(NB – Vestry do not meet during July)

Vestry met on 30 August and took some not so insignificant decisions. Here are highlights:

In addition to David Clarke, we appointed Jem Birrell to the CDEL board. Together they bring significant expertise in finance, programme management, and marketing to the board. David is a member of St John’s. Jem’s sister and sister-in-law are, too. Cornerstone Development Edinburgh Ltd (CDEL) is our trading arm, which has control over most of the Cornerstone Centre.

While our treasurer still urged us to be realistic and hence cautious, the financial numbers so far look much more promising than they did last year: For the first time we are not violating our loan agreement. We are up-to date with both loan payments and diocesan quota. The loan currently stands at £739,281 and our cash reserves are at £190,219. As of the end of July, CDEL’s income is up 168% from July 2021 at £102k and CDEL’s expenses (including significant depreciation) are up 1% from July 2021 at £267k. St. John’s is standing at an increase of income by 10% to £412k and an increase of expenses by 8% to £330k (all YTD and compared to July 2021). These numbers look very encouraging, but are to be taken with caution as it is the consolidated accounts of both CDEL and St John’s at the end of the financial year that matter. The audit of our accounts will commence in September and we will then be able to publish the consolidated accounts in time for our Annual General Meeting (AGM).

Our AGM will take place in the Cornerstone Centre on 14 November 2022, 7pm for 7:30pm. Vestry discussed if we should move the Monday evening meeting time to Sunday afternoon, but it was felt that for now we will continue our tradition. However, we would like to hear back from you. Would you prefer to meet in 2023 on Monday evening or Sunday afternoon?

After some discussion, we agreed to return to monetary collection during our church services. However, we will first do some trial runs with electronic collection plates. If the tests turn out positive, we will introduce these plates as soon as possible.

We also discussed the question of reintroducing the chalice for all. There was some caution voiced from some with medical connections about receiving communion from the common cup. I do believe these cautions are justified, Furthermore, I do not want to create a two-tier system, which separates us into those who feel safe to drink from the chalice and those who aren’t. That would defeat the very concept of the “common cup.” Considering all this, we found consensus to keep doing what we are doing right now, which does mean everybody will receive communion under both kinds. We will, however, as a next step, make facemask for communion ministers optional and we will review things on a monthly basis. But please remember, it is a biblical imperative to always err on the side of the needs and requirements of the most vulnerable!

There has been a lot of discussion about the significance of money made from slavery in the development of the New Town, St John’s included. Recently, another report was submitted to the city. Vestry agreed that we should use the report as a springboard to created educational programmes and markers and also look into anti-racism training for St John’s leadership. Initially, we will need to be clear about our story. I will approach some experts in the congregation to do some historical research.

I do hope this gives you a sense of the work our vestry, but please do approach any of us, if you have questions or concerns.

Yours as ever,