The Annual Report is a written compilation of lay and clergy leaders’ reflections on St. John’s ministry and mission in 2020.
Certainly, 2020 is a year for the history books!
The Rector’s Report
Submitted by The Rev. Sarah H. Phelps
In early 2020, we were busy adding new parking spots, moving ministries into larger meeting spaces, inviting more people into leading and serving. We’d expanded staff positions to help support a growing ministry and hired a children’s minister for the first time in our parish history. We were deepening our relationships with each other and our walk with Jesus. We were finding new ways to Walk in Love with our neighbors around Wake Forest, Wake County, and beyond; and we were giving generously of ourselves and our resources to love and serve the Lord.
Using almost any metric (material or spiritual), St. John’s was growing by leaps and bounds. Then the pandemic hit and everything changed. Suddenly we also had to change everything as we adapted to stay-at-home orders and doing everything digitally that could possibly be done digitally. And we had to make those changes as fast as we could.
We also endured a lot of loss this year. Several of our parishioners have lost loved ones to Covid-19 or constant worry for their loved ones who are healthcare providers. We lost two beloved parishioners, Mildred Wilkinson and Shirley Matheney, and were unable to gather as a community to mourn and to celebrate their lives. We lost the ability to kneel at the altar rail and enjoy Communion with our Lord in the way we have always relied upon. We lost the ability to hug and shake hands, and to linger over a cup of coffee in the Parish Hall. Our Music Director of the last eight years, Helen Sopris, resigned. Our parish musicians and our congregation were unable to enjoy making music together. Our most senior members, single members, and health-compromised members have experienced tremendous isolation.
But, as I shared at our recent Annual Meeting, Part I, we’ve had to change almost everything about how we do worship and meetings and pastoral care and outreach and family ministries, but we have kept on being the Church!
Being your rector during this season has presented the biggest challenge of my vocational life. As I’ve said before, this year church feels to me as if a mountain of puzzle pieces, from several different puzzles, has been dumped out on the floor and mixed together; and it’s my job to help more than 400 hundred people pick up the pieces and build a new picture. AND we have to do it all on Zoom, with an unstable internet connection!
It is has been a daunting task, yet at years’ end many disparate pieces have been knit together again in new configurations. Some of these new configurations look pretty promising: like the beautiful spiritual community growing up around Morning Prayer on Zoom; and how several young families are now even better connected to each other and to the children’s ministry now that it’s mostly happening online (Who knew?!); and how we are building an even stronger community-wide partnership as we Walk in Love with our most vulnerable neighbors.
Sadly, some long-cherished puzzle pieces seem to have disappeared under the rug, and we don’t really know when they’ll be rediscovered: like our Seniors Actively Growing and Exploring ministry (SAGEs) which had just started meeting monthly for lunch before the pandemic began; and all those fellowship events like HotDog Sunday. Oh, the good old days!!
We also are still trying to figure out where some totally new puzzle pieces might fit together with the old, familiar ones: like how to lead meaningful, participatory worship for a small number of people in-person, while at the same time livestreaming the service to a congregation that is mostly at home. We may think things will just go back to “normal” when the Covid vaccine gets distributed widely enough, but your Vestry and I believe the cat is now fully out of the bag when it comes to digital ministry.
We believe it will be a basic expectation that churches will offer a livestream of our worship services even after the pandemic comes to an end; because, well, now that we’ve done it, why shouldn’t we keep doing it? Especially since livestreamed worship enables those who are ill, homebound, or traveling, and those raising small children whose nap-time coincides with worship to still actively worship. We believe many church meetings and Christian education opportunities will continue to happen online, or with a combination of in-person and online participants, because it will enable broader participation.
That is why we have launched a new website and are currently investing in an audio/visual upgrade in our church nave, and will be looking to add enhancements to the A/V system in our Parish Hall in the coming year as well. We are especially thankful to Cliff and Stephanie Rogers for their gift of $20,000 toward the upgrades in the church which helped us feel this project was within our reach.
