the producers of the film:

7a536bb66dd40f70377d2cfceb7dd38752724436_358x535“Academy Award®-Winning documentary filmmaker Charles Ferguson turns his lens to address worldwide climate change challenges and solutions in his new film TIME TO CHOOSE…[The film] leaves audiences understanding not only what is wrong, but what can to be done to fix this global threat. Ferguson explores the comprehensive scope of the climate change crisis and examines the power of solutions already available. Through interviews with world-renowned entrepreneurs, innovators, thought leaders and brave individuals living on the front lines of climate change, Ferguson takes an In-depth look at the remarkable people working to save our planet.”

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May Vestry Meeting Minutes

Monthly Meeting of the Vestry, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Upper Classroom
May 18, 2016

Attendees: Mother Leslie, Julia Carter, Dwight Denson, Cathey Dugan, Dan Plafcan, Tad McCall, Karen Ruff, and Tom Sheldon

Not Present: Alice Thomas, Mary Cushing

Actions Taken

  1. Vestry approved Minutes from the April meeting.

2.  Vestry approved Treasurer’s Report with April financial reports.

  1. Vestry approved to present MFIF Final Phase Campaign to Congregation on 5/22/2016, with recommended Vestry edits.
  2. Vestry approved the proposal to repair February 2016 snow damage and longer term damage done to the North side of the roof; the repairs are fully covered by our insurance, minus the deductible.

The Vestry meeting opened at 7:29 p.m. led with prayer by Dan Plafcan. A quorum was present. Before the meeting began, three people asked for special prayers for people in their lives.

Minutes From April Meeting & Treasurer’s Report (est. 7:29-7:44)

The April 30, 2016 Balance Sheet shows a total of $11,000 in our checking account; however, this total is not updated to account for recent deposits versus the check to Marion Construction. Sheet line 1532, the STAMP Fund, does not reflect the most recent deposit. We actually have between $60,000 and $70,000 in our checking account. Regarding our Profit/Loss performance, in April we received eighty-nine percent of our pledged income. March, however, we received more than expected. The Finance Committee discussed this, and have decided, for now, to keep an eye on this matter. We are technically, still operating in the black. This is due to overages in other lines. For example, Line 4104, “Other Contributions”, we were ahead with $5,400. We are also ahead by about $3,000 in “Miscellaneous Income” due to the rent for space usage we charge. Overall, we have $4,620 in surplus for April of 2016.

Finance Committee Report (est. 7:44-7:56)

The Finance Committee discussed the Final Phase of MFIF. We now have two matching grants for which we must match funds. The first is the Peter James Lee Small Matching Funds Grant, also known as the Small Church Revitalization Grant. The second is the StormwaterWise Grant from Arlington County, which we need to match approximately $1,500. St. Michael’s has already identified funds for that match. One issue that came up has to do with TD Bank. Our current Treasurer, Dean Scribner, is not a signatory on the church’s account. It was discussed and affirmed that the Treasurer should at least have access to view the accounts online because this provides more timely information. Monthly paper statements often do not capture the most recent changes. We are currently researching best practices and will figure out the best and most transparent way to get the Treasurer the necessary information in a timely fashion.

MFIF Construction Report & Financing (est. 7:56-8:20)

