Aug. 25, 2013
To our Esteemed Parish Council,
This letter is directed to the Council, but I also want as many parishioners as possible to read it. I am not a regular reader or commentator of the blog, but my guess is that more people in our parish take a look at this blog on a regular basis than any other method of communication. Thus, it is an efficient vehicle for me to air my thoughts to you and the parish as a whole.
I wanted to thank you for your hard work in preparing for the Special General Assembly today. My extremely capable cousin, Harry Souvall, also deserves a hearty pat on the back for doing an excellent job as chairman and running an orderly meeting in what could have been a difficult situation. He was a superb choice for this difficult job. Chris Sakellariou also did a fine job being the principal presenter of the financial reports and answering the majority of questions from parishioners.
Many viewpoints were presented today and I believe an effective compromise was reached, although by the closest of margins. The subtlety of the motion created an interesting end result. I noticed good people who I would’ve expected to vote either for or against the motion doing exactly the opposite. That indicated to me that an acceptable compromise had been reached because no one really got everything they wanted.
The only point of virtually universal agreement that we heard today is that we need to increase stewardship. I made a suggestion at the meeting today that I would like to reiterate because I believe it is crucial to effectively reach that goal.
We as parishioners need to know that our Lay leadership, the Parish Council, is sincere, committed, and proactive—that this Council is completely willing to do exactly what they are asking of us. We need to know this Council will lead by example by increasing your individual stewardship pledges at this very critical moment in time, especially because you are more acutely aware of our needs as you must deal with it on a daily or weekly basis.
Without exception, the most effective leadership is leading by example. Numerous times today we heard the spokesmen for the Council beseech us to dig a little deeper. As I promised today, my lovely bride and I are more than willing to do so on top of our current pledge, but we want to know that our leaders, as a group, are not only supportive of this effort but are willing lead the charge. Based on what I saw and heard today, a very significant number of others in our parish are willing to do the same.
The specifics of my “challenge” to the Parish Council are as follows:
1—President Tsagaris, or any other officer or member of the Council for that matter, sends a private email to each Council member asking them for 2 specific pieces of information.
2--First, what their pledge was at the start of the year when they placed their hand on the Bible in Church, verbally gave their Affirmation to serve, and signed the accompanying written Affirmation.
3—Secondly, what their new pledge for the year will be after this Special General Assembly. I would expect to see a significant increase from our leaders.
4—The initiator of this private email will then calculate the Average Council member pledge at the start of the year by adding the total pledges and dividing it by 14 (or whatever is the correct number of council members).
5—The same person will then calculate the new and revised Average Council member pledge after this Special General Assembly using the method described above.
6—The same person will then calculate the Average percentage increase of the revised Council pledges over the original pledges.
7—This Average percentage increase will be reported to the Parish at the soonest possible time by email blast, weekly bulletins, or any other effective means of communication as a “challenge” to our parish to do their best to follow our Parish Council’s lead and increase their pledges.
This process will maintain individual privacy for each Council member, but also be indicative of your collective willingness to set a standard for the parish to follow. Although there is certainly no requirement for the Parish Council to do this, I am absolutely positive this action will be highly welcomed, deeply appreciated, and most importantly, emulated.
This process will require very little time or effort by the Parish Council—perhaps two or three rounds of emails over the next day or two. I believe it can result in a large windfall in stewardship in a very short amount of time.
Chris Sakellariou told us near the end of today’s meeting that quite a few people already stepped forward to add to their stewardship, including at least two Council members (I apologize if that number is incorrect). I commend those people and I fully expect to see that number grow considerably when the full Parish Council takes the initiative to lead the way. As I said today, I will match the Parish Council percentage increase over my current pledge and pay in full within 3 days of receiving notice of this information.
God Bless each of you, your families, and our beloved Parish.
William P. Souvall
Monday, August 26, 2013
Aug. 25, 2013