2020 has been painful and messy in so many ways. Our parish community, like the rest of the world, has been thrust into a liminal space — a space “between”— where what was, is no longer; and what is to come, is not yet fully in sight. But I pray we remember that it was over just this kind of liminal space that our Creator God hovered with divine power and possibility “in the beginning.” The earth was a formless void. It was dark, and what was to be born anew was not yet in sight. And then God said, “Let there be light.”
In the midst of so much upheaval, this is the constant: God’s power, as shown to us in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, is the power of love and creation (and re-creation and re-creation and re-creation.) It is God’s nature to snatch new life and hope out of the jaws of death — and it is this same God who hovers over our world, our church, our families, and our lives even now; and calls us to join the movement of creativity.
I look forward to continuing to “work the puzzle” of these strange and difficult times with you as 2021 begins. With God’s help, we can do hard things. With God’s help, all things are possible.
Sr. Warden’s Report
Submitted by Lois Sauer
What a crazy, exhausting, challenging, and rewarding year 2020 has been for St. John’s. It’s been a hard year of missing our worship space, missing physically being with one another, and missing everything that feels ‘normal’. It’s been a time of great challenge to find new meaningful ways to try and stay connected to one another, to not live in fear of what might happen, to re-invent everything we do within safety parameters, and to make prayerful wise (hopefully!!!) decisions.
I am so proud of all of you, and all that St. John’s has been this year.
- I am amazed at how many folks have (with great trepidation and discomfort!) learned new technology. YAY!! To all of you!!!
- A dedicated small group of folks has created and maintained our online worship process. While it will never rival in-person worship, I promise you, for a church our size, we have a terrific online worship experience.
- We have grieved closing the preschool….but already have efforts underway to reopen next fall.
- We have welcomed our curate Mawethu and found new ministries with him.
- I am amazed at the fantastic creativity that has found ways to distantly get together; and minister week in and week out to one another, and through meals to the community around us.
- Your efforts at caring for one another through phone calls, meals, distanced picnics, surgery support, and notes (including Pandemic Pen Pals) have been just tremendous. I think, at varying levels, we have all felt the strain and isolation of the pandemic, but I am so grateful to the vestry and other volunteers who have faithfully stayed in touch with nearly everyone who calls St. John’s their spiritual home.
Finally, I want to give a BIG THANK YOU shout-out to Mother Sarah, Mawethu, the vestry, and all the church staff for their incredible efforts over this long haul. Everyone has put in unbelievable amounts of time and effort to make things happen. And THANK YOU to all of you who have supported all of them and all of us through your prayers. Even though we’ve all had moments of wobbling just a bit, somehow we’re all still standing!! And that’s a pretty remarkable place to be at the end of 2020, Thanks be to God!!!
Invite Welcome Connect
Submitted by Suzanne Hetzel
With a committee of ten enthusiastic parishioners, the IWC had great plans for 2020. We had acquired maps and were ready for our next phase of connecting people by charting out all our parishioners and creating pods of support and sharing for those in close proximity. Then COVID came along.
Our current direction is much changed but our focus is the same. How do we bring our church family members closer to one another? With the Help of Curate Mawethu Ncaca, we were back on the path. New members have been added to the team, all with great ideas. We will be focusing on small groups based on common interests and/or close proximity and larger groups that are multigenerational. Some examples are an intergenerational game night held monthly, and possible bridge groups, golf groups, and hiking/walking groups. Our current approach is to survey the congregation in a variety of modalities, and try to implement the results in the spring or summer. Two groups are already forming; a book club and a neighborhood group for women in 27614.
Our team member Betty Bland will continue in her role of welcoming and connecting new individuals. We will be excited to get back into the building and continue to support the Welcome Desk, and other areas that serve our congregation.
