St. John’s Episcopal Church
207 Albany Avenue, Kingston, NY 12401

The Good News of St. John’s

  1. May 21, 2022

    Ongoing Housing Crisis in Kingston:
    Be the change you wish to see in the world

    St. John’s Mission Statement

    We are called to know all our neighbors and be a bridge of God’s Love; connecting, inviting, sharing, and serving each other and the diverse community of Kingston. We will do this by: 1) Sharing our physical space and resources; 2) Being stewards of the arts; 3) Advocating for social justice; 4) Participating in inclusive and intergenerational worship; and 5) Affirming everyone has a place at God’s Table.

    One of our bullet points, to “advocate for social justice” means that, through our faith, we are working to be Christ in and for the world so we must pay attention to the opportunities where we can step up and advocate for needed change. By doing so, we are recognizing that our Savior Jesus Christ is the one who always stands for those who are oppressed by the greed of the few and, as the Body of Christ, we demonstrate our love by doing the same.

    Many of us are aware of the fact that, prior to the pandemic, Kingston was in a housing crisis – not enough housing stock (houses, apartments, duplexes, etc) to ensure that people have a place to live. And most of you are also aware that the pandemic drove people to the Kingston area in large numbers. At one point, we sustained the second highest influx of newcomers in the entire country. This, of course, has driven prices/rents up even further and it has also significantly decreased the number of housing units available. Click here for a good synopsis of the issue.

    What can we do in the face of such greed? There are several organizations working on the housing issue – RUPCO, Habitat for Humanity, the Ulster County Housing Justice Collaborative, and the Kingston City Land Bank (by the way, our own Bob Dennison is on the board of the KCLB!). There is no one solution because the issue is complicated and has multiple facets. And while immediate relief is needed, sustained and long-term change also must be addressed.

    On this front, there is good news! The City of Kingston has been working on a new zoning code that would remove barriers for some much-needed housing development. And the Director of Housing Initiatives for the City of Kingston (Bartek Starodaj) needs us (yes… you and me) to support this effort. He says that the people who usually show up to hearings on proposed code changes are those who want to argue against it. So those of us who want to see change, must take this opportunity to advocate for social justice and show up to this incredibly important conversation.

    You can read more about the new zoning draft code by clicking here. You will also find the schedule of hearings/meetings in the month of June. Please choose 1-2 and show up! The members of the Kingston Interfaith Council have made a commitment to do just that so you will probably see some of Kingston’s clergy leadership.

    Be the change you wish to see in the world.

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    The Flower Ministry: A Note from the Sacristan Team

    One of the things the Sacristans take care of are the weekly flowers in church. After 2 years of not being able to have flowers, it’s great that we’re able to restart this tradition. It is all of you who help us maintain this practice, by remembering or honoring someone important to you with a memorial or thanksgiving intention and a financial donation.

    Elaine Lawrence maintains our flower list and when you choose a Sunday or 2 throughout the year that you would like to give the flowers you can tell Elaine. Then, a few weeks before that day, she will send you a reminder. She will make sure that your name and the name of the person, or persons, you are remembering gets into the Sunday bulletin. What makes this all even more special is that following the Sunday service the flowers are given to someone who either can’t be in church for any pastoral reason, or they are given to someone in church who we want to remember in this special way.

    For many years, Ron Smith, of the Orchid Shoppe, supplied our flowers. He was great to work with and seemed to know what we needed before we even had to ask. Ron has recently retired, and we are beginning a new relationship with Blooming Boutique Florist, on Albany Ave. Of course, as with most things these days, the cost of fresh flowers has gone up. One change we’ve made with our current configuration for worship, using one vase, seems to work well.

    Historically we have asked for a donation of $30 for Sunday flowers and while we will continue to welcome donations of any amount, the cost of flowers has risen to $50. As a consequence, it is my hope that we will have more Sundays where 2 people are offering a memorial for flowers, which would help us continue this tradition, a tradition which both enhances our worship and remembers someone who is unable to be with us in church. What is important is that everyone’s participation is welcome. Choose a Sunday and give what you can.

    Speak to Lynn Dennison (lynnsdennison@gmail.com) or Elaine Lawrence (eslawrenc@aol.com ) if you have any questions.

