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From the Senior Warden

Dear all,

I am writing to update you on some vestry news and a few other events. Once again I have fallen behind my own schedule for writing to you, but I am trying to improve!

Before I plunge into news, I should say that I hope everyone is well, and that you are keeping the coronavirus at bay through good sense, distance, and hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes or a bleach solution. (Bleach is the cheapest option; one part bleach to twenty parts water is a good concentration, and you can achieve that concentration if you mix two tablespoons bleach with three cups of water.) I am finding this time bewildering and unsettling. So many conditions have changed so much since just two or three weeks ago! And more changes occur daily, even hourly, so no doubt we will need to continue to adjust. The positive things that I try to focus on include the fact that now my house feels like a true haven. Here I can freely use all the doorknobs, and I needn’t greet my husband with an elbow bump or a bow. I’m also glad that, by dint of hard work and planning by many people, we have been able to create new safer protocols for the soup kitchen and the food pantry, and believe we will be able to keep them open in the coming weeks. In addition, many of us enjoyed the livestreamed church services this past Sunday; if you can, this Sunday you should join the more than 300 people who have participated so far. Go to https://stjla.org/stream/ and click on the service you want to watch.

My daughter Sally told me recently that she and her friends have instituted a new rule among them: no talking about coronavirus after 6:00 p.m. Try it—it’s extremely hard! But now I will apply a similar ban to this letter, so that we can think about something else for a while.

The vestry last met on February 16, 2020. This was the first meeting that our wonderful new vestry members were able to attend (Jeff Cuevas-Koch, Geri Hurley, Janet McKinnon, and Jack Pitts). (Notice that all their first names start with a “J” sound. I don’t know what that means.) We discussed and approved the plan to rearrange two front pews to make more room for the musicians who play in our Sunday night LACMA series. Our focus, however, was on the plan for purchasing a new rectory. The vestry members discussed some tax issues, some thoughts about real estate as an investment and, in particular, some timing issues. We decided not to try to reach conclusions at the February meeting.

Our next meeting was scheduled for March 14. It was to start with an hour of orientation for the new vestry members, go to a discussion with St. James’ School head Peter Reinke about the current state of the school, then move into a discussion about the matters we discussed in February, and conclude with a conversation about the different roles in decision-making that the vestry and the rector tend to play. However, the meeting had to be canceled for the time being, for reasons I have promised you I won’t mention. We were able to do the orientation by telephone but have yet to meet about the other items on the agenda. A proposal is now before the vestry: wait six months before making the decision about exactly when to purchase a new rectory. That would give us an extra six months of return on investment from the full $2.8 million amount we realized from the sale of the old rectory, which would benefit us financially. And given the current volatility of our economy, some sort of delay does seem sensible. We will keep you posted.

Meanwhile, the Investment Committee has been working very hard advising the vestry about (naturally) investment issues, such as how the $2.8 million can best be put to work. St. James’ School is successfully teaching its students remotely, having spent time training the faculty in the best ways to do that type of instruction. Our beloved security guard Oscar is recovering from a foot injury, so you could send him some good thoughts when you get a moment.

All the best,

Cathy Helm

Senior Warden