Submitted by Elizabeth Melvin
Altar Guild in 2020 has certainly been a different experience from past years! When services ceased in March, so did our team. Then the outdoor services began and set up was similar, but not entirely. Special attention has been given to ensuring cleanliness and sanitation. Wafers only have been served as part of communion and for a time they were in individual paper cups. Altar Guild will not operate as normal through the end of this year and well into 2021. However, when we do begin again, we would welcome any newcomers to our group! It is extremely gratifying to prepare the table weekly and take care of our beautiful linens and silver. The Altar Guild plans a workshop in 2021 to welcome any potential members!
Parish Care & Support
Submitted by Edna Toney & Carol Smith
This year has been a year that we have all needed parish care and support. The sad part is we were not able to be there in person, however we had phone check-in, zoom meeting and electronic messages. We are hoping in 2021 a miracle will take place in the form of vaccine. We are also hoping that we will be together again in person and not virtually. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.
Submitted by Carole Dubber
Sophia Sisters has been heavily impacted by Covid -19. We had meetings in January and February , 2020. Our scheduled meeting was cancelled due to the Bishop’s order
just days earlier.
Sadly, we lost lost one of our members , Mildred Wilkinson, who passed away. She had co-led the February meeting. We lost two members , Dale Strayhorn and Christine Knights, who moved away. Happily, we still have over 50 members.
We have determined among our members that Zoom would be very unsatisfactory due to the heavy discussion format of our meetings and the large number of participants. This fall when things opened up, we had to rearrange plans for our next meeting due to our co-leader Dale for that meeting having moved. So we postponed our outdoor meeting for October to an indoor meeting in November.
We met on November 14, 2020. We had 16 sign up , but 6 were unable to come. Even with our small number , we had a good discussion. We are continuing our discussion of “An Altar in the World”. We plan to meet again on January 9, 2020. The realities of that depend on where we are in the Pandemic. We plan to be together as soon as possible!
Children & Family Ministries
Submitted by Sarah Bentley Allred, Director of Children & Family Ministries
This was another big year for children and family ministry at St. John’s! We have now had a staff person dedicated to Children and Family Ministries for a full eighteen months and relationships among families have deepened in significant ways this year. Here’s a snapshot of our ministry together in 2020:
- In March we transitioned from in-person Godly Play Sunday School to Zoom Godly Play. This transition expanded our program significantly. It now serves not only children (ages 2-5th grade), but their parents and grandparents as well. Many families increased the consistency of their participation and our average attendance for 2020 (including adults) is 24 people a week.
- During the pandemic we increased our regular, direct communication with families through personal emails, text messages, phone calls, and handwritten notes.
- From March-July we offered a live weekly “Story Time” with Ms. Sarah on our Facebook Page.
- While the weather was good, we offered a number of prayer activities on the St. John’s campus for families to participate in on their own time.
- This year we provided curated Faith at Home Resources through our monthly newsletter for families, our Facebook group for parents, and material delivery. In May, we delivered bags of Godly Play response materials plus Pentecost at Home resources. In September, we delivered resources for celebrating Creation Season at home. In October, we mailed out a resource for practicing gratitude. In late November, we will deliver Advent at Home bags.
- This summer we offered two programs just for parents. Our Parent Wellness Circle met for five consecutive weeks to deepen relationships and support health in mind, body, and spirit. In addition, we launched a monthly “Raising Antiracist Kids” group for parents which aims to support families in a race-conscious parenting approach as they live into the Baptismal promise to “work for justice and peace.”
- On Christmas Eve we will premiere our first recorded Christmas Pageant, an intergenerational collaboration of twenty St. John’s households with drama, music, and art.
– In 2021, we hope to offer more opportunities for parents and caregivers to connect in small groups to deepen their faith.
Submitted by Robert Lewis
2020 has been quite a year. The building remains in good shape. While normal maintenance and minor repairs have been done to the facility, there have been no major issues to report. As we all know the church and preschool have not been used at its normal capacity with limited service during the COVID pandemic. For several months, the buildings were completely closed. As the State and archdiocese eased restrictions, we mobilized our cleaning maintenance crew to come in and sanitize the sanctuary along with the parish hall. They have continued to clean weekly as we resumed limited services.
