ST. PAULS’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
VESTRY MEETING – Wednesday, May 10, 2023
Fr. Tom Theoni – Rector Nora Broszeit – Clerk Mary Lou Dogoloff
Steve Carnell – Sr. Warden Lee Barron (Acting Secretary) Judy Martin
Rich Shea – Jr. Warden Tom Connolly Carol O’Connell
The meeting, held in Serson Hall Library, started at 6:35 PM. Fr. Tom asked for a secretary to take notes; Lee Barron offered.
OPENING PRAYER AND DISCUSSION
Fr. Tom offered a prayer to begin the meeting. Both Mary Lou Dogoloff and Carol O’Connell were introduced and welcomed to the Vestry as their first meeting.
BOOKKEEPING AND ACCOUNTING SERVICES
Fr. Tom advised that since the Diocese provides accounting assistance to other churches, we would engage them to do the same for us down the road. In the meantime, a subcontracted bookkeeper – Bill Lewis – will work for us for a brief period followed by the Diocese taking over all bookkeeping and accounting duties (at a price to be determined). The Realm software platform, of which most other churches in the Diocese have adopted, will help us to all be on the same page within the Diocese. Mike Booher, Diocese CFO, has been a consultant to Fr. Tom. The Diocese ultimately will provide our Vestry with financial projections and statements.
Fr. Tom and Steve Carnell discussed their continued discontent with Truist Bank for the inconvenience of acquiring new signature cards for different Vestry members, among other issues. Centennial Bank has been suggested by a parishioner who works there. Suncoast Teachers’ Credit Union is also a consideration.
2023 GOALS CHECK-IN
Fr. Tom announced the Endowment Committee is working to develop a Planned Giving campaign event in January 2024 to kick-off the program at St. Paul’s. The Committee is attempting to get a commitment from the Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF) to provide an in-person presentation on the concepts and components of a Planned Giving program. The ECF would also encourage parishioners to participate in the program and assist them with making gift decisions. The Committee is currently developing the full agenda for the event and a plan for publicizing it in advance.
New Ministry Groups
Lee Barron indicated there is a need for women to gather – not necessarily in a parochial manner – in a social and informal group to focus on common interests, fun, and possible outreach projects, i.e., making cards or other crafts to sell at the Gift Shop. She noted there are plenty of women within our congregation who may be alone and would like to get together in a relaxed, social atmosphere. Both Carol O’Connell and Lee are working on timing and logistics for the fall.
The committee of Nora B., Tom C, and Lee B. will be reviewing St. Paul’s bills of this past year, possible overpayments, and areas in which costs can be cut to save money each month.
Monthly Fellowship Dinners
Fr. Tom committed to chairing monthly potluck fellowship dinners in Trinity Hall. He asked Charlene Connolly to help with arrangements for this effort. Lee Barron and Rich Shea noted that announcements should be made ahead (of any event) that if anyone needs a ride to note that on the sign-up sheet where a box can be checked off; some folks do not attend because they may be afraid to drive in the dark or have other disabilities that don’t allow them to drive.
Lee indicated she and Nora were to meet the following day to discuss ideas and avenues for more research, but time has been a constraint. Each has some ideas that need to be discussed as far as feasibility and volunteers that would be needed (of which we are always in need), however, as a starter, try to get as many folks as possible to place a positive review on our website, the Next Door app, and Facebook. The duo continues to look at websites that offer ideas that perhaps we can adopt with minimal financial needs. Lee added this mission goes together with the “Invite Committee” (Judy Allen, Carol O’Connell, and Lee) in encouraging visitors to become permanent members of our church. The committee has met and came up with ideas on how to greet visitors, encourage and escort them to Coffee Hour, and invite them to sit at a specific table with others who will be seated there ready to socialize with them. The visitors will be given a folder containing info and photos of church activities, and a few small gifts. The next week a note of thanks and encouragement to return will be sent. The following week, one more note will be sent to remind them we either enjoyed seeing them a second time, or if they did not return, to tell them we missed seeing them and hope they visit us again soon, with a church card included. The committee plans to advise the congregation (during announcements) of our new strategy to remind everyone to go out of their way to greet newcomers – the ones who will be wearing handwritten name tags.
Peter Lund had a meeting with Carol Bechtol, (who spoke to our Vestry in the past). She has 30 years of experience with daycare school held in church facilities. According to Carol, daycare is needed in our part of town. Peter consulted with Don Anderson and Alan Cragg – former parishioners – to discuss this opportunity during past Vestry initiatives. Peter and Carol then did a walk-through to look at Serson Hall and the kitchen as being able to meet the needs of 3- and 4-year-old children. Licensed daycares need to pass local fire codes. Carol determined a renovation of one long side of Serson Hall would provide the necessary space; the kitchen would need a larger refrigerator for children’s lunch prep; the bathrooms were fine; Trinity Hall could be used on rainy days for activities and a playground in back (the north side of Serson Hall) would need to be constructed. Her suggestion included removing the wall on the library side of the next room (the conference table could be moved into the Choir Room) all the way back to The Unique Boutique. Estimated costs are $100,000 to $200,000 and there is a $500 cost to do a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threats) market study and $400 for a Business Plan. A company of daycare trained teachers would be our tenants; we would be the landlord while still running church offices simultaneously.
Questions were brought up as to whether we could get a grant for the renovation expenses; is there a market for another daycare, especially in this area; does the Diocese have a protocol for daycare in churches? Fr. Tom noted Peter should inquire at the Diocese with Mike Booher, CFO, to discover resources and information as to what other possible churches within our Diocese have done. A proposal was put on the table to appropriate $400 only for the SWOT market study after we have engaged the Diocese: Lee Barron offered the first motion; Judy Martin seconded it – the motion was voted and so passed.
