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Just typing the date in to this communication reminded me that the last time we gathered in full was at the Annual Meeting of 2020. In March of that year our lives changed dramatically—at home, at school, and at church.
During the Annual Meeting last year, we were hopeful that the coming vaccines would allow us to return to normalcy. That was a hope that was not to be fulfilled. Instead, we experienced the full round of vaccines, regathering with some comfort in being together, a Delta variant surge, re-masking more diligently, booster shots, an Omicron surge, and suspension of in person worship again.
Having made it through the most recent COVID-19 surge, the Vestry has now focused on regathering under the auspices of personal responsibility. That means, as Parish leadership we are committed to hybrid forms of worship, allowing for people who are comfortable in coming back to church to do so. Right now, that means that we will enforce social distancing at church, require masking with N95’s, KN95’s, or surgical masks worn under cloth masks while on the property. And we will distribute communion in the bread only. Please continue to cooperate with the parish and worship leadership by adhering to these requirements. It makes life more pleasant and keeps our parishioners safer.
But this model implies at least a few things, among them are, in addition to your own safety, we remain concerned about the safety of the most vulnerable. If you are ill, please worship online; if you are anxious about getting ill, please, worship online, and if you are ready to come back, we are here to welcome you. It also implies that those who worship with us will be allowed to unmask when the health markers of the CDC and Brown University indicate that we are in a more endemic phase of COVID with low transmission rates, low rates of hospitalization, and low rates of mortality.
In order to make this happen, the church is continuing the weekly streaming of the 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM services, as well as use of Zoom Meeting. But it is the intention of the Vestry to return the parish to full in-person worship, supplemented by online capabilities, as soon as practical and to stay in that mode indefinitely. The only time that the leadership expects to go to online worship exclusively is if we are required to by the bishop or by health authorities.
The information noted above is mostly retrospective. Dealing with critical issues like health safety. But the Rector’s address must also deal with the path we are taking to move forward in spreading the Gospel, helping God with the making of disciples, and the life of serving our neighbors.
There are two major components of St. Francis life in the coming year:
- We have signed up to be part of a cohort of churches working with Renewal Works, a ministry of Forward Day by Day, guiding churches as they work on their spiritual vitality. There is no implication that St. Francis is not a spiritually vital church but there is a sense in the work they do, that those churches which are growing spiritually also grow in discipleship, in ministry to the communities in which they live, in worship energy, and often, in the numbers of new members. This work will be rolled out in September of this year. In the meantime, I will be recruiting a core group of lay leaders who will be tasked with learning about vital parishes and bringing that vitality to all we do. This is an important piece of the fabric of St. Francis and is intended to address issues around our church demographics, burn out, and optimism concerning our mission.
- The second area of focus will be more effective Stewardship. Know this, St. Francis’s annual fund raising have been very successful, primarily because Franciscans are faithful and committed to the work of this church. Areas of stewardship that need focus beyond stewardship are areas of hands-on care and ministry:
- Rebuilding participation in our welcome ministries such as ushers and greeters.
- Adding to our Invite*Welcome*Connect group to reach out to visitors beyond Sunday and helping them establish themselves in the community.
- Bolstering the participation in Worship Ministries such as Altar Guild, Lay Eucharistic Ministers, Lay Eucharistic Visitors, and volunteer choir members.
- Empowering a small body of members to support the Junior Warden in care of the grounds and buildings through member talents in wood working, gardening, and small projects to upgrade our capabilities in these areas.
- Seeking and finding a new Sunday School Director to reimagine our care for children and teens.
The above guidelines for our strategic and tactical focus for this year should be achievable, and with the support of the whole body of St. Francis a demonstration of faithfulness which will allow for some Pauline humble bragging (see Paul’s Epistles).
No Rector’s Report is complete without acknowledging the work of the Franciscans who helped us to accomplish so much in trying times. First let me highlight the work of our incredibly dedicated staff: Lynn Fallon, Parish Administrator, whose efforts in the face of Sisyphean challenges means that Sundays happen, Creche can stay open, and Parishioners are cared for; Patrick Killoran, Communications Director whose magic turns our communications and worship into encounters with angels, saints, and choirs; and Cristi Leslie, Creche Director, whose efforts and foresight meant that the Creche School opened in the autumn at capacity levels not seen in nearly a decade, while negotiating COVID surges and public health dictates. When you see them, thank them for their faithfulness and care.
