Mission Council Minutes, March 23, 2024

THE 28th MEETING OF THE MISSION COUNCIL OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN CONNECTICUT (FORMERLY: THE 494th MEETING OF THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL OF THE EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF CONNECTICUT), AND THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE MISSIONARY SOCIETY OF THE DIOCESE OF CONNECTICUT, INC.

March 23, 2024

In Attendance: The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey Mello, The Rt. Rev. Laura Ahrens, Brad Babbitt, Chancellor, Gordon Ross, Treasurer, Tom Rouse, The Rev. Deacon Ron Steed, The Rev. Deacon Jessie Akerson, The Rev. Deacon Felix Rivera, Whitney Batson, The Rev. Justin Crisp, Canon Alison Hollo, , The Rev. Canon D Littlepage, The Very Rev. Miguelina Howell, Valerie Stanley, The Rev. Heidi Thorson, The Rev. Sandy Stayner, The Rev. Tuesday Rupp, The Rev. Nikolaus Combs, Naomi Fisher, The Rev. Joseph Rose, Steven R. Mullins, Cathy Schrull, The Rev. Tracy Johnson Russell, Canon Rosanna Rosado, , The Rev. Canon Ranjit Mathews, and the Rev. Stacey Kohl, Secretary of the Diocese and Convention

Absent: The Rev. Canon Tim Hodapp, Canon Sarah Woodford, Marie Dixon, Judie Blackman-Cochran

  1. CALL TO ORDER AND OPENING PRAYER

The Meeting was called to order at 9:35 a.m. by Bishop Jeffrey Mello. Bishop Laura Ahrens opened with prayer.

  1. DWELLING IN THE WORD

Bishop Ahrens led in Dwelling in the Word with Philippians 2:5-11

  1. ITEMS REQUIRING APPROVAL WITHOUT DISCUSSION

The Rev. Deacon Jessie Akerson moved to approve each item on the consent agenda, seconded by the Rev. Joseph Rose. The Consent Agenda including the following items:             

  1. Minutes of the December 2023 Mission Council Meeting
  2. Minutes of the Finance Committee Meeting
  3. Property Report of the Missionary Society
  4. Report from Camp Washington
  5. Report from Human Resources
  6. Jack Spaeth Creation Care Grant Approval
  7. Corporate Declaration of Signatories for TD Bank

The motion passes.

  1. ITEMS REQUIRING DISCUSSION AND/OR ACTION
  1. Finance & Operations Reports, Statements (Q4)

Canon Rosanna Rosado offered a report on Finance & Operations for Q4 2023. Supporting documents and a written report are included in the supplemental materials of these minutes. The following were noted in response to questions or comments.

  1. The surplus seen at end of Q4 is largely the result of unrealized Ministry Network Grants, lower programmatic costs, and staff attrition.
  2. Reviews and conversations are on-going to share information about available ECCT Grants more widely.
  3. ECCT’s CMS is low compared to most provinces across The Episcopal Church, including being the lowest in Province One.

Gordon Ross moved to accept the Q4 financial statements, seconded by the Rev. Deacon Jessie Akerson. Motion passes.

Canon Rosado presented the Property Improvement Grants (see appendix) as recommended by the Finance Committee. The Rev. Heidi Thorsen moved to approve the grants as listed, Tom Rouse seconded. Motion passes.

Canon Rosado presented the Revolving Loan Fund for All Saints, Wolcott (see appendix) as recommended by the Finance Committee. Discussion related to the complexity of extending a loan to a strong, lay-led parish who is also without a priest and may be facing additional fiscal challenges soon followed. There was consensus on the need to continue to encourage parishes to engage in meaningful conversations around where God is inviting them as they move into the future while also continuing to care for and maintain buildings that, long-term, are in the Missionary Society’s care. Steven Mullins moved to approve the grants as listed, Cathy Schrull seconded. Motion passes.

Canon Rosado presented the Common Mission Support adjustment for 2024 Operating Budget for Good Shepherd, Hartford (see appendix) as recommended by the Finance Committee. Steven Mullins moved to approve the grants as listed, the Rev. Justin Crisp seconded. Motion passes.

  1. Missionary Society Property

Canon Rosado offered a report on recent property changes.

  1. St. Alban’s, Danielson, property was sold and ECCT was able to recoup approximately $280,0000 (see appendix).
  2. The Berg Home, former residential retirement property for clergy, is currently being reviewed by Rockefeller Group and Stewardship Realty (see appendix).
  3. St. Paul’s, Darien
    1. Bishop Ahrens provided brief history of the parish and how property came into care of ECCT/Missionary Society (see appendix).
    2. The property encompasses 14.5 total acres, of which 5.9 are developable, 6.6 are wetlands, and 2.0 are other (peripheries). The lot is zoned R-2 (single family, min. 2-acre lots)
    3. ECCT was presented with several options for the property from both Rockefeller Group and Stewardship Realty (see appendix).
      1. The recommendation from the Finance Committee is to sell rather than to fully develop or donate. Next steps should the Mission Council vote to sell the property will be to convene a Property Advisory Board whose tasks will include:
        1. Determine which option to pursue for the sale (finished lots, unfinished lots, subdivide)
        2. Retain a real estate agent
        3. Test the market for bidders
        4. Bring the final proposal before Mission Council for vote to alienate (goal is June or September 2024)
      2. Pending affirmative vote by Mission Council, prepare and submit the alienation request to the Standing Committee
      3. Work with ECCT to close the sale by Q1 2025
    4. Mission Council will determine the allocation of net proceeds after the sale is finalized, including the possibility of donating some of the funds to St. Luke’s, Darien’s Person-to-Person Food Pantry capital campaign.

Valarie Stanley moved the following resolution, seconded by the Very Rev. Miguelina Howell seconded. Motion passes with one abstention.

Resolved, that the Missionary Society seeks to sell the entire property located in Darien associated with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church located at 471 Mansfield Avenue, Darien, CT.

The Very Rev. Miguelina Howell moved the following resolution, seconded Steven Mullins seconded. Motion passes with one abstention.

Resolved, that the President of the Missionary Society is authorized to execute such agreements as he may, in the exercise of his reasonable discretion, deem reasonably necessary to facilitate for sale the real property located at 471 Mansfield Avenue, Darien, Connecticut.

  1. 290 Pratt Street (The Commons)

Bishop Mello updated on the on-going conversations regarding the future of 290 Pratt Street (The Commons). Our 10-year lease has expired and we are now in a month-to-month lease. The space has both positives and challenges, including the changed realities of “work” post-COVID and the increased need for private space for Zoom meetings and conversations. The original architect who designed the space, Duo Dickinson, has been consulting with ECCT on ways to make the space better suited to the current staff and work environment. Once plans are in place, a formal expenditure request will be made. Mission Council is supportive of continuing the conversation with the knowledge that a financial expenditure to improve the space will be forthcoming.

  1. Fair Hiring Practices as detailed in 2018: Resolution #3 (Affirming Racial Healing, Justice, and Reconciliation)

Bishop Mello noted the on-going challenges related to meeting the expectations laid out in 2018: Resolution #3. He would like to form a Task Force to make recommendations to Mission Council. Volunteers to the Task Force are:

  • Valarie Stanley
  • The Rev. Deacon Jessie Akerson
  • Steven Mullins
  • The Rev. Sandra Stayner
  1. UPDATES
  1. Bishop Mello offered an update on the status of St. Paul’s, Shelton
    1. The Vestry resigned in December, and those who had been worshipping at St. Paul’s left the parish. The corpus of St. Paul’s, Shelton’s endowment was withdrawn prior to the Vestry’s resignation.
    2. The Rev. Canon Ranjit K. Mathews has been appointed priest in charge. Sunday morning services have continued uninterrupted, utilizing ordained ECCT staff and supply clergy who are experienced serving in places of significant conflict, for former members of St. Paul’s who have returned to the parish since December.
    3. Information regarding the on-going Title IV process involving the former rector of St. Paul’s, Shelton, the Rev. Amjad Samuel, who is on administrative leave, are available on ECCT’s website.
  2. Canon D Littlepage offered an updated on the status of Reparations as related to 2022: Resolution #6 (Acknowledging the 175th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery in the State of Connecticut and Creating an Episcopal Church in Connecticut (ECCT) Reparations Fund)
    1. Work is on-going to unpack the work called for in the resolution. Listening sessions are planned for the near future, as well as continuing to expand work already being done around storytelling. Canon Littlepage recommended the book “Radical Reconciliation: Beyond Political Pietism and Christian Quietism” by Allan Aubrey Boesak and Curtiss Paul De Young as a resource.
  3. Bishop Mello offered an updated on staffing
    1. The Rev. Canon D Littlepage has joined the staff as Canon for Mission Advocacy, Racial Justice & Reconciliation and is already doing transformation work.
    2. Canon Alison Hollo’s title has been changed to Canon for Bishop Support and Administration to better reflect the good and important work she already does.
    3. The Canon for Lay and Ordained Vocations interviews are on-going with the hope of announcing the new Canon very soon.
  4. Bishop Ahrens offered an update on closures
    1. Epiphany, Durham, and St. James, New Haven, will be voting to close.
  1. NOONDAY PRAYER

Naomi Fisher led noonday prayer.

  1. ADJOURNMENT, CLOSING PRAYER, & BLESSING

A motion to adjourn was duly made by Naomi Fisher, seconded by the Rev. Justin Crisp. Motion passes.

The meeting was adjourned at 1:35 p.m.

Faithfully Submitted,

The Rev. Stacey Kohl
Secretary of the Diocese & Convention