Photo taken by Mike Busby during the 2016 Vergers' Conference
Spokane, WA
                                                         November 14, 2016
Notes from the Dean


This month we celebrate our annual Thanksgiving dinner as a cathedral family on the 20th of November. We missed last year because of the windstorm, but I trust this year all will go smoothly. I want to add one thing to our list of thanksgivings.

     The day before our dinner is the anniversary of the dedication of a cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was full before it opened, for it contained the bodies of more than 3,000 men who had one important thing in common; they were soldiers who died in the Battle of Gettysburg. At that dedication Edward Everett Horton spoke for about two hours. Few people have any idea what he said, and no one today cares. He was followed by President Abraham Lincoln, whose speech-not quite three hundred words in length--has become among the most important statements in the history of this great nation. We do well to remember those words now.

     Lincoln recalled that our country was "conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." The equality of all people was of course unrealized when Jefferson identified it as a "self-evident" truth in the Declaration of Independence, nor was it true when Lincoln reiterated it at Gettysburg. But it was an ideal, and that ideal became more and more important as the Civil War ground on. To him the war was a great test of whether or not a nation "so conceived and so dedicated, could long endure." To him, that became the great question: Is self-government truly possible over the long run?

     We survived that war, which to this day remains the greatest crisis our nation has yet faced, and so thus far the answer to Lincoln's implied question is "Yes." A nation that dedicates itself to the genuine equality of all people, and seeks always to come ever closer to the realization of that ideal can endure.

     Today--though there is much work to do--we are closer to that ideal than we have been. Let us remember that. Whether conservative, liberal, or libertarian, whether Republican, Democrat or Independent, we live in a nation dedicated to the complete equality of all people before God and in the laws of this land. Because we are a nation of laws and not people, what matters is not which party is in power, but that we as a people together maintain constant vigilance in guarding that equality.

     Lincoln closed his speech by urging the people to take "increased devotion" to the cause of liberty and equality for all, so that we might live into a "new birth of freedom" which would insure that "Government of the People, by the People and for the People, shall not perish from the earth."

     Among the many things for which I am grateful this month is that devotion, the freedom it safeguards, and that ever onward quest for the genuine equality of all. St. Paul wrote that in Christ there is "neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female." As a nation we remain dedicated to turning that theological concept into an historical reality, realizing all the while that Paul's list was not exhaustive or exclusive, but rather a pointer at the complete equality of all people that is an established truth of the divine economy.

     That it is not yet perfectly realized here on earth means only that our struggle continues, but even as it continues, I give great thanks that we are here today, guided by such a noble ideal, and given the sacred opportunity to join in that never-ending quest.

Notes from the Curate

Last week the country voted for a lot of things, including who the next President of the United States of America will be. For many (in fact a majority), this person is not who they voted for.  But, for many (a majority, in places where it counted), it is the person they voted for. And now, we move forward.
     Many articles, think pieces, even books, will be written about this election cycle, looking back at what happened, how the pundits and experts were all wrong, how an inexperienced celebrity turned the entire system on its head.  And, we will be tempted to live in this reality of What If: of what happened, of looking back when we must be looking forward because the world keeps moving forward.
     Gregory Boyle, Jesuit priest and founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, writes: "Ours is a God who waits. Who are we not to?"
     This simple expression of the reality of God at work in this world, at work in my life, reverberates for me today. The work of God, the work that Christ has left for us, is what Fr. Boyle calls "slow work."  But, even in its lack of speed, it is constantly moving forward with patience and resilience.  And this slow work is precisely what we must focus on as we move forward together as a nation.
     Regardless of who you voted for, as followers of Christ we must continue to strive to make life better for all of God's beloved creation.  We must continue to defend the beauty of God's creation from the overconsumption of man.  We must continue to stand up and fight for basic human rights for all God's people regardless of race, color, ethnicity, sexuality, gender identity, and religion.  We must continue to give voice to the voiceless, to hear the oppressed and persecuted, standing with them as the physical presence of Christ in this world today.
     And, we must be patient.  We must understand that God's time is most definitely not our time, and in accepting that reality, who are we to be angry that God isn't moving as fast as we'd like? We must move forward together, knowing that the work of the Church is still here calling to us. Regardless of who is President, the work of the Church has always continued unabated, moving forward, because ultimately we live in a man-made world, into which we hope to bring, little-by-little, pieces of the kingdom of God.
     This is both the joy and desperation of being of creation. That we don't always get our way. And even when we do, it does not excuse us from doing the hard work of Christ. Take comfort in the knowledge that Christ is always with us, and that it is through Christ, not through our President or Congress or State Legislators, that we can enact real change in this world.

