REPORT FROM THE HH PRESERVATION COMMITTEEOn Friday February 8, the first committee meeting searching into the preservation of the Heigham House (HH) was held. Those present were: Mary Ellen Bell, Karen Watts, Angela Breeher, Debbie Myles, and Madeline Nader. we did a lot of brainstorming and decided the first thing to do was to have the house evaluated. Several ideas for the house were presented. These ideas are being researched by members of the committee and will be discussed at our next meeting. The committee also discussed the parking problem again. Several suggestions will be looked into.
-- Respectfully submitted Mary Ellen Bell
LETTER FROM CARONDELET HISTORICAL SOCIETYThank you for writing to us about your property at 6522 Michigan Ave. We understand the cost to keeping and maintaining a building built in 1894. However, the Carondelet Historical Society feels strongly that buildings and homes over 100 years old and especially those with owners who have been prominent residents of Carondelet ( Doering / Poepping ) should be protected. As you know once a property has been torn down it can never be replaced.
We hope you will consider this as you make your decision.
President Carondelet Historical Society
LETTER FROM CARONDELET COMMUNITY BETTERMENT FEDERATIONI’m sorry to say I am not in favor of demolishing the house and I don’t think you would have much luck getting a permit to do so. There are historic restrictions since it sits within the Carondelet National Historic District.
Have you considered listing it for sale?
Fred Hessel Jr.
Carondelet Betterment Foundation
FROM THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACESUnder Federal Law, the listing of a property in the National Register places no restrictions on what a non-federal owner may do with their property up to and including destruction, unless the property is involved in a project that receives Federal assistance, usually funding or licensing/permitting.
A Peekaboo God
Sometimes it feels like the spiritual high of Christmas is followed by a black hole called January and February. The lights, carols, and baby Jesus get put away until next year, and it’s just bleh.
There are seasons in every life when God seems absent. What do we do in those times? How do we reclaim hope and joy? In the next few weeks, I’ll be exploring some strategies. Here is one: cultivate laughter.
Laughter may just be our first form of prayer. Babies laugh months before they speak. Their laughter is fundamentally a connection to their high power – their parent! Studies have shown that the biggest gut buster for babies is Peekaboo. Learn More
Peekaboo is fundamentally about relationships.
I’m here for you. No, I’m not. Yes, I am!
Hoo hoo ha ha ha! Hillarious!
Maybe God plays Peekaboo with us. Are we, God’s children, looking for the surprise return of God’s sweet presence? Are we confidently waiting and ready?
Laughter is relational. Ever feel the burn of someone else not laughing with you? I remember being in a theater, watching a movie that Scott and I found hilarious. We hooted with laughter until we noticed that no one else was offering even a chuckle. Awkward!
Laugher requires vulnerability. Nobody looks respectable when their mouth is agape, their head is thrown back, and they're making weird sounds. Cool! We need not take ourselves seriously.
Friend, if you feel the bleh, trust that God is still present and will suddenly show up to surprise you with joy. As you wait, cultivate laughter. God is your loving creator and parent, this game of spiritual peekaboo will end well!
-- Pastor Rebecca
The house was constructed in 1892. According to the City, the parcel is zoned F commercial.
Thanks to the research of Stacey Smith, we now know when our current parking lot was installed.
In a 1987 Parish Profile created for a Rector search, the members identified parking as a significant issue in sustaining our growing membership. The report named the reluctance of members to move forward on addressing that need as a growth area. Aerial photos show the current lot was installed 2004 - 2005, seventeen years later.
Thanks be to God, we have two groups gathering facts, and considering every possibility so we can discern whether to renovate and rent or remove and replace in a timely manner.
Liability of a Vacant House
On Sunday, January 29, some members drove into our parking lot and saw a disturbing sight: A cluster of people were sleeping underneath an emergency blanket. On the step below them was what appeared to be a semi-automatic rifle. When Pastor Rebecca was alerted, she went out and woke them up. They were all familiar guests at our meals. The gun was a toy. The adjacent picture shows items they left behind. Several bags were abandoned under the porch. Pastor Rebecca worked with Barry to remove it all and clean the property of both trash and human waste.
Volunteer to move our discernment forward
Vestry member, Maryellen Bell has volunteered to lead the discernment work on Renovating/Renting the building. If you would like to join her, please get in touch with her or email the church. email@example.com.
Vestry member, Kathy Watts has volunteered to lead the discernment around Removing/Replacing the building with parking. If you would like to assist her, please get in touch with her or email the church.
At our Vestry retreat, Feb. 18, 2023, we will create a timeline for the decision. Please continue to pray for the Holy Spirit’s leading! Let's love one another well through this process. To love one another is our highest call and most significant decision.
As we continue praying about the future, it might help to chart all the Pros and Cons of keeping or removing the Heigham House. Here is a chart for keeping the house: Pros (left column) and Cons (right column).
