The 2021 vestry met for the first time on January 26 as so many of us have done for more than nine months: virtually over Zoom. Despite the sadness and challenges associated with not being able to gather in-person for the usual vestry retreat earlier in the month or on Quincy Street, there was a spirit of camaraderie and even hope as we anticipated what God might do within our church and the world this year.
David Hanke led us in a fun ice-breaker and fervent prayer for the discussions and decisions we needed to make in the meeting ahead. We prayed for unity, understanding, and for God’s spirit to be present in our virtual gathering.
One of our first orders of business was to elect the 2021 Officers. Our wardens are Brad Jones and Lorene Eberhardt; Treasurer is Dan Vogel, Secretary is Mary Breed. We also voted on new members to join our Advisory Teams (Finance, Personnel, Outreach, and Facilities), the leads of which will be finalized over the next two weeks. We are thankful for the Restoration members who serve on these teams and provide invaluable guidance and counsel to our Vestry.
The vestry approved several motions: the validation of the Christmas Eve offering recipient, Arlington Bridge Builders (following up on a unanimous decision that took place over email after the December meeting); the recommendation of Steve Brooks to the Vocational Diaconate; and the Outreach Steering Team’s recommendation of The Telos Group as the recipient of our Lent through Holy Week offerings in 2021. We are inspired by The Telos’ Group vision to equip Christ-followers to be peacemakers and seek reconciliation in some of the most difficult places of our broken world, including the Middle East and the American South.
After these motions were passed, a significant portion of our evening was dedicated to the discussion around returning to the Phase Beta protocols. In the December 2020 meeting the vestry had voted to limit in-person worship to 25 people in response to the surge of COVID-19 cases and in anticipation of holiday travels, with the expectation that the new vestry would reevaluate. Since that meeting, we give thanks to God for the approval of several vaccines around the world, two of which are currently being administered here in the United States.
Vestry members considered and discussed a host of factors, including: case numbers are stabilizing and starting to come down; the emergence of potentially more infectious or easily transmissible strains; the comparability of Restoration’s protocols to other workplaces and organizations; the desire of many in our congregation to worship in person; the hesitation of many in our congregation to return; the Restoration staff’s comfort with in-person worship; and the feasibility of multiple services. As in December, we agreed that there is no single clear ‘right’ answer. And we collectively long for the day when we can be packed together into our sanctuary, singing without masks, and partaking in the Eucharist.
We gave ample time for all opinions, viewpoints, and concerns to be shared, and at the conclusion the vestry voted to return to the Phase Beta protocols on January 31st. We will continue to monitor the Executive Orders from Governor Northam, keep in communication with our Bishop, and prayerfully seek God’s wisdom in navigating what continues to be an uncharted course.
Finally, our meeting concluded with a positive report from our 2020 Treasurer-turned-2021 Warden Brad Jones, who shared that our congregation gave generously in December both to Restoration and to our Christmas Eve offering recipient, the Arlington Bridge Builders. Attendance – measured by views – of our YouTube Live Service remains steady, and a good number of members have made their way to the Sunday outdoor Eucharists. We are grateful for the ways in which so many of you continue to invest your time, talent, and treasure in our community.
We welcome your questions, encouragement, and feedback. You can read an archive of past Wardens’ Reports on our website or Vestry Meeting minutes on CCB, under the ‘Files’ tab in the ‘Entire Church Group’
~Brad and Lorene