Diocesan Council Meeting Highlights – April 21, 2018
By Lisa Newton
Meeting called to order by the Rt. Rev. Thomas Ely at 10:00 AM; Marjorie Strong led the opening devotions. The Consent Agenda having been approved, we moved to the Treasurer’s Report, presented by the Diocesan Treasurer, Gerry Davis, MD, in a comprehensive PowerPoint presentation.
The news, as presented by Gerry Davis, is very good. Most congregations are up-to-date on payments of their parochial assessments. Revenues and expenses are right on target. For fiscal year 2017 Budget, shortfall from Parish Assessments is now at $75,000, less than what was reported at Diocesan Convention. Frugality on the expense side of the budget reduced the year-end deficit to around $3,500. This is still pending some final calculations from congregations with outstanding Parochial Reports. The plan, as articulated at Convention, is to proportionally distribute this deficit among the 45 congregations of our diocese. A communication from the Treasurer will be sent about this. The Alleluiafund shows a surplus from 2017 collections; applications for grants/loans from this surplus are now under consideration by the Grants and Loans Committee. We have a fundraising goal of $40,000 for 2018. ($20,000 is allocated for Rock Point Camp and RP property.) Nearly a quarter of the goal had been collected by the time of this writing.
The main presentation of the meeting was an extended workshop from the Racial Reconciliation Team, judged excellent and strongly appreciated by the Council.
Council broke for lunch at 12:30 then back to he following standing reports:
Alleluiafund: Early 2018 contributions received so far this year total $9320. Grant applications are being received for use of the 2017 funds, with some of those funds already designated for a new initiative that will provide Rock Point camp scholarships for Sudanese children.
Diocesan Commission on Ministry (DCOM): Important May 19 meeting for COM members from the all the new England Dioceses with the Rev. Jesse Zink, Principal of the Montreal Diocesan Theological College (DMTC), to learn more about the DMTC offerings and ways in which we can be more connected, including enrollment in classes, degree programs and use of other resources. The DCOM is also doing an extended study of the Covenant Group/Local Ministry Support Team approach/model for congregational leadership in Vermont.
General Convention: Tom Little submitted a report, which may be read online. As explained in that report, revisions to the Book of Common Prayer concerning marriage, liturgy and music are topics on the legislative agenda. Formation will be on the agenda. The Rev. Rob Spainhour is now an alternate for the Episcopal Church in Vermont.
Province One: Report from Jean Wilson calls attention to discussions of the opioid epidemic and a resolution on collecting data on energy usage on all Church property “to see whether churches might save money by entering into cooperative purchasing agreements with each other.”
Re-Imagining Convention: The Rev. Paul Habersang is our representative on a 10-member task force to consider every aspect of our annual convention: format, location, components for worship, costs (and financial transparency) and ministry reports. There’s an extensive report on the discussions so far.
Rock Point: We are hopeful that the 1.7 million-dollar goal will be exceeded. Work on trails and the rest of the property is underway and additional funds will be needed. This investment in the land, buildings, and public access is helping the public understand our commitment to the future sustainability of this property as a welcoming sanctuary in the heart of Burlington. We are partnering with the Burlington Parks Com¬mission, Lake Champlain Land Trust, the City of Burlington and others to raise additional funds for a conservation easement on 92 more acres, along with significant trail improvement projects. We must keep reminding people that this is not public land but private land available for public use. Considering the City’s commitment to connecting green spaces/ hiking & biking trails in the area, the investment is paying off.
VT Ecumenical Council/VT Interfaith Agency: The Rev. Dr. Fred Moser attended a national workshop on Christian unity: interesting and hopeful. Some commentary on the experience of Lisa Sharon Harper, a black Pentecostal; also Syrian Christians. Question: to what extent should the issue of ordination of LGBTQ persons figure in discussions of full communion between traditions? There’ll be a meeting of the VT Ecumenical Council coming up; stay tuned.
With closing prayers, the meeting adjourned just before 3:00 PM.