In this issue, I share information from St John’s Annual Meeting, which was held on Sunday, January 27th. Included in this issue are my Rector’s Annual Report to the Parish, my introductions and acknowledgment of staff and key volunteers, and a few financial notes. Father Ted acknowledged the wonderful group of leaders of our over forty ministries, and Senior Warden Joanie Heard acknowledged those whose vestry terms expired and those new vestry members elected by acclamation. This week’s issue is lengthy, but the information contained therein is information all the members of our parish should have in hand. Copies of handouts distributed at the Annual Meeting are available on request from the church office.
Departing vestry members acknowledged: Eli Dudok, Steve Clarke, Sarah Doelger, Peter Gilman
Incoming vestry class elected: Peggy Scheidker, Paul Logan, Steve Tilson
Previously appointed (new) vestry member introduced: Vanessa Thorsten
The members of St John’s vestry are: Steve Christopher, Linda Morgan, Kathe Lujan, Vanessa Thorsten, Paul Logan, Peggy Scheidker, Steve Tilson, Wayne Grider, Sue Morse
The Wardens of St John’s are: Joanie Heard, Sr Warden; Richard Ackerman, Jr Warden
Adjunct vestry roles: Michael Weatherwax, Treasurer; Leslie O’Kane, Clerk; The Rev. Canon Lucy Amerman, Chaplain
Financial: At its January meeting, the vestry approved a budget calling for just over $900k in pledges and donations. The message our Treasurer stated quite clearly at the Annual Meeting is that members of our church have come to expect and enjoy a certain level of excellence in programming, ministries, amenities, and worship and he is looking to all the members of our church to pitch in and pay for those important things.
Our pledge campaign for 2019 raised about $740k, so there’s a shortfall of $160k that will need to come from those who do not pledge. Of the approximately 475 households in our database, only 255 pledged for 2019. I need to allow for the annual review and “tidy up” of our database that has not yet happened. So, let’s assume that instead of 220 non-pledging households (475 – 255 = 220) there are actually only about 175 non-pledging households.
If each of those 175 non-pledging households gave a “baseline” gift of $900 a year, we’d more or less make our budgeted income for 2019. That’s about $2.50 per day, not per person, but per household! When you consider it in this way, it’s really not that much.
To put it in different terms, a household who attends church once a month would put $75 in the offering plate each time they attended. A household attending twice a month would put $37.50 in the offering plate each time they attended. I attend church about 47 out of 52 Sundays a year, and through my pledge to St John’s, I put the equivalent of $127 in the plate on each of those 47 Sundays, and there are many households whose weekly financial commitment to our church is far more generous than mine.
There are members of our parish under extreme financial duress who cannot possibly give to St John’s, or who cannot give to the extent they might wish. The Treasurer, Wardens, and I want to be very clear that the purpose of sharing this information with the parish is not to induce guilt among our non-pledging members but rather, to offer a baseline for giving for those who choose not to pledge but who are not under extreme financial duress.
Our vestry will be working in the year ahead to ask those who do not pledge to make a baseline financial contribution to the church. The vestry has also committed to taking on additional fundraising projects that also serve to build community.
Rector’s Annual Report to the Parish
2018 felt like a year of consistent engagement in and with the community beyond the campus of St John’s, and that’s a good thing because outward-looking churches are churches that truly function as the hands, voice, and heart of Christ in the world. Being an outward-looking church does not mean we do not care for our own or downplay the importance of community. It simply means we are in a good place together, confident in the love of Christ and eager to share that with others.
Our Whittier Pantry served increasing numbers of families struggling to make ends meet, and our Whittier Reading Partnership continued to grow, both ministries serving families and children at Whittier Elementary School. After five years of hosting Community Table on Friday nights, that ministry ended when Bridge House opened a new center on 30th Street and moved all meals to the new location. Our monthly Soup Kitchen continues and draws from a pool of nearly fifty faithful volunteers of all ages.
Across Pine Street, a new housing project for at-risk teens and young adults is taking shape, and St John’s has been in conversation with Attention Homes and FUMC about ways we can collaborate on ministry and community building with the residents. Meanwhile, many 12-step and community groups used our space for meetings and events.
Our Social Action Ministry (SAM) organized parishioners to attend two gun violence prevention events in March, one in Boulder, and one in Denver, where we joined the bishop and many other Episcopalians in bearing witness. In April, we hosted a parish-wide conversation about guns and gun ownership, hearing from folks with widely divergent points of view. It was respectful, enlightening, and sacred. In July, the SAM leaders also hosted a note writing party where parishioners wrote to their legislators and made known their opinions about immigration policy.
