Vestry PrioritiesThe first handout is “Vestry Priorities for 2011.” There are three:
- Secure the financial health of St. Paul’s
- Communications with the parish
Financial HealthSurely rescuing the parish from its current hand-to-mouth existence is an important—probably the most important—priority. Since we have run rather lackluster stewardship campaigns in the past, assigning two Vestry members to stewardship and emphasizing stewardship all year long are probably savvy moves. On the other hand, judging by the handout, I fear we will initiate a capital campaign before we have assured our financial stability. This could sabotage both stewardship and the capital campaign.
The statement that “[t]he need for a capital campaign has never been clearer to us than it is now” is worrisome. I am hardly convinced that the need for a capital campaign is urgent. What we could (and should) do now is ask parishioners what projects they would propose. Last time, a list of projects was offered on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. Even projects I thought were worthy I found impossible to support because I felt the details were not well thought out. A campaign will be successful only if parishioners feel ownership in what is proposed.
CommunicationsThe second priority might be more properly described as “improve parish communications,” certainly a worthy and important objective. I like the idea of having two parish meetings in addition to the annual meeting each year, but sandwiching them between the services, as the Vestry plans to do, will minimize their usefulness. Only about a dozen people showed up for today’s adult forum. Will we be satisfied with similar attendance at the new parish meetings?
Restoring the Communications Commission is surely a positive move. Never has a Communications Commission ever really accomplished anything at St. Paul’s, however, so Michelle Baum has a daunting job ahead of her. I wish her all success.
I am concerned about the Vestry’s new-found need for unity. It is sometimes vitally important for members of the Vestry to close ranks, even if there is not 100% agreement on a course of action. It would not be healthy, for example, if 40% of the Vestry were to express their opposition to a capital campaign. I just hope that the new policy will not mean that Vestry members opposed to any initiative will shut their ears to the concerns of parishioners. Striving for “unity” can too easily be a means of suppressing dissent.