2019 Annual Parish Meeting
The annual General Parish Meeting convened on Sunday, March 3. Many projects were completed in 2018 and much is planned for this year. George Sokoloff chaired the meeting, and Lana Logvy acted as secretary. After acceptance of the 2018 minutes, discussion of the 2019 operating budgets and capital projects ensued.
A report of the Auditing Committee found that our parish assets total $2.1 million, including real estate holdings, investments, and bank accounts (e.g., Benevolent Fund, Sisterhood, and savings). Michael Kirchanski, our Financial Manager, noted that our finances are strong and stable. This year, we will be working with our insurance carrier to reassess and adequately insure our real estate holdings. Inflows for the year exceeded $300,000. This amount included $26,202 in stewardship and membership, $94,490 in iconostasis donations, and $67,378 in rental income (almost $25,000 from the hall alone, thanks to the ongoing efforts of Paul Johnson), as well as a $20,000 transfer from savings. Outflows totaled $305,000. We have spent $82,957 on the iconostasis to date, which is 75% paid up. Last year’s budget projected a deficit of
$150,000, while in fact, we had a $21,000 deficit, quite an accomplishment considering the investments we are making in church beautification. We were blessed to receive much more in donations than we expected. For 2019, we plan to spend approximately $35,000 for the iconostasis and $35,000 for iconography. Toward this goal, we are conducting a gala auction night fundraiser on May 3. Our goal is to raise enough money to pay off the iconostasis.
We plan to transition from Quicken to Quick Books for our accounting, which will give us more options in terms of recordkeeping, payroll, and categorizing funds, as well as giving receipts to donors. In the pastor’s report, Father Alexander reviewed our 41st year of parish life. For 2018, he reported four baptisms of children and adults, one wedding, and four deaths: Olga Zaharova, Sonja Hoffmark, Barbara Drost, and one of our founding members, Olga Javoian. Over one hundred people received Holy Unction at the service in March 2018, served by seven clergy, and in January 2018, Father performed 64 house blessings, traveling from Clear Lake to San Francisco to Sacramento. The number of communicants during Great Lent (401) was the lowest since the 1990s. Unfortunately, our membership levels have not returned to those of a few years ago when many of our members passed away, and we have only 85 dues-paying families/members this year. We need to work on expanding our regular membership. When we see new people, we should welcome them and invite them to lunch to make a personal connection.
The iconostasis project is coming along well. The artisans in Crete are done carving the wood and have begun staining and gilding. The results are phenomenal. We are awaiting delivery of the completed iconostasis, which is planned for May. The transport and inspection will take more than a month, after which we will fly over two representatives to help install the iconostasis in the church. We will provide tools, scaffolding, and manpower. We will disassemble the old iconostasis, refinish the altar floor, and install the new one. We don’t anticipate an interruption in the service schedule during the transition.Two major projects have been ongoing for several years: church beautification in preparation for the full Consecration, and the cemetery project. We are moving ahead with the permit process on our cemetery. Although the county is moving very slowly, we still have high hopes for the project coming to fruition. Father asked that we reelect the Board of Directors of the Saints Peter and Paul Fund, LLC, for another year: Paul Johnson, George Sokoloff, Todd Stewart, Vladimir Kondrasheff, and Demitrios Handelih (who is replacing Eli Shikaloff).
Many of the icons for our altar screen will be finished in time for the Consecration, to be painted by Vladimir Krassovsky.
However, we are not yet able to set a firm date for the full Consecration of our church.
We will need to prepare our altar table according to the instructions in the rubrics, which is a very detailed process, involving a relic compartment, sealing with special wax, and nailing the top onto the table with rocks. We can either build a new altar table or construct a larger cover over the existing one. The first two hours of the service will take place in the altar with a male choir. New vestments must be sewn for the altar and the rest of the church. The clergy and choir have a great deal of preparation as well. Father plans to travel to Kiev this year in July to purchase material for the vestments. The costs there are significantly less, and Zoya Litvinenko has graciously offered to sew them.
Father reported that several of our fire families have resettled into new homes. However, there have been significant delays by the county and the insurers. Please keep them in your prayers and continue to give them the support they need.
The stewardship program continued successfully in 2018: we received 104% of pledges, up from 98% the previous year. Of 56 stewards, 32 exceeded their pledges. The total amount collected from stewardship and membership combined grew to roughly $26,000— an important segment of our annual operating budget. In addition, we far exceeded our expected donations for the iconostasis, at $94,500. It is so heartening to see everyone rising to the occasion. After doing away with plate collections, we actually increased our donations, which are now anonymous, using envelopes. This is in spite of the fact that attendance at services did decline significantly.
Father thanked the Parish Council and Starosta Paul Johnson as well as Nadia Stewart, the Senior Sister. A great deal has been accomplished this year, and we have made wise and productive use of our resources. He noted that the spiritual condition of the parish is worrisome, with poor attendance at liturgies and vigils. We feel the loss of the older generation, as younger people are not taking their place. Father encouraged everyone to resist the spiritual complacency and busyness that interfere with fully participating in the life of the church, and asked people to reach out to family and friends to encourage them to attend, especially during holy Lent with its special services.
