Rectory & Rhinelander Bldg

Vestry Retreat

February 19, 2011


Rector The Rev. Michael Phillips, Lilly Fellow The Rev. R.C. Laird, Virginia Borland, Clerk James Daubs, Lucy Dewart, Warden Jean Geater, Carol Haley, Rob Ingraham, David Jacobs, Suzanne Julig, Warden Steve Knight, Marlin Mattson, Andrew Ogletree, Alden Prouty, Susan Valdes-Dapena


Hal Barth

Welcome and Introductions

Rector Michael Phillips called the meeting to order in the Choir Room. The Vestry as a whole thanked Jean Geater for hosting the previous evening’s dinner at her apartment.  Michael led the group in “Daily Devotions:  In the Morning” from the BCP

After reviewing the day’s agenda (see attachment), members of the group related their previous experiences in serving on a vestry.

The Role of Vestry and Wardens

Michael explained the function of the Vestry and the Wardens within the parish structure:  wardens, among other duties, represent ecclesiastical authority in the parish in the absence of a rector. Vestry members look after the business affairs of the parish, while the rector oversees parish spiritual concerns; the vestry maintains church buildings, while the rector decides what occurs in the buildings; the vestry provides funding for initiatives advanced by the rector.  In a modern parish, of course, these roles overlap.

The vestry can be compared to the officers of a corporation.  The Clerk of the Vestry serves as the parish’s legal signatory on certain legal documents.

Financial Map of the Church of the Holy Trinity

Michael handed out a rough “financial map” of CHT and affiliated organizations (i.e., Music at Holy Trinity, Holy Trinity Neighborhood Center, and Triangle Theatre); the map outlined the various income sources and expenses related to the operating budget. Jean Geater explained the Endowment Fund and the Diocesan Investment Trust.

Michael explained that in his opinion, pledges should support programs and staff salaries, while the Endowment should support the maintenance of the buildings.

Yorkville Arts Academy

The group discussed the financial situation of CHT’s after-school program, The Yorkville Arts Academy.  Michael praised the program, especially in terms of its graduates:  one, for example, has been admitted to LaGuardia High School, another to the Bronx High School of Science, and so forth. While the program is undoubtedly an admirable one, its financial situation needs to be clarified:  the group decided that Mary Ausman will be asked to present a detailed proposal for continuance of the program, including detailed financials as well as a determination of how many students the program needs to enroll in order to break even.  Mary will be asked to present this information at the March vestry meeting so that accurate predictions can be made in advance of the 2011-2012 school year.  The vestry will discuss the Academy at the April vestry meeting.  The vestry approved this plan with a unanimous vote. 

Rhinelander Volunteer Program

R.C. Laird discussed his proposal for a CHT-based volunteer corps of recent college graduates, tentatively named the Rhinelander Volunteer Program in tribute to Serena Rhinelander, CHT’s patron.  R.C. has prepared and submitted the grant proposal, and is waiting to hear from Trinity Wall Street about whether or not the proposal has been approved. If it comes to fruition, the program will harbor six young adults in Rhinelander House apartments.  These participants will work for various Yorkville-area organizations that have expressed interest in the program, including the HTNC, the Yorkville Common Pantry, and Search and Care.  CHT clergy will provide spiritual direction and vocational discernment to the participants.  A board of directors for the program has yet to be appointed.  It is hoped that the program can begin as early as November 2011. 

Sunday School and Youth Programming

Michael outlined CHT’s three-pronged program for pre-schoolers:  the “Quiet Space” in the North Transept during Eucharist; the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd; and the Holy Trinity Play Group on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings.  It is hoped that parents and children who enter at one of the three points will get involved in the other two. 

Less settled are the Sunday School offerings for older children. The departure of parishioners who gave a great deal of time and expertise to Sunday School has been detrimental to the program.  Last June, a focus group was convened to address the Sunday School situation; an online curriculum was adopted; people were contacted and discussions were held, but the initiative met with little success.  It has proven difficult to recruit volunteer Sunday School teachers.  Michael indicated to the group that he was open to ideas for revitalizing the Sunday School.

A proposal was made for finding a paid, professional Sunday School coordinator, and the group found the idea worthy of further discussion. Of course, money to pay such a person needs to be found. If it is decided to recruit and hire such a person, September would be the target date.

