Congregational Meeting, Jan 18, 2015

Title:Congregational Meeting, Jan 18, 2015

 Sunday, January 18, 2015   (full size gallery)

Cool rainy day, rain falling hard at times on the second Sunday in Epiphany. (Despite the winter, the Lenten rose is getting ready to bloom!). We had 36 for the service which included a Congregational meeting.

This is an annual event where at the least elect new Vestry members to serve a 3 year term. This is not a light decision to make and we encourage people to reflect on the responsibility. We had two nominations – Elizabeth, our registrar, who has served before on the Vestry and Becky, who has worked with the youth and children and can represent the younger members of the church.

Typically Congregational meeting can be a time to reflect back on the past year and/or provide some directions for the next year. Ours did more of the latter while bringing up issues from last year. The annual reports from 2014 are online.

The sermon provided the discussion of the meeting. The sermon was based on the Corinthian reading.

"I really like Paul’s advice to the Corinthians, because his answer gets right to the heart of the decision making we must do in our lives. Paul gives us the starting place for how to choose good over evil as we try to live as God would want us to live.

"And here’s the advice. We ARE our bodies and we have chosen to have God live in us. Paul puts it this way– the Holy Spirit dwells in us—our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.

"The Holy Spirit is like your Smart Phone or your GPS or whatever you use when you drive to help you go in the right direction. If you’re listening, or watching, you’ll know if you’ve made a wrong turn, and you can make the correction and turn back in the right direction."

Catherine discussed two issues that may need some course correction in 2015 – 1. Worship 2. Budget issues

In the first area, Catherine noted that  average attendance for 2014 was down from an average of 40 to 38. Catherine asked for suggestions.  Comments and discussion on worship included the followiong topics: 1. the lack of Eucharist at the Christmas feast 2. Opening the church for spontaneous prayers 3. Providing a prayer group or similar to support the jail ministry  4. Providing a box where people can submit prayers. 5.  Possibility of holding the "7 Last Words" service at Easter. 6.  Reimplementing the phone tree 7. Possible newcomers card and other support  8. Use piano in service with choir so they can be seen 9. More organized care ministry for meals for those ill. 10. Continued millenial group activities 11. Keep supporting Charter Day and St. Francis.

The second area was over the reason why the Vestry passed a deficit budget.  Catherine called on Clarence who said pledges were slightly down from $85,124 (budget) to $83,891 (2014) though loose offering and other sources made up for it. Sometimes people flip flop between pledge payments and paying it through the loose offering. Pledge projection for 2015 is lower at  $82,384.

There were a discussion of fund raisers. The Village Dinners provided over $1,900 in 2014 plus there is Lady’s Night out in the spring and July 4 celebration where the ECW sells concessions. 

Catherine reviewed the painting which was more expensive due to additional tasks such as the doors we requested and which in the final analysis resulted in a $8,000 deficit. She believes it is important to keep the buildilngs in good repair as "Our buildings are a visible way of glorifying God in our community…Second, these old buildings are, in reality, a huge resource to us. I believe that their historic value will help us out financially in the long run." The church does have the reserves to cover these costs.

Catherine made a request – "We will be asking you, the congregation, to help come up with this $8000 dollars this year in order to pay back our painting expenses and also to help with the cost of heating and cooling our buildings—a cost that continues to rise, just as it does in our homes. Please be generous.

The actual Congregational meeting began after the announcements. We thanked Boyd and Cindy for their time on the Vestry. Boyd was the senior warden in his last year. He received a new volume on prayers and "Dogspell."  Cindy received a box which received a laugh when she said "Is this a box to put money!" It was actually tea plus she received a handsome St. Peter’s mug. Becky and Elizabeth were then elected to the Vestry. 

Commentary by Lance Ousley, Canon to the Diocese of Olympia, Washington I can’t help but keep the fact that we will celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life in our nation the day after this Sunday. It is part of our context as we discuss, teach and preach on the lectionary this week.

What strikes me about this fact as I read the lectionary is that so much of what is in our readings is about stewardship of the Spirit. Dr. King understood what it meant to be a steward of the Holy Spirit within; and he responded to that call with his very life, even in the face of danger, danger that eventually took his life.

In our reading from 1 Samuel we hear that the word of the Lord was rare in those days. Many commentaries speculate this is because no one was being attentive to the Spirit so the Lord rarely spoke, lest the divine word "fall to the ground." But Samuel in his youth was not blemished by the distractions of the world and therefore, he was open to hear God’s voice. And even in Eli’s waywardness he submitted to what the Spirit had to say.

The portion of Psalm 139 for this week recognizes the ever-presence of God’s Spirit in our lives. It is both a comfort and an awesome responsibility to know this fact. If we believe this is true as a people of faith shouldn’t we be good stewards of this faith reality in our lives? Others are watching to see if we really believe it or not the way we steward it through our actions. And the Spirit of God spoke through the Letters from the Birmingham Jail to the world outside because Dr. King understood this.

Likewise, Paul explains to the Corinthians that the actions they take with their bodies as the Body of Christ in their community have implications on their bodies as well as the Spirit within. Continuity of faith and action impacts more than those looking on from the outside. It also feeds the Spirit, and therefore the body.

Our Gospel lesson this week has Philip paying attention to the Spirit, even echoing Jesus’ voice when he told Nathaniel about Jesus simply saying, "Come and see." Upon seeing Jesus Nathaniel even in his prejudicial skepticism recognizes the Holy Spirit within Jesus and he responds to his call. As a result Nathaniel would "see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." And I think because of Nathaniel’s and Philip’s attentive stewardship of the Spirit in their midst we, too, have seen even greater things in our lives, like the witness of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We never know what God’s Spirit might say to us or where the Spirit might lead us. Our job is to be attentive stewards of the Spirit’s presence in our lives and to follow the Spirit’s voice, even into the face of danger for the sake of the Kingdom. To be good stewards of the Spirit is to say, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening" with our very lives.

Peace be with you!

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