A Look Under the Hood
Coming out of COVID has felt a lot more like climbing Gannett Peak than climbing the Grand. (Brian would know.) While the apex of the Global Pandemic is in our rearview mirrors, it’s taken an awfully long time to get back to normal. 2022 has felt like that long walk back to the trailhead that some enjoy and others dread.
Our clergy year began quietly, marked by some behind the scenes recruitment of The Rev. Dr. Travis Helms. As we took a deep look at how we might resurrect our Children, Youth and Families Ministry, we also began to think of how we could capture talent that could assist in the creation and leadership of additional communities within our own community of St. John’s. I’m happy to say Travis, Gracie and Baby Helen fit like a glove at St. John’s and in Jackson Hole. The winter also saw Mary Erickson come alongside women in our parish to establish a weekly lunch for women in the community. The women’s ministry has flourished under Mary’s leadership and included a late spring retreat in Cody over the Memorial Day Weekend at our Diocesan Retreat—Thomas The Apostle Center, and evolved into Gathering Women, monthly dinner and worship.
As we moved from winter toward spring, we as a church took a keen focus on restoring our relationships that were so solid long before we had ever heard of the corona virus. We kicked off the season of Lent with an absurd dance video from staff set to the music from High School Musical—“Better Together.” Each of us received a package of peanut butter and jelly, and we began to turn our attention to the work of the restoration of relationships that took an important hiatus during the pandemic. We worked deliberately to restore a solid Children’s Ministry Program on Sunday mornings with nursery for our infants and babies and weekly children’s chapel led by one of us on the clergy team. Just as we began to use our south wing for Children’s Ministry, our fire suppression system failed, creating a disaster on the ground floor and in the basement. Clergy and lay staff, alongside vestry and many other volunteers, worked to turn lemons into lemonade, allowing us to make improvements in the destroyed spaces that reflect more of the present future of our ministries and mission. We can’t tell you how many times our minds drifted back to that ironically titled album of John Prine—“Lost Dogs. Mixed Blessings.” The work of repairing and restoring the building was monumental, and so many from our parish spent time and energy helping to bring us back.
Our seemingly endless spring in 2022 turned to summer almost as abruptly as our beloved seasonal members arrived. Our parish is in full bloom in the summer, and we came together under the theme of “Peace Like a River”—Bars of Dove Soap making their way into kitchens and bathrooms and laundry rooms and workshops across the valley. The simple task of praying while washing our hands brought a measure of calm to what has been a tough few years for everyone. In June, we welcomed the Helms family as residents of Jackson and members of our church community and staff. We participated in the celebration of Christie Laughery’s ordination to the Diaconate. We provided thousands of expressions of love from our ice cream e-bikes, including on the 4th of July in the town parade. We witnessed Suzanne Harris bring so many from our parish and community together again under the banner of poetry, music, movement and lyric. And, the staff stole away for a three-day teambuilding packtrip to Tin Can Park in the Gros Ventre Mountains.
One of the most meaningful highlights of the summer was our “Armada of Love” float down the Snake River culminating in a number of baptisms at the confluence of Pacific Creek and The Snake—some planned and others spontaneous.
The summer continued full steam ahead, as usual. Adjacent development forced a sewer reconnection on our campus. We welcomed Glendon Smith from James D. Klote and Associates, who helped us conduct a successful feasibility study, centering around our proposed capital campaign and our vision for the rebuilding of Browse 'n Buy to also include The Jackson Cupboard, expanded space for the recovery community, and two units of workforce housing. Following our focus group meetings, vestry leadership voted to approve the first phase of the capital campaign.
If the fall brought a shoulder season, we seemed to have missed it around here. The St. John’s Campus was in full swing for the entire season with Kids Night Out, Capital Campaign Steering Committee meetings, Red Door poetry series, Women’s Luncheons, Ukraine Outreach, Small Group Meetings, Advent Dinners, Gathering Women, and more.
Church, it was a great year for us! We want to express our sincerest gratitude for your generous year-end support of St. John’s. We needed some extra support this year. We asked you to consider helping. You showed up with love and generosity at an almost overwhelming level, helping us to finish the year in a strong position, giving us firm footing for 2023. You are a wonderful, loving, generous faith family who does so much for each other and this community we live in and love. Thank you!
Jimmy, Brian, Mary, and Travis