There are church members who are not on staff who are also invaluable to the efforts of this community to proclaim the Good News of God in Jesus and to serve our neighbors. Prime among these volunteers are the Executive Committee of this past year, Jeff Wootton, Senior Warden, whose calm wisdom will be missed because his term is over; Brice Eldridge, Junior Warden, who is tireless in helping keep the heat on the floors dried out, the roof from leaking, and writing motions that can be read, understood and tracked; Molly Reynolds, Treasurer, who in conjunction with Mary Cyrus, Bookkeeper have transformed our accounting and financial system from a serviceable practical system to one which meets the standards of the diocese for standard business practices and has become a source of reliable reporting to guide the Vestry; and Jennifer Murphy, Registrar, always filling in where needed and doing a record keeping job that keeps us all on track and informed.
Every year we lose members of the Vestry who have finished serving their terms. Were it my choice, I would simply add three new members each year. Our three graduates are Jeff Wootton, Dwight Chewning, and Betty Boutros. They have been extraordinarily helpful in providing counsel, asking the right questions, and giving of their gifts and talents beyond what we might reasonably ask. I will miss each of them deeply. But after some respite, I have some idea how I might involve them in vital work of the church.
The prospect of what comes after COVID, lockdown, social distancing, and masking will be hard to imagine. Normal may be similar too, but not exactly like what life was like before. There will be challenges in flexing spiritual, pastoral, and ministerial muscles which have been dormant for a while. There will be a need to reintroduce ourselves to being together and welcoming new people. But I have learned that Franciscans are imaginative, dedicated, caring, and faithful.
SENIOR WARDEN’S REPORT
As I began last year report, I hope and pray that everyone is and remains healthy, safe, and secure during this global pandemic and evolving endemic that has affected every aspect of our lives both physical and spiritual. I have certainly experienced COVID fatigue, and when we prepared last year’s annual report, the hope and promise of an effective vaccine was just emerging so that we could safely regather this year.
However, the mystery of God’s creation is constantly evolving and in lamenting the effects of COVID; I am acknowledging the pain, the frustration, but ultimately hope in Psalm 13:
How long, O LORD?
To lament, as the psalmist demonstrates, is to cry out to God, acknowledging the trouble that besets us on all sides. We acknowledge the pain, the heartbreak, the anger, the confusion, and the frustration that we feel – those feelings and reasons that we can explain and those we cannot. It is often a cathartic experience, expressing aloud those things that God already knows are living in our hearts. However, we put our trust in God’s mercy and sing to the Lord because he has dealt with us richly.
I would like to sincerely thank Rev. David Lucey for his leadership during the past year and I have enjoyed working with him as my role as Senior Warden on the vestry. I would also like to thank Timothy Rutherford, a Seminarian from Virginia Theological Seminary for his field work at St. Francis this past year and have enjoyed listening to his sermons.
I thank Lynn Fallon for supporting our parish administration and thank Larry Vote for directing our music program virtually. I want to thank Cristi Leslie for first year as the Director of the St. Francis Creche school and leading that ministry.
I would also like to thank Brice Eldridge for his service as Junior Warden and handling floods and the maintenance of our church building and grounds.
I would like to thank Molly Reynolds for her financial leadership as Treasurer and working with Mary Cyrus our bookkeeper. Molly has been essential to financial operations and our financial audit last year. Molly has led our efforts to secure a Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan for the church and the Creche that have improved our financial position during. Jennifer Murphy served as our Registrar and brings her past experience serving on the vestry.
I would like to thank Patrick Killoran and Brice Eldridge for their technology leadership for virtual, hybrid, and in-person worship services, and for Patrick’s efforts to redesign our website and to improve our presence on various social media platforms.
Finally, I would also like to thank all of the members of the vestry: David Black, Betty Boutros, Dwight Chewning, Brice Eldridge, Jennifer Murphy, Gary Pan, Molly Reynolds, and Judy Stocks, for our virtual meetings every other week in helping to direct our mission at St. Francis Episcopal Church. We close every vestry meeting with the prayer of St. Francis and ask: “Lord, make us instruments of your peace.” We are all grateful for the opportunity and privilege to serve this parish.
JUNIOR WARDEN’S REPORT
The St Francis Junior Warden’s (JW) responsibilities include the church property/facilities and use thereof, maintenance and upkeep, and inspections. This is a team effort and could not be accomplished without the wonderful cooperation and partnership with our very capable parish administrator Lynn Fallon, and the technical and gifted artistic prowess of our Communications and Technology Director, Patrick Killoran.
