December 19, 2022 Stated Session Meeting

Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church

Stated Session Meeting December 19, 2022 7 PM


Present: Paul Bolig, Tom Crosby, Karen Fisher, Marcia Ladd (Clerk), Jeff Olson, Bruce Raymond, Barbara Strange, Andrew Taylor-Troutman, Tim White, (Treasurer), Sarah Whitney, Serena Zum Brunnen




Andrew called the meeting to order at 7. Serena offered a devotion; Andrew asked for prayer concerns, they were offered and Serena closed with a prayer. Andrew asked for a motion to approve the agenda. Karen moved to approve the agenda, it was seconded by Bruce and passed unanimously. Andrew asked for a motion to approve the consent agenda. Karen offered a motion. It was seconded by Bruce and passed unanimously. Karen has two corrections for minutes, Reny and Kelly did not join at the November date; Carolyn is Carolyn Bryan. The corrections are made and re-posted.


Consent Agenda-Please read these items in advance. They will be voted on as a group without discussion unless someone pulls a particular entry from the Consent Agenda

  1. Approval of Session minutes – Stated Meeting 11/21/22, Email vote 12/5/22
  2. Approval of Committee Minutes – Membership 12/5/22, Personnel 12/6/22, Finance and Administration 11/17/22 and 12/15/22, Christian Education 12/12/22, Worship 12/13/22, Finance and Administration 12/14/22
  3. December Head of Staff Report
  4. Staff Meeting – 12/11/22
  5. Correspondence – Taize Manger Flyer 2022, Christian Education Reference Group, Invitation to Serve as Member of CE Reference Group; ; Thank you notes from Benevolence Farm, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, PDA, and Learning Tree

Pastors Report

Andrew asked if there were any questions about his Head of Staff Report. There were none. He asked if there were questions about his Moderator’s Report. There were none.

He offered an update on the POMs venture and asked for Bruce’s input. Bruce has all the permits in place for the playground. His team wants to move ahead with the playground before the other components. He’s applied for permits for the other proposed structures.

Clerks Report

Marcia talked about the Annual Report developed every year by the church. Each elder summarizes the activities of their committee over the past year. The draft of the 2021 Annual Report is contained in the packet for this meeting. Each elder should submit their copy to Teresa by mid-January. Marcia has forwarded to Teresa the reports she has received to date.

Marcia wanted to make sure all the chairs have followed up with any congregants who expressed interest in their committee. Barbara has engaged folks from the Time and Talent sheets and has every position for the Worship Committee filled

Treasurers Report


Tim indicated we are in an improved position from last month for both revenues and cashflow. Revenues increased due to another influx of pledge payments. Cashflow improved due to better inflows and continued cautious spending. His year-end total Operating Revenue estimate, as of December 9th, is $471,000 vs $491,000 budget, a $17,000 improvement from October. Tim thinks he will be in the black by the end of the year by ~$10,000.



Total Revenues are $425,197 or 87% of budget vs 92% of the year and $20,230 more than last year at this time. Pledge receipts YTD are 88% of budget. Non-pledge receipts YTD are 65% of budget. Open Plate Offering is 198% of budget. Month-to-date total revenue is $56,214 vs “average” budget of $41,000, improving for a second month.



Total Expenses are $394,696, 80% of budget. November MTD revenues exceeded expenses by $24,754 continuing October’s positive result. Committees have been careful spending, respectful of Session’s short-term expense approval process. Of note, Mission & Service held off spending from Operating in recent months while still able to send checks to causes due to recent generous giving to Outreach Restricted accounts.


For Stewardship we have received pledges for a total of $400,380. Tim showed that between the Operating Budget and Restricted Funds. He noted folks have given very generously for Food and Shelter. Jeff indicated that Tim’s chart shows the “giving,” but not the “disbursement.”

Tim explained that the rates for the PILP loan will increase. They are going to pay off the mortgage and take out a new mortgage. He is proposing to re-structure the church’s debt. The diagram shows where we are headed with this Debt Restructure.

