The Wardens’ Report: highlights from monthly Vestry meetings.
The Vestry met over Zoom (as we have since March) on December 1, for about four hours, by far our longest meeting of the year. After Adam Guzzo opened us in prayer, the main (but hardly only) matter was to consider whether Restoration should revise its “Phase Beta” protocols for in-person worship, which have been in place since September. As we explained in our letter (with David Hanke) to the congregation on November 20, Restoration’s Phase Beta protocols complied with the Governor’s “Phase Three Tightening” amendments of Executive Order 67, but it did not necessarily follow that the church should leave its rules unchanged as Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations rise.
After extensive discussion and debate, the Vestry decided by a unanimous vote to codify the two “shut down thresholds” that we and David had imposed on a interim basis on November 20, and decided by a one-vote margin to reduce the maximum capacity for in-Sanctuary worship from approximately 75 to 25 (including staff) through the end of January, when the next Vestry (with the three newly elected members) will have its first meeting. The Vestry also decided by a divided vote against a proposal to suspend in-Sanctuary worship through the end of January. Again, the vestry’s motivation in making this change is to respond to the current surge of COVID-19 cases.
One thing all agreed on was that there are no clear, certain answers; as we said on November 20, this “calls for much wisdom.” All also agreed that the Vestry has worked together with remarkable grace in a year that has had more opportunities than we wanted to learn how to speak frankly and to disagree respectfully! Indeed, the two of us, after a year of working closely together, found ourselves in opposite places. Given the significance of and division over these decisions, we have appended to the end of this report the details of the three motions. We also have added our emails below (and you can find us on CCB), so please reach out to us, or any Vestry member, with questions, comments, or concerns.
In other news:
- We received a staff report from Ryan Goyer. In a year of great changes and challenges on staff, Ryan has seen not one but two significant changes in his job description, and handled them well and with good cheer. We are grateful.
- We received a recommendation from the Outreach Steering Team for our Christmas Eve offering. After an extended discussion, we asked OST to further consider the matter and report back. We hope to have a decision on a local recipient in the next week.
- Brad Jones, our Treasurer, reported that by various measures (no single one works during this pandemic), attendance is steady. We estimate weekly YouTube Live viewing at about 600 persons; attendance in-Sanctuary has averaged about 55 per week under Phase Beta; parking-lot Eucharist has averaged about 45. Brad also reported that, a quarter of the way into our fiscal year, giving is about 10% under budget. That is a source of potential concern, but December giving always has a disproportionate effect. We also approved a new member of the Finance Team.
- After David excused himself, the Vestry received recommendations from the Personnel Team, chaired by Lorene Eberhardt, for end-of-year bonuses for all staff. After discussion, some changes were made, and in recognition for how Restoration’s staff team has risen to the unique challenges of this year, the Vestry approved bonuses that were higher than normal.
For both of us, this was our last regular Vestry meeting and this is our last Wardens’ Report. We are honored and grateful to have had the opportunity to serve you and God at Restoration, as best we could, over the last three years. Please join us in continued earnest prayer for our church and for the next Vestry, particularly the three soon-to-be-elected members, who will immediately face hard questions.
Appendix: Details on Motions To Revise Phase Beta
- Motion: “To codify Restoration’s shutdown thresholds in case of COVID-19 infection. If (a) any member of our staff, music team, or broadcast team, or (b) 3 or more people from a Sunday congregation receive a positive COVID diagnosis over one week (or a total of 3 or more people over two consecutive weeks), we will cancel in-person Sunday services for the following two Sundays and replace them with clergy-led Morning Prayer.”
Decision: Approved. Unanimous; all voting.
- Motion: “To immediately shut down in-person, in-sanctuary worship until January 24, 2021.”
Decision: Defeated. 1 in favor, 7 opposed, 2 abstaining
- Motion: “To limit the in-person, in-Sanctuary congregation to 25 people until January 24, 2021.”
Decision: Approved. 5 in favor, 4 opposed, 1 abstaining