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The Annual Meeting

January 21, 2024

The minutes from the January 22, 2023 meeting can be found here.

Agenda

  • Appointment of the Clerk of the Meeting
  • Opening Prayer
  • Report from the Nominating Committee
    • Boyd McKoane, Junior Warden
    • Mary Anne Koruth, 3 year term to the vestry (Communications)
    • Lisa Winter, 3 year term to the vestry (Stewardship)
    • Emie Williams, 3 year term to the vestry (Outreach)
    • Bill Wood, Diocesan Convention Representative
    • Dan Tartaglia, Diocesan Convention Representative
    • Doug Post, Diocesan Convention Alternate
  • Election of those Nominated
  • Report from the outgoing Senior Warden, Martha Heiner
  • Report from the Rector
  • Finance Report and the adoption of the 2024 Budget
  • The Presentation of the Lifetime Stewardship Award
  • Questions and comments from the floor
  • Adjournment

Rector

I’m currently getting ready for the winter/spring Rector’s Forum on the Book of Acts, and so I’ve been immersed in the story of the newly appointed apostles being moved by the Spirit to bring the Good News to the world. They didn’t have all the answers and everything wasn’t perfect by any means, but they were faithful and driven by the love that God had for them and for the whole world. I can’t help but see the connections between St Mark’s and those apostles.

I am so, so proud of this church. Surely my colleagues are tired of hearing me brag about you all—and maybe this year more than others. We’ve seen some long-term dreams and goals be achieved: no more mortgage and a new console for the organ. We are seeing newcomers and people “church shopping” almost every week. We had an incredibly successful (and fun!) Alpha at Ridge Oak. We had our third annual Food Truck event which drew in longtime parishioners, but also new folks. Every time our youth group gathers I’m amazed by this enthusiastic group of young people who enjoy each other, and who are growing in front of my eyes.

One of the things that I believe is key to a growing church, is being a presence in the community. I do a lot of things “out there” in the world, that many people probably aren’t aware of. I lead monthly services at Ridge Oak, Fellowship Village, and Holly Manor. I lead a remarkable book group at Fellowship Village which is one of the highlights of my week every week. I serve on the boards of Community in Crisis, Curbing Hunger, and St Martin’s House. I organize the Walk to Bethlehem, I often get called upon to give the invocation over Charter Day, I serve as the Chaplain to the Basking Ridge Fire Company #1, and I’m frequently found hanging out at the Food Bank.

I am so, so grateful for the strong and dedicated group of leaders (and apostles!) here at St Mark’s. I am very thankful for the leadership of Martha Heiner, who has been a terrific warden. And, I am so thankful for the three years of leadership and work that Marliese Knill and Jody Hough put into the vestry. How lucky are we to have Michael McCormick?! I would also be lost without the capable work of Ann Millan every single day.

Rick Morley

Senior Warden

As I look back on my time as Warden, I am truly amazed by the year 2023. This Annual Report will be brimming with news from each Vestry commission: news of the good works completed, news of the fellowship created when we join together in community, and news of being good stewards of our buildings and finances.  It has been wonderful to take part in, or just witness, the ways in which the church has thrived after the challenges of recent years and continues to be the place we can call our “church home”. Our efforts to shore up the foundation of this home have begun to come to fruition in ways both planned and unplanned.

This year marked the 2nd of our 3-year Capital Campaign “Moved by the Spirit”, an idea which formed, was supported by the Vestry and then by the whole parish, in such an inspiring way itproves the Holy Spirit was surely involved.  We continue into the third year having completed the paydown of the mortgage, arenovated Organ, and we have a positive outlook on completing roofing needs.  Thank you all for your generous support, both in funds and in talents, contributing to the success of these endeavors.  A special acknowledgement goes to Chip Hughes and his desire to set up a matching donation to inspire us all to put the church on a firm financial foundation.  And to the Hughes family – Claudia, Joe, Liz and Matt, for carrying out his wishes.  In July, I was honored to take part in the dedication of the Heritage Wing of the building, as “Hughes Hall” with the whole family present, in gratitude for their contributions to the life of the church.