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    Are you exhausted too?


    Have you watched the movie Encanto yet? It’s a beautiful movie and I highly recommend it. The reason I bring it up is because of the character Luisa. When Ana and I were watching it, she turned to me and said, “You’re Luisa!”

    I sheepishly agreed, unhappy in the truth of it, if I’m honest. Luisa is the character who sings: “I’m the strong one. I’m not nervous. I’m as tough as the crust of the earth is… I don’t ask how hard the work is.” But under the surface, she’s wondering how long she can keep this up.

    I’m sure I’m not alone. There are many “Luisas” and “Louies” out there. Perhaps you can identify with this yourself.

    As I write this, I’m aware that the exhaustion I feel is less about the actual doing, although that’s a part of it and the pressure “to do” can be enormous. Rather, the exhaustion I feel is one that is born out of grief and anger and sadness. Life always brings so much for us to navigate. And the emotional content of all of the changes and chances of this life seem to have been amplified in the last 2 years because of the pandemic, on top of the last 6 years of political and social turmoil. And, I’m aware that my tendency is to take on more, as if I could carry the world on my shoulders. But, ultimately, I have nothing left to give.

    So, I’m working to turn down the volume of several voices in my head:

    • The voice that tells me to pay attention to so many things. I’m turning it down so I can focus in on the things that truly matter to me and my family and to the vows I have made as a priest.
    • The voice that tells me I need to do everything that everyone expects of me. I’m turning that one down which means I have to be willing to disappoint people sometimes in order to keep the commitments that truly matter.
    • The voice that tells me I have no time for self-care. I’m turning that one down so I can rest and have enough to give to others which means I need to be better about scheduling time off and holding myself to it.

    I wonder… what are the voices you have where you need to turn down the volume? Maybe you’re exhausted by the same things I am. But maybe you’re exhausted by other things.

    We can bring this to the Eucharistic Table as we come for nourishment. We can offer these voices to God and be renewed in our commitment to Love every week. In this, we can come to know more intimately the truth of Christ – that we are whole and we are beloved children of God.

    I’ll see you at the Table this Sunday where we can all refresh ourselves in God’s Love.

    In God’s love and mine,
    Rev. Michelle

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    Announcements for the
    Sixth Sunday of Easter: May 22, 2022

    RESCHEDULED! Pastoral Care Team Meeting has been rescheduled to June 12. All are welcome to attend.

    Calling all bakers! Do you like to make things in the kitchen? Our Communion Bread recipe is easy and quick. You bake one batch, deliver the bread to the church, and we keep it in the freezer until we use it. Sign up to bake for a month (or two) this year. The sign-up sheet is on the bulletin board in the Vestibule.

    Deanery-wide Book Discussion: Are you ready to crack open the church?  What might that mean?  Come to a five week Zoom discussion group about Stephanie Spellers’ book, The Church Cracked Open.  She reveals the connection of the Episcopal Church in domination and empire building, and shows ways for us to unravel those connections, enliven our faith, and serve our communities.  Five Tuesdays, 10:30-11:30, June 14, 21, 28, July 5, and July 12 on Zoom. Please RSVP to Allison Moore, standrewsrev@gmail.com, by Monday, June 13 (questions welcome ahead of time too).  It would be best if most of us could make most of the sessions, but it is summer!

    Social Hour Hosting: You are invited to sign up on the bulletin board in the Vestibule to be a social hour host! Talk with our Hospitality Coordinator, Barbara Johnston for more information.

    Flower Ministry: Honoring Loved Ones – Every week, members of St. John’s honor their loved ones who have gone before by supporting the Flower Ministry at St. John’s with a monetary donation. This ministry ensure we have lovely fresh flowers every week on our altar. Please consider signing up for a Sunday. Contact Elaine Lawrence at eslawrenc@aol.com

    Page Turners Book Club: The next books are: June 7th: The Book of Hope, by Jane Goodall, July 5th (date might be changed): The Cold Millions, by Jess Walter. Currently the book club is considering the idea of meeting in person again but, as no decision has been reached. Please contact Lynn Dennison for more information if you’d like to join!