East Naples Middle School
Fr. Tom did not have any news to report as to how we could begin reaching out to school children after school. Judy Martin advised students had volunteered to pack food boxes at Gulf Coast High School.
Peter Lund distributed a list of charities that had been designated as missions our church already has in place (see attached) and new ones that will receive one-half of the funds from the leaders of the three St. Paul’s stores: The Gift Shop, The Book Store, and The Unique Boutique. The other half will be returned to St. Paul’s Operating Fund use considering current financial needs. Lee Barron noted that because the full Bookstore $8000 that had been earned this past season (ending the second week of April) that is to be directed to charity this year specified by past Vestry vote, the first $4000 is to be designated to Outreach, (but the other $4000 is to be put into Operating). To “return” the other $4000 promised for charity, next season’s 2023/2024 Farmers’ Market’s first $4000 generated must be designated to charities. The destination of the of the revenue balance for the 2023/2024 season is will be determined then.
Lee also proposed (and discussion ensued) that from this past season on, all revenue from the Gift Shop (currently run by Marilyn Perry and Carol O’Connell) is be directed to Outreach (in combination with the point-of-contacts of the other two stores) in charity decisions and other designations from the three stores as one team*. Lee made the motion, Mary Lou Dogoloff seconded, and the motion was passed unanimously. (*SIDENOTE FOR MINUTES HISTORY: Judy Martin is included - along with Peter Lund – in this Outreach team as Vestry member representatives.)
Build Financial Infrastructure
Fr. Tom and Steve Carnell had nothing to report at this time.
Holy Name of Jesus (HNJ)
Fr. Tom reported meetings with Fr. Panel Guerrier have been going well and an appointment has been scheduled for June 1 with Fr. Panel and Bishop Scharf to discuss the future of the relationship between St. Paul’s and the HNJ ministry. The Bishop has oversight of the HNJ congregation which has been the case under the last three Bishops. Also noted was that while Fr. Panel Guerrier was designated as the Priest-in-Charge of St. Anselm’s Episcopal Church in Lehigh Acres, Ft. Myers last April, HNJ will continue to worship at St. Paul’s on Sunday evenings due to style differences between St. Anselm’s congregation and HNJ. It was added that we have had issues with Sacristy and Vesting Room items being removed from both the Sacristy which we share with HNJ and the Armenian Church, however, the Armenian Church does not share our altar linens. Items had been taken from the Vesting Room but returned by HNJ on request. Despite further past issues with HNJ leaving both the church and Trinity Hall in disarray after their celebrations, most recently they have been leaving both areas in an orderly fashion.
Retirement Savings for Sexton
After Fr. Tom discussed with Gary Dickerson the need to offer pension/retirement funds to him, Gary elected to receive the pension through the Church Pension Group (CPG). Father noted Gary would be paid retroactively from January 2023.
ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT VACANCY
Deb Avery has announced her last day will be May 20, 2023. Eight days of paid vacation were taken by her at her request and approval by Fr. Tom between her resignation letter and the last day.
The following items were discussed as they will pertain to the new Church Administrative Assistant to which all Vestry members agreed unanimously: Work hours all year long are to be 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM Monday through Friday. All recognized holidays in which the office will be closed, the employee will have designated Diocesan church holidays off and will be paid for those days. Pay is to be in the range of $20-$24/hour depending on experience. There will be a 90-day probation period at which time, future employment with St. Paul’s as Administrative Assistant will be discussed and determined. After one (1) year of St. Paul’s employment, the employee is entitled to 2 weeks of vacation (to be pre-approved by Fr. Tom). The employee will be entitled to five (5) sick days per year only.
Vacant Treasurer’s Position
Sue Cilluffo, a licensed CPA, formally resigned as our Treasurer at the April 19, 2023, Vestry meeting. She was elected as Treasurer at the January Annual Meeting and worked to bring together the Chart of Accounts, finish inputting data, closing months of accounting to prepare a transfer from ‘Church Windows’ to “Realm” accounting software to which she learned. She reviewed our books pursuant to the annual audit requirement of the Diocese. Fr. Tom now has temporary administrative rights and is searching for a new Treasurer who will work with the Diocese to generate monthly financial statements, prepare our annual budget, and track other budget and financial data.
Lee Barron raised her deep concern of the overpayments to Deb Avery of over $12,000.00 ($4,983.69 for direct payment for health insurance of which tax was not paid; $7,528.42 for an extra $4% for her pension plan to which she was not entitled as she did not first choose to contribute to the pension from her own funds) from 2017 through 2022. This was discovered and disclosed to Vestry and Fr. Tom by Sue Cilluffo in April. Lee emphasized the loss of such a large amount of money at a time when it is well needed by the church to pay our bills, especially with a large, budgeted deficit anticipated at the end of 2023; the money did not belong to her and should have gone to – and is due to - Gary Dickerson who did not receive the same benefits as Deb.
Debate ensued from most Vestry members that it was St. Paul’s mistake and therefore no action should be taken to retrieve any of the money. Lee adamantly disagreed, stating Deb should at least be asked to return the money as part of our due diligence of being Vestry members – to do something. Again, the majority did not agree, declaring it was our mistake. Fr. Tom then advised he would not be a part of a one-on-one conversation with Deb to which Tom Connolly questioned why and reminded Fr. Tom is the leader of our church and has a responsibility to deal with such issues. More debate ensued and no action or decision was made at this time.
* * *
The meeting ended with a prayer by Father Tom and a motion was made by Lee Barron, seconded by Judy Martin, and passed unanimously, to close the meeting at 8:30 PM.
Lee Barron/Acting Recording Secretary
Clerk of the Vestry