October 18, 2021 Stated Session Meeting
Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church
Virtual Stated Session Meeting October 18, 2021 7 PM
Present: Greg Behr, Paul Bolig, Sara Botelho, Tom Crosby, Keith Glidewell, Marcia Ladd (Clerk), Sarah McCormack, Bruce Raymond, Mary Roodkowsky, Andrew Taylor-Troutman (Moderator), Tim White, (Treasurer), Serena Zum Brunnen
Guests: Stan Campbell, Paul Isom, Paul Nixon, Emily Williams
Sara opened the session meeting with a devotion. Andrew offered prayer concerns and celebrations. Sara closed with a prayer.
- Approval of Session minutes – Stated Meeting 9/20/21, Called Meeting 10/10/21
- Approval of Committee Minutes – Mission and Service 9/26/21, Stewardship 9/29/21, Deacons 10/4/21, Membership 10/5/21, Personnel 10/12/21, Christian Education 10/11/21, Finance and Administration 10/14/21
- Staff Meeting Minutes – 10/10/21
- Correspondence – Thank you from Union Seminary, Mission Connections, Newsletter from Karla Koll, Thank you from Catherine Ragland’s family, Thank you to Catherine Ragland’s family for donation in her son’s memory
Andrew asked for a motion to approve the agenda, Greg made the motion and it was seconded and passed unanimously. Andrew then asked for a motion to approve the consent agenda, Greg moved to approve it, the motion was seconded and passed unanimously.
Susie Smith has been active for years in Presbyterian Women at University Church. She serves on the Women’s Coordinating Council. The Presbyterian Women mostly did not meet during the pandemic. University Presbyterian has offered to let them meet in their Fellowship Hall. The parking there is difficult so the Council wondered if Chapel in the Pines would allow the different Presbyterian Women’s group meet in our Fellowship Hall. Marcia asked one of the elders to make the following motion. Greg made the motion
Due to a lack of parking spaces at University Church, the Session of Chapel in the Pines, at the request of Susie Smith, chair of one of the Women’s Circles, moves to allow the University Presbyterian Women’s groups to use the Fellowship Hall at Chapel in the Pines following our building use policies for their meetings.
We need more specifics from Susie, how long will the meetings be, how many groups, need a member of CitP in each group, scheduling has to be done through Nana. We will table this until we can get answers to these questions, and handle it with an email vote this week. Andrew then asked Tim to give his report.
September represents the 9th month or 75% of our year. Total Revenues YTD of $351,415 are 77% of budget. Total Expenses YTD of $290,080 are 66% of the expense budget. September revenues were lower than expenses by over $13,300. Cash-on-hand to fund operations remains at a healthy level.
September revenues were $26,717 or 7% ahead of September of last year. This makes our year-to-date revenue 15% greater compared to 9 months last year. Year-to-date pledged revenue is 22% ahead of last year. Non-pledge revenue is 60% YTD and is less than last year by $8,768.
Monthly expenses are higher at $40,036 vs. $32,000 “monthly average”. The biggest budget items are staff salaries & benefits which are in line at 73% while “Other Personnel Expenses” are lower at 36% due to reduced activity but higher compared to August with the start of our Youth Assistant (two months’ pay). Funds totaling over $10,000 were moved from Operating to Restricted: Reserve for Capital Replacement account was expensed for $9,900 (9 months) and Pastor’s Discretionary account for the annual amount of $500. B&G Exterior Maintenance included windows & gutter cleaning ($1,405). Committees continue to spend less as the church is working through COVID.
We have used $22,802 from the Pastors Discretionary Fund (PDF) YTD to assist 55 individuals and families in Chatham County with their serious financial issues. Members and friends have given Chapel in the Pines $23,912 YTD to this fund. September fund balance is $12,709 compared to August of $12,130. Reserve for Capital Replacement increased by $9,900 to $23,100. Outreach funds of $5,792 were disbursed (excluding PDF). Surplus carry-over started the year at $80,316; as of September the balance is $13,209.
Cash flow stands at $305,027, $11,729 less than last month and $9,414 higher than last September. Long-term debt is $568,394, $89,950 lower than last September.
- Janet completed updates to the Operating and Restricted Accounts reports; her extra efforts are greatly appreciated! Restricted Accounts: deactivated inactive accounts as agreed with committees. Operating Accounts: Fund amounts were expensed as noted in Expenses above, so the need to add a monthly 3.5% expense “loading” for year-end expensed items is no longer necessary (introduced in August report).
- Document Retention Policy was drafted. Accounting and Insurance Records portions to be presented at F&A Committee in October meeting.
Tim was very complementary of Janet and Jerry in this effort. Finally Tim drew the elders’ attention to the Revenues and Expense Graph that gives them a visual of spending and revenue trends throughout the year.