We made some minor exterior upgrades to the parking lot by adding aggregate (crushed stone) to the lower parking lot to assist with the muddy conditions during inclement weather but because of lack of use the weeds have overtaken this effort. The base should work once we resume normal car traffic. We still have plans to upgrade the parking lot and hope we can complete this project next year. With the assistance of a few members of our congregation, we converted the large meeting room in the parish hall into an office for our new curate, Mawethu Ncaca.
I want to thank all the people that have contributed to ensure that our church facility runs smoothly. To Tom Baker who continues to keep our grounds immaculate and for continuously checking on the building to make sure everything is functioning properly. To Al and Lois Sauer for the in-house repairs and their continued effort to make sure the church is in tip top shape. I like to personally thank Lois for taking the time to turn this position over to me, fully equipping me with all the tools necessary to do this job. To Clean and Green, our maintenance crew, for all their efforts to ensure that the church is always clean, neat and sanitized.
Caregivers Support Group
Submitted by Lynn Bartholomew
As of March 2020 the Alzheimer’s Association asked that we have no in person meetings so we have been meeting the first Wednesday of each month using a Zoom format. It has been difficult for some of our members to meet on zoom and everyone is anxious to be back in person. We have tried to check on those who are not joining the meetings by phone. We also know that the members are checking on each other and some are getting together socially distanced. They have become like a family and some of them have been faithful members since 2012. We continue to have new members join almost every month. Hopefully sometime in 2021 we will be able to get together in our regular meetings because this is especially isolating for the caregivers who are on call 24/7 with very little social interaction outside their homes.
Submitted by Melanie Murphy
The Flower Guild at St. John’s is in charge of creating flower and/or greenery arrangements for the altar each Sunday, providing additional decorations at Christmas and Easter and other special services, responding to floral requests for funerals and weddings, and for flower arrangements in the parish hall as needed. We maintain a calendar for flower dedications so that parishioners may make donations in memory or in honor of their loved ones ($35 per vase). Once the Sunday service is over, we make every effort to see that the flowers are delivered to the donor (if there was a dedication) or to someone who is ill, alone at home, or in grief. Generally, being on duty for a Sunday service requires a minimum of 3-4 hours of time. Everyone works to maintain our supply closet in the kitchen and to return the clean vases to the closet after each use. Additionally, we offer occasional flower-arranging workshops as needed.
There are currently 10 members on the Flower Guild: Julie Arthur, Betty Bland, Sydney Closson, Pinky Cooke, Dagmar Derrick, Shirley Matheny, Harriet Moore, Melanie Murphy (chair), Don Myers, and Mynn Paige. Many thanks to these talented and hard-working members! We would love to encourage anyone interested in this ministry to join us!
Episcopal Youth Community
Submitted by Joy Shillingsburg, Director of Youth Ministries & Outreach
The word that best describes my work in Youth Ministry this year is “re-imaging.” Our EYC room, has even “re-imagined” and repurposed to become the new local headquarters for Backpack Buddy program- a direct service program that provides almost five hundred bags of self stable meals to children each month. We were thrilled to make use the now empty building that housed our preschool, church school classes and EYC room in order to help feed our community.
Our 6th-12th grade students no longer meet here in our EYC room, but we continue to gather on zoom every week at 10am to worship, for zoom EYC meetings, around a firepit, at a local park for CROP Walk or for a hike in the woods, and in our own living rooms to watch movies together on zoom. We have served meals in our community, baked for those in need and become pen pals to older members of our church family. We even did a Zumba class on Zoom! The re-imagining might have been cumbersome and imperfect at times, but we clung to our mission for youth ministry: that every middle and high school student we encounter, feels God’s love. That guiding precept has remained constant through this pandemic, but our methodologies have been reimagined and beautiful things have happened in that reimagined space.
