Diocese helps St. Luke's

By David Stoneberg

The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California has decided to reimburse St. Luke’s Episcopal Church a huge amount, $107,000, for the renovations that were made on our vicarage house on Adele Street.

Senior Warden Carolyn Czapleski said the diocese’s actions are unprecedented, because they’ve never done this before and she added, “They believe in St. Luke’s and our continued growth.”

The Rev. William “Father Mac” McIlmoyl, our priest-in-charge, talked about the vicarage and decision before last Sunday’s church service.

“Well, the vicarage had been occupied for a little over 10 years by the same tenant, who had been very easy on the maintenance -- there was virtually none done -- and when they moved out, the vicarage was in serious need of update.

“So, we decided to launch into it on faith, we had enough in savings to at least get started, we estimated the job could take as much as $80,000, and wound it being closer to $140,000. Once we got into it and neared the end, we were already over $100,000, we went to the diocese asking for a loan of $80,000 to help alleviate the financial commitment we had made to update the vicarage.

“That appeal went to the finance subcommittee of the larger diocesean board, which is the decision making body for the diocese. One of the members of the finance committee commented that the vicarage is really diocesean property and rather than granting St. Luke’s an $80,000 loan, perhaps the diocese should make an investment in St. Luke’s to cover most of the cost for the capital improvements that have been done, including kitchen, floors, windows and bathrooms.

“So, a couple of weeks ago, after a process of fine-tuning the request, it came before the board and they approved $107,000 to compensate us for the money we had spent in capital improvements on the vicarage, that in essence belongs to the diocese.

“Of course, what this means is that our reserves are no longer depleted, some of which we’ve had to dig into just to meet weekly expenses. It gives us an enormous cushion and the ability to go forward with ministries that we would have been largely unable to do had it not been for that gift.

“Actually, as part of the deal, we agreed that because we had increased the rent from $2,600 to $3,800, we would share $300 a month with the diocese. They responded that they really didn’t need that, because it’s just an accounting problem for us. So, even that, they forgave us. Anyway, we have a clean slate, we are financially solid, going forward we have nothing but gratitude to offer and blessings have really flown to us.

“This is really a precedent on behalf of the diocesean board, because they have not done this before for another church, which is to encourage their ministries, rather than to simply bail churches out in the event of disaster.

“We came as a bit of fresh air to them and they certainly came as a breath of fresh air to St. Luke’s. So we’re very grateful and I owe all of that to the hard work of Carolyn Czapleski, (senior warden), Janet Herrero (treasurer) and Connie Schellenger (junior warden), especially who oversaw all of the construction.

“We feel we’ve been very faithful and good stewards of the property that has been entrusted to us and our vicarage is now well occupied by a sweet couple with twin little girls. They will be very good tenants for us and provide income that helps sustain our life here. Going forward, we hear the voice of Christ saying to us, ‘Well done, good and faithful stewards.’”

The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California covers 26 counties, has some 14,000 baptized members and includes 68 parishes and missions.

Editor's Note: Dave Stoneberg is a retired journalist and member of St. Luke's Mission Committee.