On our campus, we praised and sought union with the risen Christ in many ways: Choral Compline, Contemplative Evensong, Solas, our Saturday night service, two weekday services of Holy Eucharist, three Sunday services (including Children’s Chapel); we buried our beloved, married those in love, and brought the sacrament many times to homebound members of our church. The Garden Guild continued to beautify and maintain our grounds, attracting a dedicated group of talented volunteers. Our Hiking Ministry explored the beauty of the Front Range while having great fun and serving as an important portal into the church for many new members.
Volunteers knit shawls, delivered flowers to those in need of a little extra love, laid hands on those desiring healing prayer, prayed faithfully each day for those on our parish prayer list, staffed the office front desk, folded worship bulletins, cared for the vestments, linens and altar-ware of the church, ushered, verged, acolyted, read the lessons, sang in choir, greeted visitors, prayed together, raised money, patrolled the campus, prepared food for and offered love to those who live without shelter, taught Sunday School, and carried out many other ministries with joy and a sense of contributing to a greater good.
Through our adult formation programs we studied together the challenges of aging with spiritual grace, wrestled with the problem of evil and pain in a world governed by a good and compassionate God, and re-imagined church as a school for learning how to more fully love ourselves, others, Creation, and God.
Over 70 generous households raised more than $290,000 to address some upgrades much needed on our campus: a key-less entry system and security cameras, sanctuary roof repairs and porch roof extension, chapel bathroom remodel, and more. Additional generous people contributed to a 30th Anniversary celebration fund for our Music Director so he can pursue some projects of professional benefit to him and to St John’s. Our fall pledge campaign raised about the same amount of money as last year, with the same level of parish participation. This is a place we can do better, and doing better is necessary to carry out the work God puts before us.
The people, talents, and energy that comprise St John’s are a marvelous and holy gift of the Spirit. The Spirit gives us this gift not only for our own benefit and spiritual deepening but as well for the healing and transformation of the world around us. It is my privilege to help steward that gift of the Spirit. Thanks be to God for it, and thanks be to God for each one of you.
Introduction and acknowledgment of Staff and Leaders:
Each of the staff at St John's brings his or her own unique and wonderful gifts to our church. As varied as their gifts are, all of our staff give to this church their best work and their whole heart. Without them, we might be merely a building with people milling about, for it is the staff who help shape and guide our common life, and I am so grateful to each of them for the ministry they carry out here. They are (in no particular order):
TED HOWARD Father Ted is our Associate Rector and in addition to being a fine, fine priest to this congregation, he is the very best partner in ministry I could ever ask for. In our personalities and gifts, he and I are yin and yang—we complement each other, support and challenge each other, and together are greater than the sum of two selves. I consider his support for my leadership a gift beyond measure, as I do his leadership and care for this parish.
AMY LYTHGOE Mother Amy is our Associate Priest for Youth and Family Ministry, and every day she wows me with her grace, her centered-ness, her humor, and the deep love she has for this congregation, not only for the teens and young families she serves but for everyone. Under her leadership, the Youth program has grown in ways not seen here for many years, and we all owe her tremendous thanks for that accomplishment.
TOM STUMB Tom Stumb is our Caretaker and no one at St John’s lives out their job title quite like Tom. In other words, he puts the “Care” in “Caretaker”, stewarding not only the physical components of our campus but the human resources here as well. I am so grateful for Tom’s marvelous attitude about his work—the words I most often hear him say are, “No problem, I can take care of it.” And indeed he does. Tom has taught me that one can care for people by caring for the spaces in which they work and worship. He is a blessing.
TOM MORGAN Tom Morgan is our Music Director and this past year we celebrated 30 years of his tremendous ministry with us. Often more than words it is music that offers us to and through the portal into mystical union with the Divine, and Tom keeps that sacred charge always in mind as he carries out his work. I have watched the choir grow in numbers under his great and competent leadership, and as we look ahead and vision together I am excited for what the future holds.
JOYCE KULL Dr. Joyce Kull is our Principal Organist, and she is a joy to work with, and a joy to listen to. She enhances and deepens whatever liturgy she’s involved in, and her commitment to teaching the congregation about organ music reflects her love and respect for the often hidden stories behind the compositions she offers. She is a compendium of knowledge we have only begun to tap, and I am grateful for her ministry with us.
TONY LEE Tony Lee is our Associate Organist and the work he does is often invisible to those in the pews, but very visible to us at the altar. On many occasions, I have watched Tony slide into place on the organ bench and keep the music flowing while Joyce receives Communion. He plays weddings and funerals as we need and his love for his dear dog Mia and her presence in this church are a gift that remind me that love takes many and marvelous forms.
JAN DEWLEN The Rev. Jan Dewlen is our Parish Deacon, and she lives out her vocation as leader of the Whittier Pantry and Board Member of St Benedict’s Health and Healing. Jan inspires others to join her in ministry to the marginalized, which is central to the diaconal vocation. I have met few people with more compassion for the least and most marginalized among us, and for me, Jan serves as a compass that continually points our congregation back to what really matters.