Our youth have grappled with the difficult questions of racism, activism, police violence, grief over losing loved ones, missing proms, graduations and friends. We have offered outside compline for our college students as they moved to school, and then quickly welcomed them back home by offering worship and fellowship time. As an Episcopal Youth Community- we have even had to re-imagine what we already re-imagined just months before and that is the work we are all called to do right now! Youth ministry here at St. John’s has remained a constant for so many youth and I am certain that both the adults and teens involved in this work have felt God’s love.
A few highlights to celebrate: We started the year with a class of 8 youth being confirmed! Two of our youth (David Ortiz and Vivian Shillingsburg) serve on the Diocese Chartered Committee on Youth leadership team, three of our youth attended Bishop’s Ball right before the pandemic hit and five of our youth participated in the Diocese series on racial reconciliation called “Speak the Truth.” Our EYC member Jack Bell has played an integral role in shepherding our parish to an online format. His patience and dedication has been extraordinary.
Serving the Community (Outreach)
Joy Shillingsburg, Director of Youth Ministries & Outreach
St. John’s is well known in the broader Wake Forest Community in large part because of our commitment to outreach and service to our neighbors. Extending our time, talents and treasure to deepen our connection with our neighbors near and far follows Jesus’ example of bringing healing to a hurting world. This year St. John’s has financially contributed to Church Net, which provides assistance to those who are having trouble paying utility bills. Dozens of dedicated parishioners pack and deliver bags each week of weekend meals to children at Richland Creek Elementary School and now families who attend Community Meals through the Backpack Buddies Program. Our EYC Room now houses the Backpack Buddies Program! St. John’s is part of the Northern Wake Coalition for Habitat for Humanity and donated money and hours of sweat equity to build homes on Spring Street. We financially support and many of our families help pack food for RISE Against Hunger, an organization that delivers meal bags locally and internationally to people suffering after natural disasters.
St. John’s outreach efforts almost immediately pivoted to serve meals from April 20-August 30 three nights a week at Hope House. We continue to lead meal distribution each Monday night at Hope House through the more appropriately named “Wake Forest Community Meals” (instead of Summer Nutrition Program) along with our church and civic partners. This meal distribution has become a hub for distributing clothing through Note in the Pocket, beds through Green Chair, rent and utility assistance through Wake County Social Services, and technology distribution through WCPSS. We will have served over 7,000 plates of meals by the end of this year and distributed thousands of pounds of produce, shelf stable meals, and casseroles to our neighbors.
We are a partner for the local coat drive this year and many generously contributed to the Thanksgiving lunch giveaway at Olive Branch. The Joy of Christmas ministry will look different this year, but will still brighten the holidays for families who attend the Community Meal Program and the elderly who Julie Arthur has served for years. Families and the elderly will receive gift cards, a warm blanket and a few winter treats this year. Amazingly, our outreach ministries are strong and continue to grow because of your generosity in the time of great hardship for so many.
Submitted by Mawethu Ncaca, Curate
I have been reflecting about my role the past six months as St.John’s curate. As I think about what it means to be a “pastor” or “priest”, I try to think about what that looks like practically in my life as I serve God and the congregation. The word pastor is taken from the word shepherding and one of the most striking passages about this idea of shepherding is found in the dialogue between Jesus and Peter in John 21:15-17. Jesus asks Peter the same question three times: “Do you love me?” As a follower of Jesus, I ask myself what does loving God look like in private and in public. My attempt is to close that schism and chasm between private and public. Cornel West once said, “Justice is what love looks like in public, just like tenderness is what love feels like in private”. These words seem to shape my pastoral approach.
