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Diocesan Council Reports Strong Progress in Final Meeting of 2019; Gears up for 2020 Restart

By the Rev. Mark Preece

The scheduled gathering of Diocesan Council on Thursday, October 17 was a virtual meeting, held via Zoom. It was Bishop Shannon’s first Council meeting as Bishop of Vermont, and was Council’s last meeting of 2019. The meeting mostly focused on preparing for the 187th Diocesan Convention, which took place nine days later. The proceedings began and concluded in prayer.

Treasurer Gerry Davis presented his report, which was largely positive. Revenues and expenditures are in balance and on pace for the budget year. The FY2020 budget resolution to be presented to Convention proposed a budget that is level with this year’s. It came in at $1,013,505, with the same four-tiered contribution system for congregations.

The Church Pension Group’s Medical Trust announced a 7% health insurance premium increase. By the time of this article’s publication, Financial Administrator Rich Sagui will have sent information about the open enrollment period to congregations.

Council learned during this meeting that a plan was coming together to partner with Vanco, an eGiving software developer and payment processor, to provide a mechanism for parishes, the diocese, and others to accept electronic payments. The fee would be $5 per month for organizations opting to use the system, plus a transaction fee of 2.75% (for gifts via credit cards) or 1% (for bank transfers). The eGiving program has now launched, and enrollment information has been made available to parishes.

Council voted to accept the Treasurer’s report, and to approve the diocesan health plan options, which are unchanged from 2019.

Reports from Council’s standing priority teams were given, with these updates:

Green Mountain Witness would like to talk about Evangelism with each individual parish. Please spread the word, and be in touch with the Rev. Titus Presler or another member of the team to set something up. More information is available here: https://diovermont.org/2019/01/30/next-step-green-mountain-witness-connecting-congregations/

Facilitators of the Racial Reconciliation & Racial Healing Network will meet with Bishop Shannon to discuss their vision and plans going forward. Additionally, as part of the diocese’s commitment to racial reconciliation and racial healing, Bishop Shannon stated her intention to attend the NAACP dinner in Brattleboro on November 16. A photo recap of the even is available here: https://tinyurl.com/episcopalVT-NAACP

Material from the Immigration & Refugees priority group’s recent presentation is available on the diocesan website, here: https://diovermont.org/2019/08/20/immigrants-refugees/

The Rock Point Commons team reported that new Board President Shawn Bryan is going a great job. The Rev. Paul Habersang spoke of his excitement as he begins his tenure as Executive Director of Rock Point. (He will be missed on Council!)

The Standing Committee will hold a meeting in early December to debrief about the transition process now happily concluded. Representation from Council may be invited.

Love God, Love Neighbor: Advocacy in Action, an advocacy training event hosted by the church’s Office of Government Relations and Episcopal Migration Ministries in Washington, DC, will be attended by at least one representative of the diocese of Vermont.

The next Council meeting will be an annual retreat and planning session on January 16-17, 2020, at Rock Point. The 2020 meeting schedule will be published following that gathering.

The next Council meeting will be an annual retreat and planning session on January 16-17, 2020, at Rock Point.

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