Council Notes

Announcing Congregational Meeting – September 27

Dear Fellow St. Philippians:

This letter is to inform you of a Congregational Meeting, which Council has schedule for Sunday, September 27, after the 9:30AM “parking lot” worship service.

The meeting will take place in the parking lot.

The purpose of this meeting is to vote on Council’s recommendation for changes to the St. Philips Constitution.  This will be the sole item on the agenda, and approval of the recommendation will require a majority of the voters present at this meeting.

It is VERY IMPORTANT that we have a quorum present for this meeting, so PLEASE make every effort to attend.

The changes being proposed are mostly to align our Constitution with the Congregational Constitution currently in effect in the Virginia Synod of the ELCA.  The Virginia Synod Constitution has had seven (7) updates since St. Philip last updated its Constitution in April 2013, so we need to get current.  The most important provision in the update to us right now would allow St. Philip to conduct Congregational Voter meetings digitally, without having an “in person” gathering.  The lack of this provision in our Constitution is beginning to hamper Council’s ability to effectively manage the affairs of our congregation.

It is NOT Council’s intent to adopt digital voter’s meetings as a preferred practice.  I think most would agree that in-person gatherings remain the preferred practice because it allows effective communication and important exchanges of ideas and viewpoints in a meeting.  However, we have learned that the ability to conduct a digital voter’s meeting is indeed an important option to insure effective management of congregational business in extreme circumstances.

A copy of the recommended updates can be found below.  Please review prior to our meeting on the 27.

God’s Peace to all of you,
Gary Sahm, Council President

Council Notes

In-Person Gatherings at St. Philip Suspended Until May 17

Hopefully many of you heard the telephone message earlier this week from the Council President about the decision to extend the suspension of our in-person worship gatherings until May 17.

Due to the continually evolving circumstances this can change, so continue to check for updates from your church council and the pastors. 

This decision was difficult and arrived at by Church Council after prayerful consideration and discussion with our pastors in a special meeting of Council Tuesday night, March 24th.

Some may wonder, are we overreacting?  That’s possible.  In fact, I hope we are!  The only other alternative is that our actions turn out to be inadequate…too little, too late.  I hold no hope that our actions prove to be the PERFECT response.  So, we really do have only the two options, and I think most would agree that if we err, we need to err on the side of caution.

Stay plugged in.  Watch for email updates each week. Listen to telephone messages.  Follow St. Philip on Facebook.  Be a regular visitor to the St. Philip website. Read the Bible. Participate in online worship, bible study, and more upcoming events available online. Read your mail.  Participate in programs being developed to reach members who cannot connect digitally.  Join the Prayer Chain.  Be creative and resourceful.  Spend time in Prayer. After all, we ARE in the Wilderness and we have an opportunity to make THIS Lenten experience the most memorable one ever.

Although we are suspending in-person gatherings, we are NOT suspending our expenses. So, bills need to be paid, salaries need to be paid, and our ministry continues to move forward.  Steps have been taken to reduce expenditures as much as possible, but it is still VERY important for us all to prayerfully consider maintaining our regular level of giving.  This should be easiest for members who have set up electronic automatic drafts. For those of you who have not done this, please consider this option*.  Otherwise please mail your checks to the church office so we can sustain our vibrant ministry.

God’s Peace be with you, and I look forward to us all being able to get together soon.

Gary Sahm, Council President

*click on the “Generosity Matters” tab, then “Give Now”.  You can make a one-time donation, or set up a regular, recurring donation.

Council Notes News

Church Council News – May

Linda Duncan Rhodes

Council met on May 8th at 7:00 p.m. in the church library.

New council members were welcomed. Sue Huntington was elected Council President and Dan Horine Council Vice President. Council appointed Pete Shick Treasurer and Betty Holland Financial Secretary.

Council members spent the remainder of the meeting reviewing and discussing the Focus groups reports gathered from the congregational meeting. Pastor David told council it would be helpful to him to have someone who could assist him with pastoral care and possibly preach once a month. Several names were discussed by council. Council and Pastor David agreed this person could assist us in forming the vision for the staffing we need.

Pastor David had a recent meeting with Bishop Humphrey to discuss staffing needs.  Bishop Humphrey feels St Philip’s potential is off the charts. He did tell Pastor David there are not a lot of pastors looking for part time positions. Pastor David told council the cost for a full time pastor is around $75,000.

The next council meeting will be June 12th at 7:00 p.m. in the church library.  Anyone is welcome to attend.

Congregational Life Council Notes News

Casting Nets

Dan Radmacher

Jesus promised to make his disciples fishers of men. But in the modern church, it seems like we hesitate to cast the net. We float happily along in our boat, and hope the fish will simply jump in.

At St. Philip, council wants to figure out how to cast our nets for a vibrant, 21st century church. We’re going to start exploring some ways of improving outreach to the community using the modern tools available to the church.

I’ll be working on developing a strategy for this, but I could certainly use some help from any social media-savvy members of the congregation. If you have thoughts or ideas, or a willingness to help out in any way, contact me at

A couple of things council is considering starting as soon as possible include live-streaming services using Facebook Live. A tripod will be set up with a phone or tablet and broadcast services live. The hope is this will both offer a convenient way for members of the congregation who can’t make it to church to still experience service, and to help spread the word about St. Philip and its ministries.