When I began thinking about adult education, I hoped and planned from that approach of embracing and showing love to one another within our differences of personalities, family of origin, and cultural backgrounds. I wondered: How do we foster a brave space within our diverse views? How do we reimagine and reconnect with each other in the virtual world? Hence, my umbrella approach was to offer “Pastoral Conversations.” Specifically, I wanted to offer an opportunity for lectio divina (Text in Context), small group fellowship for men (Love is the Way, book discussion), and an opportunity to engage in listening around race and justice (Stories under the Tree, in collaboration with the Beloved Community.) I am happy to report that these pastoral conversations have met some of the goals of adult education, to create space for adults to be looking at and discussing the Bible together in a meditative way for spiritual formation. Text in Context met initially on Wednesdays at noon, but later changed it to Thursdays at noon. We had a steady number of attendees and it was a fabulous chance for me to get to know people in a deeper way, particularly in these “COVID” times. During the creation season, we gratefully enjoyed Michael Phelps as a special guest speaker, looking at Genesis 1-3. Otherwise, we have been consistently looking at the liturgical year texts and more especially the gospel reading in preparation for the Sunday service. What a rich experience, especially as I prepare sermons! It brings the fresh eyes of the congregation to the passage.
Our Wednesday night men’s book club has brought a small group of gentlemen together to discuss Bishop Michael Curry’s new book, Love is the Way. This was birthed out of discussions David Bland, Michael Phelps and I have had in which to connect the men of St Johns. This book discussion was the first of many ideas we have. Please let me know if you are interested in any activities that are geared towards men’s fellowship Stories Under the Tree, in collaboration with the Beloved Community leaders, Joy Shillingsburg and Roxanne Johnson, was a deeply meaningful experience, I believe, for all involved. When Joy, Roxanne, and I first met we were energized with this idea of community listening, and it has been a delightful experience to partner with them in this project. We had four story telling sessions focusing on police brutality, racial profiling, and community policing, from the perspective of people of color and as law enforcement officers and military personale. Though the conversations are difficult it offers the hard truths of experience, an opportunity for understanding what each of the players in the dynamic are up against, and even daydreams of “another way”. Thinking and listening together seems a healing and helpful tool in our divisive times. The panelists were primarily members of Versty: Troy Thomas, Robert Lewis and Robert Stell, as well as Roxanne Johnson and Joy Shillingsburg (Beloved Community), and myself. All were bravely willing to open up about their lives and give honest perspectives on the matter. And also a special thanks to Laura Closson and Jack Bell for their digital ministry contribution. Stay tuned for further information about our next installment of Stories under the Tree!
St. John’s Preschool
Submitted by Jane Hill, Committee Chair, & Bob Hill, Preschool Treasurer
As many of you know, our preschool had to close for the 2020-21 school year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Certainly, we all miss the delight of the sounds and energy of the preschool children laughing and playing at St. John’s.
Our Rector, Sarah Phelps, asked me to chair an Ad-Hoc Committee to plan for the reopening of St. John’s Preschool for the 2021-22 school year. At our first meeting, we discussed necessary steps to take since registration typically begins mid-January. A parent survey was emailed to last year’s parents to determine the probability of their children returning.
We are proceeding prayerfully and with the hope that the status of this pandemic will allow us to be able to open again safely. Our preschool treasurer is developing different budget scenarios to analyze the financial aspects related to the re-opening. Due to the economies of scale, the smaller preschools, (like St. John’s), have had a much more difficult time than the larger preschools.
Please check our website frequently to stay up to date on the progress and status of the preschool re-opening.
Creation Care Committee
Submitted by Gena Renfrow
The Creation Care Committee has been active and adaptive in 2020 with both virtual and socially-distanced activities, and with items in the church announcements designed to keep caring for God’s creation top of mind for parishioners. Key events include:
- Earth Day – committee member Julie Arthur created a backyard scavenger hunt and committee members created announcements with tips to make every day Earth Day at home
- Creation Season – committee members assisted Sarah Bentley-Allred in creating a Calendar of Prayer for Creation Season
- Feast of St. Francis of Assisi – committee members helped staff and promote our Drive-Through Blessing of the Animals which resulted in two TV news stories – on ABC-11 and Spectrum News
- Continuing education – committee members have attended live (pre-pandemic) and virtual training events from NC Interfaith Power & Light, Interfaith Creation Care of the Triangle, and the Creation Care Alliance of Western NC to help inform future Creation Care efforts at St. John’s
- Native Plant Garden – committee member Cathy Brittingham organized on-going care of the garden and the efforts of our volunteer gardeners. Many thanks to Cathy, to Helen Holt for her continued expert gardening guidance, and to all of the garden volunteers – Julie Arthur, Kenille Baumgardner, Eva Childress, Caroline Hobson, Suzi Hetzel, Jane Hill, the Larsen family – Emily, Nolan and Colette; Elizabeth Manley, Donna Morse, Melanie Murphy and John Rich, Gena and Julianna Renfrow, and Paul and Dianne Rill.
