We had a first for St. Dunstan’s yesterday — a vestry meeting by Zoom. It is amazing how much the world has changed since our last meeting on March 11, where we talked about the coronavirus, but had no idea how much it would change our lives, or how quickly those changes would happen. Just four days later, March 15, we had what would be our last “in person” worship, and I believe we were the only Episcopal parish in Atlanta that did so that day. Now meetings by Zoom and worship streamed from our dining room are going to be the new normal for the foreseeable future.
We had several items of business with the vestry that you should know about. First of all, our treasurer Lee Morris gave us a financial update, as he does each month. We have lost money in our investments, about $15K from our outreach endowment, and $65K from our reserve investments. That is a tremendous amount of money, but we had also received a lot of interest when the market was doing well. So we are certainly not as flush with money as we were a month ago, but we are in good shape for now. A number of people prepaid their pledges for 2020 in December of last year, and some paid in full early in the year. That always helps us keep an even cash flow, particularly during the traditionally low summer months, but it is especially helpful this year. We appreciate all of you who are continuing to send in your pledges online or through the mail during this crazy time.
The guideline for our outreach endowment is that we can spend money when it has more than $100,000. As of yesterday, we had $140,000. The vestry agreed to keep our earlier commitment to match $25,000 in donations to RIP Medical Debt (our total now is $53,790). We also voted to send $2,000 to the Sandy Springs Mission and $1500 to Emmaus House (an Episcopal ministry near the old Turner Field) to supplement their feeding ministries.
One complication of not being able to have in-person church is that this Sunday was supposed to be our annual parish meeting. At that meeting you would have heard a financial report from Lee, a report from our outgoing senior warden Harriet Smith, and a report from me looking back over the past year and looking at what lies ahead. We can do all of that at a later date. But the parish meeting is also the time that we elect new vestry members, who take office in May. The tradition of this parish, since long before I came 16 years ago, is that a three-person slate is presented for the three open vestry seats, and it is approved by acclamation. We always ask if there are nominations from the floor, and at least for the past 16 years there have not been.
So after discussion yesterday, the vestry decided that due to the extraordinary circumstances we are in that they, as the governing body of the church, would approve the slate of proposed new vestry members. Our new members are Elizabeth Wong Mark, Michele Smither, and Gwen McAlpine Zimmer. Our officers for the coming year are Bob Longino, senior warden; Bruce Lafitte, junior warden; and Lee Morris, treasurer. This continues our tradition of having excellent officers and vestry members to serve this community.
I am sorry not to be able to thank our outgoing vestry members for their service — Deb Dee, Bob Trukenbrod (who stepped in when Susan Howard needed to step down), and Harriet Smith. All of them have offered much in time and talent to serving this church. A special thanks to Harriet, who has done an extraordinary job as senior warden the past two years, including the four months I was on sabbatical last year, Thank you! And well done, good and faithful servants!
One of the disappointments in this time of social distancing is that important milestones cannot be celebrated as they normally would be. Two of our parishioners have a big milestone coming up next week. Jace and Wallis Kaltenbach will be 16 on April 20. They’ll be celebrating at home with their parents, Lucy and John, which is nice, but not the same as being with friends. If you’d like to help them celebrate you can send them cards or notes. No need to leave your house to buy a card, just drop them a note if you’d like to help make their day special.
“See” you tonight at 8 for night prayers. And remember, if you cannot join us live, you can always watch the saved video later.