Spokane, Washington
                                                 September 11, 
Notes from the Interim Vicar


Our clergy have begun to meet twice a month, so that means that Fr. Nic Mather and I can sit down with our deacons Barbara Novak and Dave Walker and with our 'retired' priests, John Hay and Paul Phillips, to touch base regularly.
     We spent most of our first meeting talking about pastoral care: who is doing it, how it is going and what it might look like in the future. We are hoping that in the not-too-distant future we can rebuild a wider pastoral care team that will include lay callers and Eucharistic visitors as well.
     Many of the pastoral visits at nursing homes, assisted living centers and senior housing are done by Paul Phillips and John Hay--a ministry they do skillfully and faithfully. Our parish nurse, Marianne Harrington also checks in on people regularly.   Nic and I handle most of the hospital visiting, emergencies, referrals (from other parishes and the diocesan office) to reach hospitalized Episcopalians from out of town, along with other situations that arise.
     One of the challenges these days is knowing who is in the hospital and wishes to be visited. When I began my ministry as a priest in the 1980s, you could simply go into a hospital, ask for a list of the Episcopalians and could check the list for folks from your congregation. A lot has changed since then. Confidentiality regulations now prohibit hospitals from giving this information out so freely.
     That means that we can only learn about who is in the hospital if someone contacts us and asks us to visit.   We welcome this kind of information and will do our best to call on everyone who requests a visit.  We realize that illness puts a significant stress on individuals and families.
As the Cathedral, we also feel some responsibility to the wider community and the diocese to be a pastoral staff that can reach out when there is a need.   Barbara Novak, for instance, was recently a pastoral care-giver to a woman from western Washington during the last days of her life here in Spokane.  In the last couple of weeks I have ministered to two families from out of town who had critically ill relatives here, one in a hospice setting and the other in intensive care.
     I've always found it to be an honor to be invited into pastoral situations and I believe that is also true for my colleagues in ministry here.  We are grateful that you trust us to be your pastors.
     So please let us know when you or a family member is hospitalized or in need of a visit. You can call the office (509) 838-4277 to reach us or leave a message.

Thoughts from the Curate


I had the opportunity this past weekend to attend a (very quick) retreat for those who are entering the new "final" stage of discernment for call to ordained ministry. I say "final" because we are never truly done discerning our calls in this church (whether we serve it as lay or clergy), but this retreat was for the four people ("seekers") in the Diocese of Spokane that are prepared to enter into four final meetings with a group of people they have spent nine meetings with, shifting focus from discerning what each member of the group is called into through our baptism, to focusing on whether or not the seeker (who has gathered these people for this work) is called to ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church.
     This new "final" stage of discernment focuses intently on this one question: do we as a group hear and see the same call that the seeker is hearing? This, is in context of the specific community, and also an understanding of what that means for the wider church as well.
     One thing that I thought was worth pointing out to you all, however, is the sense that ordained ministry does not by definition mean seminary trained. In fact, only two of the four seekers at this retreat are interested in a potential seminary track. There is an alternative track of formation called local formation, that while producing the same ordained clergy, is entered into with a different purpose.
     Local formation (which can be for either the diaconate or the priesthood) focuses on raising someone up within a specific community because that person and their community both agree that they are called to serve God's church in that specific place and in that specific order they are called to. This affords an interesting avenue into ordained ministry for many people who otherwise feel a calling but cannot either commit to a three-year seminary track, feel a strong desire to serve a very specific place and are happy to do so as bi-vocational (someone who earns their living through non-church employment, and lives into their ordained vocation on a more part-time, usually unpaid, basis), or some combination of the above with any other factors including financial resources, education level, and family commitments. The local formation track is something that our diocese has put a lot of energy and effort into shaping into a legitimately strong way of training and raising up people to live into their ordained call to serve their specific community.
     If you have ever even had an inkling that ordained ministry is something that has pulled at you, stop everything you are doing and call or email me right now, so we can talk about starting discernment. I wish everyone would do formal discernment, and not just for ordained ministry, because it is so beneficial to be with others in a place of prayer as you truly look at how you are called to serve God in this world. This could be as a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor, a business person, an anything really, but you don't know unless you do the work of discerning. You just might find that ordained ministry is where you are supposed to be, and that might look like going to seminary so that you can enter into full-time ministry work to serve both the local community and the wider church as a whole, or it might look like local formation, where you keep the job you love, you stay in the city you love, and you serve the place you love, because they see in you that same call and want to see that call lived out with you.
     ALSO! You're never too old or too young to start this work of discernment! All it takes is the desire to do so and gathering a group of people who are excited to do the work with you. So, let's find those deacons in this place that are itching to live more fully into their ministry in (and outside) the church. Let's find those priests who have more to give to this place than we, or perhaps even they, realize.
     Let's all enter into discernment and know that we are truly living into the people that God has called us each to be.