    Benefit Concert for Ukraine: All are welcome to participate in the planning, just contact Rev. Michelle. The Kingston Interfaith Council is hosting the concert at St. John’s on a date to be announced.

    Have an announcement for the bulletin?
    Please send by Wednesday at noon to
    stjohnskingston@aol.comAnchor.

  2. May 12, 2022

    Parish Work Day:
    Calling all Lay “Weeders!”

    Come one, come all!

    Saturday, May 14 from 9:00 – 12:00

    Bring your rakes and your gardening gloves and wear your hats and your old jeans. We’ll be spending the morning outside around the St. John’s property to get some tasks done and get us ready for summer. Raking, planting, cleaning, weeding.

    Be sure to dress appropriately for a warm day as it looks like it will be in the 70’s on Saturday morning. Much of the work we have to do is in the shade but there is plenty to do out in the sun too. We’ll have plenty of water on hand.

    Masks are not required for working outside. We will have some small indoor tasks for those who cannot work outside.

    Come and join in community and get to know the other folks at St. John’s. These Parish Work Days are always a lot of fun as we all work together for a common goal.

    See you Saturday morning!

     

     

     

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    UPDATE: Committee to Elect a Bishop


    As you may recall, I was elected to serve on the Committee to Elect a Bishop. This is a group of 9 clergy and lay ministers from across the Diocese of New York who are tasked with finding a slate of candidates so the larger diocese can elect our new Bishop Diocesan on December 3 of this year. We have priests from every corner of the diocese as well as lay people who have been doing church work for a long time and others who are young and/or relatively new to church work.

    We spent a few meetings getting our heads around the work and organizing ourselves into subcommittees. Then the work really began. During the month of March, there were 3 weeks of Zoom sessions that anyone in the diocese could attend and offer thoughts about what we need in a bishop. We also received hundreds of surveys from people across the diocese. All of this information helped the Committee decide what we needed to be in our public profile, which was on display for 4 weeks, and also what kinds of questions we need to be asking our applicants.

    Now that the applications have all been received, we are excited and delighted to begin reading through their wise and thoughtful responses to our initial set of questions. Then, the Committee will meet in person next week to discern which applicants will move forward to the first round of interviews.

    I have to say, this is quite a process! The Diocese of New York has, within its boundaries, the wealthiest congregations in the entire world as well as one of poorest areas in the nation, both extremely urban and relatively rural contexts. Geographically, we extend from Staten Island all the way up to Saugerties and linguistically, we have congregations that speak Creole, Spanish, English, Chinese, and ASL. This is just a bit of how complex this diocese is, so finding a bishop who can be a pastor, administrator, and liturgical leader for this entire tapestry… well, it’s a bit daunting.

    All this to say, if you’re looking for a way to pray for the wider church… the members of the Committee to Elect a Bishop appreciate your prayers very much. We have lots of work to do before the electing convention on December 3 and we know that it’s prayers that can help to keep us connected more to Holy Spirit as we do this work together.

    Stay tuned throughout the year for occasional updates on this work.

    In God’s love and mine,
    Rev. Michelle

     

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    Announcements for the
    Fifth Sunday of Easter: May 15, 2022

    Next Sunday! May 22 from 9:00-12:00 Pastoral Care Team Meeting immediately after worship. All are welcome to attend.

    Social Hour Hosting: You are invited to sign up on the bulletin board in the Vestibule to be a social hour host! Talk with our Hospitality Coordinator, Barbara Johnston for more information.

    New “club” starting! – St. John’s Walking Club
    Well, we don’t know the actual name yet, but we’re working on it. Come and walk with us! Talk to Ana Hernández for more information.

    Exploring Sophia Centering Prayer Retreat This has been postponed. Please look for more information on rescheduling!

    Page Turners Book Club: The next books are: June 7th: The Book of Hope, by Jane Goodall, July 5th (date might be changed): The Cold Millions, by Jess Walter. Currently the book club is considering the idea of meeting in person again but, as no decision has been reached, the May meeting will be on Zoom. Please contact Lynn Dennison for more information if you’d like to join!

    Benefit Concert for Ukraine: All are welcome to participate in the planning, just contact Rev. Michelle. The Kingston Interfaith Council is hosting the concert at St. John’s on Sunday, June 26 at 2:00 pm.