Break—The vestry broke for lunch, then gathered for Noonday Prayers in the Memorial Chapel. Michael led a tour of St. Christopher’s House, including the 3rd-floor gymnasium, where much Thrift Store debris has gathered. The group reconvened in Draesel Hall. 

Vestry Committee Assignments

The following assignments were made for 2011:

Property:  Robin Ingraham and Carol Haley

Newcomers: Steve Knight (along with Jim Synk)

Neighborhood Ministries (HTNC): Andrew Ogletree, David Jacobs, Lucy Dewart (along with Liz Poole?)

Adult Christian Education:  James Daubs and Marlin Mattson (along with Inez Lambert and clergy)

Communications:  David Jacobs and Rob Ingraham

Carpenter’s Kids:  Susan Valdes-Dapena

Children/Youth:  Lucy Dewart [more leadership needed here]

Hospitality:  Hal Barth and Alden Prouty

Fundraisers:  Virginia Borland and Alden Prouty

Utilities Sharing: Suzanne Julig

Pledging:  Steve Knight, Jean Geater, Susan Valdes-Dapena (along with Jim Synk)

Community Building

Steve Knight led a discussion of what he sees as an area of concern:  community-building in the parish.  He gave as an example of recent problem with finding volunteers for various programs.  He asked the group, “What do you expect when you walk into the church for a service?”  Michael introduced the “Six-Seven Rule”:  that unless after six months newcomers are acquainted with at least seven people by name, the newcomers are likely to leave the parish. 

Michael said that in his opinion there are three different levels of group involvement at CHT:  small group (ACE, kitchen, Peace and Restorative Justice), mid-range group (fundraisers), and all-parish (Pledge Supper, Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper). Steve proposed the following for vestry members: that each member choose from the Annual Report three activities he or she has not previously participated in, make an effort to participate in one or more of these some time during this calendar year, and report back on his or her participation to the vestry. 

Music Transition Process

R.C. Laird is heading the Music Transition Committee—which includes vestry members Andrew Ogletree and Carol Haley—and reports that the committee has convened and has undertaken the initial stages of its work.  This committee will evaluate the music program at CHT, survey parishioners about their expectations of and experiences with the music program, and make recommendations based on their findings.  The committee has enlisted the help of a survey professional; after data have been collected, a report will be generated sometime during the Easter season. 

Michael emphasized that he is not serving on the committee.  He will, however, bring the report to the vestry.  He stressed that it was important first to determine what the parish wants in a music program before deciding who we want to head it. Michael said that even after Stephen Hamilton’s June departure, a summer music event with Eucharist will be held, probably on July 13 or July 20.

Stephen Hamilton Farewell Plans

The group discussed plans for festivities honoring Stephen Hamilton’s twenty years of service to the parish. The following were agreed upon:


June 11           MHT concert with SJH at the keyboard and festive reception following

June 12           Pentecost Sunday: the choir’s last performance with SJH, followed by special coffee hour

June 19           Trinity Sunday: last Trinity Choristers’ performance before summer recess

June 26           SJH’s last Sunday at CHT


The reception following the June 11 concert will be vestry-sponsored.  The wardens will write to parishioners inviting them to the concert and reception; Betsy Forster will write a separate, similar letter to members of MHT. $30 will be charged for the concert and reception.

Book Report

R.C. spoke briefly about Gerald Keucher’s Remember the Future and recommended the book to the vestry.

2011 Calendar

April 30: MayFair

10:30 service will be held in air-conditioned Draesel Hall in July; a decision will be made later about August.  The 8:00 service may remain in the church.

September 11 falls on a Sunday this year:  a liturgy group will be formed about how best to commemorate 9/11/01.

September 18:  Homecoming Sunday BBQ

October 2:  The Blessing of the Animals

October 8-9:  Parish Retreat

October 14:  Wine-Tasting Fundraiser?

October 16:  Beginning of Pledge Campaign

October 29:  Ghosties and Ghoulies Party

November 6:  All Saints/Marathon Sunday Event?

December 18:  Lessons and Carols

December 25 (Sunday): Service at 10:30 without choir.  6 p.m. attendees will be asked about their preferences about an evening service.

2011 Vestry Meetings

March 21

*April  11

*May 9 (with report from Music Transition Committee)

June 20

July 18

September 19

October 17

November 21

*December 12

* = NOT the third Monday of the month



Michael closed the meeting with a prayer. Next regular vestry meeting:  March 21.


Respectfully submitted,

James Daubs, Clerk