by the Rev. Christopher Potter
At the end of this month St. John’s Church is saying goodbye to our youth pastor, Patti Peebles. She has been ministering to the young people in this community since the days of Noah, and we owe her much for keeping together and ministering to a great group of human beings. She is remaining as chaplain to St. John’s School and to the children of St. John’s Episcopal School whom she has served for decades.
Over the last 50 years, the participation of young people (teens through college years) in the church has changed dramatically. It used to be expected (read: demanded) that children would attend church services side-by-side with their parents until they broke out on their own or left home for college. Further, community activities like kids’ sports and clubs were never scheduled on Sundays, allowing time for people to do family things like church and family activities! In the past 20 years or so, people like Mrs. Patti have found it quite challenging to schedule events for kids either on weekends or during the week because of busy schedules. Yet, church attendance remains perhaps the only place where morals, values, ethic, and faith are explored and nurtured outside the home. If we are going to have a positive impact on the life of our society and country, we desperately need to sustain the connection between the youth and the church.
Before the next minister to youth comes to serve the people of St. John’s, Lisa Naulls, a member of the Bishop’s Committee, has already begun to call together the youth of the parish for a listening session. We invite the youths (middle school, high school, college age, twenty-somethings) for further opportunities to be heard and to convey your wishes and dreams about what the church needs to be for you now, and what it might look like in the future. The ‘elders’ of St. John’s and I are aware and excited with how the church is being led to new things, new ways of living the Gospel of Jesus. We recognize that past models of church, of worship, and for gathering are not well-suited for your lifestyle. The voices of young people – your voices – need to be heard and your hands need to be part of what builds the framework of this evolving church.
Would you please get hold of me at this email to express your interest in furthering this holy conversation? We look forward to meeting with you again.
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This weekend, the Gospel reading is an emotional, transforming story about a man (pejoratively called “The Gerasene Demoniac”) who by all appearances has a serious mental illness. Jesus, moved by this man’s pain, heals him, and brings him back into communion with others.
Having worked in a psychiatric emergency room for Riverside County for a dozen or so years, this story reaches close to my heart. Observing lives of people from every walk of life and economic strata fall apart because of debilitating illness with little medical and community support remains the cruelest response of all. Because treatment options for people with mental illness were seriously impacted by the depopulation of the nation’s institutions in the middle 1970s, these beloved children of God are often (and still) left to wander the streets without support and care. Today’s is an eerily similar system unavailable to the man in the Gospel this weekend.
Gloria Sefton, member of the Bishop’s Committee, has shared with us the experiences her brother has had with a ministry in his Episcopal community which serves people with mental illness. Grace Alliance provides both an outreach to members of our neighborhood who could benefit from solid support and intervention, and also for those within the parish community who could benefit from health and wellness services.
Would you please spend time in prayer, asking the Spirit of Christ whether you are being called to participate — perhaps lead — a ministry like this if it came to St. John’s? There are plenty of opportunities to reach out to people in our community with mental illness who could benefit from the loving presence of Christ (read: us) in their lives.
Please get back to me via email, HERE.
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We’ll see you at St. John’s this weekend:
• Saturday worship at 5 p.m. in the Chapel; potluck following
• Sunday worship at 8 a.m. (in-person only)
• Sunday worship at 10 a.m.
(in-person and ZOOM)
• Godly Play and Nursery at 10 a.m.
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AND . . .
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We’ll see you at St. John’s!