The Vestry has been hard at work on several projects assigned to special task forces. A security task force, with Vestry approval, has engaged a firm that specializes in church security to complete a security plan for St. Luke’s. That firm will provide a detailed analysis, plan of action and procedure manuals that address safety and security issues associated with our building and operations. In the coming months their designed training sessions will be rolled out to various staff, vestry and volunteer groups. Another task force has been working with the Property Committee to determine a multi year plan to deal with the care and maintenance issues of our buildings. These plans will recommend the priority of addressing the issues and the budget required to complete those plans.
Also hard at work are vestry members associated with standing committees such as Stewardship, Finance and Property. The Stewardship Committee is working on the plans and design of the 2020 stewardship campaign which will be announced in the coming weeks. The Finance Committee and our Treasurer are working with the staff and various other committees to propose a 2020 budget for a vote at the November vestry meeting.
Last, and certainly not least is the work the Vestry is coordinating with the Rector Search Committee to craft and approve the Parish Profile. It is expected to be approved by the bishop and ready for publication in the near future. (Note: this was written before the Parish Profile went live online on Oct. 20.)
•Youth Minister Search. Filling this part-time position is a top priority; Elizabeth Shows Caffey and Kristin Houser have posted the job notice widely and have enlisted support from the Vestry and others in the congregation to spread the word. If you know of any interested candidates with a passion for youth and interest in this part-time position (most youth work takes place on evenings/weekends), please let Kristin know!
•Farewell and Godspeed to Rebecca Rice. Rebecca has served St. Luke’s for 44 years. We will miss her lively personality and loving care for our sanctuary!
•The Boiler is Here! The new twin boiler system will be both more reliable and more energy-efficient than its 60-year-old predecessor. The cost of the new boiler was $250,000. We used almost $50,000 from the sale of property in Coweta County (a bequest from a parishioner) along with a $200,000 loan to purchase the boiler. We will need to raise another $20,000+ in pledges and giving each year for the next ten years to pay back the loan.
•Reception Area Upgrade. The Memorial Gifts Committee completed a fabulous upgrade of the Reception Area outside the Parish Hall. Stop by to see a beautiful tribute to the Rev. Reynell Parkins as well as several historic, architectural drawings of our church buildings. The funding was provided by a specific memorial gift.
•Property Needs. The Property Committee prepared three lists outlining maintenance and upgrade needs for our buildings: Absolutely Necessary, Very Much Needed, and Nice to Have. We generally do not have funding for these items in the annual operating budget. We want everyone at St. Luke’s to understand that there is work needed to care for our beautiful, yet aging, buildings. The Vestry and Property Committee will have to determine when the projects can be performed and how we will pay for them.
•Evangelism Committee Report. Ann Kimsey reported that there is much energy surrounding evangelism, primarily with the success of the Invite-Welcome-Connect weekend program held in September 2018. Of the 110 registered participants for the entire weekend, 62 of them committed to work on specific evangelism-focused projects. Evangelism Committee priorities are: shepherding and supporting parishioners and groups as they seek to implement their Invite–Welcome–Connect projects, welcoming 132 (7% increase in current membership) new St. Luke’s members by lowering barriers and increasing opportunities to join the parish, and redesigning the welcome and assimilation processes by which newcomers engage with one another and existing members. Ann reminded us that we all need to reach out to family, friends, and co-workers to tell them why we love St. Luke’s and invite them to join us on Sundays or for other ministries offered by the church.
•Top of the List: Finances and Stewardship. Funding the church and its work is top of mind for the Vestry. With candid discussions, sharing of financial facts and complete transparency, we need to change the conversation and culture about discussing finances at our church. With a $200,000 loss last year, a stewardship campaign for 2019 that is still $300,000 short of last year’s campaign, and $350,000 in additional costs related to the rector transition still coming, we must try new strategies to fund our church and its mission.
The Vestry, along with the stewardship and finance committees, is committed to the change that must take place. You will see novel approaches, like our weekly attendance/giving/pledging reporting, our By the Numbers section at the Annual Meeting, and our recent list thanking those who have turned in their pledge cards so far. Talk to anyone on the Vestry if you have ideas about raising the support that St. Luke’s needs or if you would like to get involved on the Stewardship Committee. And, if you haven’t gotten your pledge card in, please do so ASAP or pledge online – we need pledges to finalize the budget, and we are way behind!
•Neighborhood Security Meeting. There will be a meeting about security and criminal activity in our neighborhood, including our campus, on February 7. St. Luke’s wardens, on-campus ministries staff, members of our Property Committee, and The Park board leaders all plan to attend. If you see any suspicious, criminal activity, call 911. The Atlanta Police Department is trained and equipped to help us curb illegal activity on or near our campus.