Father Alexander gave a heartfelt thanks to his brother clergymen who filled in for him while he was out with an injured foot, including those from around the Bay Area—Holy Protection Church in Palo Alto, St. Seraphim’s in Santa Rosa, and the San Francisco Cathedral—and his brother, Archimandrite Roman, who celebrated Liturgy on the 30th anniversary of Father’s ordination. Thanks also went to Father Deacon Afanassy for helping to serve during this difficult time, and for everyone’s prayers and patience. Father also thanked those who work quietly and diligently to accomplish so many tasks in our parish: the choir, Sisterhood, teachers, newsletter contributors, donors, and other benefactors. May God reward and strengthen them for years to come.
The slate of Parish Council members was reelected by acclamation, and there were minor changes to the Auditing Committee: Chair Helen Powers is stepping down after her many years of service to the parish, and Chris Jones will become a full member. John Reighard and Daniel Alva will be reserve members, and Diana Handelih and Ian McWethy will continue in their roles. Michael Kirchanski will continue as Financial Manager, and Elisabeth (Aliona) Russie will serve as Assistant Financial Manager.
The Starosta’s report by Paul Johnson summarized infrastructure accomplishments of the past year. We painted the exterior of our church, which was a major project. The job, costing ~$24,000, should last for many years to come. We installed moisture barriers in the doors in the hall and fly screens that are working well. Our sign had its light secured in a cement block to prevent vandalism. Repairs were made to the parsonage roof and ceiling. We had our well inspected by the state water board. As a result, we fixed a backflow issue, rerouted piping, built an enclosure and retaining wall to prevent contamination, and installed a flow meter, all costing ~$4,000. Also, we installed LED lights in the parking lot, which save us money on our PG&E bill.
Future capital improvements to our church include updating and expanding our kitchen This project will be looked at after the main Consecration of our church has been accomplished. Our main focus now is the installation of the new iconostasis, during which we plan to refinish the floors.
Our hall rentals ($25,000) were up 60% in 2018, and this year, they are up 23% over 2018. In another milestone, we are grateful to Demitrios Handelih, who has created a beautiful, living website for our church (stspproca.org). The streaming services, which are available there, are a benefit to those unable to attend.
Lana Jones presented the Sisterhood’s annual report. Nadia Stewart will be continuing as Head Sister, and Lana will be continuing as Treasurer. She mentioned that it would be great to get more members participating in the lunches and give a break to those who so often prepare them. Thanks are due to all who contributed to the success of this year’s Bazaar. Gift baskets were well received at Christmas and Easter by shut-in members of our parish. There were no major purchases in 2018, but they hope to have some in 2019, including updates to the kitchen. Preparations are under way for Pascha, and presales are ongoing.
The Sisterhood ended the year with a balance of $14,637. During the year, they donated almost $3,000 in bonuses and $30,000 in cash to the church. Their revenues of over $42,000 included proceeds from Sunday lunches ($15,784), the annual pre-Christmas Bazaar ($21,126), and sales of kulich and pascha ($2,500). Pelmeniy-making, which is a social and fund raising activity, will take place on the first Thursday of each month at 9:00 a.m. It drew 22 participants at a recent session, and is another successful fundraiser. Thanks go to Zoya and Alex Litvinenko for preparing the ingredients.
The cemetery report was given by Todd Stewart (photo at right), a member of the LLC that is in charge of the project. They’ve made excellent progress, with input from key parish members (Yura Sokoloff, Vova Kondrasheff, Paul Johnson, Demetrius Handelih, and Father Alexander) and Michael Swicegood, our land planner. Daniels Chapel of the Roses, WRA Environmental, and Mel Lewis have also been supportive consultants.
After an 18-month hiatus during 2016–2017, the designs have been changed and the project has been modified to be more compliant with permitting requirements. New architectural drawings have been created. The gazebo will be replaced by a religious monument in the center (photo at left shows the Cossacks’ Memorial at Serbian Cemetery). We completed a noise study (costing $5,800) along the road in front of the proposed site as well as an updated water table (hydrogeological) study. We plan to use waterproof vaults in our burials in order to allay environmental concerns. Our permit application was formally submitted to the Sonoma County PRMD on July 23, along with a fee of $16,715. We expect a timely response from our contracted individuals for the county review process. We plan to submit responses to any further requests during the next few months. There will be a hearing with the county in July or August, and then hopefully a permit decision in October.
George Sokoloff, the honorary chair of the meeting, spoke on behalf of the LLC, which has $115,000 in total assets and $310,000 in loans. In 2018, it spent $46,000 more than it took in, including on bank and development charges as well as interest. Our accounts are in good shape, in that our assets greatly exceed our liabilities in terms of cash on hand and property value. Once we start operating the cemetery, we will be able to generate a good income.