Parish Leadership


St. Paul’s Church in Brookline

Minutes of the Vestry Meeting

October 18, 2011

Present: The Rev. Jeffrey W. Mello, Rector; Georgia Smith, Senior Warden; Roger House, Junior Warden; Beverly Estes-Smargiassi, Treasurer; Jeff Brown, Lizbeth DeSelm, Edward Jacobson, Jim Margolis, Jean Moses, Fred Muehter, Linda Sanches, and Ginny Willcox

Not Present: Benjamin Norton, Clerk (Jean Moses performed the duties of clerk), Madeleine Taylor

The meeting began at 7:30

Roger read an opening prayer.


The teaching for the night was to talk about the Vestry – who we are and what we need in new members. In January, the parish will elect:

  • A new clerk
  • 3 3-year term members (replacing Lizbeth, Ginny & Madeleine)
  • 1, 1-year term member (replacing Jim Margolis)

The outgoing Vestry members and Jeff form the nominating committee. (see below)

Generally, we will be seeking people who are excited to ‘envision’ growth at St Paul’s and what might be needed for that growth. We are looking for people who will participate and represent the diversity of the parish, with particular focus on the changes that have come about in the last two or three years. We also need a variety of skills. The skills that the most people consider of importance relate to education, finance and facilities management. Other skills and interests, like fellowship, mission, stewardship and pastoral care are also important. All Vestry members are encouraged to talk to parishioners about the Vestry, the nomination process and people’s skills and interests.

The possibility of hiring someone to work part time on an education program for St. Paul’s has been mentioned. If such a person is hired, they may be expected to attend Vestry meetings, at least on occasion.

Jeff suggested that, for our “homework”, we think about how we would describe being on the Vestry. (time commitment, tasks, atmosphere at meetings, etc.)


Last month’s minutes were approved without change.

Rector’s Report

Jeff asked that vestry members who stay in town be alert to the needs of the parish next week because most of us will be on retreat. Dick Downes has agreed to be in charge of the service.

Liz Deselm and Maryann Kurkjian will be the St. Pauls reps to the diocesan convention on November 4th & 5th.   The focus will be on Bud Cederholm’s retirement and on the Comprehensive Campaign to raise $24 million for renovating the Cathedral and for diocesan programs.

Last week’s Newcomers brunch went very well and was well attended. Newcomer Committee co-chairs Kate Kelley and Maryann Kurkjian are doing a great job, including putting together a Greeters program.

Stewardship plans are under way with a theme of Growing in Joy, Responding in Gratitude.

Jeff’s suggestion of a Thanksgiving Eve service (Wednesday @ 7:00) was met with a generally positive response.

St Pauls received a $4,000 grant from the diocese for signs.

Wardens’ Report

Roger said that a walk-through of the facilities is planned in order to develop a maintenance punch-list by the end of October.

Georgia said that 14 of our young people attended a youth group gathering at All Saints Church. St Pauls will host a similar youth gathering on November 18th. Volunteers are needed to help with food at 5:30. Ginny & Ed said they’d help with food.

The Movable Feast will be held in the winter instead of November, which is very busy.

The first Mission Sunday was successful with lots of bulbs planted around St. Pauls. Another Mission Sunday is planned for November 13. The all parish activity will be the creation of “care packages” for college and military people related to the parish. Sam is getting a list of items that are appropriate to include for soldiers. Georgia asked Vestry members to consider taking responsibility for a Mission Sunday in the future.

The nursery school is packed.   Parents are encouraged to walk their children to class and make sure they’re signed in appropriately. Parents are stepping up to help with Sunday school and someone is setting up a spreadsheet to coordinate that help.   The growth is great, but a challenge. E.g. snacks for 50.

Nominating Committee

Ginny and Liz agreed to chair the Nominating Committee. Madeleine and Jim will be members.   The process starts with the members of the Committee making a list of possible candidates and then paring it down to top choices, who will be approached to determine their interest.   The final slate is usually one candidate for each position.

Solar Panel Working Group

Genae Johnson, Steve Kelly and Fred Muehter joined the meeting as members of this working group (started in May), along with Jeff Brown, Roger House and Jim Margolis. (Members of the working group not present at the Vestry meeting areJim Batchelor, Tom Daniel, Jack Elder and John Mahoney.) St Paul’s is interested in solar panels for their environmental impact and cost savings. It will also mean that we will continue to be a leader and model for clean energy in Brookline.

Based on a thorough technical and financial assessment, the group recommends RePower as the supplier. With the approval of the diocese, we will put 9 rows of panels on the flat roof. In the future we may add panels to the parish house and the sanctuary. Consideration was given to removing the old panels and putting the new ones in the same place, but that idea was rejected for its uncertainty and cost. After paying for our energy costs upfront, at a cost of $12 – 18,000, RePower will own and maintain the panels (qualifying for a tax credit) and lease them back to the church for 10 years at a cost roughly equivalent to what we pay currently for the electricity that the panels generate. At the end of the lease, St Paul’s will own the solar panels and will begin to reap 100% of the benefits of having about one third of our power come from that source. The panels are expected to last for about 25 years. Payback on our investment is estimated to be achieved in 6 or 7 years because of the difference in the lease cost and the forecasted cost of the electricity generated.

The Vestry members asked questions about the plan: the competitors’ bids, the financial analysis, snow removal, the diocesan involvement, references gotten for the competitors companies, etc.   We clarified that the initial financial commitment is prepaying for our electricity, not a capital outlay. After much discussion, it was moved that the Vestry authorize the working group to negotiate a contract with RePower for a total cost of up to $18,000 and that they present their proposal to the diocese. That authorization was approved unanimously.

Jeff then requested that Vestry members send him suggestions for next month’s “Teaching/Learning” segment of the Vestry meeting.

With a closing prayer, the meeting was adjourned at about 9:40.


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