I would also like to share some news from the last few months.  A new endowment fund, called the St. Cecilia Music Endowment Fund, has been established with an initial donation of $5000 by a parishioner.  The intent is to grow over time a fund which could generate enough income to support the music program and reduce or eliminate the need to raise funds each year for these purposes.  St. Cecilia became the patron saint of music and musicians, it being written that, as the musicians played at her wedding, Cecilia “sang in her heart to the Lord”. Thank you to the Vestry for accepting and implementing this endowment fund.

The year also held some remarkable events connecting us to the larger Episcopal Church. It began in January with the election of Bishop Sally French, the 13th Bishop of the Diocese of New Jersey.  Taking part in her election, subsequently witnessing her installation, and bidding farewell to Bishop Stokes at a gala featuring Presiding Bishop Michael Curry were events which brought us together with other churches as one body, and for that chance I am so grateful.  On a more local level, the joint worship services with St. Bernard’s and St. John on the Mountain continue to unite us in some very meaningful Holy Weeks, and I’d like to thank Fr. Rick for all his efforts with these other churches.  Fr. Rick also provided an offering of Forum courses (a study of Exodus, a study of grief through the book “It’s OK That You’re Not OK” by Megan Devine, and a deep look into the Trinity) which have attracted people inside and outside the parish to take part.  What a wonderful offering for our spiritual lives.

This was indeed a remarkable year.  Thank you to the Vestry and Staff for all the work you do. It has been a joy to witness the formation of ideas, the clarifying and refinement of plans through discussion, and the vote process which makes me thankful to be an Episcopalian. Thank you to the Vestry members finishing their terms – Jody Hough for Outreach, and Marliese Knill for Communications. And thank you to Lisa Winter for completing the final year of a term for Stewardship and signing on for another three-year term.  I wish the incoming Vestry and incoming Wardens, Chuck Knill and Boyd McKoane, a wonderful 2024.

 

Martha Heiner

Thank you all for the privilege

Finance

Click here for the full report with the budget

2023 FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS

Net operating income was $409.4K compared to $390.8K budgeted, or favorable by $18.6K.  Pledges were 3% above the budget.  Also, building use donations were $9.9k favorable to budget.

Net operating expenses were $394K versus $390.4K budgeted.  The only significant variances were the buildings and ground expenses primarily resulting from the removal of dead Ash trees at the church and rectory.  Overall, building and ground costs were $2.6K over budget with the benefit of an $8K favorable variance from the budgeted, but not used, sexton cost.   Overall heating costs were favorable to budget by $1.8K.

Net operating profit was $15.4K, which exceeded the budget of $399.  The Vestry has authorized $12K to be transferred to the maintenance ($10K) and landscaping ($2K) funds to meet the ongoing needs of the church and replenish funds used in 2023.

The operating cash position was $94.4K at year end, an improvement of $37.8K from last year.  Also, the value of our Diocesan Investment Trust (DIT) increased by $26.1K due to favorable financial markets in 2023. Finally, the mortgage balance was paid in full resulting from the success of the Capital Campaign.  

Excellent financial progress in 2023!  

2024 FINANCIAL BUDGET

Total Operating Income Budget is $408.3K. We have projected pledges of $315K. The remainingincome will come from donations, holiday offerings, building rental, and two rummage sales. The budgeted pledge income was derived from pledge commitments actually received.  The other income was based upon our historical experience and actual commitments (DIT income, Building Use)

Total Operating Expense Budget is $408.2K, which primarily comprises personnel costs of $248.7K (increasing $9K over prior year due to increases in health care premiums and cost of living adjustments for salaries), administrative expenses of $16K, buildings and grounds of $102K (continued upkeep needs of the church and rectory), worship expenses of $5.9K including youth and adult education programs and our contribution to the Diocese of NJ of $25.3K (below the expected pledge based on gross income of the church but planned to increase in 2024 with the repayment of the mortgage).  

Net Operating Income is targeted to be approximately $0. A detailed 2023 income statement and balance sheet can be obtained upon request along with the 2024 budget.