Below is a chart considering the costs and benefits of removing the house and installing parking. Pros (left column) and Cons (right column).
After the Parish-wide meeting held Sunday, January 15, the teams that presented were given a set of steps for further discernment. These steps were based on the ideas and input presented at the meeting.
For those who favor razing the house and putting in parking, these are the next steps:
NB: Permission from the city will have to wait until after the decision is made and a bid is accepted. This is according to our Alderperson, Jimmy Lappe.
For those who favor renovating and renting out the house, these are the next steps:
If you are interested in joining a task force to take action on these steps, please email the office to let us know. We will make sure you receive support and get connected with others.
God is working among us. Let’s continue to discern and pray.
About our finances
For many years (I’m not exactly sure how long), St. Paul’s has had an annual budget deficit. We’ve survived because saints of old provided a bequest that enabled us to pull from our “savings” and replenish our “checking.”. We withdraw funds from the Diocesan Investment Trust (DIT) each year to pay our general expenses. In addition, we have been receiving $20 – 30 K annually from the Diocese to supplement my salary.
When I began at St. Paul’s in 2018, we had a deficit of $66k that year. That was $66K withdrawn from the principal of our DIT. In the four years I have been Rector, we have managed to reduce the deficit year over year. For 2022, we hope to have reduced the deficit to c $50K. We’ve done this through increased pledge income and decreased spending. For 2023, our pledge income went down just a tad, and we’ve about hit the bottom of our capacity to reduce costs. We can’t cut more from our programming and facilities costs, and inflation is increasing.
Here is the bottom line: the parish cannot be sustained if we continue to live with deficit spending. At the current rate of deficit spending (c $50K yr), we will be forced to close our doors in about five years. That’s hard news. Hopefully, it’s not new information. But we’ve only really talked about our culture of deficit spending at the Annual Meeting. That's needs to change.
I see it like this: The ship of St. Paul’s is in iceberg water. We’ve got an iceberg straight ahead. If we don’t address it, we’ll hit it. If we hit it, we will have to abandon the ship. So, what do we do now to prevent that future?
As an immediate step, I have volunteered to reduce my hours. Beginning in 2023, I will be working three-quarters time. This reduction in hours will save us $22K. In a future essay, I’ll let you know more about what that will mean. Be assured it will not affect our community life.
Removing 6522 Michigan/Heigham House would eliminate $7K in annual fees for repairs, and utilities. It may also generate income from increased parish hall rentals.
These steps will not eliminate our deficit, but they will help.
However, we need all hands on deck. This is not a fearful situation. It’s an opportunity! We can pull together and watch what God will do! We have an on-time God who will provide for our needs according to God’s riches in glory (Phil. 4:19). We’re not abandoned, and we’re not alone.
We have tons of resources as a community and in the Diocese. And the Holy Spirit guides us. Becoming financially stable is part of our growth process.
In the coming weeks, you will receive another survey. It will ask you for ideas, thoughts, and solutions you may have about our situation. In the meantime, talk to your vestry or clergy about your feelings, views, and opinions. Please complete the survey about discerning the plans for Heigham House. And keep giving to St. Paul’s.
Jesus calls us to share this voyage and do all we can to ensure that our ship makes it across the sea on the last day. I pray we will be like those who have gone before us, invested and committed to keeping St. Paul’s as an inheritance for future generations. That’s part of the adventure!
Recently, I, and many of your vestry leaders had a realization. The nine-space parking lot behind Heigham House is insufficient. We need more parking spaces. Enlarging our parking may be a key to sustained congregational growth and rental income. This realization was followed by a second: Heigham House will cost a lot to renovate. And we can’t help offset those costs with volunteer labor. We don’t have the people capable of doing it.
Since beginning as your Rector, I’ve been committed to Heigham House as a necessary part of our campus. We housed someone there for three years. Before that, the house was used by the previous Rector and other staff. There is still tremendous potential for repurposing Heigham House, but only after these expensive renovations (Costing between $100,000 and $125,000). That’s a massive investment for a building we don’t have a vision for.
A parking lot will meet the needs of our whole community:
In addition, a parking lot will reduce our costs, show the neighborhood how many people are attending here, and be hospitable to our visitors.
Thinking about demolishing Heigham House makes me sad. People need housing, and here is a grand old house. And it has a new roof and fresh exterior tuckpointing! I feel sick about the money we spent. At the time, we didn’t see a significant need for parking.
Now, we are faced with a decision. If we remove the building, we can provide around a dozen more parking spots - at least doubling our current capacity. We would also save at least $7000 annually in building repairs and utility costs. That savings will help us decrease our deficit spending.
Your Vestry is gathering information to make informed comparisons. But before we get into the nitty gritty of that decision, we want to hear from you. How do you feel about this decision? What reasons do you see to keep the house or remove it?
