Liz Kerner-Wyse, Senior Warden
Welcome to our new monthly column on what’s happening with your Vestry, the elected governing board of the parish. You may not be aware that all parishioners have an open invitation to attend our monthly Vestry meeting. You may also be surprised to learn that we rarely have any visitors. Perhaps this means a) you think the Vestry is doing an awesome job and you don’t need to come, or b) spending two hours on a Tuesday night listening to the meeting doesn’t sound too fun. That’s why, in an effort to keep everyone up to date, we will be posting a regular column to let you into the mind and work of the Vestry. (Though the invitation still stands to attend the meetings!)
This past month, we travelled to Lake Texoma for our first two-day Vestry retreat. We had a wonderful weekend filled with the spiritual–Ignatian contemplative exercises–and the practical. We brainstormed the challenges, steps, committee oversight and timeline for our newly created Vision and Goals, all 38 of them. It was a big undertaking and we are still working on getting this work into a usable format. But the Vestry committees have been given their marching orders, as to which goals they are responsible for, and in the coming months will create their own strategies and plans. Individual ministries will hear more about these, as so many of our goals touch on our worship life and our programs. It was a challenge to address all of these in one short weekend, but we left energized by our time spent looking forward to what we hope our church is doing in five years.
Many parishioners have asked what we learned from the calls the Vestry made late last summer and early fall. Our goal was to personally contact each member of the parish and just touch base- see how you are and ask if you had any concerns or questions. For a first effort it was not so bad. We reached, either by phone or through email about 60% of our parishioners. By and large the response was very positive. People are happy at Transfiguration and with the exception of little things don’t see much need for changes.
One theme was the need for a third full time priest, as well as increased financial support for our programs. The Vestry agrees wholeheartedly with both of these desires but the problem is lack of funds. As the Stewardship Committee recently reported, our campaign was modestly successful, with the same number of pledgers as in 2016. This means we had enough new pledges and increased pledges to make up for those whom have left or did not repledge. But as Fr. Casey has said, the biggest impact on our budget has been capital maintenance. For many years, little money was allocated to capital maintenance- fixing only what had to be done. In the past three years, we have gone from essentially zero to $100K for this line item. Although a noble effort, with a campus a large as ours and over fifty years in age-we should be spending approximately $250k each year towards the plant needs. A long term goal is increasing our Endowment Fund, so that its earnings will help to support these capital needs. We are also fortunate that Parish Episcopal School (PES) contributes fully to the upkeep and maintenance of the campus.
The biggest thing we learned from the calls is how out of date the information is in our database. Basic data on so many parishioners, whom we see weekly, was wrong or missing. One of the new goals is the update our membership rolls and in the coming months we will be asking each of you to please fill out a new survey with your pertinent information. We hope to also allow more people to opt out of paper mail, and just receive communications electronically. This will be another savings – of time, money, and earth resources.
Another of the parish goals is to equip our members to be more effective evangelists of God’s word. As a Vestry we are committed to modeling Christian discipleship. You might not know this, but all Vestry meetings start with 30 minutes of Christian formation. We hope that all meetings in the church will begin and conclude with a prayer.
Beyond our on-site worship and formation, the Vestry feels we are all called to step out and start being evangelists. Beginning this month, we will take time at each meeting to share our individual experience of being an EEE- Enthusiastic Episcopal Evangelist. We welcome stories from all parishioners on their own evangelistic moments. These are the stories we want to share.
Please reach out to any Vestry member if you have any concerns to share or questions to ask. We have also created a Warden’s email – email@example.com – where you can send electronic messages. Remember to give us your name and preferred means of communication, if you would like a response.
– Liz Kerner-Wyse, Senior Warden