I would like to thank the Finance Committee (Father Rick, Sean Gogerty, Martha Heiner, Chuck Knill, Matt Seitz, Ann Millan, and Doug Post) for their time, efforts, and guidance throughout my first year.  A special thanks goes to Ann Millan, who enters and reconciles all financial transactions and prepares financial statements each month; and to Doug Post, our Recording Treasurer, for recording and depositing all contributions on a weekly basis and providing valuable pledge income insights each month to the committee.

Lastly, thank you all for your financial commitments and support for our wonderful church!

Jaime Overley

Outreach

I am very grateful for all the help we had this year for everything.  The rummage sales went well in spite of minor complications of vacation week and my surgery. Ross Farm had a tough time in the spring because of the change in the weather after the original planting.  With hard work and lots of help from Oak Street School, the Boy Scouts and our workers, we had a successful season.  The gardens were expanded as well as the bee hives.  By the end of the season we had donated a total of 4,300 pounds of produce to local food banks, the VA Hospital and where else needed.

We had another good year in Keansburg where we prepared meals to go twice a month for a total of 2,180 meals.  Since the inception of this project in December 2012, we have donated a total of 24,368 meals.

A big thanks goes out to all the providers.  We also had generous donations for Thanksgiving and Christmas of roasts and this year we added vegetarian lasagnas for the Somerset Food Bank.  We also had a very generous donation of gift cards for the food bank as well.

The Prayer blankets are going strong as are the Christening blankets.  Saturdays in September has been down sized to only 2 Saturdays of the month.  They are very interested in getting the high school students involved as well as the parents.  They have increased the amount of the produce and the customers are so grateful.

Again, I am very grateful for all the support from our friends and congregation.

Jody Hough

Fellowship

As a first time Vestry member with a newborn and a five year old at home, I was blessed to have such a reliable Fellowship committee and supportive community at  St. Mark’s!  We had both new and seasoned hosts for coffee hour following the 10 o’clock service each week The Mid-Lent Brunch and Advent Brunch were both full of wonderful home cooked dishes, with so many helping hands from set up to kitchen crew to clean up! It couldnt have come together without the generous work of Anne Post, Nancy and Tim Opremcak, Bruce and Lauren Walker, Jim Martucci, and Dawn and Chuck Knill. Our Annual Picnic in early September had an abundance of food, with burgers and hot dogs cooked by Jeff West. After a long hiatus, Dawn Knill brought back our Women’s Group this past February, which meets monthly in the HeritageRoom!

In late September, we had our first Fundraiser since Covid and after an unfortunate delay due to illness, it was a wonderful time and huge success! With music from She’s at the Door, home brewed beer from Father Rick and John Lyga, Local honey, a Silent Auction organized by Nancy and Tim Opremcak and delicious homemade BBQ  by the Knill’s, it was the place to be!The Bluegrass and BBQ Fundraiser raised $9174.34 for the Chittick Fund in support of the Music Program. 

In this new year, I expect brunch and coffee hour will continue to be met with an abundance of support. My hope is to expand our opportunities for fun and fellowship with a monthly Open Mic Night, group outings and more!  

Emma Lanese

Buildings

Compared to last year, the Building Commission had few surprises. Instead, we had steady work and continued deferred maintenance. Many thanks to John Lyga for fixing things big and small at our facilities on an almost weekly basis, including doors, circuits, wiring and sundry other things. In the spring we handled fire inspection deficiencies, including finding and inspecting all smoke dampers in our ductwork. We had kitchen hood vents and grease trap cleaned. Needed repairs were made to stained glass window actuators, ensuring their continued use for years to come. On June 1, Ridge students painted halls and walls as part of the Ridge Gives Back day. Plans to refurbish the parish hall were put on hold when repair quotes came in higher than expected.  Emergency repairs on our aging heating system finished out the year.

 The new year will stretch our small discretionary budget as we catch up with projects, including parish hall renovations, lighting in the nave, and budgeting for more roof repairs. 