Many thanks to all of the Creation Care Committee members for all of their work this year: Julie Arthur, Louisa Avery, Kenille Baumgardner, Helen Bertelli, Cathy Brittingham, Helen Holt, Elizabeth Manley, Gena Renfrow, and Dale Strayhorn.
Submitted by David Bennett
This year, our ministry of Stewardship took on a whole new meaning. In 2019, we asked you to support a time of unparalleled growth at St. John’s. We were celebrating the addition of new staff positions, welcoming new parishioners by the dozens, and preparing to champion the good work of God in our community. It was exciting!
In 2020, so much of what we had come to expect and anticipate changed very quickly. As your Stewardship Chair, I struggled to find an appropriate message in such a challenging time. But as the weeks passed, and as the St. John’s community adapted to the new reality of online worship and virtual gatherings, the message began to reveal itself. And what I found interesting – and humbling – is that this year’s Stewardship message was exactly the same as last year, but at a much deeper level.
Despite all that we have faced this year, we are still operating from a place of abundance. So many of you have given of your time and talents to help St. John’s adapt to new ways of gathering and worship. Our amazing staff has done all that we have hoped they would do – and more! Our parishioners are finding new meaning in our connections with each other and to God’s word, and we have continued to grow in grace and love.
To all of you who have returned (or are planning to return) a pledge card for 2021, thank you! Your generosity in time, talent and treasure makes St. John’s the vibrant parish that it is. And finally, I say thank you to the members of the Stewardship Committee – Kevin Closson, Cindy Freeman, Kevin O’Donnell and Camille Stell – for their work on this year’s annual giving campaign.
Remember: Even we are apart, we still Walk in Love together. Thank you, St. John’s!
Submitted by Al Sauer
This was a heck of a year for St. John’s. Members of the congregation have faithfully come through with their time, talent and financial contributions all year long. As we have groped our way through the pandemic uncertainty, that faithfulness has kept St. John’s on a firm financial footing and allowed us to support our staff and keep our church mission on track!
Overall, the parish is financially sound.
Our end of year pledge (EOG) income is expected to be a little low (about -8%). We had some members that moved on because of Pandemic and the change to digital worship. Likewise, we have had some new families that have found us BECAUSE of our digital worship, and that is great!
Many of our expense and income categories expectations have changed. We have monitored the activities and have adjusted the budget throughout the year to match the changes. With the buildings mostly shut down, the HVAC, cleaning, trash service, have been set to minimal use. Some of our expense categories such as Gas, Water, Electric and Maintenance are under budget, a good thing.
St. John’s also benefited from the government Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) loan/grant monies. We were able to secure $55,900 for use with salary, benefits and utilities. We were able to use some of that money to allow completion of the Teacher Contracts thru May. All of the loan forgiveness documentation has been submitted to First Citizens Bank & Small Business Administration to convert the loan to a grant. Many of the Episcopal Churches in our Diocese took advantage of the opportunity.
The fund balances for the year have been pretty flat because of low activity. We have had sufficient activity for the Summer Nutrition Program (now called Community Meals) that we have created a separate fund for those activities. We have also had donations designated to help with impending upgrades to our digital capabilities as we move forward.
Members of the congregation have also continued to support additional principal payments for our building loan and we have reduced the amount owed to under $100K and have less than 4 years remaining!!
Next year will be continue to be challenging as we work to deal with re-shaping our worship and our community around us so that we can continue on the journey that God has called us. We have adapted, overcome, and are moving on!!