TOM BREWSTER Tom Brewster doesn’t have a job title. In truth, he has several: Chief of the Verger Guild, member of the Campus Security Team and Chief of the Guardian Ministry, Dispatcher of the Eucharistic Visitors, and Organizer of absolutely every logistical detail that goes into every worship service we conduct in this place. If St John’s paid Tom for the work he did, he would be wealthy and we would be bankrupt! There is no volunteer at St John’s more invested and more devoted than Tom.
HEATHER DUDOK I am very pleased to announce that—effective January 1st—Heather Dudok is our new Parish Administrator. I and many others have been tremendously impressed by Heather’s incredible ability to manage many different—and often competing—tasks at once and to do them all promptly and well. Her tech expertise is a gift to our church, and her work ethic inspires us all. We are in the process of searching for a half-time Parish Assistant to support Heather, the office staff, and the New Member Ministry, so if you know of someone you think would be a terrific fit, please let Heather know.
CAROLINE MELBY Caroline Melby is our Director of Family Faith Formation, and the fact that you see scores of children in and around church is thanks in large part to Caroline’s ongoing work and that of her staff. Most of us don’t see what she does week in and week out, because it happens while we are at worship, but the sheer number of details and people and crayons and paint that Caroline is tasked with managing is impressive—and she does it great competence and joy. I want to acknowledge Caroline’s Music Assistant Lisa Estrella, who plays and sings with the children during Sunday School and at Children’s Chapel. I also want to acknowledge Caroline’s wonderful classroom assistants (including Carol Callicotte-Belmon) and her nursery staff. Thank you all.
LORINE AND JAMES WILLIAMS The Rev. Deacon Lorine Williams and The Rev. Canon James Williams faithfully support this congregation in ways often invisible to most of us. Lorine leads and inspires the Altar Guild, which is a vital ministry in this church. She takes her turn in serving at the altar, whether it’s on Sundays or Wednesday mornings. She folds bulletins on Thursdays. Father James serves in turn at the Eucharist on Wednesday mornings and both James and Lorine have made serving the church the centerpiece of their lives. In that, they are an inspiration to us all.
WILL RELLER Father Will Reller is our visiting priest, taking his ministry of presence and the sacrament to our parishioners who are recuperating, or home-bound. His visits always bring joy to those he sees and offer a vital way to keep these folks connected with the church they love. Will spends 20 hours a month visiting people, and this is in addition to his full-time work as a Hospice Chaplain. I am so very grateful for his ministry.
ANDY CARHARTT Father Andy Carhartt is for many of us one of the fullest expressions of the risen Christ we know. His gentle way of leading his Wednesday morning congregation blesses them and blesses us all. When I get to join in Bible Study with Father Andy and the Wednesday morning folks, I always marvel at the paragraphs of handwritten notes that reveal Andy’s careful preparation for the day. He delights in the treasures the Spirit reveals in Scripture and his delight overflows into us all.
MICHELLE DANSON The Rev. Michelle Danson has faithfully served our vestry as its chaplain for over five years and she has guided the hearts of many vestry members to unfold like flowers in her presence. She and her emphasis on the vestry as the spiritual elders of the congregation are a big reason why our vestry has functioned so well. She is stepping down to free up time and energy for some new opportunities and we are grateful for the time and leadership she has offered us.
LUCY AMERMAN Our vestry welcomes The Rev. Canon Lucy Amerman, recently retired from the diocese of Pennsylvania, and member now of St John’s with her husband Jackson. Lucy brings to this new role tremendous wisdom and experience in the field of Pastoral Care, and I am excited to see what gifts she brings not only to our vestry but to our whole congregation.
BARBARA DUMKE And last, but certainly not least, I want to acknowledge and thank The Rev. Dr. Barbara Dumke, creator, and leader of our Solas Celtic gatherings. Barbara’s Ph.D. in Creation Theology and her love of liturgy combine to give our community the chance to worship God in expansive and new ways. You can experience a Solas service in March, on the 17th, and in May, on the 12th, in concert with the visit of The Rev. John Philip Newell.
OTHERS I also want to give deep thanks and praise to our Senior Warden, Joanie Heard, and our Junior Warden, Richard Ackerman. There is no time in my memory when both of them have not stepped forward to do whatever needed to be done at St John’s and they both do so without ever being asked. They look for the gaps and they fill them without fail.
I want to acknowledge also our Parish Counsel, Sharon Caulfield, and our Parish HR Consultant Sue Morse. Both of them freely give their considerable professional expertise to our church, and they are always there when I have occasion to call upon them. And finally, our Treasurer, Finance Committee, and Vestry round out the leadership team at St John’s and each member of these bodies is a gift and a blessing.