Ben Hargy

Christian Education

2023 saw a modest increase in attendance for our growing Sunday School program and continued high attendance for our Youth Group.
As the leader of our Youth Group, Hannah Creighton packed the year with a variety of programming for our middle and high schoolers.  The teens met every other Sunday for dinner and kept in touch via group chat.  Highlights included craft night, dodge ball night, Alpha for teens, game night, pancake supper.  The youth capped off 2023 with an overnight lock-in including games, movies, a beautiful late night Eucharist and stirring conversation.  We look forward to more service projects and events in 2024!
Sunday School met at the same time as youth group and split off into small group lessons with Father Rick.  We even had a small First Communion class this year.  Hopefully you all had a chance to see our multi-generational Creche service in December.  We hope to start planning soon for Vacation Bible School this summer.

Thank you to Beth Kujan for running the bulb sale to benefit the youth group and outreach projects.

If you would like to be involved in our youth programs or have ideas for projects or programming for any age from pre-school to high school, I’d love to hear from you.  klhglass@gmail.com

Kristen Hauser

Communications

This past year has been another successful one for communications. We continued to grow our online presence with social media followers and YouTube subscribers. We also had a successful food truck event for the third year in a row. Thank you to everyone who attended despite the rain! I also wanted to recognize and thank Owen Glass for helping with managing the live stream over the last few years.

It has been a pleasure working alongside Father Rick the last few years as the communications chair. If you are not already connected to St Mark’s- like us on FaceBook, follow us on Instagram, and subscribe to us on YouTube!

Marliese Knill

Membership

In 2023 the membership vestry chair is Lily Chan who was mainly in charge of the greeter’s ministry and the annual Basking Ridge Charter Day event. There are currently seven people in the greeter’s ministry who also function as the Membership committee. The faithful servants are: Nancy Brangaccio, Casey Chan, Adie Sant Foster, Lindy Judd, Gerry McDonnell and Laurie Lupo.  Fr. Rick has designed seasonal flyers for newcomers who visit St Mark’s, so that they can quickly connect with church by using QR code printed on the flyer. By handing out the flyer, greeter has an opportunity to connect with the new comers as well.  

This year’s charter day event was planned with activities such as tying the prayer ribbons, making message candles and spice jars. There was also lemonade and popcorn, along with a bubble machine that would draw attention from the families with kids. However the rainy condition of the day turned this event into a fellowship opportunity. The message candles and spice jars later became part of the Welcome Kit to new comers.

Lily Chan

Our longtime feeding ministry in Keansburg

2,180

Meals served in 2023 at the Soup Kitchen in Keansburg

24,368

Meals served in Keansburg since 2012

225

Approximate number of meatloaves made and served

Stewardship

Stewardship is defined by Websters dictionary as “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”  St. Mark’s is entrusted to our care, and through our annual pledges, we ensure that the community and missions of St. Mark’s flourish.  A deep thank you for your generosity and commitment to St. Mark’s this Stewardship season.

We kicked off our 2024 stewardship campaign with a “Stewardship 101” presentation to bring everyone up to speed on the importance of our annual pledges to St. Mark’s, which I particularly found helpful as someone who did not grow up in the Episcopal Church.  We then asked everyone to sign up for a home delivery of a delicious home-made chocolate chip pumpkin bread loaf with their pledge card.  It was such a pleasure for me to make those home visits with pledge card and pumpkin bread in hand – everyone welcomed me so warmly, and I enjoyed our conversations.  We also distributed our pumpkin bread loaves at a couple of coffee hours.

For 2024 we received 72 pledges totaling $318,000, which is about a 4% increase in total pledges from last year.

I want to thank everyone on the Stewardship Commission for contributing their creative ideas, stewardship experience and wonderful baking skills to the campaign.  I also want to thank Doug Post for his wisdom and experience.

Lisa Winter

Grounds

On the morning of April 8, we had nine church members that worked hard to spruce up the church grounds: raked, blew leaves, mowed, and moved and spread quite a bit of mulch all over the property, including the rectory. It took us only two hours. It was also a very good time of fellowship!
We have a service that handles cutting grass and removing snow.
The rock wall running from the front and down Lewis was repaired in June. There was also repair done to the rectory patio.
Four ash trees were removed in August: back of parking lot, rectory (2), and next to the office.

Steve Kujan