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.
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 That was $66K withdrawn from the principal of our DIT.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
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
In mid October, while in Yonkers, New York, I toured a beautiful Episcopal Church called St. John's Yonkers. The congregation was founded in 1693. Their sanctuary seats 600. Unfortunately, their average Sunday attendance has dropped to around 50. Brace yourself; their property insurance is $80,000 a year!
While I was talking with their Rector, Bishop Deon called. He told me the 6300 Minnesota property has significant repair issues and substantial insurance premiums. He clarified that purchasing the property would be catastrophic for our community. It was God's perfect timing to receive that call in a church that anticipates closing in a few years due to a similar problem.
In this discernment process, two things have come to the fore that hadn't been visible before (at least to me).
1. Parking is a critical issue for us. We need more of it if we are to continue to be vital.
2. We could plant churches in South County as we continue to grow.
These are essential and exciting considerations. I suspect you could name others.
So, now, we move into a new phase of discernment. The Bishop's realtor will look around Carondelet to see if other properties might better meet our needs.
It's a stretch to keep ourselves open to that, but God has a plan, and it's so good for us to surrender to new ideas, even when they don't lead to anything. Surrender is a spiritual practice of the highest order!
I join you in continuing to pray for our community. May we see our property with fresh eyes, open to new possibilities wherever God calls us.
-- Pastor Rebecca
Does it startle you to see the busts of three women sitting on top of the altar?
The three women were martyrs whose skulls were encased in wooden representations. The whole scene is displayed in a room at The Cloisters, a part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
When I saw this, I was captivated by the power, serenity, and presence the three busts added to the altar. They seemed right at home above the coat of arms, and the stories behind them depicting the life of a saint. For me, the three women dominated the space and left me with a question: Is this okay?
Is it okay for these busts of women to be on the altar? What’s allowed? For that matter, who is allowed? I could easily imagine disgruntled museum patrons complaining that “The only things that should be placed on an altar are the sacraments and all such utensils as support the celebration of the Eucharist.”
Were these busts profaning that? These women had literally given their lives for their faith. They had laid themselves on the altar. And now their bones rest on one.
For half of my life, I believed women shouldn't be ordained. It took a spiritual transformation, literally a vision, for me to begin to change. I learned that it was the inward leanings of my heart and personality that enabled me to fulfill this vocation. My gender is both an asset and a liability; like most of our particulars!
Jesus used a little child to teach us who was most important. He took a little child, stood him by his side and said, 'Whoever welcomes this child in my name, welcomes me. For whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.' Luke 9:46 – 48.
This phrase, the least will be greatest, subverts the privileging of gender, class, race, or merit and makes us all equal before God. We are all called to be servants of one another. Not greater or lesser. Mutual love, and honor mark us as Christ’s own.
I wonder how long it will take before Christians of all ddenominations move past the patriarchy and realize that the Christ-like qualities of any leader are what matters. In the meantime, I'm so glad to be able to fulfill my call as your Rector.
Is it joyful to see your female clergy at the altar? God has emphatically said yes. Yes to our life together. Yes to our ministry in this place. Thanks be to God, that we are all included. No exceptions. That's A-OK!
-- Pastor Rebecca
I am writing this for accountability and to ensure that everyone has all of the information on the hiring process and the connection between Metal, our Communications Specialist and Pastor Rebecca's family.
The hiring committee included Deacon Barbi, Derek O'Chui, Tom Schroeder and myself, we expanded the committee after the unsuccessful first hiring process.
We had three candidates apply for the position. During the review process of the candidates for the communications position, Pastor Rebecca made Tom and me aware of the potential for her son's partner (Metal) to apply for the position. I encouraged her to have Metal apply, as we would treat her as any other candidate for the job. To keep the process fair and not influence the other members only two of the four committee members knew about the connection.
During the review process Metal was one of two candidates moved forward for an interview and this was agreed upon unanimously by all members with Pastor Rebecca abstaining from voting. After interviewing both candidates we felt that both candidates were capable of doing the job but Metal brought a level of enthusiasm and engagement that we all felt would be an asset to our St. Paul's family. The committee agreed unanimously that she was the best person for the position. After the selection, Pastor Rebecca made the other two members aware of the connection between Metal and Wes.
Again, all the members still agreed that she was the best person for the position but we agreed to hire Metal for a probationary period to ensure she was the best fit and there would not be any relationship conflicts after working in the position.
The church's reaction to Metal's introduction video (that she took the initiative to complete) confirms that we made the right choice.
Sr. Warden St. Pauls Carondelet
So, when was the last time you drove past an intersection and saw a person holding a sign? Yesterday? Today? If you have a car and drive, you almost can’t leave your neighborhood without that experience.
Jesus was right when he said, “The poor are always with you.” Sometimes they are just more visible. As people who are called to walk in love, it’s sometimes challenging to know what to do. As a fellow pilgrim, not an expert, I offer you the advice of Scripture and experience in approaching these beloved children of God. Especially if you are walking past, it’s essential to have a plan.
As winter approaches, we’ll have many opportunities to serve those who are food and shelter insecure. The tiniest gestures that recognize someone’s need and humanity mean so much. Thank you for magnifying the magnificent love of God at the off-ramps and intersections. Together, love is shining through.
Most of the blog articles are written by our Rector, The Rev. Rebecca Ragland