Vestry Meetings


St. Mary of the Hills

Vestry Minutes August 26, 2018

Vestry Members Present: Chip Myers, Jane Milner, Jim West, Mary Galke, Paul McGill, Bill Furr, Lynn Searfoss, Dick Kitchell, Bill Devereux

Vestry Members Absent:  Amanda White, Ryan Postlethwait, Crawford Cleveland

Others Present: Mother Linda Wofford Hawkins, Bob Miller, Father Sam Tallman, Elizabeth Sudderth, Loy McGill, Susie Greene

The meeting was called to order at 5:30.


Mother Linda Hawkins opened with prayer.


Susie Greene presented the Tour of Homes report. Proceeds from the tour of $80,000.00 will be donated to various community organizations. A committee of church members will review grant requests and determine how much to give each requesting organization. Susie reported that roughly 250 people volunteered their time to work on the tour and a large number of those were not affiliated with St. Mary’s.

Susie asked the Vestry to consider 3 points when thinking of the future of the tour.

  • Will the Tour of Homes continue? As of now, no one has stepped forward to chair the 2019 tour.
  • Should any Tour proceeds go to St. Mary’s? Susie shared that in 2010 $30,000.00 of the proceeds from the tour went to St. Mary’s and only $9,000.00 was donated to community organizations.
  • Work on the tour for next year should start now. Loy has already contacted the Chamber of Commerce to ask that the Tour be placed on their 2019 calendar. Susie noted that the work to secure homes for the 2019 tour should be done as soon as possible. Historically, roughly 80% of homes on the Tour have not belonged to members of St. Mary’s.


Loy shared an update on the Discernment process. She shared the updated results of the Congregation Assessment Tool. The original report was found to have “glitches”. There were issues with benchmarking; i.e. how many churches and what types were used for comparison purposes? An updated CAT report was distributed, and Loy pointed out the areas of correction to the previous report.

  • The overall energy of the church is seen as average in comparison to the other churches studied.
  • Mary’s is a “progressive settled” church. In the previous report we had been characterized as conservative.
  • In the Theological Perspective section the percentiles were changed to reflect the change in benchmarking.
  • There was a change in the Governance Index section.
  • There was a change in the Engagement in Education section.


Bill Furr asked Loy which areas are most critical for the Vestry to address in the near term. She referred him to the top 5 key areas identified in the “Critical Success Factors for Improving Satisfaction” section. Those areas are:

  • Leaders Representative
  • Different decision approaches
  • Clergy brings out the best
  • Lay help with worship
  • Members discover gifts


Mother Linda commented that the things that jumped out to her from the CAT are a need for widening of governance (leadership development) and different decision approaches.

Father Sam remarked on the importance of seeking input from parishioners when making decisions.

Mother Linda suggested a sub-committee of Vestry members be formed to set priorities of which areas identified in the CAT need the church’s immediate attention. Vestry members Chip Myers, Bill Furr, and Lynn Searfoss volunteered to make up the sub-committee along with Mother Linda.


The minutes from the previous meeting were approved by a motion from Paul McGill and a second from Chip Myers with 2 corrections. The reference to Father Sam Tallman’s compensation needs to be changed to state he has been paid a small stipend and not pension or health insurance. The clerk was also asked to add last names of Vestry members and other referenced in the minutes going forward, as the minutes are an historical record of the church. These corrections will be made by the Clerk.



Bob Miller presented the Treasurer’s report. A current financial status report was distributed. Bill Furr asked Bob if a new restricted account needs to be set up to receive the recent $10,000.00 gift earmarked for adult Christian formation. A decision was deferred on this question.

Paul McGill suggested asking for an accounting of money spent on the Parish Hall refurbishing.

Paul reported that $8,000.00 is expected to be paid next month for painting.

Bill Devereux made a motion to accept the Treasurer’s report. Bill Furr seconded and the motion was approved.


Bill Furr shared an update on stewardship. As of today, pledges of $100,000.00 have been received. Bill reported that the Vestry members have all pledged, and as a group their pledges have increased by 10.1% over the present year, meeting the stated goal to church members to raise their pledge by 10%. The stewardship committee will take every opportunity to address stewardship at Parish gatherings such as the annual meeting and worship services. Bill is still searching for the right person to speak at the end of the campaign on September 9. A letter is going out to church members this week with a pledge card included and an email will also be sent out with a pledge card attachment.


