by the Rev. Christopher Potter, Vicar
Here are a few bits of information I wish to share with you; one regarding the school and two about who we are and how we operate as an Episcopal community.
First up: In the next couple of days or weeks, there will be some construction going on near the church’s front door. In the walk space between the church edifice and the walkway closest to what were the church offices, there soon will be an attractive fence used to funnel students onto campus in the morning and off campus in the afternoon. These gates will be locked shortly after the beginning of school and unlocked after. They will be in a fully open position on Sundays when we use the Church, essentially presenting no difference to our current practices. We still will be able to enter the sanctuary at the door nearest the choir, through the doors leading to the sacristy, and at the main entry points (when the gates are open).
The school is undertaking some herculean measures to increase safety for the children and staff, mitigating as much unwelcomed access as feasible. Dr. Pratt and Jesse (Facilities Manager) have accomplished miracles during these summer months in the face of international supply-chain chokepoints. These measures include a new “smart” video system, new phones, new door locks, a new P.A. system, and much more. Though St. John’s has long had robust and well-rehearsed crisis prevention and response plans, the events in Texas and Florida in recent months have increased the need for greater diligence. I can assure you, no one at the school is operating from a position of fear, but rather out of an abundance of caution and with a clear vision to making the children as safe as possible.
Now, second, to the business of the Church community: I have often said to you – whether via announcements or during my preaching – that St. John’s belongs to YOU! It is you who make this place a community and a “Family of Your Choosing.” As such, you are bonded – certainly with each other, but also to the Bishop, the Diocese, and the entire people of God.
No one personality should be the reason one comes to church. The church is much bigger than any one person, except the person of Christ. People like me (priests) are blessed with the calling to lead communities as spiritual guides, as a resource for discussions, a person whom you can trust when you need pastoral care (in times of sickness and at death). This blessing, however, is not meant to be forever. When priests are called to serve a community, it is with the understanding that we are not making community for ourselves, but rather sustaining what preexisted us.
I bring this up because as you know, we are going to say ‘goodbye’ to The Rev. Karen next month. We will all miss her loving presence, her gifts, her preaching, and especially her spirit of joy. When she retires, I, perhaps most of all, will feel the lack of her presence every day. Our collaboration has been inspiring and our conversations enjoyable. We will, gratefully, see her on Saturday nights where her experience as worship leader in music will continue to be a blessing.
In the face of the transitions ahead, St. John’s will continue to be St. John’s. YOU are reflected when people speak of the ‘Spirit of St. John’s’ and when others recognize St. John’s as a community of strong lay leaders. It is you who have an enormous impact on the feeding of God’s people in RSM, who wash clothes for families who otherwise might have to make painful choices. It is YOU who sustain a ministry to women, support a choir of unparalleled skill and gifts, create a safe place for neighborhood families on Halloween. It’s YOU. You are the continuity of St. John’s. People like me and Rev. Karen come and go, but St. John’s is your “family of choice”; those to whom you have decided to make your own. And, as a result of our baptism, family is forever. The greatest tribute priests can receive when we leave a community we have served is when the bonds in that community remain strong and the people choose to stay in relationship with each other. It is our shame if, upon leaving, parishioners would say, “There’s no point in me hanging around. If s/he is gone, there’s no reason to go to that church.”
Another piece of vital news: our beloved Lisa Naulls is providing a safe environment for our young people. She has stepped into a breach between the leaving of Patti Peebles as youth pastor and whomever is next. We have been advertising this position for quite a while, to no avail.
I invite you to join me in this prayer for a leader of young lives at St. John’s:
- God our Creator, we see your children growing up in an unsteady and confusing world. By calling a new Youth Minister to St. John’s, you will show these beloved creatures that your ways give more life than the ways of the world, and that following you is better than chasing after selfish goals. Raise up someone who is faithful, who is creative, and who loves your Gospel and bring them to St. John’s. Give them the courage to reach out and call, write, or speak to us – when the Spirit of Christ moves them this way. In the meantime, keep alive the joy our young followers of Christ have in your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
If you know someone – preferably an Episcopalian – who you believe may have this calling, please drop me a line or give me a call, 949.888.4595. Thank you.
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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 10 a.m., in-person and on ZOOM (Sunday’s 8 a.m. service will resume September 18)
• Godly Play and Nursery at 10 a.m.
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