We gratefully appreciate the volunteers who help us in so many ways including replace light bulbs (we have over 520 light bulbs constituting 14 different types – there is almost always a bulb out somewhere), erect signage, fix locks, and put up/dismantle our Christmas tree. However, we need more volunteers to sustain our efforts in this St Francis ministry. PLEASE contact us to volunteer your talent and caring.
Our church facilities are the physical base for many of our ministries, and while COVID curtailed much of our normal utilization, we have nonetheless sustained significant periods of in-church worship, Creche education ministry, and hosted various groups including Boy Scouts and local support groups. We have engaged in consideration of facility improvements such as solar power generation and an outdoor pavilion.
Here are some of the 2021 highlights for our ministry.
- Replaced 2 of the 10 HVAC system employed in our buildings. They were 28 years old; great return on our investment. We have 3 other systems ageing above 25 years old and we’re monitoring them carefully.
- Outside lighting was upgraded to LCD where reasonable and otherwise fixed as necessary. Inside lights were also replaced s needed totaling over 90 bulbs.
- Removal of 3 standing pine trees behind Harris Hall, and the cleanup of numerous storm downed tree parts.
- Our property lines were more clearly delineated and our neighbors to the east engaged to maintain good relations.
- Banner signage was significantly upgraded along Georgetown Pike.
- Various annual inspections including fire related equipment and County authorization.
- Harris Hall front door and lighting were repaired and upgraded; hole in roof repaired.
- In conjunction with Patrick Killoran, our Communications and Technology Director, additions to our service streaming capabilities and technology upgrades included, video monitors in both the Sanctuary and Millen Hall, expanded speaker/sound capability, battery backup to critical systems, Wi-Fi network coverage expansion, and video camera capability.
Thank the Lord for Franciscans! Even though we could not have in-person services together at the beginning of the year 2021, so many of you pledged, continued to give, supported the Outreach drives, volunteered, and gave some more. When we were able to come together in person, folks arrived with masks and elbow bumps while filling the plate when it was passed once again. And then we returned to our screens for Christmas so that everyone’s health might be protected. And yet, the checks and PayPal contributions continued. Some parishioners passed away, some moved out of the area and still others had financial difficulties, but others filled the gap with contributions above their pledged amount. With that boost total pledge contributions held at 99% of the amount pledged for this year. We have weathered through 2021 even with lower plate, non-pledge, and rental income as well as fewer fundraising events.
The past year posed some challenges for us, but we were still able to keep the lights on and support our community and international Outreach programs as well as fulfill the Diocesan pledge. With the forgiveness of the first SBA-backed Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, the year 2020 ended with a surplus of funds. Those funds provided personnel support and permitted the allocation of other moneys to balance the 2021 budget and increase the amount in the Property Reserve fund to be used for future equipment/building repairs and replacements. A second PPP loan was granted in 2021 and forgiven as well. This allowed both church and Creche to keep the payrolls complete and provided funds to purchase supplies and equipment so that sanitary conditions and distancing could be achieved. With the departure of the associate rector, payroll levels have decreased for the time being.
Not only did the furnace remain lit, repairs and replacements for our HVAC systems were financed for two units that were well beyond their useful age. Under the continued diligence of Junior Warden Brice Eldridge and a few hearty helpers, light bulbs were replaced, the grounds were maintained, potentially dangerous trees were removed, and a staked boundary was installed to indicate St. Francis property boundaries. Many Franciscans gave volunteer hours so that expenses were reduced and for those efforts we are most grateful.
To ensure our virtual gatherings went smoothly, new technical equipment was purchased and installed. This equipment was financed through budgeted funds and some designated gifts. Keeping up with new IT and communications techniques will continue so that all can enjoy and participate in services, meetings and other activities no matter where they are.
Taking advantage of lower interest rates, the church mortgage was refinanced prior to its renewal deadline. With an anonymous donation, the principal amount needed for the refinance was reduced greatly. Although the refinance term is for seven years with no prepayment penalty, it could be paid off completely in a little over five years allowing St. Francis to be mortgage free! If you would like to contribute to that purpose, please let the treasurer know.
We continue to keep funds invested through The Trustees of the Funds a related organization of the Diocese of Virginia. It is important to note that we have not had to withdraw any funds from the investments in the last few years. Sufficient funds necessary for the operating expenses of the church have been available through yearly giving of pledge, non-pledge and plate donations as well as some rental income and government PPP support. The Creche reopened in April and their contribution to expenses was adjusted accordingly.
As treasurer, I continue to be strongly supported by a wonderful Finance Committee along with our diligent, competent, friendly bookkeeper, Mary Cyrus. And at home my husband, bless him, makes every attempt to keep me calm and collected when my stress level rises.
