Final Report: Acorn to Vestry, and then … ? Setting Deadlines and Reaching Across Divisions

By Tony Morley

Keep all active explorations moving, provide up-to-date data about finances and the building, and set definite deadlines for next decisions was the gist of recommendations delivered to the Vestry on Jan. 8 from Acorn 2020. In receiving Acorn’s lengthy last report, the Vestry agreed to make it available at the annual parish meeting on Jan. 29 and discuss it in detail on Feb. 14 for Vestry action.

Co-chaired by Victor Gonzales and Tony Kloiber, the nine-member Acorn group is now discharged, with Vestry thanks, after 15 months work since 2015.

Leading its recommendations are ongoing work with Jewish and Islamic leaders to imagine and design a tri-faith center in partnership with St. James; and strengthened collaboration in mission with the Lake Nokomis Lutheran and United Methodist neighborhood churches.

Active groups are working on both these ideas with interested and eager non-Episcopal colleagues from beyond St. James. For an Abrahamic tri-faith center, Ruth Anne Olson, Max Athorn and Monica Herrera have pursued the interfaith conversations so far; more St. Jamesians are ready to join them. For Episcopal-Lutheran-Methodist coordination, Louis Hoffman, Tony Morley, Fr. Heisley with his clerical counterparts and lay leaders from the other congregations are the working group now; others will join soon.

On Jan. 8 the Vestry authorized both these groups to continue work. In a similar crossing-boundaries spirit the Vestry encouraged outreach also for increased interaction with Holy Trinity African-Anerican Episcopal parish, First Nations Kitchen at All Saints Indian Mission, and a lay-lead liberal Roman group (“Spirit of St. Stephen’s”) reportedly looking for a new place to gather.

So much activity, formal and informal, means a full agenda when the February Vestry devotes its meeting to the Acorn report. Since the Acorn work looks forward to eventual large decisions about building and budget, the recommendations specifically urge in-depth and professional assessment of physical and financial realities for the parish. The proposed deadline is May 31 for both assessments and mid-June for a Vestry decision “whether to continue or stop investing in the present structure.”

There are recommended timelines too for the explorations with other groups. Those moving forward would report in writing monthly to the Vestry and by the end of May recommend to the Vestry whether their work “should be continued, modified, or discontinued.”

As the Vestry takes over where Acorn left off, expect Sunday bulletins, Epistle reports and website posts to help keep track of much promising work in progress.

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