Photo by Joan Sulser

Spokane, Washington
                                                 November 13, 
Notes from the Interim Vicar


A few years ago, a priest serving as an interim minister at one of our
Spokane congregations completely re-arranged the furniture in the church's altar area. It had been rather cluttered and congested and after his re-arrangement, it was almost devoid of furniture. As presider, he sat in the front pew.
     This did not go over very well. Making a change in church practice is hard and often unwelcome work. F or a few   weeks,  i t was almost impossible to meet a member of that congregation in the grocery store or some other public place without a conversation about the minister's shocking deed.
     When the dust finally settled though, it turned out that he had done a helpful thing. That area WAS congested and cluttered. Eventually some of the chairs were placed back in front.  The subsequent re-arrangement of furniture was much more functional and visually appealing.
He had recognized one of the gifts of a time of transition: it can be a time to try a few new things and even question how things 'have always been done.'
     In that spirit, you may notice a few changes in Sunday worship over the coming weeks and months. We have already begun offering announcements during the pre-service welcome at 10:30am, for instance. This seems to be a more graceful place to highlight one or two timely announcements and to direct our attention to the others that are printed in the leaflet.
     We will also offer the 'blessing bank' time of sharing less frequently. That is a time when people come forward to give thanks for various blessings in their lives and sometimes give a thank offering. The current plan is to include this in the 10:30am service on only the first Sunday of each month. That means that Dec. 3, the First Sunday of Advent, will be the designated time this coming month.
     Of course this does not mean we can't share our blessings and prayer needs during every liturgy. There is always an opportunity in the prayers of the people for offering thanksgivings and prayer needs aloud, and you are encouraged to do that with gusto. It is important to share our blessings, even in a different form.
     Some of the impetus for these changes came from two different groups that work with liturgical planning, and some came from suggestions from parishioners.
     The reason for trying this new arrangement is simply to make our offering of worship a bit more graceful. After living with these small adjustments for a while, it will be time to re-evaluate--all in the spirit of transition.

Thoughts from the Curate


This fall at the Sunday Forum Hour, we've been discussing facets of, hearing from experts and workers in the field on, and growing in our understanding of, what it means to do mission and outreach as the Church.
     We've had the opportunity to hear from Catholic Charities of Spokane and their efforts to end homelessness in our community. We talked with Dr. Ron Large about the ethics of mission and outreach, specifically through the lenses of the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. We had the privilege of hosting Becca Stevens and her team from Thistle Farms, learning about both the domestic and international efforts to restore women and empower them to create safety for themselves.
     Through all of this, my hope is that the concept of mission and outreach has been sitting in your mind, brewing away, inspiring you to look at what you might be called to do, in serving this church, this community, this city, this world, in order to live into the work that Christ has left for us to do.
     One of the important first steps to this discernment (and something we did as a group at the Forum on the 12th) is to understand our own spiritual gifts that we offer. Spiritual gifts are those special charisms that we have been gifted with by God. This goes beyond simply identifying skills that we possess.  This means looking at the deeper impact of how our faith can inform how we use special skills and talents to better serve the church, by understanding these skills and talents as gifts given to us by God. There is a reason that all of us are not good at all things. If we were, we really wouldn't need the community of church to lift us up in our weaknesses and enable us to use the strengths we have that may be lacking in others.
     In order to identify these spiritual gifts, we took the following assessment:
I encourage you to take this assessment if you missed the Forum on Sunday. When answering each question on the scale of 1-5, go with your immediate gut reaction to the question. And answer it honestly. It doesn't help to answer how you'd like to be, because then it muddles the reality of your gifts. You will notice that the final page is specific to the church in Houston where we got this resource. We have a St. John's specific page that is available upon request in either hard copy or via email. Just contact Fr. Nic.
     I am excited to hear from you about the gifts that we have in this place. I especially encourage you to think how these gifts impact the mission and outreach we do and/or could be offering at St. John's. On December 10th, our final gathering of the fall, we will continue our discernment together, hoping to begin to answer that question.

