January 3, 2016 Stewards Minutes
All Stewards were present
Marjory Bankson (notes), Peter Bankson, Kevin Barwick, Ken Burton, Cynthia Dahlin, Michele Frome, Judy Lantz, David Lloyd, Sandra Miller, Trish Nemore (angel), Brenda Seat, Keith Seat (worship), Vincent Shepherd, Margreta Silverstone (angel), Deborah Sokolove (moderator), Jacqie Wallen.
Guest: Joan Dodge
Worship: As a spiritual exercise, Keith handed out a prompt titled “Tell me about Seekers OR Why bother with church in this day and age?” Responses are attached. Worship ended by reading the Stewards’ commitment statement together.
Housekeeping: Stewards will next meet on Sunday, Feb 14, at 5:00pm at Seekers.
Moderator: Peter Worship: Sandra
Notetaker: ….. Angels: Dave & Sandra
Cynthia, Judy, Deborah, Marjory, Keith and Brenda Seat will be absent.
Approved to sign checks. Stewards voted unanimously to give Marjory Bankson authority to sign checks for Seekers, in order to pay musicians at Carroll Café in the absence of Deborah Sokolove and Debbie Barwick. Regular review of all checks by Debbie Barwick (treasurer) and Keith Seat (president) will insure full accountability.
Update from SLT call group: Marjory
Joan Dodge and David Lloyd have submitted responses to the SLT call. The discernment group will be meeting this Wednesday, Jan 6, to consider questions we might have for them. We will then meet with each one (Jan 13 and 27), followed by a team meeting (Feb 3) and a congregational meeting (March 6) before making a formal recommendation to Stewards on March 6.
Report on PAVA and Guatemala Pilgrimage: Peter and Marjory
Using Peter’s map of Guatemala, on which each of the 15 pilgrimages was identified, Marjory described the cycle of their call which has now been completed. Working with PAVA (Programa de Ayuda a los Vecinos del Altiplano), begun in 1985 to help starving villagers during the war, the primary mission has been to build primary schools in different Mayan villages of Chimaltenango.
- Begun in 2002 under the auspices of Faith At Work (FAW), the first pilgrimage involved one other Seeker (Margreta) and resulted in a modest ($1,000) gift from the International Giving budget;
- In 2010, FAW became Lumunos and the pilgrimage no longer fit their mission; by then, a number of Seekers had participated, our financial support had grown, our call remained strong and Seekers became the sponsor in 2011.
- In 2011, Aeren Martinez, a former Steward at Seekers, became the support staff person and Domestic Giving allocated $5,000 for pilgrimage scholarships. A number of young adults (2-3/trip) have benefitted from the scholarship funds.
- In 2013, Seekers made a 3-year commitment of $10,000/year to PAVA for a new venture: community libraries in three “model” villages. In addition, pilgrims contributed 25% of their $1100 fee to the project – about $5,000/year.
- Now two of the three libraries have been completed, the mission of PAVA is shifting a bit and the Banksons are over 75. It is time to set this down. We intend to keep our connection with PAVA and will be requesting $5,000 from International Giving for the PAVA scholarship fund so some of the outstanding students can have a high school education.
- Over the years, 28 current Seekers and 15 alumni Seekers have participated.
- For further information, visit the website at www.pavaguate.org.
State of Seekers: Trish and Brenda
When I give something I do not possess, I give a false and dangerous gift, a gift that looks like love but is, in reality, loveless— a gift given more from my need to prove myself than from the other’s need to be cared for. That kind of giving is not only loveless but faithless, based on the arrogant and mistaken notion that God has no way of channeling love to the other except through me. Yes, we are created in and for community, to be there, in love, for one another. But community cuts both ways: when we reach the limits of our own capacity to love, community means trusting that someone else will be available to the person in need.
-Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak
Beginning with this quote, Brenda sketched the ongoing, short-term and challenging pastoral concerns of the SLT. She touched on the limits of what Seekers can and should offer in light of Palmer’s caution and trust that others will be able to help when our resources are exhausted.
Trish named the major topics for Stewards in 2015:
- C of S connections – 10% of our budget goes to C of S missions; individual participation in Sacred Conversations, Discipleship Year, Ecumenical Council and Christ House AND group participation in the Faithonomics Conference, Centering Prayer series and Dayspring easement request.
- Giving – that, tired of the tithing discussion, our participation in the Faithonomics Conference moved us toward considering what to do with the rest of our wealth.
- Outreach – with changes in the Takoma Park neighborhood, a new group, led by Kevin and Keith, is forming to consider new ways to reach out to our neighbors.
- Peter’s stepping away from the SLT – after a year (and missing his voice), we can affirm the possibility of staying in the community after serving on the SLT.
Brenda identified the major topics for the SLT in 2015:
- Pastoral matters (discussed above).
- Othendweni – concern that there is no local organization (like PAVA) or stateside board (like Bokamoso) to create structures for accountability. Now that our 3-year commitment of funds has ended, the SLT questions further support from International Giving.
- Issues on Social Media – now that a couple of former members have used social media to threaten Seekers, the SLT recommends training in how to be more aware as we explore new avenues for outreach.
- Sunday School – the most frequent topic of concern for the SLT. As long time members of the Children’s Team (both of whom will be gone by the end of January), Brenda and Trish are aware that vision and energized leadership has been lacking for many years. We are grateful to those continuing on the team — Judy, Dave, Sallie, Larry, and Jacqie – for their caring and deep commitment to our children. We yearn for new vision for enlivening our children’s spiritual lives and participation in the community.
Trish ended by looking forward to 2016:
- Outreach will be an ongoing effort.
- We need to evoke new leadership from within Seekers.
- Some people (e.g. Banksons) will be making major moves.
- We will continue working with money and time in our lives.
- We expect to be incorporating new leadership on the SLT.
After dinner, we continued in small groups around the following questions:
- What were your mission group’s highlights and challenges of the past year?
- What light has Seekers brought into the world in 2015?
- What have been Seekers greatest challenges/failings in 2015?
- What do you wish for Seekers in 2016?
Due to time constraints, we focused on the last question in summary (Seekers in 2016):
- What to convey to others? How can we find our voice “out there”?
- How can we expand the circle? Draw new people in? Loosen our hold on tradition and make room for new/more?
- How can we discover and trust the gifts that are already here?
- Could we pay a seminary student 3 hrs/week for Sunday School curriculum help?
- Christmas offering was $3,535 to be divided three ways.
Two Stewards to share: Cynthia and David, followed by Soul Talk.
Marjory Zoet Bankson
Jan 11, 2016