The year 2019 was a busy and productive one for the 14 members of Bishop and Chapter who were acting on behalf of our large and active congregation. Like many mainline churches, we have our challenges, but we also have opportunities. Both keep us busy and engaged. The Chapter does not function in a 'business as usual' mode. Rather we adjust and try to move ahead, doing God's work, amidst constantly changing and challenging circumstances. The Chapter is strong, capable and hard-working. We try to find the right balance between overseeing our day-to-day 'normal' operations, paying attention to what our people expect today, and positioning our congregation for a potentially different tomorrow. In doing so we work closely with and support Dean Geoffrey in his role as our pastor and our CEO, and we enjoy a strong and special relationship with Bishop David, who is the chair of the Chapter. And through it all we continually try to discern God's will for us as his church.
The Chapter does not function in a 'business as usual' mode
In the past year there have been several new and significant developments:
- We made a commitment to become a full partner in a ground-breaking local program called 'Housing First'. We will soon become the owner and operator of three small homes at the corner of Albert and Regent Sts. By next fall three individuals will reside in our homes. These folks will be carefully chosen by other partners as they enter the Housing First program, and then will be supported by professionals (and by us) as, together, we help them become more independent and more productive citizens.
- We established the Project 2045 Task Force to develop recommendations regarding our future facility needs, so that our congregation and our Christian ministries will be strong and vibrant 25 years from now - approximately 200 years after Bishop Medley began the construction of our beloved Cathedral. (Final report is here.)
- After several years and many discussions we sold Odell House, primarily because the trend today is for Anglican clergy to own their own homes. The proceeds of the sale are now in a restricted trust fund that will help ensure a fair and adequate housing allowance for Cathedral Deans for years to come.
- We undertook a purposeful stewardship campaign in the fall to encourage members of our whole congregation to re-evaluate their individual Christian stewardship habits in offering 'time, talent and treasure' to our church for God's purposes. Our committee chairs shared important information about their programs and how congregation members could help. In response, on Stewardship Sunday the large increase in congregational offerings was very encouraging.
- We approved a new 'Gift Policy' to clearly state how offerings and financial gifts/bequests will be wisely and properly stewarded by our church. A new 'Records Management' policy was also approved to ensure the multitude of documents and records we continue to produce are safely and permanently stored and accessible.
- As part of our outreach emphasis we welcomed The Calithumpians as new tenants in lower floor of Memorial Hall - a mutually beneficial sharing of our under-utilized facility.
- Beyond those highlights the Chapter was kept busy with a multitude of 'normal' programs, events and issues. The Chapter's eight committees oversee this important work and we are grateful for the leadership shown by the 14 members of Chapter. Their reports follow. We thank God for them, for the many willing volunteers who populate their committees and teams, and for our dedicated staff … all of whom offer 'time and talent' to support the work of the church and to help those who need support.
As the Lay Chair of the Chapter, as I look forward to 2020 and beyond, I see three main challenges as our church family seeks God's will:
- Reaching out into our community to invite people (especially young families) to know and follow Jesus, and in so doing grow our congregation,
- Making important decisions regarding the long-term future of Memorial Hall and the Cathedral, and
- Given the reality that we are an aging congregation, taking steps now that will help ensure the long-term sustainability of our congregation, our ministries and our Cathedral building.
Jim Morell, Lay Chair of Bishop and Chapter