Respectfully submitted, Molly Reynolds, Treasurer
St. Francis has been most fortunate to end the last two years with a surplus of funds. Paycheck Protection Program funds were obtained in both years so that staff could be retained during the loan periods. In 2022 we will once again be dependent entirely on the contributions from the congregation, rental income, and fundraisers. At its January 17, 2022 meeting the Vestry approved the allocation of $10,000 to Outreach from the 2021 surplus to be distributed by the Outreach Committee. This is in addition to whatever amount is included in the 2022 Budget for Outreach.
PARISH OPERATIONS REPORT
In 2021, operations of our parish continued to be shaped by the course of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. We continued to adapt and adjust, finding effective ways to stay connected and supportive. We have strengthened our virtual meeting and virtual worship capabilities while restoring in-person worship and activities as the pandemic has permitted. Throughout all, we have demonstrated our collective commitment to our parish and each other, staying together in spirit and experiencing unity in Christ through the means and methods the pandemic has allowed.
The first half of the year saw us meet and pray together virtually via Zoom. Virtual meeting technology continues to allow us to offer participation in our community by brothers and sisters located near and far. As the weather warmed, we were able to offer socially distanced in-person outdoor services on Sunday afternoons. In June, we resumed in-person indoor services with appropriate Covid safety protocols (while continuing to offer virtual participation), which continued until the onset of the Omicron variant in late December, when we temporarily returned to virtual activities until that wave subsided. Overall, our operational processes and execution improved in many areas to assist in the growth of St Francis.
Parish Administrator: As the ever-present person who holds so much of our operation together, Lynn Fallon has continued to capably adjust to changing circumstances and get everything accomplished including Sunday worship bulletins, Thursday eNews, Diocesan communications, and a host of other communications that keep our church functioning. Her organized competence ensures that not only are scheduled actions timely accomplished but that the emergencies such as broken HVAC systems are quickly addressed.
Communications and Technology: To properly support our remote services and expand our online presence, our Director of Communications and Technology, the highly able Patrick Killoran, continues to produce our Sunday Zoom services, updating and upgrading our servers, network, expanding our online presence (e.g., Facebook), and increase our online outreach to grow our congregation and its offerings to the community. Along with ensuring an effective presence of St. Francis Church in social media, Patrick has been wonderfully effective and creative in the development of new and fresh materials, including use of the new video board in the sanctuary. The creativity and success of our Sunday Zoom services is due to Patrick’s keen capability and dedication.
Building and Grounds Maintenance: Our 2021 Junior Warden, the steadfast, knowledgeable, and talented Brice Eldridge, tended to a broad range of seemingly never-ending maintenance issues inside and outside our parish buildings. Brice tended to aging HVAC units, a basement flood, plumbing issues, necessary tree work, dozens of light bulbs, installation of our new video board, and many other building and property maintenance issues. Brice is a steadfast servant of our parish who has cared for our facilities very much in the spirit of Francis of Assisi.
St Francis Creche Preschool: Under the energetic, prudent leadership of Executive Director Cristi Leslie, our Creche preschool resumed in-person learning in spring 2021 and maintained an admirable track record of keeping students and staff safe through the vicissitudes of the pandemic while providing a high-quality educational experience for our students. (Please see the separate Special Report for Creche Preschool for more information.) The Creche preschool is an important part of our Christian education program and reaches many young families in our community.
WORSHIP and SPIRITUAL CARE REPORT
Being on Altar Guild has taught each member to be flexible and understanding of the many requests during 2021. Our tasks have varied from week to week thanks to Covid. It is our hope that by spring 2022 all our services will be In-Person so we can begin to return to some sort of normalcy.
One member of the Altar Guild is the Coordinator who serves as liaison between the Clergy, Administration and the Guild. A number of committees have been established to distribute the responsibilities among the Altar Guild members however this year the Coordinator and several AG members tried to ‘lighten the load’ for all the members and assumed a lot of the responsibility that would normally be for the entire committee.
Altar Guild Committees:
The past year we have reinvented many duties of the various committees and our hope is to bring back all committee responsibilities in 2022. Rather than go into detail on each committee and their various aspects, the report for 2022 should reflect a normal Altar Guild year and the its various responsibilities. The Altar Guild is very pleased to have 2021 behind us and we are looking forward to a healthy and hopefully normal 2022. If we have to continue with Hybrid services then the Altar Guild is very well prepared to accept all tasks that might be assigned.