Business items from the October and November Vestry meetings:
• Appreciation to Dan Matthews. The Vestry voiced its appreciation to Dan for his extraordinary, 15-year ministry at St. Luke’s. Dan and the Vestry joined in prayer to lift up the next season of life for both Dan and St. Luke’s.
• New! Faith and Friendship Dinners. Sue McAvoy reported on the creation of a dinner ministry designed to bring parishioners together each week over a six-week period to build relationship by sharing faith stories. The ministry will deepen participants’ faith and invite formation of eaningful friendships by sharing stories of God’s presence in our lives. The first session will run from January 20 through March 3; registration is open through January 8.
• Rite I is Back at the 8 a.m. Service. Parishioners who attend the Sunday 8 a.m. service are pleased about thedecision to bring back the Rite I order of worship.
• Making a Difference with Outreach. Sara Kennedy and Carolle Perkins interviewed 13 of our outreach ministries and reported on our meaningful work. Highlights of the report were The Boyce L. Ansley School, Church of the Common Ground, and the Sandwich Build ministry. The Rev. Monica Mainwaring, Vicar of the Church of the Common Ground, is particularly grateful for the office space and support that St. Luke’s provides for her church. Sara and Carolle reported that our outreach ministries are very important to many parishioners and generally well-positioned to have an impact in our community.
• Invite-Welcome-Connect. The follow-up session for this program has been rescheduled for January 12-13. Our consultant, Molly Carnes, will return to review our work since our September gathering. Invite-Welcome-Connect supports growth-oriented Episcopal churches to generate ideas and next steps to grow. Based on parishioners’ preferences, teams are working on ministries such as reimagining coffee hour, developing a Faith and Friendship Dinner ministry, and using nametags at services and other church-related events.
• Record Participation at the Annual Parish Retreat at Kanuga. Susanna Roberts announced that 275 people have registered for the retreat. This is a record number of attendees in the past 10 years.
• Interviewing for the Youth Minister Position. We have two finalists for the new Youth Minister position and will be interviewing them soon.
•Invite-Welcome-Connect. There was terrific energy in the Parish Hall on September 8-9 as 140 parishioners gathered for this program. The Vestry expressed appreciation for all of the planning and preparation for this program by the Rector, Mark Simmons, and other staff members. We heard stories about other growth-oriented Episcopal churches and generated ideas and next steps to help St. Luke’s grow. One result of our work was the creation of the collect that has been added to the Prayers of the People offered on Sunday mornings. Also, based on parishioners’ preferences, teams have been formed to work on projects such as re-thinking the location of coffee hour, using nametags at services, and creating a small group dinner-study program. We look forward to our follow-up session on October 28.
•Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s Atlanta visit. Presented by Day 1 on September 17, Bishop Curry spoke on “We Need Some Witnesses to the Way of Jesus!”, a stirring message on the Jesus Movement and how we can play a role in reviving the mainline churches to follow the Way of Jesus today. His remarks are available at www.Day1.org in the Latest Day1 TV section.
•Wednesday Bible Study. This 15-person study group has resumed for the program year and has become a real community, with many gathering for lunch following the 11 a.m. class every Wednesday. The group is studying Isaiah; new members are welcome!
•Elevator. The elevator is out of service. Funds for the repair will come from the loan obtained to replace the boiler; this loan will be paid back with interest out of annual operating (pledge-supported) funds. In the future, projects like this one would ideally be funded out of pledge-supported Church reserves.
•Stewardship. The 2019 stewardship theme is “Living Simply, Loving Generously,” and priorities include helping parishioners understand how all of our financial contributions have a real and positive impact on our church and in our community, as well as the spiritual aspect of giving. The campaign runs from September 30 through October 21 when we’ll celebrate St. Luke’s Day by returning our pledge cards at Sunday morning services and attending Evensong at the church in the evening. Vestry members will join with other parishioners in writing notes to church members on October 7, pondering the questions, “What is enough?” and “What matters?”. C.J. Cash and Russell Currey, Vestry liaisons to the 9-person Stewardship Committee, also noted that whereas our parishioners’ giving levels remain fairly constant, our expenses are rising in large part due to maintenance of our beautiful yet aging buildings.
•Summer Schedule Survey. A survey requesting parishioners’ preferences for summer worship times is available for completion. Every active St. Luke’s parishioner should take the opportunity to voice preferences for summer worship. Please complete the survey before September 30 (available online on the St. Luke’s homepage).
•Evangelism Program. “Invite-Welcome-Connect” will be held at St. Luke’s on September 8-9. Parishioners will hear stories from other growth-oriented Episcopal churches and generate ideas and next steps to help St. Luke’s grow.
•Space for The Ansley School. The Vestry approved a resolution to provide space to The Ansley School for both teaching and administrative purposes.