Fr Nic
O God, 
by whom the meek are guided in judgment, 
and light rises up in darkness for the godly:
Grant us, in all
our doubts and uncertainties, 
the grace to ask what you
would have us to do, 
that the Spirit of wisdom may save
us from all false choices, 
that in your light we may see light, 
and in your straight path 
may not stumble;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


This Sunday, November 20, following the 10:30am worship service, at 12 noon, we will follow our noses into the Great Hall for a splendid feast.  Once again, Dennis Murphy is assembling a crew to prepare and serve our favorite Sunday dinner.  Turkey, stuffing, hot rolls, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, veggies, tea and coffee...and dessert!  It's time to sit down with our friends and have those extended conversations we never quite have time for.
     High chairs and toddler chairs are available in the Great Hall for your little ones, and child
care will  be available, as well.   Baskets for free will contributions toward the cost of the dinner on each table.

First, a huge Thank You to all those who made our Empty Bowls a success this year. We raised over $11,000 in direct contributions and another $500 a month in pledges!
     Every Year West Central Episcopal (or Ecumenical) Mission has a Christmas party for our guests. We have a festive dinner, put on an ad hoc Christmas pageant with our guests playing the parts, and we have gifts. Many of our guests are homeless, so we try to make the gifts useful, attractive and portable. We are looking for the following, all new:
  • Warm hats for men, women and children
  • Warm gloves or mittens
  • Scarves
  • Socks - lots of socks. Nothing makes you colder than wet feet!
  • Warm blankets and throws
  • Backpacks - daypacks are fine
  • Small sized toiletries for men and women
  • Small gifts for children. These are not just for the kids who come, but for our guests who have children for whom they need gifts.
All these items should be delivered, unwrapped, to the church by December 11 (or to WCEM by Friday noon, December 16) We'll be organizing and assembling gifts the weekend of December 16 and you are definitely invited to join us at the Mission for these fun work days! 
December 17-18 
Saturday 9-1, Sunday 1-3.
Finally, we need homemade cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. We try to send each person with at least half a dozen cookies, but better a dozen. That means about a hundred dozen cookies. And not too fragile cookies are best. Lots of cookies!   Note: cookies in bags of 1 dozen may be delivered up until Tuesday, December 20 at 3:00 PM.   WCEM's Christmas party will be December 21.

Questions? Call Peggy Johnson, 509-624-2217, before December 20.

* West Central Episcopal Mission is a Specialized Mission of the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane

Notes from the Deacon's Desk


By the time you receive this edition of News from St Johns, the elections will be behind us; thankfully.  Some will be happy, others not so much. While the Church yearns and strives for unity and reconciliation, these elections are sure to leave the country deeply divided. In the midst of this period of anxiety, frustration, stressed or broken relationships we find ourselves, if we're listening, responding to God's call for us, the Church, to serve and to lead.   We are called to be part of the transformation of the world around us and it is our intentional response to God's call to help and serve our fellow neighbors that lifts us out of the muck and mire of the daily onslaught of horrible news and horrific human behavior.
     My mother was always wont to say, "If you're feeling down, go help someone out. You'll realize your problems aren't so bad and in doing the right thing, your disposition will improve. Helping others is why we're on this planet." Thanks, Mom!
     With this in mind, I'm again offering the Cathedral community an opportunity to serve, especially if you're ready to offer hospitality to those dealing with housing and employment challenges. Many of you are aware that the Cathedral is a major contributor of human capital in support of Family Promise of Spokane.   We have been active participants in this ministry for the past 8 years and are in the midst of completing plans for 2017 as we look to expand our cadre of volunteers. Our existing volunteer base is extraordinary but as you can imagine, sometimes volunteers are ready for a change, some leave the community while others deal with unforeseen changes in their ongoing ability to serve.
     To put it bluntly, we need your help.
     We generally host families with the Family Promise program four, sometimes five times per year. They spend a week with us, then move onto the next local congregation or transition to permanent housing. During the week we provide meals, lodging and Saturday transportation. Just as important, we offer ourselves as companions during the week as we listen to their stories and play with their kids.
     I am inspired by the commitment this congregation has to being involved in service to our community. I know I'll leave someone or a group out, so my apologies up front. 
  • For all who find their lives enriched by assisting with ministries such as West Central Episcopal Mission and Windfall, a hearty thank you. 
  • For those who serve in other volunteer capacities that aren't necessarily church related, a hearty thank you. 
  • For those who currently serve or have volunteered in the past with Family Promise, a hearty thank you. 
  • For those who might be willing to "come and see" what it would be like to volunteer for Family Promise, I'd be more than grateful for the opportunity to visit with you.
Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and chothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?" The King will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for me."      Matthew 25:37-40
May it be so.


  • November 20.  Annual Cathedral Thanksgiving Dinner following the 10:30 service.  Great Hall.
  • November 23.  Thanksgiving Eve Eucharist.  7:00pm.
  • December 16.  Advent Lessons & Carols. 7 pm
  • December 17-18.  Gift assembly for West Central Christmas. Saturday, 9-1, Sunday 1-3. West Central Mission.
The December issue will be published on December 12, the second Monday of the month.  Articles or announcements are invited.  Please send copy by the previous Thursday
By the Way...
The photo used as the header in the October issue was listed erroneously as John D Miller.  It should have been John Moore.  The error was mine.
The Editor