Committee/Task Force Reports/Actions
Mission and Service Sara turned the elders’ attention to the motion contained in the packet consistent with our stance as an Earth Care Church and asked them to consider the following motion
Respectfully request session to ask Salem Presbytery to concur in an overture to the PC (USA) General Assembly to divest our national church’s financial interest in companies involved with the production and sale of fossil fuels.
Paul asked to see what he is voting on. Sara shared the 8 points that are behind this request as follows:
The Presbytery of Monmouth overtures the 224th General Assembly (2020) to:
- Recognize that fossil fuels have been used by humans to create a better world for many people and that the time of their usefulness is now over.
- Recognize that divestment from fossil fuels is a viable approach to the climate emergency, which thousands of other institutions have used to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for their inadequate responses to this emergency.
- Commend Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) for their ongoing work with shareholder engagement to hold these industries accountable to the just and equitable values that Presbyterians seek to uphold.
- Call on the PC(USA), The Presbyterian Foundation, the Board of Pensions, and the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program, Inc., to divest from the fossil fuel industry, using the Carbon Underground 200 and the S&P Global Industry Classification Standard’s list of publicly traded companies engaged in coal, oil, and gas exploration, extraction, and production as the criteria to identify which companies are considered to be fossil fuel companies.
- Proscribe (stop) any new investments in fossil fuel industry securities.
- Instruct the Presbyterian Mission Agency, through MRTI, to correspond through form letter to all fossil fuel companies and presbyteries in which they are headquartered of the action and the theological and moral rationale for this decision.
- Encourage the Board of Pensions and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Foundation to actively seek out and invest in securities of companies whose predominant focus is in renewable and/or energy efficiency.
- Direct the Presbyterian Mission Agency, through MRTI, to monitor the Board of Pensions and Presbyterian Foundation on actions to divest/invest and to report to the 225th General Assembly (2022) on their progress in implementing Recommendations 4-7.
The motion was tabled until after the Vitality Team presentation.
Order of the Day Ongoing Business
- Paul Nixon joined the call and Vitality Team recommendations were presented The Vitality Team has worked well with Paul Nixon (church consultant, Epicenter Group) and is thankful for his experience and wisdom. His report to session is a rolling list of recommendations for the short-term and long-term. The work of the Vitality Team has been to prioritize recommendations for the near future. We feel that certain goals are not only achievable but vital to the spiritual health of the congregation.
These priorities are organized into the three categories of our church’s mission statement: Worship, Welcome, Witness. Each priority has an overall rationale for the priority (Why it is important) and then implementation steps that include suggestions about who will lead the effort.
Our hope is that the elders will receive our priorities in advance of the stated session meeting on October 18. We will be present at that meeting for question and discussion. In the following weeks, individual members of the Vitality Team will work with existing committees as well as newly formed task forces regarding the specific recommendations of implementation process. As early as the November stated session meeting, the Vitality Team hopes that these committees/task forces will bring motions to session for elders to adopt.
These are the initial recommendations:
- A) Priorities: Worship
*Institute a fixed schedule of two Sunday morning services with fellowship time in between and live stream ministry
*Create inviting spaces outdoors for people of all ages to worship, learn, and fellowship.
*Live into the designation of Chapel in the Pines as a Matthew 25 congregation
Andrew opened the floor up to the elders. Bruce asked about the building expansion, Paul indicated that it is not a burning need now, but it may be needed in the midterm, several years down the road, especially if the church takes on more Youth. Serena voiced concern about having to do a capital campaign, she pointed to the need to upgrade the playground at a price tag of ~$50,000. She questioned spending that kind of money on a playground, she suggested that it needs to be framed correctly. Maybe it can be funded as a designated fund.
Greg thinks that many members of the church think it is an either or question children vs. social justice. Paul emphasized the importance of investing in the future of the church and making it amenable to families with children. So it is not an either or, but a both/and issue. Paul talked about how impressed he was with our youth who are already articulating a need to give back and look toward a desire to work on social justice issues.
Sara Botelho asked about keeping the 2 service model and wants to make sure that was Paul’s intent, he articulated it was. He said if you are going to have adults work with kid on Sunday morning, you don’t want those adults to have to choose between teaching and attending worship. He also sees it as a good stewardship of the facility. Tom thanked Paul and the Vitality Team, and felt like from his work on Stewardship the congregation is ready for a both/and. He asked Paul to comment on how we can “keep the magic going” in smaller groups. Paul thinks using the word committee with younger members will put them off. He said we should focus on “teams,” to roll up your sleeves and work on a specific project. He also talked about encouraging people to join different teams. Paul Nixon works with one church that rotates through small groups for a temporary period of time, so congregants can meet with different small groups and get to know more people.