Fr Nic


Paul-Gordon Chandler, author, interfaith advocate, and Episcopal priest, is returning to Spokane following the publication of his most recent book: In Search of a Prophet: A Spiritual Journey with Kahlil Gibran.     
     On Saturday, Sept 23rd at 7:00pm at Holy Trinity Church, Paul-Gordon Chandler will take the listener on a fascinating journey through the spiritual life of Lebanese writer, artist and mystic, Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931), who sought to build bridges and tear down walls.
     Chandler reveals how Gibran's all-embracing approach serves as a much-needed guide in our times. His presentation focuses on how Gibran's spiritual journey touches on the most critical issues we face today: care for creation, equality for women, interest in spirituality as opposed to religion, inclusive embrace of different faiths, and learning from the best in each tradition to enhance one's own.
     Following his commentary, there will be a transition into a brief contemplative service incorporating stillness, darkness, candlelight, meditative Middle Eastern music, images of Gibran's art and spiritual readings from Gibran's writings.
     Stop by the Reception Hall afterwards for a book-signing and reception. Simple Middle Eastern Fare will be served and Paul-Gordon Chandler's new book will be available for purchase.
    Holy Trinity Church, also known as the West Central Episcopal Mission, is located at 1832 W. Dean Ave, Spokane, WA.  Doors open at 6:45 pm, and seating is limited.
     If you miss Paul-Gordon on Saturday, he will be speaking at our 9:15 am Adult Forum, preaching at the 10:30 am service and signing books at the coffee hour following the service.
     Chandler is a superb writer and speaker. You won't want to miss his visit to Spokane. 

"Before reading this book, my only real knowledge of Kahlil Gibran was the poem often read at weddings in the 1970s and 80s, and frequently caricatured.
What that limited knowledge didn't reveal was the story of his life, the depth of his convictions, and the gift of his wisdom.
This book tells his story, revealing the depth and passing on that gift."
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church


On Sunday, September 17, Ivana Cojbasic will perform a free piano recital at 3:00pm in the Cathedral nave. She will be playing music of Bach, Hayden, Tchaikovsky and Gershwin.
     Dr. Cojbasic teaches piano at Whitworth University and is developing a piano studio on the South Hill. She collaborates with the Spokane Symphony and the Symphony Chorale.
     She received her Bachelor and Master degrees in Music and Piano Performance from the renowned Music Academy in Belgrade, Serbia, and her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance from the University of North Texas. 
     While holding a Professor of Piano position at the University of Belgrade in her native country, Serbia, she concertized throughout Europe and America to critical acclaim. She has taught piano at the University of North Texas, Mesa State University in Colorado, Bowling Green State in Ohio, Gonzaga and Eastern Washington.
     Further information is available at Dr. Cojbasic's website at   .
Donations support St. John's Cathedral music ministry.
When St John's says "Welcome!"  We mean it!

  Organist John Bodinger at the keyboard, supporting Dr Darryl Gurecky.

A bouncy castle always provides time for conversation and holding little kids.   

Come Ring with Us!
Stan McDaniel

Did you take a few piano lessons while growing up? Did you play in the band? Have you ever sung in a choir? For that matter, do you occasionally sing in the shower, or rattle spoons to a favorite tune on the radio? If your answer to ANY of those questions is yes, then you are a candidate to be a Cathedral Ringer.
     For our Cathedral handbell choir to continue and thrive, we need additional ringers! Those of us in the bell program find it to be a thrill and a privilege to come together and make incredible music in this place. To get started as a ringer is not hard, even for those with minimal musical experience. It simply requires a commitment to rehearse weekly. You will learn as you go. Your friends in the bell choir will make you feel welcome, and, truly, ringing is fun.  A new year, a new schedule!
     Beginning this fall, we will rehearse in our own room on the second floor (over the Great Hall), moving our rehearsals to Wednesdays at 5:30pm. We hope this rehearsal time will encourage a new group of potential ringers to consider ringing. 
     For example, if you are bringing young people to St. John's for Wednesday Youth Group, bell choir would be a great way to do something energizing and productive while waiting to take them home!
     If you are interested, but would like more information, call Dr. Stan McDaniel at
509-701- 0495. Bell rehearsals for the 2017-2018 season will begin Wednesday, September 13, at 5:30pm, in Room 219 of Jewett House. 

The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
by understanding he established the heavens;
by his knowledge the deeps broke open,
and the clouds drop down the dew.

My child, do not let these escape from your sight:
keep sound wisdom and prudence,
and they will be life for your soul
and adornment for your neck.
Proverbs 3:19-22

  • September 13     First rehearsal for Cathedral Bell Choir.  5:30pm. Rm 219, located in Jewett House, above the Great Hall.
  • September 17     Piano recital with Dr Ivana Cojbasic.  3:00pm in the Nave. Donations accepted.
  • September 23     The Rev Paul-Gordon Chandler presents Kahlil Gibran, Mystic, Writer and Artist.  Holy Trinity Church, 1832 W Dean Ave.  7:00pm.
  • September 24      Paul-Gordon Chandler, Adult Forum.  9:15am, Great Hall.  The Rev Chandler will also preach at the 10:30 Eucharist.
  • November 5        The Rev. Becca Stevens, Guest preacher and presenter, 10:30am

The October issue will be published on October 9, the second Monday of the month.  Articles or announcements are invited.  Please send copy by the previous Thursday.