Other events may be livestreamed as well.

In addition, council is going to start a church Instagram account to supplement the Facebook and Twitter presence. The hope is to spread the responsibility for keeping that account vibrant by having different people “take over” the account for several weeks at a time. If you have an active Instagram presence, and would be willing to help the church build its own presence, please contact me at the email address above.

Images are an important part of any effective outreach. Please take photos whenever you can at church events. Leadership will figure out the most effective way to share them. If you have a particular interest in photography, let me know.

If we want St. Philip to grow and thrive, we cannot be content to simply wait for fish to jump in the boat. Please let me know if you’re interested in helping find better ways to cast our digital nets.

Council Notes News

Congregational Open Forum

Everyone is invited and encouraged to be a part of an open forum on Sunday, March 18th starting at 10am in the sanctuary.  The intent of this gathering is to provide some space for good dialogue as St. Philip considers options for staffing into the future.  Please check out the State of the Parish article and mark your calendars for March 18th to bring your questions, comments, hopes, and dreams to this very important time of discernment in our life together at St. Philip.

Council Notes News

Church Council News – February

Dan Radmacher

Church council met January 30 at 6p.m. in the church library. Much of the meeting continued discussions about the staffing transition and bigger picture thoughts about how best to devote staffing resources to fulfill the mission and ministries of St. Philip.

Pastor David reported that the temporary staffing situation — an increase in Office Administrator Laura Latham’s hours and the hiring of Kelly Miller Truax to work part-time as a volunteer coordinator — has helped, though some communications issues are still being worked out.

Council Notes News

State of the Parish

Pastor David and Sue Huntington, Council President

Ministry is alive at St. Philip! We are planning and praying, discerning and discovering the best possible ways for ministry to continue in great ways but also grow and be strengthened. Your St. Philip leadership is dedicated to empowering our ministry together as we work toward staffing the ministry we live in the most effective ways. We also are committed to communicate well as these processes and conversations unfold.

Where are we now? Because this community of faith is exceptionally gifted and has admirably stepped into ministry gaps so much continues. Over 20 people have either added new responsibilities in areas where they currently serve or have taken on completely new tasks. They are too many to name specifically, but I am most grateful.

Council Notes News

Church Council News – January Meeting

Council met on January 9 at 7 p.m. in the church library. Much of the meeting focused on long-term transitional planning in the wake of Pastor Kelly’s departure.

Treasurer Peter Shick said the year-end appeal to congregation members to help erase the anticipated budget shortfall was very successful. In November, it looked like the church might finish the year having spent $7,000 more than was received in offerings. By the end of the year, that deficit had been reduced to $282.

Pastor David reported that church administrator Laura Latham agreed to boost her hours for the next six months to help meet some of the short-term administrative needs created by Pastor Kelly’s vacancy, and Kelly Miller Truax, a teacher at St. Philip preschool with family ties to the church, agreed to work 10 hours a week as a volunteer coordinator. She will be at church on Sundays to help connect people to the work that needs to be accomplished.

Many volunteers have already stepped forward and been assigned tasks and responsibilities, and even more have said they’re ready to help out. Pastor David said he’s feeling very good about the short-term transition effort.

Council spent some time brainstorming about the church’s future, how to best engage the congregation and what kind of long-term staffing solutions to consider. This will be an ongoing conversation.

The next council meeting will be January 30 at 6 p.m. Anyone is welcome to attend.

Council Notes News

Celebrating Pastor Kelly’s Ministry – Well Done Good and Faithful Servant

With great pride we celebrate with Pastor Kelly her call to serve as the Assistant to the Bishop of the Virginia Synod. Her faithfulness, love for God’s people, creativity, passion, and compassion will now be experienced by an even greater audience.

Please make plans to be present as we lift up Pastor Kelly’s ministry among us at St. Philip. On Sunday, December 10th we will have a reception between worship services to honor her and to give thanks for the wonderful ways she has led us to be better disciples of Jesus. The reception will begin at approximately 9:45am. Come to share stories, a word of thanksgiving, and to surround her with our very best wishes. Well done good and faithful servant.

Council Notes

Thank You for Your Generosity

It is so important to say thank you. St. Philip is a community that practices generosity. That generosity takes shape in so many ways. Thank you. As we celebrate that generosity know that we are always hopeful for expanding the ways we live out mission and ministry. Please prayerfully consider making an additional gift as the calendar year comes to a close.

We are active in so many ways, but know that for Christ’s sake there is always more we might do. Remember that gifts made through December 31st count as charitable donations for the year 2017. You can also be creative in your giving


  1. Consider increasing your offering so that we finish the year in a strong financial position. If 80 St. Philip families gave just an additional $100 between now and the end of the year, we would cancel that deficit and finish in the black. Your pastors are committed to making that additional contribution and invite you to do the same.
  2. Giving stock. Pay no tax on capital gains when donating stock to a church.
  3. Visiting the St. Philip website and set up a regular gift to ministry of St. Philip electronically.

*  please speak with your accountant or tax advisor for details concerning charitable gifts.