•Christian Education Report. Susanna Roberts and Drew Vann reported that Rally Day is scheduled for September 9 and will mark the start of Adult Christian Education as well as Children’s, Youth, and Family Ministries programming for the church program year. Elizabeth Shows Caffey (associate priest for Christian Education) has prepared a full calendar of Adult Education classes (information is available on the church website). Kristin Houser (f.k.a. Lennon, director of children, youth, and family ministries) has been busy preparing for this year including:
•HVAC/Boiler. The boiler project is moving forward. The Vestry approved a plan to borrow funds for the project. The boiler loan will be paid back with interest out of annual operating (pledge-supported) funds. In the future, projects like this one would ideally be funded out of pledge-supported Church reserves
Business items from the June Vestry meeting:
Business items from the May Vestry meeting:
• Youth/Children’s Ministries. Parents of youth gathered at the home of Scott and Leslie Inman for a casual event to get to know Kristin Lennon (new Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministries) and share ideas for the coming year with her and The Rev. Elizabeth Shows Caffey. Kristin and Elizabeth are working very closely together and are making plans to hire an additional part-time person to complete the team.
• Evangelism Program. St. Luke’s plans to initiate a national Episcopal program titled “Invite/Welcome/Connect” to bolster our evangelism efforts. Information on this program will be shared in the coming months.
• Shakespeare Tavern Summer Camp. A delay in the renovations at the Shakespeare Tavern has resulted in lack of space to host their annual summer camps, so St. Luke’s has offered to host this program for about 15 children.
• Capital Expense. We need to replace our 60-year-old boiler system that has reached the end of its useful life. It was rebuilt in 1999, but this time we need to replace it with a new system. The new twin boiler system will be both more reliable and more energy-efficient. The 2018 operating budget, which is based primarily on pledges from the congregation, does not have sufficient funds to pay for the $250,000 cost of the boiler. $95,000 of the cost will be covered by the proceeds of the recent sale of property in Coweta County (a bequest from a parishioner). The Finance Committee is considering options for funding the $155,000 balance. This project will take place later this summer.
• Property Committee Report. Neil Schemm reported on the work of this active, 24-person committee chaired by Bobby Mays. The report outlined projected short-term and long-term repairs and capital expenditures that are not currently funded from the church’s operating budget. Neil noted that we are blessed to have our beautiful church and related buildings but that the buildings range in age from 60-112 years old and therefore require continuous repairs and capital improvements.
Business items from the March and April Vestry meetings:
•Budget The Vestry passed a balanced budget. One of our objectives for 2018 was to pass an operating budget that lives within the means provided to the church by pledges and gifts, real estate revenue (parking lots and sign shop rental), and endowment draw. With changes that took place in financial operations, the movement to three priests, and a sharp focus on all church expenses, the 2018 budget accomplishes that. There are several items that we all should note:
•New Member Communications New members will be introduced to the congregation by including photos/profiles in the Shepherd’s Voice.
•Youth/Children’s Ministries Youth and Children’s Ministries are a top focus for St. Luke’s. The Vestry
fully supports Kristin Lennon and Elizabeth Shows Caffey as they craft their plan for this essential work. Once Kristin has had time to assess the current program, she and Elizabeth will hire an additional person to complete the team.
•Administrative Support for The Rev. Horace Griffin and The Rev. Elizabeth Shows Caffey. Given the change in clergy duties prompted by the movement to three priests, existing church staffing has been reconfigured to provide administrative support for Horace and Elizabeth.
•Martin Luther King, Jr. Vigil Service The Vestry commended Dan and clergy/staff on crafting this very meaningful service that was attended by 225 people; the spirit was palpable!
Welcome to the Vestry Corner! The Vestry Corner is a new monthly feature of the Shepherd’s Voice to provide the congregation a window into the Vestry’s work on its behalf and a way for the Vestry to advance important topics of interest.
This year’s Vestry added C.J. Cash, Sara Kennedy, Neil Schemm and Drew Vann to returning members Pat Brumbaugh, Russell Currey, Scott Inman, Ann Kimsey, Richard Lee, Sue McAvoy, Carolle Perkins and Susanna Roberts. Cap Putt - Finance Chair, Robert Long - Chancellor and Mignon Crawford - Treasurer also serve as non-voting Vestry members. Our Rector leads the Vestry.
The Vestry kicked off 2018 with a retreat designed to welcome and “onboard” new members and prepare the Vestry to work as a team to do the work of the Church. Priorities for 2018 include refreshing the 2013 Our Journey Forward strategic plan to target the most relevant items for 2018/2019 and opening new channels of communication among the parish, Vestry, clergy and staff to keep us all update and engaged on important Church news and business.
Business items from the February Vestry meeting: