Vestry minutes – 12/19/2017

Vestry Members: Clare Andreasson, Karl Bastian, James Deaton, Maria DiStefano-Post, Eddie Grim, Kathryn Holl, Sue Kelly, Michael Mittelstaedt, Bill Smith, Marian Vermeulen, Jeff Wescott, Bob Foote (Absentees in Italics)

Guests Present: George Prewitt
Staff Present: None  
Clergy Present: Rev. Kathryn Costas

Prayer and Check-in:
Rev Costas opened with prayer.

Scripture & Study:
Rev. Costas read the Advent IV gospel text about the visitation of Mary by the angel, Gabriel,
and led the vestry in a reflection on this passage.

Approve/Amend the Agenda:
The agenda was amended by acclamation to allow George Prewitt to present lighting concerns at the beginning of our meeting.

The minutes from 11/14/17 were approved by acclamation.

Exterior Lighting:
George Prewitt asked to meet with the Vestry at its monthly meeting on 12/19/17. The purpose of his presence was to share his experience and concern with the street lighting (or lack thereof) around Grace Church and the potential safety issues this may cause.

George shared photos he had taken of the neighborhood at night, specifically on Washington, Boardman and Eighth Streets. All seemed to indicate a lack of appropriate lighting. He voiced his concern for the safety of Grace parishioners and visitors who may be visiting Grace after hours, due to the darkened conditions and the frequent need to walk a distance to municipal parking.

George has spoken to Russ Soyering, Planning Director for the City of Traverse City regarding the situation. No clear action was indicated. Apparently, the lighting is in the jurisdiction of Traverse City’s Downtown Development Association. George has emailed them with no response. He expressed that a letter from the Vestry to the City may get more meaningful action regarding the issue. He offered to help in this effort in any way that he could.


Rector Report:
Kathryn provided an update on staffing.
Kathryn reported on the Vestry request for changing the locks as quickly as possible.

Treasurer’s Report:
Mark reviewed the 2017 financials and the 2018 budget with the vestry. He pointed out that at this point in the year, Grace has a positive bottom line of $141,000 for the year 2017. This is largely due to the Julie Christiansen bequest which is being held in savings and has not been allocated. Our 2018 Budget projection, however, shows a deficit of about $58,000. The vestry is discussing what changes may need to be made to lower this deficit.

Bill Pierce has volunteered to be the treasurer. He will transition to taking full responsibility for that position just after the 1/21/18 Annual Meeting. Mark will work alongside Bill for the first few months of transition.

Parish Administrator Report:
The large dishwasher in the kitchen has needed repairs more than once in the past few weeks, and at some point, it will need to be replaced. The vestry requested that Ann research replacement options and provide at least three quotes for the cost of a new dishwasher. Replacing the dishwasher will involve work on the plumbing. The vestry discussed coordinating replacement of the dishwasher with the other work on the pipes which is needed for the Parish Hall.

The Vestry discussed next steps with regard to the plumbing in the Parish Hall. We are still waiting for information on building code requirements in order to determine whether PVC or galvanized pipes must be used to replace existing plumbing. The vestry requested that Ann contact Precision Plumbing and Heating to see if they could suggest someone who can help us determine what the building codes require.

Ann requested that a Vestry member write a thank you note to architect John Walter who drew up and donated the plans for the emergency exit for Jubilee House. Maria DiStefano-Post volunteered to do so.

Cleaning companies are being researched for potential contracts for cleaning the church property. Quotes from two cleaning companies were reviewed, to handle immediate needs during Christmas.

The Vestry discussed water from the Brown House being used regularly by the contractor of the condominiums being built north of the Grace parking lot. There is also a concern for the integrity of the parking lot with large construction trucks using it to turn around. Bob Foote will work with Clare to follow up on these concerns and address them appropriately.

Senior Warden Report:
Clare pointed out and discussed changes in the proposed budget that are happening week to week.

Clare asked whether we are appropriately assessing cleaning fees for groups who use space at Grace Church. Discussion ensued.

At the Annual Meeting last year, parishioners requested the opportunity to view the budget prior to the meeting itself. In light of this request, Clare suggested that we move our January vestry meeting to Tuesday, January 9, 2018. This would give the Vestry time to discuss and approve a budget for 2018, which could then be made available to parishioners one week prior to the annual meeting.

Motion by Marian Vermeulen and seconded by Karl Bastian – to move the vestry meeting to January 9, 2018. Motion approved.

Junior Warden Report:
Nothing new to report.

Old Business:

New Business:
Rev. Costas presented the housing allowance resolution for vestry approval. This is primarily for Rev. Costas’ tax returns. The IRS requires that we do this each year in December for the following calendar year.

Motion Bill Smith and seconded by Bob Foote – to approve the housing allowance for Kathryn Costas as presented:

Whereas, the Reverend J. Kathryn Costas is compensated by Grace Episcopal Church exclusively for services as a minister of the gospel; and

Whereas, Grace Episcopal Church provides Rev. Costas with rent- free use of a church-owned rectory as compensation for services that she renders to the church in the exercise of her ministry; and

Whereas, Rev. Costas incurs expenses for living in church- provided housing; therefore, it is hereby
Resolved, that the annual compensation paid to Rev. Costas for calendar year 2018 shall be $80,000 of which, $5,000 is hereby designated to be a housing allowance pursuant to Section 107 of the Internal Revenue Code; and it is further

Resolved, that the designation of $5,000 as a housing allowance shall apply to calendar year 2018 and all future years unless otherwise provided by the vestry; and it is further

Resolved, that as additional compensation to Rev. Costas for calendar year 2018 and for all future years, unless otherwise provided for by this vestry, Rev. Costas shall be permitted to live in the church-owned rectory located at 222 Boardman Avenue in Traverse City, MI and that no rent or other fee shall be payable by Rev. Costas for such occupancy and use.

Motion approved.

Forum for Congregational Concerns:

Core Ministry Reports:

Rector Search Committee:

Personnel Committee:
The committee has started work and is now evaluating current job descriptions of Grace Church employees.

Follow-up & Follow-through:

  • Thank you note to John Walter, Architect – Maria DiStefano Post

Rev Kathryn Costas closed with prayer at 8:30 pm.

Respectfully submitted,
Michael Mittelstaedt
Vestry Clerk






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