Sunday, January 30, 2011

Annual Meeting Report

Today’s annual meeting at St. Paul’s was a whitewash. It began in a rather poetic manner. I had pointed out to Doug Starr before the meeting began that the handout containing the opening hymn, “Christ is made the sure foundation,” was missing the last line of music and words. We sang it anyway. Everyone in the choir knew the tune, and most seemed to know at least some of the words of the last line. A few people had hymnals; others simply looked perplexed.

Because there was no contest for the four Vestry positions, voting seemed pointless. I submitted a blank ballot.

Doug had asked the choir to leave the meeting at 10:20 to practice for the 10:45. I had decided to leave early only if there was no reason to stay. There wasn’t.

Lou talked about the annual report and said that if anyone had any questions about the financial statements or anything else, they could talk to the relevant people one-on-one outside the meeting. Remarkably, the treasurer, Bob Johnston could not attend. Most of my questions—I will list them in my next post—were of a financial nature, and some were quite technical. Nonetheless, I raised a point of order and asked if we could ask questions. I was told to ask, but it was clear this was not going to go well. Lou tried to answer my first question and either did not understand it or simply could not provide an answer. I tried to ask a follow-up question, but it was clear that the crowd had no interest in this sort of thing. I shut up and left soon after to attend choir rehearsal, though not before saying that I didn’t understand what the annual meeting was for. The point in asking questions, in my mind, was not only to get answers, but also to let others hear both the questions and answers. Talking privately to the treasurer does not accomplish that.

I did ask for a public session in which people could ask questions of the treasurer, which Lou seemed to agree to set up. We’ll see if such a meeting materializes.

I did stay long enough to hear Lou talk about the parish’s great successes in the past year, though he expressed disappointment in failing to launch a capital campaign. Surely we have not heard the last of the capital campaign idea.

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