This past year the Altar Guild received a sizable donation to purchase items needed for the Guild. Over the past several years it was mentioned and discussed at length that we would like to purchase a Pottery Communion Set to use in addition to our Silver Communion Set. There is a local potter in Great Falls, Laura Nichols, of Pig Pen Pottery that made a lovely Communion Set for St. Francis. Each Communion Set – Silver and Pottery will be used approximately 50% of the St. Francis’ calendar year.
In addition, we had a parishioner donate several church linens and another parishioner made a set of Lectern Tapes for the Altar Guild.
For 2021 Easter and Christmas, the Altar Guild asked the parishioners if they would like to make a donation for Flowers or Music during these special times. The funds collected for flowers were used to purchase poinsettias and greens* for Christmas, palms for Palm Sunday (in 2021, palm crosses were purchased and a basket was left outside the church’s front door several days before Palm Sunday for parishioners to drive by and pick up a cross – in addition two large Palm plants were purchased for the altar) and hydrangeas for Easter. Each donation was acknowledged online this year as part of the Order of Service.
* This year it was decided to buy faux roping to use at Christmas to trim the doors leading to the sanctuary and to the outside. Rather than purchase pine roping like in the past and having it make a mess on the carpet, the faux roping can be used from year to year saving the Altar Guild money.
2021 Altar Guild Members
Current Altar Guild Members: Karen Aylestock, Lyn Beer, Carolyn Brown, Candy Burt, Winnie Frost, Ginger Gotliffe, Olivia Grady, Betty Gurskis, Marylou Janczuk, Mary Jackson, Karla Larson, Cathryn Lee, Karen Levy, Chris MacKichan, Beth Meyer, Jennifer Murphy, Nan Moring, Leslie Siegmund, Kris Young.
MUSIC MINISTRY: (See Special Report for Music Ministry.)
ACOLYTES: No Acolytes were employed during 2021.
LEM (Lay Eucharist Ministers)/EVs (Eucharistic Visitors): LEMS and Readers were employed throughout the year 2021, initially “Zoomed” from their homes; later in-person; regardless of whether or not the congregation was able to meet and worship at a service, in-person.
GREETERS: No Greeters were employed during 2021.
USHERS: Ushers were employed only for the portion of services that were actually held in-person during 2021; also, when Ushers were contacted in mid-2021 to determine the pool of volunteers, a few declined to serve in this capacity, until such time we are safely able to meet in-person, unmasked, “safe” from contracting COVID.
CHILDREN’S CHAPEL: No Children’s Chapel’s were held in 2021 due to COVID and limited in-person services.
NATIVITY PAGEANT: On 12/24/21 video recordings of a Pageant including the events leading up to and including Christmas Day were shared at each of the four (4) Christmas Eve services. It was directed and produced by our Technical and Communications Director, Patrick Killoran and included eight (8) Sunday school students. ‘Very Sweet and Delightful.”
DISCIPLESHIP and CHRISTIAN FORMATION REPORT
CHILDREN & YOUTH MINISTRIES:
Middle Sunday School/Breakfast Club for Youth – Due to COVID and low demand there were no offerings for the Middle Sunday School classes or the Breakfast Club for Youth.
HS Confirmation – High School Confirmation classes were administered in 2021 by David Lucey via Zoom. These classes ran for six Sundays during the April-May timeframe, with post-Confirmation class interviews conducted by David Lucey in June for each of the four (4) students participating (Eric Bellino, William Bertin, Will Ditmore and Sarah Semko). David Lucey conducted both a pre-class assessment (early April) and a post-class assessment (June) of students’ knowledge and understanding of the materials presented. Because there was no Bishop Visitation scheduled in 2021, due to COVID pandemic, these young confirmands will not be officially confirmed by the Bishop until such time that we receive a Bishop Visitation. (Please note: At this time, a 3-APRIL 2022 Visitation is scheduled with Bishop Porter.)
ADULT FORMATION OFFERINGS:
Monday Noon Rectors Bible Class — David Lucey continues to hold his Bible study on Mondays at noon by zoom. The class focuses on the scripture readings for the upcoming week. Attendance varies but it is an enthusiastic group enjoyed by all in attendance.
Wednesday Mornings Men’s Group — The goal of this group is Christian Formation and fellowship for men. They meet every Wednesday (via zoom) at 8:35 am. In 2021 they studied several topics which included : “The Love of God” and what does that mean, “The Churches the Apostles Left Behind” by Ray Brown and “The New Perspective on Paul”. This group is led by Phil Pifer. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on his class.