The Vestry was presented with a package to be presented to the Congregation, regarding the Final Phase of our MFIF campaign. The funds generated from this Final Phase will be used to match the Peter James Lee Small Church Revitalization Grant from the Diocese. We will present these packets on May 22, 2016 at church. We will not complete a large mail-out. Alice Thomas has prepared materials regarding this final phase, including four floor samples. These will be out for display in the Parish Hall, and parishioners will have the option to vote for which flooring they like best. This won’t be a binding vote, but if there is a majority on one particular sample, we’ll go with that. The four choices presented have already been chosen by Mother Leslie, Alice Thomas, John Hughes, and Wil Harkins based on the durability. We do not have a cost estimate yet. The MFIF Final Phase Pledge Packet was reviewed prior by the Finance Committee. The projects listed are in order of priority. Flooring, estimated at $13,000 for the Parish Hall, was moved to the top of the list. Second listed is the fixed wall with pocket door, at $2,000, which is needed to create a new Nursery nearby the ground floor classrooms. Third on the list of priorities are the accordion partitions from Hufcor, to be used in the third floor classrooms. The cost estimate for these is $11,000. Finally, an additional $2,000 is estimated to cover Contingency costs. MFIF Final Phase pledge packet materials explain that we must match the $7,950 grant from the Diocese; additionally, we must raise $14,100, to reach our original target of $30,000. Parish Hall floors cannot be replaced until September because of Vacation Bible School and other camps that have already reserved the space. We will strive to collect MFIF Final Phase pledges by June 12, 2016. Dan and Karen suggested edits to the pledge card, and the Vestry agreed. A brief discussion on the cost of accordion partitioning took place; we have researched other options, however, and $11,000 is the average cost. These partitions are used by groups that rent space in the church as well, and safety is an issue with the ones used upstairs. Another discussion took place regarding the replacement of the roof. After the snow damage of February 2016, it was estimated that the church roof will need to be replaced in approximately five years. A new roof was not included in the current MFIF campaign because we did not know of the time frame until recent damage was inspected. The Vestry agreed that this must be explained to the congregation, and that we should start thinking now about having a plan in place to address replacing the roof. It was agreed that the parish should be made aware of this issue soon, both to address the future need, but also to explain why a new roof was not included in the MFIF campaign. It was also agreed that we should begin this conversation with the Finance Committee.

Strategic Planning – “Steps Along the Path” (est. 8:20-8:47)

It was suggested to change the meeting’s agenda order, and the need for a new strategic plan was discussed next. Overall, the Vestry found “Steps Along the Path” comprehensive. It was a useful document that helped us meet certain goals at the time. Most notably, it helped the parish hire a Sexton and a Director of Christian Education for Children and Youth. It also helped us to meet the goal of installing an elevator. It was recognized that the document is meant to be a “living document,” in that it should change over time in accordance with the church’s changing needs priorities, and goals. It was agreed that developing a new strategic plan is a mammoth task, one that will take time and concerted effort. It was suggested, and agreed upon, that a separate “Strategic Planning Committee” be created, to both develop and revisit on a scheduling, recurring basis the goals of the parish. To facilitate this effort, it was recommended that two Vestry members be part of the committee, to help facilitate the process. It was recommended that a committee of six-to-eight persons be chosen, from different “constituencies,” to represent the parish. This committee would be given a deadline for coming up with a new strategic plan, and would utilize surveys and/or forums to gather feedback from the parish. Those who helped craft “Steps Along the Path” would be consulted for guidance, as needed. Mother Leslie thought a new strategic plan would assist the Vestry both in planning at the annual retreat, and in tying everything together each January in preparation for the Annual Meeting. Dan and Julia volunteered to draft “Terms of Reference” before the June Vestry meeting. Anyone may provide input, but Dan and Julia are the point people in this initial, planning stage.

Care of Creation (est. 8:47-8:57)

Tad noted there are two aspects to Care of Creation. The first is what we’re doing on Building and Grounds, and the second is as a forming philosophy for the church, and how we can use this framework to reach out into the community. Mother Leslie announced that she will be providing sessions on the theology behind Care of Creation. These Wednesday night programs, lasting from 7:30-8:45 pm are currently scheduled for: June 8, June 15, June 22, June 28, and July 6. These programs are based on a report from the House of Bishops on Stewardship and Care of Creation. This report contains topic guides, and Mother Leslie will structure the programs around that guidance. The Wednesday night sessions may contain a multi-media aspect as well.

Newcomers (est. 8:57-9:07)

Karen reported that she, Mother Leslie, Tad, and Cathey, met with five Greeters on May 1, 2016. It was agreed that Vestry members should provide assistance as “Co-Greeters” each Sunday at the 10:00 am service. The group also spoke about developing a brochure, and Cindy Matlack agreed to help format it. Karen will consult Barb Adams and Fran Olsen regarding ideas for the text of the brochure. Mother Leslie noted that the brochure doesn’t have to be “set in stone,” and that we can change it at any time as needed. Dan volunteered to help greet people on Sunday, May 22, 2016. Mother Leslie confirmed that we will use Sign-Up Genius to develop a schedule, and either she or Karen will provide the Vestry with a link for that. Karen suggested we only schedule out through the summer. All agreed. Vestry members are to arrive approximately fifteen minutes before the 10:00 am service.

