Parish Work Day: Saturday, April 9
10:00 – 12:30
Coming together to take care of the buildings and grounds is a wonderful way to share fellowship and offer ourselves to the ministry of stewardship. This year, we want to gather before Holy Week and do some work inside and outside to prepare for this most sacred time in our Christian calendar.
Inside: The Sacristans will gather early at 9:00 am to pray and put together a plan for Holy Week, if you’d like to join the Sacristans in this work, you’re welcome to come early for prayer or anytime afterwards. There is plenty to do!
Outside: Beginning at 10:00 am, we need a crew (that we will be calling the “Lay Weeders”… get it?) to help clear some spaces and get ready for the season. So, bring your tools – gloves, rakes, etc.
Come join us for a fun morning of fellowship and stewardship so we are all ready for Holy Week.
The Changing Church
For those of us who love being a part of a church community, there are some troubling statistics out there that point to decline. All Christians have all witnessed this decline in church attendance over the last 2-3 decades and the pandemic has made it more pronounced. The reasons for this decline are myriad – you get a different reason depending on who you ask. And it’s happening all across the Episcopal Church and in all denominations of Christianity.
As a member of the Committee to Elect a Bishop, I spent much of March reading through survey responses and taking part in Zoom meetings where people from across the Episcopal Diocese of New York offered their thoughts and heartfelt concerns about the diocese so that we can discern what we need in a bishop. And I can tell you that this issue, the concern over church decline, is front and center in nearly everyone’s minds.
Please believe me, I realize that this reality can feel depressing and disappointing. What is the answer? I honestly don’t know exactly what THE answer is. But I do know that it’s not as simple as having an event or saying the right thing in a sermon. And I also know that God is not done with the Church. Why?
Because I believe in Christ. I believe in the Good News which tells us that death is never the final word. We are a Resurrection people and this is not the end of the Church. But it may be the end of the Church-as-we-know-it.
The question we are facing is how are we able to change to meet this new reality? What is God asking of us? What are we called to offer? What is our mission? And how are we being asked to do things differently to be the Resurrected Church?
This is not a matter of being “relevant” and having some kind of gimicky worship service. This is about rethinking what it means to be the church. It’s the difference between a technical fix and an adaptive challenge. For example: When we see someone in a river who is drowning, we don’t stop to ask too many questions, we just find a way to get them out. Right? That’s a technical fix. And that works for one, individual circumstance.
But if we notice that it keeps happening again and again and again, we have to be willing to adjust, to begin asking the questions about change. Perhaps we need to teach everyone to swim. Perhaps we need to put up new rules and regulations about water access. Perhaps we need to find out who the bully is who is throwing people in the water. Who knows? But we don’t know the answer until we do the work. This is an adaptive challenge. And an adaptive challenge is exactly what the Church is facing.
A few weeks ago, on March 19, the clergy and wardens of all the Episcopal congregations in Ulster County met together here at St. John’s to discuss our common ministry. Three members of Bishop Andy’s staff joined us – Victor Conrado, Canon for Congregational Vitality, Nora Smith, Canon for Transitional Ministry, and John Perris, Canon to the Ordinary. We spent most of our time together discussing our lives as individual congregations: What do we have? What do we need? Where do we need support? This event was just the beginning of an ongoing conversation around sharing resources and ministry. It’s a long conversation, during which, we look forward to learning more about one another and about all the possibilities for sharing beyond the silos of our individual congregations.
So we will be talking more about this as the community of St. John’s. Again, I don’t know what this is all going to look like and I don’t know what we will learn. But I am confident that, as we move forward, we are following God’s call to us and therefore it will be a conversation of hope and of love because Love is always God’s final word.
In God’s love and mine,
April 3, 2022
Parish Work Day! Saturday April 9 from 10-12:30
Lay Weeders: Welcome to a new name for an “old” ministry – cleaning up around the St. John’s grounds. Now that spring is here both Alex Serrano (our Sexton) and Terry Earles (our Memorial Garden-er) will need help with activities like weeding (of course!), planting, clearing, raking, sweeping, etc. Our first 2022 Lay Weeders Work Day is Saturday, April 9. Come and help out from 10-12:30 and bring whatever tools you have. We’ll also have a Sacristan Work Day the same morning (starting at 9am!) in order to get everything ready for Holy Week. So, if you don’t want to work outside, there is plenty of work to do with the Sacristans inside.
Easter Outreach and Memorials: This year our Easter Outreach donation and plate monies will be going to Episcopal Relief and Development specifically to support relief for Ukraine.
If you would like to donate a memorial gift… to the Easter Outreach and/or to support the cost of altar flowers this year, please fill out the form in the bulletin with your payment and either place it in the plate or get it to Rev. Michelle by Wednesday, April 13. All memorials will be printed in the Easter Sunday bulletin.
Return to the Common Cup: In March, our bishop Andy Dietsche announced that he is allowing us to return to the Common Cup effective immediately so that we are again able to share Eucharist in two kinds – the bread and the wine. Please drink directly from the chalice; do not instinct (dip your wafer into the wine) as this transfers germs from your hand into the cup. You may also receive only the bread. If you have any questions or concerns, please speak directly to Rev. Michelle.
Listen for St. John’s on Radio Kingston! Radio Kingston is our local community radio station and they have begun a wonderful new program – underwriting. We donate to their Community Fund (which helps people pay their bills) and they mention St. John’s name as an underwriter of their programs. We get our name out there and (more importantly) the Community Fund receives a nice donation. A win-win for the Kingston community! Tune in and listen for a mention over the next 2 weeks.
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.
Page Turners Book Club: The books for the next several months have been announced: April 5- Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr; May 3- The Murmur of Bees, by Sofia Segova. Speak with Lynn Dennison for more information.
Welcome Suzanne Campise!
We welcome Suzanne Campise to St. John’s as our Acting Rental Manager. Suzanne has an extensive background in church work and is doing her final preparation to become an ordained Presbyterian minister. She has agreed to work for us temporarily (until her first baby is born in June) to help us to expand our rental program and get the word out about our space here at St. John’s. Please be sure to introduce yourself to her when you see her here on campus!
St. John’s Upcoming Schedule
Apr 9: Parish Work Day – Help prepare for Holy Week from 10-12:30
Apr 10-17: Holy Week – Please see schedule above
May 19-21: Contemplative Retreat – Sofia: Thomas Merton and the Wisdom of God, co-led by the Rev. Matthew Wright and the Rev. Michelle Meech. More information forthcoming!