Thursday Afternoon Bible Study —Our seminarian Timothy Rutherford and Odiorne Beebe have led the Thursday Afternoon Bible Study in 2021. The class begins at 2 pm and is conducted via Zoom meeting. The class recently completed the lengthy “Interpretation Bible Study of Genesis”. For more information on this class please contact email@example.com .
CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP REPORT
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, Christian Fellowship continues to be vibrant at Saint Francis. While we have had to forgo our traditional in-person gatherings such as the Fall Fest, the Gala and other fellowship opportunities, we have made the best of the circumstances.
The virtual breakout room sessions at the conclusion of our Zoom Sunday Worship Services have provided our membership the connectivity with others that we cherish. When we have periodically been permitted to conduct in-person worship, it has been wonderful to connect with our parishioner family and see one another in person (albeit while fully masked). We all look forward to the day that we can resume the passing of the Peace in person and close proximity.
The Invite*Welcome*Connect (IWC) committee has been very active reaching out to new potential members and those parishioners whom we have missed during this time of isolation. IWC has introduced Saint Francis opportunities to families who have moved into our area and have invited them to join our various ongoing programs. In addition, IWC has checked in on families and members whom we have missed at our virtual gatherings. We have posted various inspirational and welcoming banners and, with the support of Rotary and Scouts, we have displayed a field of flags along the front of the Church grounds to ensure that our members and the public that Saint Francis remains a vibrant and active community during this period isolation. (See Special Report for Invite*Welcome*Connect Committee for more information.)
Saint Francis continues to have a full calendar of ongoing activities for Christian Fellowship. Please consider joining your fellow parishioners at any of these events. For more information regarding these activities please visit our website.
Franciscans have been creative in continuing to gather virtually in smaller groups. Tables of Ten groups meet monthly and this has a been a great time to get to know other couples better. When the weather was nice, small groups collected socially distanced for Happy Gatherings on Friday afternoons. During the colder weather, these activities have transitioned to a virtual format with the same enthusiasm and energy as if they were in person. Small groups have occasionally caught up over coffee at the Brogue and other local venues. It’s apparent that there continues to be a need to share time with our Church friends.
As more of our parishioners receive vaccines and as the Diocese has relaxed access restrictions to the Church facilities, we have periodically begun resuming more of our traditional in person activities. We have begun plans for a Gala in the Fall when we hope that we will be able to conduct more personal events free from the worries of Covid. ‘Never too early to start planning for the next cycle of the Fall Fest, Gala or other fun church events. We all look forward to getting back to normal; although, we now have new experiences and capabilities that will certainly strengthen our Christian Fellowship in the future.
EVANGELISM, MISSION and OUTREACH REPORT
Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19 and two of its variants throughout 2021, St. Francis parishioners continued to provide evangelism, mission and outreach at a superior level. Details for each are provided in other sections of the Annual Report.
Commitment to worship continues. Though Adult Formation, Morning and Evening Prayer, Small Group Discipleship, Monday Noon and Thursday Afternoon Bible Study could not continue in desired in-person formats as in the past, regular Zoom and written sharing have taken place by dedicated members.
Commitment to supporting our current and new parishioners continues. Three funerals and one wedding were held in 2021. Our Invite*Welcome*Connect Committee continues to meet weekly and has created unique ways to encourage new members to join our church family through the use of roadside banners, “Dear Neighbor” letters, invitations to St. Francis events, Zoom chats, phone calls and holiday cookie distribution.
Commitment to community, national and world outreach continues. While parishioners could not tutor in-person in Anacostia nor build with Habitat for Humanity in 2021, St Francis was able to support the latter financially. The Shepherd’s Center of Great Falls, founded by St. Francis parishioners, continues to thrive and provide needed services to seniors who choose to remain in their homes. St. Francis continues to sponsor four Scouting units – Cub Scout Pack 55, Boy Scout Troop 55, Girl Scouting Troop 55 and a Venturing Crew. The ability to have in-person activities allowed for new growth in membership, hundreds of community volunteer activities hours, camp attendances, and milestone achievements which included appointment to the United Sates Military Academy for one Scout and advancements to Life rank and preparation for Eagle for others.
In addition to the above, the Outreach Committee continues to support the following: the Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington with financial, in-kind and holiday support; Second Story Shelter for Teens in Crisis with Sunday dinners and school supplies; and Cornerstones with diaper drives. St. Francis continues to support the Diocese of Ezo through contributions to the Diocese and for the repair and upkeep of a much-needed community well. One of the largest St. Francis undertakings has been the recent commitment to furnish an apartment for an Afghan refugee family. (See Special Report for Outreach Committee for more information.)