Volunteers (est. 9:07-9:10)

Julia and Mary worked on compiling a list of names, documenting the volunteerism of each parishioner. It was discovered that many people are involved in many of the groups. This exercise provided a “good snapshot” of who was involved in which ministries.

Register/Vestry Minutes (est. 9:10-9:15)

It was suggested that an outside person be selected to take the minutes of future Vestry meetings. The reasoning behind this is that it was thought it might be difficult to participate while taking notes. A brief discussion was held, after which Cathey prayerfully volunteered to take the minutes on a trial basis. The Vestry agreed and it was decided to see how it goes. Changes may be needed in future, but for now, Cathey will record each Vestry meeting.

Ministry Liaison Reports (est. 9:15-9:30)

Dan reported that he has drafted a St. Michael’s Youth Ministry formation planning document. He met with two of the youth advent pilot to get thoughts on a way forward for Middle and High School Sunday School. He will work on a theme for Pentecost and Advent in keeping with the lectionary. Feedback was interesting; there is a disparate interest in youth “going off on their own” but also having a sense of structure. Plans are currently in the development stage. Core plans for the year must be developed, along with ideas for more youth activities. May 29 of this year will be our last day of Sunday School before the summer break, and the last day of Chapel will be June 19th. As the plan develops, Dan would like to select persons to help with this overall effort. Caroline Haynes volunteered to help with drafting blurbs from the Building and Grounds Committee to insert into the Guardian. Wholly Knit and Wine had shawls blessed. The Fall Festival was discussed; that Committee meets on a regular basis. They are a large group. The Harvest Festival is on the Calendar for October 29, 2016. The Altar Guild is still trying to figure out how much money Garden City Florist owes us from overcharging us in 2015; that information should be coming to us by June. It was suggested that Linda Denson provide a blurb for the Announcement Bulletin to raise awareness of the Altar Guild. Caroline Haynes and Linda Kelleher are helping to organize Shrine Mont this year, which is scheduled from September 16 through the 18 of 2016. Care of Creation will be our theme, and ways to entice families to participate are being discussed. It was noted that Shrine Mont can be expensive, and because of this, we are exploring ways to help families out so that more kids can attend. It was suggested that childcare for babies and very small children should be provided. It was also suggested that we try to reserve Crenshaw because that building has larger bedrooms and is laid out better overall for families with children. Mother Leslie is working on making this happen. It was noted that we must begin announcing Shrine Mont well in advance if we expect attendance to be larger this year. A notice will be put in the next Guardian. The last liaison report was on Care of Creation. Elenor Hodges, Director of ACE, is interested in partnering with St. Michael’s “for mutual benefit.” Part of ACE’s focus is to reach out to faith-based communities. Tom and Mother Leslie will meet with her after Memorial Day weekend to see what opportunities for partnership there might be.

Rector’s Report (est. 9:30-9:34)

Mother Leslie anticipates the Vestry will continue to meet over the summer. We may revisit this in June, but for now, it seems as though we will have enough work to continue throughout July and August. Mother Leslie will be going out of town June 21, 2016; therefore, we will move our next Vestry meeting to Tuesday, June 28, 2016. Her vacation is currently a “moving target.” Currently, we are set to meet on July 19 and August 16, 2016. For now, Mother Leslie does not think those dates will change.

Senior Warden’s Report (est. 9:34-9:36)

Tad commented how active participation by all members of the Vestry is important, and will continue to be so in the coming months.

Junior Warden’s Report (est. 9:36-9:46)

We are getting the storm damage from the snow of February 2016 repaired, as well as longer term damage on the North side. Specifically, insurance is paying the full $14,185 for repairs to damage done to the South side, including the snow birds, gutters, roof tile slates, grates by the Parish Hall window, and longer term damage on the North side of the church. Insurance is covering all repairs, minus the deductible. There was a motion to accept the gutter repair proposal, which was approved. Also, Washington Gas replaced our meter and gas line. They moved the meter from the outside to inside, and gave us a new meter. Meridian, the home school group who meets at St. Michael’s, has expressed scheduling flexibility during the work done on the meter and gas line. There is no news on the permit situation. Finally, the wooden play structure at the back of the church must come down soon, as it is no longer a safe structure. Because it was a Memorial Gift, we are trying to find out who donated it, so that we can let them know.


