The time between the Feast of Pentecost and the First Sunday of Advent is known in the Church as Ordinary Time. But this time is anything but ordinary in St. John’s Parish. The Holy Spirit is omnipresent and vitally active in your Church.
We welcomed the Rev. Chase Ackerman from The General Theological Seminary and the School of Theology of the University of the South in June as our Curate currently with responsibility primarily for ministries to children, youth, college students and families. The Rev. Janet Tunnell joined us from St. Thomas Episcopal Church in St. Petersburg in August as Associate Rector. Janet’s primary responsibilities are pastoral care, outreach, and parish life, although she will be involved in all of our ministries. Parishioner Whitney Wolf joined us last month as Director of Children’s and Parish Life Ministries and her enthusiasm and leadership have already been felt in our Sunday School. All three of them have answered the call of the Holy Spirit to serve Jesus Christ in St. John’s, and I am profoundly thankful for their presence among us.
Our Sunday School Kick-Off will be this Sunday at 9:15 with activities for children continuing after the service. On September 30th we will have a Family Game Night, an activity that was immensely popular last year. The fall will bring the traditional Pumpkin Painting Party and, of course, sign up for the Christmas Pageant. We will also continue our Children’s Service in the parish hall on the last Sunday of the month. I am thankful for the joy in St. John’s that is ours when we see our children learning about Jesus Christ and worshiping him, and I know you are too!
Our new Episcopal Youth Community – EYC – will also kick off this Sunday under Father Ackerman’s direction. I know you join me in looking forward to a resurrected ministry to youth, a ministry that is crucially important for our future.
It will come as no surprise to you that our Organist and Director of Music, Mr. Morley, has a full lineup of musical offerings planned for the coming months. We will celebrate the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels with Evensong on September 25th, and we will be treated to an organ recital by James Kennerley, Organist and Choirmaster of St. Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church in New York City. Mr. Kennerley was described by Bloomberg News as a “great organist displaying phenomenal technique and sheer musicality.” This is a concert you will not want to miss.
On Sunday, September 18, the Rev. Kurt Dunkle, Dean and President of the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church, will join us as our guest preacher. Dean Dunkle will be available during coffee hour to discuss and answer questions about the state of theological education in the Episcopal Church today. This is an important and timely topic, and I am thankful to Dean Dunkle for his willingness to visit with us.
Many of you have asked for a return to adult Christian education programs between the services on Sundays. Thanks to Dr. Kathleen Moore, Candidate for Ordination to the Diaconate, new offerings will be available. A five-part series, Embracing an Adult Faith: What it Means to be Christian will begin on September 25th. We also have plans for a return of the Sunday afternoon Bible 101 series in November. Watch the Compass and the Weekly Scroll for more information.
The Holy Spirit is at work in our revitalized Fathers’ Ministry as well. Please plan to join them for a very special weekend of fun and service beginning with Baseball with the Bishop on Friday, September 23rd followed by a parish-wide day of outreach and service at Metropolitan Ministries on Saturday. The Holy Spirit continues to be at work in our ongoing outreach ministries too – Faith Café, Cornerstone Kids, Stitch 3 Pray 3, and others.
Perhaps the most important outreach ministry of our Church is St. John’s Episcopal Parish Day School. Please plan to join us for our annual Episcopal Schools Sunday on October 2nd. Our Head of School, Robert Stephens, will be delivering the sermon at all three of our services with insightful comments on the state of our school and the Episcopal schools community in general.
For those of you with pets, don’t forget the Feast of St. Francis on October 4th when we will be blessing pets in the courtyard beginning at 3:00. Bring your pet and join us as we honor God’s creatures who contribute so much to happiness in our lives.
All of this is happening in the midst of our ongoing programs of Christian education and fellowship – Thursday Men’s Bible Study, Book Club, Contemporary Women’s Bible Study, Women’s Mid-Morning Bible Study, Wednesday Nights in St. John’s, Bible Women, Education for Ministry, the Soiree, the Circle, the Orleanians, and Breakfast Sundays – and our many pastoral care ministries.
No, there is nothing ordinary about this time in St. John’s. I can feel the joy and the excitement and I know many of you can too. I give thanks to God for each of you and for the work of the Holy Spirit in this place every day. God bless you!
Yours in Christ,
The Rev. Charles E. Connelly
Jesus said: “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”