At its December meeting the Vestry engaged in a deliberate and prayerful discernment process to decide whether or not the renovated sanctuary should be furnished with pews or chairs for congregational seating. After almost an hour of prayer and discussion, the Vestry decided to move forward with chairs consistent with the guiding principles of accessibility and flexibility, and to keep options open for future generations of Saint Georgians. This decision was reported to congregation in a letter from the senior warden published in Dragon Bytes on January 8, 2016.
In other Renovation related matters, the tri-chairs reported that based on refined cost estimates received to date the gap between the funding pledges and the baseline budget is shrinking, with the contingency lines able to absorb potential increased expenses identified to date. The county permitting process is beginning. The tri-chairs reported on feedback received from the congregation through comment cards and check-in meetings. The Vestry will decide in January on the final scope of the project included in the baseline budget and whether small amounts of long term debt should be considered for some activities which could only be done as part of the original project and would not be feasible as later add-ons. Currently only short-term cash flow loans are anticipated in the baseline budget to advance funds for construction based on anticipated receipt of members’ pledges. 100 households pledged to the capital campaign and almost half of the money has already been received. New or increased pledges are still welcomed.
The Vestry authorized the Senior Warden to sign as “Owner’s Representative” a routine asbestos abatement certification required by the County as part of the permitting process.
The Vestry approved the 2016 budget option proposed by the finance committee. We continue to be in the deficit operating budget position required to maintain our existing staffing, including the valued services of Associate Rector John Shellito and Minister of Music Ben Keseley.
The Clergy, Wardens, and members of the Vestry signed a letter to the Arlington County Board, the Governor, and the United States Congressman for Arlington thanking them for their public affirmations in support of resettlement of refugees from Syria and other war-torn countries.
In routine business the Vestry approved the collection of a staff purse for Christmas and designation of clergy housing allowances as part of compensation as permitted by the IRS code.