Mary Galke shared a report from the Vestry Nominating Committee. Between 15 and 20 names were brought to the committee. Those names were vetted to determine the eligibility of those people to serve on the Vestry. The committee looked at various factors including what service and support they have contributed to the parish and to confirm basic eligibility such as confirmation status. A couple of prospective nominees were found not to be confirmed Episcopalians. Father Sam commented that we should find ways to use the talents of those who were willing to serve, but who were not selected for this year’s open slots on Vestry. Chip Myers clarified the process of selection of Vestry candidates by explaining we follow the church by-laws. Some parishioners have expressed a desire that we have an election to fill open Vestry seats rather than presentation of a slate.


Jim West gave an update on his review of our current by-laws. Amendments to Bylaws must be submitted in written form for the members at least 30 days before an annual meeting where the bylaw amendments are to be voted on; OR voted on in written form by 2/3 of the Vestry at two consecutive meetings.

Some areas to work on are:


  • Clarification of a “qualified voter” versus a “communicant”
  • Clarify and define “what constitutes membership.” For example should membership be attained at age 16? The Diocese suggests age 18.
  • Is there an accurate, up to date list of members which is readily available which can be used to verify who can vote at the annual meeting and who cannot? This cannot be answered tonight. The need for a current valid list of members was stressed by Mother Linda.
  • What is the definition of “notice” as regards the notice to the Bishop of parish meetings? The by-laws currently state 10 days advance notice.
  • The by-laws are currently silent on proxy and absentee voting by Vestry members.
  • The by-laws state we will have 1 seasonal member per Vestry class. The Vestry feels this should not change.
  • Currently the by-laws state the “clergy’s immediate family” are not eligible to serve on the Vestry. Does this just mean the rector or other assisting clergy? The Vestry agrees to CHANGE this to state immediate family members of “clergy employed by the Parish” are not eligible to serve on the Vestry.
  • Clarification of definition of “secretary” versus “clerk”. Example: does that term refer to a person who is employed by the church or a volunteer?
  • Clarification: “business conducted”: does this refer only to what was in prior notice or is there a provision for new business?
  • What committees were adopted in 1993? Jim was asked to supply a list of those committees at the next meeting.
  • The current by-laws are silent on the number of nominees for Vestry. The Vestry feels this should not change.


Jim will do a rough draft of all these proposed changes and amendments to the current by-laws and present that at the next Vestry meeting. The first of the 2 required Vestry votes to approve any changes will hopefully take place at the next meeting.


Mother Linda Hawkins shared the rector’s report.

She addressed the agenda of the upcoming annual Parish meeting.

  • Election of Vestry members
  • Treasurer’s report
  • Stewardship report
  • Discernment Committee report

This will be followed by an Interim Rector’s Report  from Mother Linda.

Mother Linda shared pastoral concerns. There are no members hospitalized currently. It has been a busy season for funerals. Mother Linda briefly discussed the $10,000.00 gift earmarked for adult Christian formation. One idea is to use this as seed money to begin a partnership for adult Christian formation involving St. Mary’s, Rumple Memorial Presbyterian, and Faithbridge United Methodist. It was the suggestion of the clergy from these 3 churches to form a group of laity to plan shared educational offerings. Possible ideas are a Bible study or book study, or perhaps bringing in a dynamic speaker or scholar to lead a retreat.


Mother Linda shared the news that Corey Kundert, a young adult ministry coordinator has recently been hired by the Diocese to work as a lay person with the Presbyterian/Episcopal campus ministry. Lynn Searfoss currently serves as the faculty advisor for that group. Mother Linda and Father Sam met with this young man recently and discussed several ideas with him to help develop spiritual growth of young adults.


Paul McGill shared the Junior Warden’s report.

Painting of the exterior of the church is underway.

It was recently discovered that the framework and lattices on the Bell Tower are rotting.

Paul has received and shared 3 letters on the subject of the recent painting of the front door. All were complimentary and supportive of the change to a red door. Lynn Searfoss mentioned that a couple of people had commented to her as well. The question has been raised as to why the other exterior doors have not also been painted red. The answer is that the Vestry only approved painting the Main Street door. Lynn made a motion to approve painting the double exterior doors facing on Chestnut Street red as well. Paul seconded the motion and the motion was approved by the Vestry.

Jim West reported that the Tour of Homes funded the purchase of 6 new tents.


Chip Myers did not give a Senior Warden’s report tonight in the interest of time. He indicated he would cover his topics via email or defer until next meeting.


Mary Galke reported that Rachel Capen Blackburn has expressed an interest in taking over the nursery. She would also like to do Godly Play lessons with the children.


Mother Linda closed with prayer.


The meeting was adjourned at 8:40pm.


Respectfully submitted,

Elizabeth Sudderth, Clerk of the Vestry