Message from Ben

Dear People of St. John’s,

This has, for me, been a wonderful month of being warmly received by you, of thoroughly enjoying our worship life, of listening intently to many of you as I get my bearings and sense what needs to be done together, and of beginning some key transitional tasks with the help of the Vestry and others in positional leadership.

One of my recent highlights – and no doubt one of yours – was the wonderful attendance and experience of our Annual Meeting, particularly the heartfelt thanks so many shared for blessings and thanksgiving you acknowledged from your past year together as a community of vibrant faith at St. John’s. That was really a glorious thing to behold, and says much about how you love Christ and one another and treasure this faith community!

The annual meeting also generated, as they often do, a few budget questions which we heard, have now addressed, and will soon report back to you. We want to assure you that this kind of openness and responsiveness will be part of our norms going forward.

Similarly, the key findings of the Congregational Assessment Tool (the CAT study) that many of you participated in last year will also be presented to you sometime in February, since some of those learnings will inform our tasks during this time of transition.

I can also report to you that the Vestry and I are beginning to develop some areas of our community life and leadership that I typically find need more attention in congregations I’ve served as Interim, which I think will be welcomed by you and whomever serves alongside you as your next rector. A major goal here (and in all churches in transition these days) is the development of a very active laity ready to be a strong team serving alongside your priest and Vestry. This means energizing our people and summoning our gifts, initially for the sake of areas of our common life that deserve broader participation and fresh vitality. Some examples of this include the development of groups who help plan our worship services so they are truly “the work of the people,” groups who assist with the pastoral care needs in our congregation, teams who coordinate our communications (website, social media, newsletters), teams who address all aspects of our finances (annual giving, planned giving, budgeting). You will hear more about these and other revitalizing initiatives in the months to come.

I end this letter where I started. What moves me most here at St. John’s is our love for God and our worship life together. We are now on the cusp of Lent, which begins with the Imposition of Ashes on Wednesday, February 14, and not many weeks later includes Holy Week and Easter. That is our real journey – beyond any sense of separation to oneness with God – through forgiveness, healing, wholeness and service in the name of Christ’s love. Of loving one another and winning our neighbor for Christ.