Please take a moment to complete this short survey and give us your opinion. Your input matters! SURVEY LINK
-- Pastor Rebecca
Simeon and the Chicago Cubs
I knew of a lady back in 2016. She was born in Chicago and moved to St. Louis when she was a young adult. Even a move here, among the greatest baseball fans in the country, did not dampen her loyalty to the Chicago Cubs. Every year, she like many long-suffering Cub fans kept their faith, “This is going to be the year!” many would say. Then comes 2016. Early in the year she is diagnosed with a somewhat rare form of cancer. As the weeks and months progressed her condition deteriorated with each passing week.
Her family told me that long about September when it looked like the Cubs might actually at least make the playoffs. She was well aware of her fate, but she still told her doctors, “You have to keep me alive until the Cubs are in the playoffs.” The doctors did their best to do that, but it was going to be a long shot.
Miraculously this long-suffering Cub fan lived to see not only the Cubs in th4 playoffs, but she got to see them on TV win the series over the Cleveland Indians. Forty-eight hours later, she died peacefully in her sleep. Her daughters tearfully told me this story when we sat down to make her funeral arrangements.
Simeon can be thought of as the Cubs fan of the Bible. He is described as a pious and righteous man of great faith. The Holy Spirit promised Simeon he would not see death until he laid eyes on the Messiah. We, too, are promised everlasting life if we lay our eyes on the Messiah and have faith in his goodness. Every time we come to worship, the Holy Spirit is present with us, just as it was with Simeon.
As was required by the law that required that all first-born sons were presented for consecration at the temple, and a burnt offering was to be offered. Mary and Joseph took Baby Jesus to the Temple; Simeon was there, as he was there most days for the previous years. Nobody had to tell Simeon or point out Mary and Joseph and the Baby to him. He knew he was in the presence of the Messiah and the Holy Spirit guided Simeon through the crowd to the Jesus family.
Simeon took the baby in his arms with great joy, and The Lord had kept his promise. Simeon sang the song we know as the Nunc Dimittis: Lord, now you let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled. My eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people; a light to reveal you in the nations and the glory of your people Israel.
Simeon’s promise was fulfilled in a Temple. May we continue to see, love, and serve the Lord in our Temple.
One of the foundational stories any culture tells explains how it was created. Think about our founding story as the United States. In ancient times, the political and religious divide didn’t exist. So founding stories were spiritual stories.
In Genesis, we find not one but two founding stories. Both place the creation of humanity within the context of a personal God. Both lift the goodness and beauty of creation and the role people are meant to play.
In the second story, two things are noteworthy: naming and knowing. God creates and calls the Earth-Creature “Adam.” Then the Earth-Creature (that is what Adam means in Hebrew) names everything else. God learns the names of things through the leadership of the Creature, Adam. Isn’t that AMAZING?
The Creator and Creature walk the earth together. But the Earth Creature is still lonely. That creature was originally neither male nor female. It was non-binary. God was the intended partner for Adam. But God knew that the Earth Creature was lonesome, so God gave the creature a partner.
Knowing and naming are profoundly important. In our most intimate relationships, we need to be able to do both. Knowing means going deep in shared knowledge and mutual support and affirmation. Naming means articulating and assigning meaning. Are we doing these things with our Creator and our earthly companions? I hope so.
Our founding story guides us. It reminds us that our language is designed for meaning-making and relationship-building. Let’s be sure to use it that way. As we share meaningful conversations, we deepen our knowledge of one another. Giving sound to the love within our hearts through Jesus Christ, the word made flesh.
The issues around terminating a pregnancy are complex and personal. It's an example of our polarization that two camps have formed instead of the several that would express the varieties of perspectives most of us have.
Our congregation has differences of opinion on this issue. I was dismayed to hear from one of our members that she felt diminished by the comments of others who held a different position on this issue. I encourage all of us to share our perspectives candidly and humbly. "Don't ask, don't tell" is a pathetic tool for healthy community. We can do better. We can speak our truth with love and respect. Being one in Christ is not having a hive mind. Thanks be to God! The Gospel hope is that God loves us all - regardless of our positions on social issue. And in relationship, we grow and change according to God's plan, not anyone's personal agenda.
I'm sharing my perspective on abortion through a concise message from a colleague, the Reverend Kurt Stancil. He and his wife pastor Wayman AME Church on Kingshighway. If I could express my personal position more clearly than him, I would. But I'll spare you and let his words speak on my behalf.
I'm not trying to sway or change anyone's mind but to offer my perspective and invite you to engage with yours. If you would like to comment, please do. Let's create a safe space for dialogue and learning from one another.
-- Pastor Rebecca
Most of the blog articles are written by our Rector, The Rev. Rebecca Ragland