Tim asked about keeping the pastor from burning out. Paul said the church needs to be intentional about lay leadership and adding staff. He also talked about being intentional about picking and choosing what the pastor should do, and not expect the pastor to do everything. The pastor needs to have time to think strategically and spread out into the community. Paul Nixon indicated that the Vitality Team should come back to session with a more pared down list of things they want to accomplish initially.
When we onboard new members, we should plug them into a small group so they can be encouraged to work out their ministry with the church.
Paul Nixon left the meeting and Andrew asked if any of the members of the Vitality Team had introductory comments. He opened the floor for discussion between the elders and the Team. Bruce asked how we are going to move forward. Andrew would like to see session endorse the Vitality Team report, especially the three main categories in the report to session. Then that be presented to the congregation so they see tangible results of the work that has been done. The Vitality Team will then work through teams and other groups to make the specifics of this report happen. Stan wanted to know what the answer would be when members of the congregation want to read Paul Nixon’s report. Mary said it would be very dangerous not to allow congregants to read Paul’s report. Andrew indicated that the details of implementation of the Team’s suggestions should be generated from the Committees and the follow-up conversations. There was discussion about how to present the Vitality Team Report to Session to the congregation. There was also a suggestion of developing a summary or overview as the cover page for the Team’s Report.
Tom would like to see Paul’s and the Vitality Team’s reports available at the same time to the congregation. Bruce pushed back on having the details of the Team’s available to the congregation. Mary suggested making Paul’s report available and the main points and the rationale behind each point made by the Vitality Team’s Report to Session. Then the individual committees will work on the detail. Greg moved to
Release Paul Nixon’s report and a summary of the Vitality Team’s recommendations accompanied by a cover letter from Andrew
The motion was seconded, and passed unanimously. Andrew thanked the Vitality Team for meeting with session.
Mission and Service
This motion was tabled because Sara had to get off the call.
Finance and Administration
Andrew asked Paul Bolig to share briefly about the narrative budget. Paul explained that Paul Nixon had suggested that Finance and Administration develop a Narrative Budget in addition to the line item budget that could be used by Stewardship as a means of explaining the church’s budget in more “approachable” terms. It will be aligned with welcome, worship and witness. It takes the budget items and puts them in one of the three categories, and helps make sure that the budget aligns with who we say we are.
Mary indicated that the staff has paid very close attention to the shifting numbers as a result of the pandemic. Cases in Orange, Chatham and Durham Counties are the lowest in the state and vaccination rates are the highest. Percent infections is below 5% of the population which was the marker for schools meeting in person. With all this in mind, she offered the following motion
Grounded in staff recommendations, Worship proposes
- In the event of precipitation or cold temperatures, the 9:30 service will be moved into the sanctuary with all the indoor covenants in place
Tom asked about childcare, it will not be offered. We will be guided by a temperature of approximately 45 and will strive for the decision about outdoor/indoor be made within 24 hours if possible. The motion passed unanimously
- Singing will be allowed with masks in the sanctuary for worship services
The Worship Committee feels people will be sufficiently spaced and masked. A lot of people feel that singing is a very important part of worship. It does appear to be safe and there are no Covid outbreaks in places where singing is currently allowed, e.g. some schools. Mary indicated it seems to be safe and timely to allow singing. The motion passed unanimously. Mary also wanted session to know that the Worship Committee was unanimous in their desire for Andrew to remove his mask when speaking, and other speakers can if they are comfortable doing so. Several CitP physicians have been invited to the next staff meeting to discuss this further.
- Communion will be served at the 11/7 worship service
Mary is suggesting that this will be done safely and at each service. Communion will be served outside. Bruce is concerned about a bottle neck, Andrew said Worship will work on that. After minimal discussion, the motion passed unanimously.
Bruce introduced a motion from the Deacons
Session moves to appoint Peggy Wilkerson, an already ordained Deacon, to fill a vacancy on the Diaconate to serve the Pittsboro neighborhood
It was seconded. Peggy will be filling Maggie Ford’s positon and will have to be on the nominating slate in the spring because there is another year to Maggie’s term. After minimal discussion, the motion passed unanimously.
Ongoing Business (continued)
- Elect a Presbytery Representative for the Virtual November16 Presbytery meeting.
Andrew asked if anyone was willing to volunteer. Bruce volunteered to represent the church and session approved Bruce as the representative.
The next meeting is the 15th of November and Paul Bolig will have the devotion. there being no further business, Andrew closed the meeting with prayer at 9:16 PM.
Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals
Since the last session meeting on September 20, 2021, the Kabricks – Millie and Randy – joined on October 10/2021. Frederick Norton Dickman, the son of Catherine Ragland (the Arbor at Galloway Ridge), was held on Friday, October 15, 2021, at 3:00 PM at Chapel in the Pines There were no baptisms or weddings. Virtual Communion was served virtually once on October 6, 2021 and in person at the Contemplative Service on October 27.
Clerk of Session
Approved by Session 11/15/2021