The following report was prepared for the 2021 Annual Meeting of St. James' Church, held on Feb. 3, 2021. View or download the 2020 Annual Report here.
The words of Paul about "love enduring all things" provide an apt description of life at St. James' as we review the year 2020. I am not sure which word carries more weight: "love" or "endurance." This past year called for both. At this time, last year, we were unaware of the public health emergency that we would face or the extent to which a virus first identified in Wuhan, China, would impact our community and change the life, worship and ministry of St. James'. Endurance is the right word. How to move forward during a lock down was a challenge we had not faced before. We attempted to respond with care, creativity, faith and with hope that things would somehow work out as we made our way into the future with prayer.
We were blessed to have Dr. Lucy Jones as our senior warden during this crisis. Lucy generously offered her scientific expertise and guidance as the crisis was announced in March. As this report goes to print, more than 101 million cases have been confirmed, with more than 2.18 million deaths worldwide. The suffering has been enormous. 3 .2 million cases were diagnosed in California, with 38,927 deaths. Los Angeles County has been called to shelter in place more than once. Needless to say, none of us were prepared for this trauma. How to proceed remains a challenge. Members of our parish and their loved ones have lost their lives to the coronavirus. Others have lost employment and are struggling with a myriad of issues.
With COVID, we have learned about safe distance, masks, hand washing, air purifiers, temperature checks and how to continue to be a church community amid the crisis. We purchased outdoor heaters, new cleansing equipment, and were forced to lay off Youth Center staff, an assistant sexton, and our weekly choir section leaders. We were forced to review expenses and cut budget items line by line. I am grateful for Kim Besen, our treasurer and Komal Tolani, our accounting manager, who worked tirelessly to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP loan) which was approved. A second application was recently filed.
You will notice that this Annual Report is missing many of the usual reports of ministry. In March we ceased having our usual Sunday services and many of the ministries have been put on hold. As you read the Reports of Ministry, please take a moment to offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the many who have given of themselves and their gifts and for those who will do so again once we return to Church as normal - whatever the "new normal" may be!