Tad volunteered to lead prayers at the next Vestry meeting, to be held on Tuesday, June 28, 2016. Dan led us in compline from the Book of Common Prayer. The meeting adjourned at 9:46 p.m.

These minutes respectfully submitted in Alice’s absence by Cathey Dugan.

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“Let There Be Peace On Earth…

…And let it begin with me.” This hymn has been echoing in my heart and mind over the last two days as I have grieved those lost in the mass shooting at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando on Jun. 12. This senseless crime brings up many theological, spiritual, and political questions, none of them with easy answers. How could God allow this to happen? How effective is the power of prayer? Where is the line between civil rights and public safety? Should guns such as the AR-15 used to such destruction in this and other shootings even be allowed to be owned by civilians?

This Thu., Jun. 16 at 6:30 PM there will be an Interfaith Service of Hope and Healing in remembrance of those who died in Orlando at Rock Spring United Church of Christ, 5010 Little Falls Road in Arlington. At 7:30 PM, following the Service for Hope and Healing, there will be an Interfaith Community Iftar held in Carpenter Hall, also at Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ. An Iftar is the meal eaten by Muslims after sunset during Ramadan. Both events are free and open to the public.

Last fall, we had a series of discussions centered around “A Christian Response to Gun Violence,” based on the work of the organization Bishops Against Gun Violence. We will continue that discussion with a viewing of the documentary, “Armor of Light” on Sun., Jun. 26 at 6:00 PM at St. Michael’s. The movie follows the conversation about gun control between an evangelical pastor and a mother who lost her son to gun violence.

How do we let peace begin with us? Prayer is the beginning, followed by increasing our awareness of the depth of the issues, and then acting on our beliefs in both sacred and secular settings. We cannot stand by silently as the epidemic of gun violence continues in our country. Let us join with our own Bishop Shannon Johnston and the many Episcopal bishops of “Bishops United Against Gun Violence” who are leading us in this effort. In the words of the bishops of the Diocese of Connecticut, “We will no longer be silent while violence permeates our world, our society, our Church, our homes and ourselves. Our faith calls us to be ministers of reconciliation, to give voice to the voiceless and to strive for justice in the name of our Lord.”

Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord;
And let light perpetual shine upon them.
May their souls, and the souls of all the departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

In the peace of God that passes all understanding,

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St. Michael’s Parishioners Help ‘Stop Hunger Now’ in Haiti

This past Mar. 19, as a Region 3 Lenten outreach activity, more than 70 volunteers from St. Michael’s and other Region 3 parishes came together, with Stop Hunger Now, to package more than 10,000 meals for the world’s hungry.

Stop Hunger Now recently shipped those meals, and wrote us:

We are delighted to announce that the meals from your meal packaging event on 3/19/2016 have been shipped in a container totaling 285,120 meals from our National Capital warehouse.

The meals will be received by our in-country partner Reach Now International in Haiti.

Your meals enable Fishers of Men Ministries to feed more than 2,600 children in need though 12 school feeding programs in Haiti. These programs are located in the poorest areas in Haiti and offer disadvantaged children a chance to receive a stable education and a hot meal each school day. These children come from families who often cannot consistently supply even one meal per day for their children. According to Miranda Threadgill, Haiti coordinator for Fishers of Men Ministries, “Stop Hunger Now has given these children the ability to stay healthy by eating nutritious meals on a constant basis and also has given the children the ability to live again with hope for a brighter future.”

If feeding hungry children lightens your soul, then please consider participating as St. Michael’s supports these upcoming meal-packing events with Stop Hunger Now.

  • On Oct. 10, 2016, St. Michael’s will join hands, for the third year, with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) Arlington 1 and 2 wards to package 30,000 meals.
  • And on Mar. 25, 2017 (tentative), Region 3 will once again host a Lenten meal-packing event, with the goal of packing 20,000 meals
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