Weekly Message by Rev. Brent Neumann, May 22, 2020

   by Brent Neumann

Day 73

This has been one intense week. SO much has been going on with shifts in our world, our country and our own province. Things are starting to open up again, and people are out an about. We as a community are still trying out different ways to be with one and another. We are still working through many aspects of community life, while we remain physically distant.

Last week we decided that we would try using reserve sacrament for all who would like it. It is something that we wanted to try for four weeks to see how many people wanted to participate. Currently, we have an uptake of about 23 people. That is less than a third of the community. At the same time, we are not in total communion with the diocese as there are challenges with our approach that raises flags for them.

One of the major difficulties is that our worship team are all withing the 65 plus year range. This places us in the high-risk category. That raises a flag for the diocese and is something that we need to work at. We also discovered was that some of our parishioners have difficulty with this approach. They are not in agreement with it. We will continue with the four-week trial but the question of continuing remains.

The second thing that we have been discussing is the annex. The renovations are supposed to be done this summer. We have discovered that the building requires substantive upgrades to make it functional. We have had one survey on the building done that identified numerous issues that had to be sorted out. Based on that study, we hired a second organization to help us identify what must be done: to the building envelope, roof, windows, doors, and mechanical, etc.

Once we have that report and vestry has finalized the wish list, we will have our architects design the scope and schedule (which will allow us to establish a cost for this process). The project has $144,000.00 available for the annex. We doubt it will cover all the issues identified, but there are numerous options available for us to explore when it comes to financing. We will keep you informed of this process as it unfolds. Nothing will be done without a clear viable business plan.

The third thing that has become very clear is how we conduct ourselves as a business partner, while maintaining our core purpose of being a faith-filled community. We need to align our business (West End Commons) in a way that allows it to remain self contained. At the same, it must meld into a management plan that sustains both. We have hired a business consultant with a lot of non-profit experience to review our entire operation. Through this process, we should be able to identify what must change, what has to be revised, what needs to be strengthened, as well as get us completely in line with both canon law and corporate law.

There are requirements on both sides that must be aligned. This process will involve a few things. Our consultant will be using an interview and survey process so that she can get as large a sampling of the community as possible. The survey will be available to everyone in the community. If you would like to be involved in this, please contact the office and we will be happy to provide you with a copy. She will be interviewing various people in the management part of the community to be sure that she accurately reflects this work. The interviewing part of this work is expensive so we would like to limit this part as much as possible.

We have gone through a relatively thorough review of our financial management process and have hired a new financial advisor to help with our investments. The committee has a couple of new members including Glory Chinda and Gela Stach.

David Wilson has been working with the consultants to try and establish a capital expenditure plan for the church building. We know that there will be ongoing costing for the building. We are trying to establish a capital plan and a savings plan that allow us to invest in the building on an ongoing basis, to keep it functioning well. This will be incorporated into our business plan.

Once David has gotten his report in hand, we will review it with our building committee and present it to vestry. There are numerous steps in this, but each part of these processes will be melded into one management plan that allows for predictability. This frees up our priest to focus on the mission of the parish.

It is amazing how much has happened in these last few months. I think we are at 11 weeks since our shut down, and it is getting to be a long time since we were last together. I miss being with people in our community. I have become very aware of this as I spend Sunday mornings talking with people, getting a feel for how things are for them.

One can tell a lot about another simply being in close proximity. There is an energy that we all put out, and if you listen to it, there is a lot of information available. How we are doing physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc. is often something we are not fully aware of. When we are with others, it gives us a chance to check in with them, while at the same time check in with ourselves. There are so many things that get revealed in this process. Sometimes that information can come to us as a complete surprise. Our inner being is reflected to us through others. This is a truth that has always been present in community life, yet one of those truths that is rarely talked about.

I have experienced this challenge on a very personal level as I have missed critical aspects in our community. It was painful for those who experienced it. It forced me to step back and take a very critical review of my own work, and see where I have failed. We have had lots of successes, but we have not been perfect, and that leaves legacies. It is difficult to accept our human frailty, understanding that we are always the ones who are evaluated by others. Yet at the same time, the only person truly responsible for ourselves is us.

God will continue to teach us if we are willing to learn. Humility is something that all of us need to learn more about. It is one of the things that allows others to see, hear, understand, accept, forgive and sometimes actually love. Humility is the simple act of accepting our own brokenness and being upfront about it. Humility is a learned trait that comes forward when we accept, and we learn. Learning a lesson well will often take several times before we get there. My only prayer for this morning is that I can learn this lesson well; that all of us can be in a communion together in a way that pulls us together, not apart.

May God help all of us in these trying times to find openness within so that we may move closer to what God wants from all of us.