I have only just returned from a long Vestry meeting at which the feasibility report for Fulfilling the Vision prepared by the Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF) was presented. Glenn Holliman, representing ECF, walked the vestry through the 76-page report. Based on that report and presentation, the Vestry has decided to postpone any capital campaign, probably for at least six months or so.
Holloman made clear that there was much support for projects involving St. Paul’s physical plant, but that there was a general consensus that the program part of the proposed initiative should be financed through the annual budget. Even some of the improvements to the building were controversial, particularly the air conditioning of the church, a new sound system, and changes to the undercroft. In any case, it was made clear that the church could not now raise anything near the $1.8 million in the Fulfilling the Vision proposal, both because of concerns about the proposed projects and because of the unfavorable economic climate.
The consensus on the Vestry was that no definitive decision about a capital campaign could be made immediately, but it was recognized that, if the Vestry did not move forward immediately, the campaign would have to be postponed. A statement to the effect that the proposal for a capital campaign will have to be revisited is to be drawn up and presented to parishioners.
The ECF report did not include an executive summary, and it may be up to the Vestry to draft one for the parish. In any case, the ECF report will be made available to parishioners in various forms and will presumably be posted on the parish Web site soon.
I will probably have more to say about tonight’s meeting later, but it is worth noting that the Vestry handled what was no doubt seen by many as bad news with equanimity and maturity. By the time the church undertakes its next capital campaign—I have no doubt that it will eventually—it is to be hoped that there is a greater consensus about what is to be done with the funds raised. The Vestry has a good deal of work to do between now and then.
Meanwhile, the church needs to run a successful stewardship campaign. If the programmatic elements originally proposed for Fulfilling the Vision are ever to be implemented, they will have to be incorporated into the operating budget and financed through increased annual giving.
I hope that the leaders at St. Paul’s will work diligently to build consensus around components of a revised capital campaign, one targeted to physical plant rehabilitation and improvement. It is to be hoped that such a campaign is one that most parishioners can get behind.
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