My heart is full when I think of the privilege of serving a church that truly understands that we are our sister’s keeper, that we are our brother’s keeper, that our mission directs us to “love our neighbors just as we love ourselves.” We, all together, no doubt have more service in us and before us, as we work toward the healing of a community, country and world that is literally plagued and also divided. Saddle up, St. John’s. There’s more trail ahead.
Coming Worship Schedule Changes
- September 20 & 27 - One service at 10 a.m. under the tent
- October 4 - Blessing of the Animals (one service under the tent at 10 a.m.)
- October 11 - Return to Sanctuary (both 8 a.m. and 10 a.m services in main church)
- October 25 - Return to Eucharist
Many of you have asked when we will return to worship indoors. Let me give you a sense of our plans with the same caveat we’ve used during the whole of the pandemic—plans subject to change! We will continue to worship as we have worshiped since mid-June until September 20. On September 20, our worship schedule will adjust before we make a permanent change on October 11. On September 20, we will have one 10 a.m. service for in-person worship. Our livestream will not be interrupted or changed. It will air over the internet via our website and on social media at 10 a.m. as usual. The Reverend Suzanne Harris will preside at that one service, as Mary, Brian and I will be in Casper for the election of the 10th Bishop of Wyoming and our annual Diocesan Convention. On the following two Sundays we will also have one 10 a.m. service outside, under the tent, socially distanced. Our 8 a.m. service will be suspended from September 20 until we return to church indoors on October 11. Our concern around the 8 a.m. service is that it will be too cold to be outside that early in the morning in late September and early October.
When we return to worship indoors, it will still be different. Here are some of the changes to expect. Both services, 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., will take place in St. John’s Church. We simply don’t have enough room in our beloved chapel to distance ourselves safely. Maybe a few of you are thinking, “well, then, I just won’t go!” I’m asking you to reconsider. While our churches, each of them, are sacred spaces whose walls, ceilings and floors are painted in our real prayers, even our tears, in the same breath we say, “church is NOT a building—She is a people committed and unified, seeking our belovedness and intent upon sharing it with others.” We WILL make our return to both St. John’s Chapel and the Chapel of the Transfiguration when it’s safe to do it.
On October 11, we will return to indoor worship at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Our plan, subject to approval by the Bishop, is to continue in the style of worship we adopted in March and have done over the internet and from the shelter of our tent. During that time we will await installation of our new audio/video set up. We are currently waiting for the arrival of necessary cameras that are currently in a shipping container somewhere between the coast of China and Long Beach, California. When the equipment arrives and is installed, we intend to return to our regular pattern of worship (or nearly so) celebrating the Eucharist each Sunday. Our current expectation is that might happen on Sunday, October 25.
We are currently working with the Diocese in regard to planning for our next phase of reopening. We are sorely aware of the challenges returning to church presents to families with kids while we are unable to offer children’s program and care. When we move back inside for worship, it is our plan to reserve Hansen Hall for families with children. We can display our worship in real time to the large monitors in Hansen Hall, so that folks can join in our worship. It is our plan to have a number of childcare providers equipped with projects for our kids that we hope they will enjoy. If you’re after an experience of worship that’s quiet and meditative and takes a slow pace, Hansen Hall is NOT for you. My hope is that it more closely resembles the chaos that must have occurred when Jesus took his place along the hillside to teach the 5,000. With the chaos, a large measure of fun is sure to come!
Finally, a reminder for Sundays—wear a mask and bring your own coffee. We haven’t figured a safe way to serve coffee, yet, but we’re thinking about it, for sure.
Stewardship Season is upon us
I’m happy to report to you that the finances of our church for 2020 are strong. You have continued your generous support of our congregation while also contributing resource to our efforts to provide relief during the pandemic. At times, I feel overwhelmed by your generous care of our faith family, this community, and beyond to the Wind River Indian Reservation and other parts of our extended community. The Vestry, the Finance Committee, Robyn Reed, our Director of Operations, and I are keeping a very close eye on our church’s financial position and remain optimistic that if this year finishes like we normally finish, we will retain our current strong position.
Two Sundays ago we launched our 2021 Stewardship Campaign. Many of you have already made faithful and generous pledges to our campaign. Thank you. In the year ahead, our focus is on “enough”—landing softly in the faithful assurance that there is enough love to go around, even in tremendously anxious times.
We gratefully welcome your pledge to our 2021 pledge campaign. If you would like to make a commitment to the campaign over the web, here is a link to our digital pledge card. In the coming days, we will mail hard copies of our pledge card to those on our parish roster who have yet to make a pledge. Along with the pledge card, you will receive a return envelope in order to make your pledge’s return to us simple. My hopeful expectation for this year’s campaign is that we continue to reach or exceed the 1 million dollar goal we had from last year, and that we continue to expand our care for one another and for our community. Thank you in advance for your gift to our faith family. I hope you are able to take the same humble pride in the work our church is doing in these strange times that I do. Whether it’s a radio broadcast “love hunt” on Easter, over $300,000 raised and shared for pandemic relief, or the simplicity of an ice cream bike spreading love to kids and big kids during an anxious time, be assured your church is not sitting in the bleachers, but is down on the playing field serving and loving. Way to go, St. John’s.
Please remember St. John’s Church in your giving to Old Bill's! This program has brought an astounding $173 million philanthropic dollars to our community. These funds are busy feeding the hungry, supporting the sick and elderly, teaching kids to read, protecting wildlife, building affordable housing, enriching our lives through the arts and touching the lives of everyone in Teton County. The 2020 giving period runs through 5:00 p.m. on September 18. Please consider donating with a check payable to Community Foundation of Jackson Hole. An official donor form must accompany all checks. Donors may also use a credit card online.
I’ll close with one of my favorites. This comes from Eugene Petersen’s translation of Colossians 3:12-14. It reads like this, “So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgives you.
And regardless of what else you put on (my favorite part here, of course!) wear love. It’s your all-purpose garment. Never be without it.”
I write to you aspiring to wear that all-purpose garment all of the time,