If all of the above is able to be provided by the parishioners of St. Francis during a pandemic-strapped 2021, just imagine what we will be able to accomplish when we are able to gather in person again without restrictions.
SPECIAL REPORT FOR CRECHE PRESCHOOL
St. Francis Creche Preschool began 2021 in the midst of the pandemic, yet we continued to make plans for a possible reopening. Communication with the parents was ongoing to keep them updated on a possible reopening in the spring, and marketing and advertising continued on social and local media. On January 23rd we opened registration for the Fall 2021-2022 school year.
In February of 2021, we were given approval by the Vestry to reopen for an April – June term. All of our teachers received their vaccinations, and we purchased equipment, supplies and PPE, as well as outfitted the classrooms with fans, hand sanitizers and table partitions, and we purchased two outdoor learning tents.
The Creche opened on April 6, 2021 with 30 students and 6 teachers. Much of the school instruction took place outdoors in our two learning tents, the outdoor classroom, the playground and the beautiful grounds. We monitored the CDC and VHD regularly and adhered to the layered mitigation strategies that were recommended. During this term, we were able to provide an outdoor Spring Singing Performance for the parents, bring in a Petting Zoo for the children, and celebrate our 2021 Graduates with an indoor graduation! We successfully ended the term with no school or classroom closures.
During the months of June and July, we offered two camps to the community. Camp Creche, our traditional summer camp, ran for two weeks with an enrollment of 30 children. Following Camp Creche, we offered a “Bridge to Kindergarten Camp”, in order to help meet the need in the community for rising kindergarteners, who had missed a year of instruction. Fourteen students participated in the camp.
Registration for Fall 2021 continued through the months of July and August, and two new teachers were hired. On September 9, 2021, we opened the Creche with 5 classes, 59 students and 10 teachers! We continued to follow all of the same safety protocols that we adhered to during the April – June term, and camps. It was necessary for us to close one class for one week in September due to a COVID exposure, and during that period, the teachers for that class immediately moved to virtual instruction videos, activities and crafts for the students. The parents were very pleased, and when the week was over, the class resumed without issue. There were no other class closures for the remainder of 2021. Outdoor tents, the outdoor classroom and grounds continued to be used for instruction, but as the weather became more challenging, the tents were disassembled for the winter months. Our plan is to reassemble the tents in the spring of 2022.
During the months of October and November, our enrollment rose to 62 students. We offered assistance to two Afghan families, so that their children could attend the Creche, and we are grateful for the support of the Creche Board and Vestry for this outreach.
Though fall activities were limited due to COVID, we were still able to bring the Fire Department in for a visit; offer our annual Scholastic Book Fair; hold an outdoor Fall Singing Performance; bring in LifeTouch Photography for student portraits, and surprise the children with a professional Magician/Illusionist for an incredible magic show! For the first time, the students performed a virtual Christmas Pageant, and the biggest highlight in December was our “Drive-By with Santa”, when Santa (our own David Lucey) thrilled the children by paying them a visit, speaking to each child and gifting them a candy cane! A beautiful way to end a very challenging year.
We begin 2022 at full capacity with 64 students! This year’s success is due to the dedication and talent of our wonderful teachers. They are truly the heart and soul of this preschool.
The Creche is governed by a Board of Directors, chaired by Larry Pratt. Simon Smith is the Creche treasurer. Pam Cooper is in charge of publicity and public relations. Kelly Sevilla is our parent representative. David Black is our Vestry Liaison. David Lucey, Patrick Killoran, and Lynn Fallon complete the board. We are so grateful to all who have given their time to make the Creche such a wonderful Christian education ministry in this community.
SPECIAL REPORT FOR MUSIC MINISTRY
Despite the ongoing challenges of the Pandemic which have affected the past two years of Parish life, the Music Ministry continued to build upon the good will, talents and energy of the Parish to provide a prayerful musical experience to the community. Perhaps the biggest change that happened this year was the addition of Sasha Beresovsky as organist/pianist to the parish. His past training as a concert pianist and experience as church organist has proven to be a fine addition to the music program.
Listed below are bullets of the significant activities undertaken by the Music Ministry during 2021.
