Dear Friends in Christ,
There are so many good things going on at St. John’s that I just don’t where to begin. Let me share that our worship numbers are up over 15% this year. As you can see when you sit down in the pews on Sunday, there are new people, now young families and lots of our own coming out to worship with their friends and church family each week.
We have several baptisms which of which we can look forward. The first baptism will be Christian De Guzman’s and Christi Hughart’s daughter, Lacy, on Sunday, June 25th. Soon after that we will be having the baptism of Teddy, the son of Michael and Blair Trent. We are also praying for Ned and Laura Covington, as they wait for the birth of their son. Two other families have asked me to meet with them regarding baptism of their children. This is such a good sign for us at St. John’s, more baptisms versus burials means a good future ahead!
The second reason for excitement is our Music Program. The wonderful, Music at St. John’s Series will begin on Wednesday, July 12th at 7pm. The first concert “A Star-Spangled Evening” featuring Brass 5, a quintet of five horn players and a percussionist. There will be a reception on the lawn following the performance. As I travel around our communities, Halifax and South Boston people are asking me, “What’s going on at St. John’s? We hear such great things about your Music Program.” We have much to be proud of. Thanks to our Director of Music, Carol Henderson, and our great choir!
We have made several updates to our equipment and buildings. We have installed a new commercial dishwasher in the back kitchen. If you have been enjoying our Coffee Hour, you may have noticed we are no longer using paper plates and disposable coffee cups. We are now using washable glassware. This move will save us a great deal in the cost at our gatherings and it will be good for the environment as well.
We have new exterior doors for the Christian Education area in the lower part of the Parish House. The new doors will be a heat saver and will allow for the tables and chair racks to be easily moved from building to building. The old doors had been swelling, and we had trouble opening them at times. There are several other small projects scheduled for the future. Our Vestry has been working hard to keep these beautiful buildings in good repair.
Not long ago I finished a project at home that I had been working on for some time. When I finished, I sat back and said to myself, “What next?” I not only meant, as I thought to myself what next for projects, but also what does God have in store for me next. Through this exercise in pausing to let God take over, I began to ask some very mind-provoking questions that went something like this. “Cleon, how are you doing with your ‘bucket list’?” Well, there are still some things left to do, God willing, He will give me time to get to them. Then God said to me. “Cleon, what’s next for St. John’s?” Stop. Wait a minute. “What did you ask, God? What’s next at St. John’s? How am I supposed to know, that’s your job not mine.” Then nothing just silence. If God wanted some great insight from me, there wasn’t any to give. After many minutes of just nothing, I began to think way outside the box so to speak. My thoughts began to come together. First, what’s next implies a future. What does that imply? Does it mean a future that looks like the past? No, I don’t think so. Past means looking backward, and we at St. John’s just can’t afford that. We need to be like the Israelites leaving captivity in Egypt heading to the promise land. We must look with hope to the future.
The real battle of the future, of this and every mainline church, will be the 21st Century versus the 20th Century. This will be a battle between the takers and the caretakers. The Episcopal Church of the 21st Century does not resemble the church I was born into in 1946. Just think about this---there are almost 4 million less Episcopalians in the church than in 1930 and 22% less churches than 40 years ago. The cost of paying a full-time clergy is so costly that in some diocese more than 80% of clergy are part-time or even volunteers.
I am so excited with what may be our future. I think it’s time we have the conversation about What’s Next!? We are planning several very important Brainstorming Meetings this fall. We want your input, as to what you want to see for St. John’s Church in regards to programs, services, and for its mission. There are five meeting at different times and days so that you will have the opportunity to attend at least one or as many of these very important meetings as you are able to make. These meeting are open to adults and youth alike. We have scheduled the following meetings:
Tuesday, September 12 6 pm Potluck Supper followed by 7-8 pm meeting
Thursday, September 21 12 noon Potluck Lunch followed by 1-2 pm meeting
Tuesday, October 10 12 noon Potluck Lunch followed by 1-2 pm meeting
Thursday, October 12 6 pm Potluck Supper followed by 7-8 pm meeting
Saturday, October 21 12 noon Potluck Lunch followed by 1-2 pm meeting
Depending on the response from all of you, we are open to gathering on a Sunday morning following church to pull together everyone’s thoughts and hopes for what is next for St. John’s Church. You will be receiving more information by mail about these meetings as we look to the future at St. John’s Church. WHAT NEXT!?
I am always reminded of Jesus’ promises to us. Whenever He sends a messenger to us that message begins with, “Fear not.” Remember He said, “Fear not, I will be with you till the end of time.” “I will send you a comforter, the Holy Spirit.”
Yours in His service,
Father Ross +