Fr Nic

Deacon's Desk


We are incredibly blessed with the number of folks who volunteer for various ministries associated with St John's.  After participating in this past Sunday's Missions at our Forum discussion, I was again reminded how gifted we are as a community of faith to have so many individuals skilled and willing to share their gifts on behalf of both the community and those we serve.
     One of the ministries we support is Family Promise.  Family Promise of Spokane is part of a nationwide effort to help families transition from homelessness and its challenges to full employment with housing that is available because employment has been secured.  St John's has been involved with this ministry for many years and I have had the privilege of being involved the past three years.
     Our former dean, Bill Ellis, asked several of us if we'd be willing to serve in leadership roles following many years of selfless and dedicated service spearheaded by Doug and Judy Beane.  I was blessed to be joined by Bill and Lesley Selby, Becky Brown, Vince Schmidt and Deb Park in overseeing the Cathedral's efforts working with Family Promise.  We have joined with 14 local churches in providing food, shelter and hospitality to families  We've been supported by numerous volunteers over the years who have prepared meals, helped set up the rooms that our guests sleep in during the week they spend with us, along with those folks who offer their time once or twice a week, to spend the night serving as hosts of our on-site hospitality and security. 
     As you might expect, we can never have enough volunteers.  Quite honestly, we've had so many members of St John's volunteer over so many years that we run the risk of taking them for granted.  V olunteers are not unique to Family Promise.  The same goes for members who volunteer for our guilds, those who serve as ushers or guides, vergers, singers, bell ringers, acolyte advisors, or helping with the coffee cart.  These are all aspects of our communal life at St John's.  We would not be the community we are without everyone's willingness to serve in some manner.
     While volunteers work throughout the various ministries and services of St John's, we are in need of "new blood" for our Family Promise ministry.  Our cadre of volunteers have been incredibly dedicated, but after years of service, some are looking to take a step back, at least for a while.
     We need individuals who are willing to cook a meal, help set up the guest rooms or spend the night 3-4 times a year.  Specifically I am looking for another 10 individuals or a handful of couples who would be willing to share their gifts of hospitality and administration.
     Our next rotation is early January and the need for new volunteers to join with those who are continuing to serve is critical for this ministry to continue to be the source of support for the families we serve, as well as opportunities for both volunteers and guests for spiritual development.
     I invite your calls or texts at 509-995-6582, or emails at  Your willingness to share your time, skills and love in response to God's call to serve is appreciated and may change how you understand those who are dealing with ongoing stress and challenge.
     I look forward to hearing from you.



Discernment: The Next Phase

While summertime might imply easy living, jumping fish and long evenings, the Profile subcommittee of the Dean Call Committee (DCC) spent long hours last summer constructing a profile of the Cathedral that frames a true picture of our life as we prepare to open applications for a new dean.   Dozens more hours have been, and are being spent to revitalize our website so that it parallels our finished Profile, showing the Cathedral as a lively community, building relationships and devoted to Christ.
We have nearly completed this phase of our work. Once the position of Cathedral Dean has been publicly opened, applications will be received and the true work of the DCC becomes the monumental task of discernment.
Discernment, however, isn't a definition for "How to feng shui the Living Room."  Nor is it about finding an applicant that will be just like Dean Ellis.

What is Discernment?

Discernment literally starts, proceeds and ends with prayer. Not just saying prayers, though we certainly do that.   We are about asking God to help us, as a committee, to lay aside our biases.  We must learn how to hear each other in ways that aren't necessarily easy.   We have to see and describe to each other what lies at the heart of each candidate's application.
Discernment is hard. It demands not just honesty, but spiritual integrity.
As the DCC learns how to discern, please pray with us: for patience, for willingness to put aside easy answers, for genuine, risk-taking faith.

Hear us, O hear us Lord; to thee
A sinner is more music, when he prays,
Than spheres, or angels' praises be,
In panegyric alleluias,
Hear us, for till thou hear us, Lord
We know not what to say.
Thine ear to our sighs, tears, thoughts gives voice and word.
O thou who Satan heard'st in Job's sick day,
Hear thyself now, for thou in us dost pray

That we may change to evenness
This intermitting anguish piety,
That snatching cramps of wickedness
And apoplexies of fast sin, may die;
That music of thy promises,
Not threats in thunder may
Awaken us to our just offices;
What in thy book, thou dost, or creatures say,
That we may hear, Lord hear us, when we pray.

John Donne,
Divine Poems
23 and 24
  • November 19     Ingathering of Annual Fund Pledges.    10:30am Worship Service.
  • November 19     Annual Thanksgiving Dinner.  Great Hall.  12:00.  High chairs and toddler chairs available.
  • November 22     Thanksgiving Eucharist.  7:00pm.
  • Decenber 3        First Sunday of Advent.
  • December 15     Lessons & Carols   7:00pm.
  • December 17     Christmas Pageant  and White Gifts.  10:30am.
  • December 24     Christmas Eve Services at 4:00pm and 10:30pm.
The December issue will be published on December 11, the second Monday of the month.  Articles or announcements are invited.  Please send copy by the previous Thursday.