As of 3/31/2023
Mortgage Balance $500,600
Less Mortgage Reserve ($59,500)
Less Mortgage Reduction ($520)
Cash Reserve Temp Use or New Loan ($225,000)
    Needed to pay off Mortgage $215,580
Contributions to-date $155,000
Needed Contributions $60,580
NEW LOAN $225,000

Karen asked if we were re-financing our existing loan. Tim said in essence we were. Jeff asked how the loan went from $500,000 to $250,000. The source of the reduction is from donations from individuals and the mortgage reserve and mortgage reduction funds. We still need a little over $60,000 to make this transaction work as described. If he doesn’t get the full $60,000, Tim and F&A would consider a higher loan amount. He has some folks in mind who they will ask for contributions to get to the $60,000. Andrew indicated there is no action item tonight, just FYI. Jeff made the motion:

Session affirms moving forward with this debt restructuring and report back to session as it moves forward

The motion was seconded. Karen asked if this would free up church monies for other things for the church; the answer was a resounding yes. Serena asked if the mortgage rate was variable; it is. Tim’s looking for a 10 year loan, the rate for which changes every 5 years. In May our current loan would go up to 5.5%, the new loan would be 5%. The savings account amount that needs to be kept to “qualify” for the existing loan is high; the new loan doesn’t require monies in the PILP savings, although we will keep monies in PILP savings.

Finance and Administration

Paul indicated he has two motions from his committee. The first is


The Finance and Administration Committee recommends that Session approve the expenditure of $90.43 (net of $84.12 after tax refund) for the purchase of toilet paper and paper towels from budget category 503340 (Janitorial Supplies).


The rationale supporting this is that the budget category 503340 has a balance of $25.37 as of November 30. Total Building and Grounds is over-expended by $241.95 due to the expense of removing the fallen tree and repairing the HVAC leak. Our current policy requires Session to approve this expenditure. Paul asked if there were any questions, there being very few the motion passed unanimously.


The second motion is as follows:


The Finance and Administration Committee recommends to Session that it modify its January meeting from January 23 to January 30.


There are several reasons behind this motion. Andrew will be out of town participating in his doctoral program and will not be available for the regularly scheduled meeting of Session on January 16. Also, since the 2023 budget will be acted on at the January meeting, the F&A Committee recommends that this meeting be rescheduled to January 30 to allow Janet, our CPA, time to pull all the numbers together. Paul asked for questions. There were few and the motion passed unanimously.



In Jerry’s absence, Andrew offered the following explanation. It has become abundantly clear that parents of younger children—infants, toddlers, and younger elementary aged children—want safe, nurturing care and engagement that introduces faith to their children.  They want to know that their children are loved, nurtured, and connected to healthy adults and other children.  They want to begin exploring God’s presence in their lives and stories of the Christian faith.  Our nursery, Time with Young Disciples and Sacred Art programs adequately meets these needs.  As children move into upper elementary school, they are ready to start “digging deeper.”  They have formed friendships through worship and Sacred Art time and are beginning to consider what it means to form their faith.  Thus, we have introduced a younger youth group program that allows children in grades 3-6 to explore the foundations of faith.  During the teen years, our young people want to lean into discipleship, ask and attempt to answer hard questions, put faith into action, and define their own beliefs.  Our teen youth group provides a space for this.  Currently, this group is moving through the confirmation process together.


Our current staffing model does not fully align with these programming shifts.  The current Director of Children’s and Youth Ministries position description does not adequately reflect the number of hours or job duties being performed.  We are proposing a restructuring of the Christian Education positions to better support our programs and to position ourselves so that we might grow in the future.  Anticipating these changes, the Christian Education committee budgeted for this restructuring in 2023.  While the restructuring will result in one additional staff position, it is in line with the budget for the new year. Andrew then offered the following motion


Move to approve the restructuring of the Christian Education positions as described in the document contained in the packet developed by Joelle and Serena


Andrew asked if there were any questions, there were none. The motion passed unanimously.