- From January through Easter the continued virtual provision of music by Larry Vote and Jeanne Vote for each Sunday’s service. Jeanne Vote provided this service gratis to the parish;
- With the guidance of Patrick Killoran, the production of choral anthems virtually recorded by the members of the Choir which were used during many of the Sunday services;
- The provision of music for Holy Week in conjunction with our neighboring parish
- The regathering of the Choir for the outdoor services of Easter and Pentecost;
- The process of deciding upon and ordering new vestments for the choir
- The regathering of the Choir for both rehearsal and Sunday services in September 2021
- The preparation and performance of Requiem by Gabriel Faure with the St. Mary’s College of Maryland Chamber Singers on November 6 to commemorate the Feast of All Saints;
- The preparation of special music for Christmas with Lindsey and William Bertin
- The preparation of special music for the Feast of Christmas by the Choir, organist and Music Director.
Finally, I thank the members of the Choir, who with the section leaders make this ensemble a great joy and asset of the Parish, Patrick Killoran for his technical assistance in recording and broadcasting the ensemble, Lynn Fallon for her administrative support of the music program and Rector David Lucey for his leadership and willingness to try new musical ideas in the service of the liturgy.
SPECIAL REPORT FOR ENDOWMENT COMMITTEE
The St. Francis Endowment ended the year with a market value of $186,577.33. The endowment is invested with The Trustees of the Funds. The Trustees of the Funds (ToTF) is an elected board of Episcopal church members that oversees professionally managed investment portfolios benefiting the churches and organizations in the Commonwealth of Virginia. For the year ended December 31, 2021, the Balanced Fund had a return of 13.2% and an annualized return of 12.9% over the last three years. It has been the custom of the St. Francis Vestry to reinvest all earnings back into the endowment fund and to not take any distributions in an effort to build the value of the endowment for future use.
The Endowment Committee welcomes contributions toward the endowment at any time and also encourages future gifts as part of parishioner’s estate planning process.
SPECIAL REPORT FOR INVITE “WELCOME” CONNECT (IWC) COMMITTEE
The Invite*Welcome*Connect committee has met once a week every week since the Pandemic began in March, 2020. The committee is led by Wendy Pan and includes Kathy Anderson, Rick Larson, Jennifer Murphy, and Leslie Siegmund. David Lucey also often joins the meetings.
During the Pandemic and all of during all of 2021, the IWC has focused on its core missions. Activities to support those missions are described below.
SPECIAL REPORT FOR OUTREACH COMMITTEE
The generosity of St. Francis parishioners and support from the Vestry, Treasurer, and Rector facilitated many successful Outreach programs and activities in 2021.
The Vestry increased the Outreach budget for 2021 to $36,000. These very welcome additional funds enabled Outreach to continue supporting the excellent charities St. Francis has had an ongoing relationship with as well as increase support for local food programs. For a list of charities supported by Outreach, please see the Outreach webpage on the St. Francis Church website.
Support for Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington
– St. Francis is one of the 12 founding members of Samaritan Ministry, and we continued our financial and in-kind support in 2021. In March, a number of Franciscans attended the virtual Samaritan Ministry Next Step Breakfast. In May, we welcomed Ben Morgan, a successful Samaritan Ministry participant, at our Sunday worship service. Ben delivered a powerful testimonial about his very difficult journey and his gratitude to Samaritan Ministry for helping him overcome obstacles and put his life back together. See below for information on the successful Christmas Gift Drive for children in Samaritan Ministry and Housing Up families.
– Thanks to Jennifer Murphy’s leadership, Franciscans delivered 39 Sunday dinners (on average more than three each month) to the Second Story Shelter for Teens in Crisis. Second Story helps these teens either reunite with their families or find other stable living arrangements and support in their lives.
Diaper Drive for Cornerstones Pantry
– Donations to the drive enabled us to deliver 5,760 diapers to Cornerstones in March, and at least one St. Francis family delivered additional diapers.
School Supplies Drive for Second Story
– Held in July for the over 500 children and youth in Second Story programs, the drive received approximately $450 worth of donated school supplies including 22 backpacks and over $900 in cash donations. At Second Story’s request, we purchased 66 additional backpacks with the cash donations.
Thanksgiving Food Drive
– For the many families with children in Second Story programs, we received over $1,200 in cash donations and two “baskets” of food plus $40 in gift cards.
Christmas Gift Drive
– Due to the pandemic, we were unable to have our traditional Christmas party for Samaritan Ministry and Housing Up families and their children. We held a successful Christmas gift drive instead and received enough in generous cash donations to purchase $25 gift cards for 129 children and an additional 56 gift cards for single adults working toward self-sufficiency in Samaritan Ministry programs. We also purchased children’s reading books, activity books, pencils, and crayons for 40 of the children.
Afghan Refugee Apartment
– In December, the Outreach Committee committed to furnishing an apartment for an Afghan refugee family in 2022. Leslie Siegmund and Phil Pifer are leading this project.