Andrew drew session’s attention to a power point that summarizes the outcomes from the congregational survey. In general, the two major outcomes are that we need to improve our community outreach and our music leadership at the early service. The survey had 140 responses. The survey was answered by two groups, retired or with kids at home, mostly elementary age kids. Half the people responding attend the 11 AM service, but those attending the 11 AM service do think it is important to have 2 services. 71% of respondents thought two services were in the best interest of the church. He asked for questions.


Andrew presented has two motions for session to consider. The first is


January 1, 2023 will be a single combined service at 11:00 due to the

Holiday. January 8, 2023 will be a single combined service at 11:00, because it is the Second Sunday. Following these dates, there will be two services each Sunday except for the Second Sunday of each month, when the church will worship in a single combined service at 11:00.


Sarah wondered why we couldn’t have the first Sunday be the combined service. Andrew indicated that the first Sunday is communions and baptisms, so it’s better to have the combined on the second Sunday. Karen indicated we need to do a better job at getting the word out. The survey supports this, with 43% of respondents only feeling “somewhat informed.” The thought is to have the combined service at 11, so we would always have an 11 AM service. Also, since the combined service will be followed by a potluck, the timing is better to start at 11. The motion passed unanimously.


Of the respondents many get their information from announcements during worship and the newsletter. Andrew will make sure to have announcements during worship and work with Teresa on the newsletter to get the word out.


New People coming to our church are looking for safe, accessible, family friendly, relevant and inviting. The respondents overwhelmingly apt to recommend our church to others. There are one third of respondents who are not likely to recommend. From the respondents, the worship service is extremely important. Sarah thought we should take the responses with a grain of salt, overall, it is a positive response. Music at the early service was cited as needing more contemporary music. Andrew asked Barbara to tell session about the discussion in her committee that the early service is lacking music. Her team feels they should explore with Personnel what this might look like. Karen indicated that when Jeremy was at the early service, he helps with the music. Andrew cannot find someone yet who can consistently lead the music for the early service. Sarah wondered if we should ask the early service attendees what to sing, and only sing very familiar hymns and do a lot of repetition. Barbara said that we need leadership at the early service. Tom echoed that simplicity and clarity would be desired. Sarah wanted to try to get the children more involved in the service, and offered to lead the early service music once a month. Jeff indicated that if you want to get children involved, repetition is key.

Bruce indicated when we have the Pavilion, the acoustics will be better which will help the music outside. Barbara wants to take Sarah up on leading music once a month at the early service.

Bruce indicated that we need to be careful about also working on the 11 AM service. Sarah wondered if outside worship was key. Serena thinks that being outside gives especially young familes “wiggle room,” with which the kids are very comfortable.

Andrew indicated that we have hired an Office Manager, and our Task Force is thinking of hiring another position. One of the duties for that additional hire that has been discussed is recruiting volunteers. If you take Nana’s compensation and benefits that is the equivalence of 35 hours that are “available” altogether for our two new hires. Paul indicated that the new job could be a community outreach position. There was support among session for this concept. Karen asked if this position would be helpful to Andrew, he said it would be very helpful to him. The motion passed unanimously.

Andrew indicated it is too confusing not to have the same masking guidelines at each service. The second motion Barbara offered was

          Both services at Chapel in the Pines will follow the same masking guidelines. If the CDC community level is green (low), masks are optional. If the level is yellow (medium) or red (high), masks will be required at all indoor services.


After minimal discussion, the motion passed unanimously. Barbara asked for clarity on eating meals. If we are in yellow, no meals together inside. There was a question about replenishing masks. Andrew indicated that comes under the purview of Worship. Jeff thanked everyone who participated in the Alternative Christmas Market where they raised over $4000. Andrew closed the meeting in prayer and adjourned the meeting at 8:45 PM.


Ongoing Business


New Business


New Members, Baptisms, Memorial Services and Weddings

Since the last session meeting on November 21, 2022 There have been no new members, memorial services, weddings or baptisms.


Respectfully submitted,


Marcia Ladd,

Clerk of Session