Photo taken by Interim Vicar Kristi Philip

Spokane, Washington
                                                 October 9, 
Notes from the Interim Vicar


The grocery store in my neighborhood closed this year. It was a great loss, but not only because it had been so convenient to have a decent store within a few blocks. This store also had a different appeal to many because it was a gathering place of sorts.
     Just about every check-out clerk would recognize regular customers and ask a question or two about how things were going. Some of them would even remember the last conversation and want an update: "How is your daughter doing at college? "Did you find someone to rake your leaves?"
At times when I was in a hurry, I found this a little annoying. But the lesson for me, a lesson that eventually overcame my impatience, was that for many customers, those conversations were the only in-person conversations they had all day. Some of them lived alone and didn't go out much. That trip to the grocery store was more than an errand to get milk and eggs - it was a social occasion. And the staff at that store seemed ready to engage them each time they came in.
     I noticed that pattern in other businesses around my South Hill neighborhood, too. My bank put out cookies and coffee--an invitation for a more extended visit. Even the clerks at the post office were willing to listen to someone describe each and every toy that was in a package destined for the grandchildren.
     In a way, the workers at all of these places had a ministry--a ministry of kindness and hospitality. A ministry in daily work. I don't know if they ever thought about it that way, but they were modeling it by reaching out in a helpful, considerate and sometimes compassionate way.
In one of my seminary classes we focused on ministry in daily life--either in the work place or in what was called one's 'main daily activity' if a person was not employed. In one of our texts we read many workplace ministry stories. One of the people whose stories we read was a grocery clerk, who actively listened to customers. Another was a letter carrier who made a point of noticing whether everything seemed in order at the homes of the more frail people on his route. Once or twice he alerted others to a home where the mail or newspapers had piled up for several days. These workers had discovered ministry in the midst of their workday and they did it well.
     My seminary class also included a weekly panel of people who brought us ethical issues in their particular workplace, whether teachers, custodial workers, medical personnel or sales people. Each brought a story of how their Christian faith impacted an ethical dilemma at work.
I loved how that class brought every-day work and a theology of ministry together and it gave me a wider sense of what ministry really is--serving God wherever we find ourselves.
     How would you describe your ministry in daily life? 

Thoughts from the Curate


There's a lot going on at St. John's in the next few weeks!
     First, we will be having two acolyte trainings, one on October 15 from 12:30-3:30pm and one on November 12 from 12-3pm. If you or your child (or grandchild!) is interested in serving, please let me know as soon as possible. We will be training old and new servers, enjoying pizza for lunch, and playing some acolyte Olympics!
     On November 5th, we will welcome Becca Stevens and women from Thistle Farms to St. John's, to preach and present at the Forum Hour. We are very excited to welcome them to St. John's and to hear from Becca. 
     Becca Stevens is one of the most dynamic and engaging priests in the Episcopal Church, who was named a CNN Hero in 2016.  Her  appearance is made possible by the Leuthold Speaker Fund.
     So much going on!  Stay informed and do feel free to ask me about any of our upcoming events, trainings, and forums.

Deacon's Desk
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer, Proper 28, Year A

Christian formation is the lifelong process of growing in our relationship with God, self, others, and all creation.  Every experience in our lives can provide us with the opportunity to express our faith; the challenge we face is recognizing these opportunities and learning ways to live a sometimes counter-cultural life in a secular world. 
Formation, The Episcopal Church


The above Collect from The Book of Common Prayer and the definition of Christian formation on the official website of The Episcopal Church hang in my home study as a continual reminder that being a "disciple" of Christ means to be a "learner."  
     And what I've learned over a period of time is that becoming a "learner" is something that never ends; it's an ongoing process of study, prayer, meditation, worship and work, which often is done individually but is also grounded within the context of a community.  This process of lifelong learning has become an essential aspect of who I am becoming as a follower of Christ in that it has helped shape how I spend my time and set priorities.  It has cultivated a sense of holy curiosity and deepened my desire to live intentionally in seeking God's will for my life.  Lifelong learning is a way of life that transforms us in ways we probably can hardly imagine.
     I read with great interest the Executive Summary from the Dean Call Symposium that was held on June 11th of this year.  Under the heading "Adult Education and Spiritual Formation" several existing opportunities for learning included the Dean's Inquirers Class, Lenten series, 'Reel Theology' series, 'Pub Theology', weekly Bible Studies and meetings of the Brotherhood of St. Andrews.  What was exciting is that those in attendance for the symposium, when asked "Who do we want to be?" voiced the need for an active formation committee, to explore effective programs including offerings with well-known speakers and adult education programs throughout the year on Wednesday evenings. 
     It's clear from this document and material that was put together for the Parish Profile is that we at St. John's are very hungry for spiritual formation for every age.  I'm pleased to say that work is underway in several of these areas with special note for the work already done in putting together a series of very thoughtful and timely presentations for the Adult Forum gatherings on Sunday mornings.  Plans are underway and conversations ongoing relative to enhancing and enriching the opportunities for all ages in growing both intellectually and spiritually and introducing the tenet of lifelong learning as a component of a mature disciple and a transformed life.  This transformation process that leads to a new way of life does not happen overnight nor is it something that comes easily.  It is a process of intentionality and commitment of time that, with God's help, will change who we are both individually and as a community of faith.  This kind of change is more than "head" learning of facts and figures, a course of study from which we spend the rest of our lives drawing from finite knowledge.  Rather, it extends beyond our minds to permeate our very souls and changes who we are from the inside out.
     I ask your prayers for those who have committed themselves in helping establish, enhance and provide the leadership for our existing and newly minted formation opportunities.  I encourage you to prayerfully consider where you will commit some time and energy to attend and contribute to your own learning while helping others learn from your experience.  This is a communal call in growing in discipleship and each of you are needed to help make St. John's a community of lifelong learners and a people moved to serve on God's behalf to a world in desperate need.  The opportunities exist; the choice is yours.


West Central Mission is still Holy Trinity Church


I have been called by the Bishop of the Diocese of Spokane to serve as the Vicar to West Central and St. Andrew's. West Central Episcopal Mission was once home to Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, one of the oldest buildings in the city. More recently the worshiping community has faded away, but the diocese continues to serve the neighborhood through a weekly community meal, partnerships with non-profits and community groups.
     I have moved into the vicarage across the street, which has been called St. Lawrence House. As we continue these ministries I will also be tasked with developing a new worshiping community in Holy Trinity Chapel, a spiritual community to support the outreach and service we also provide to the under-resourced neighborhood around us. For those that know me well, you'll smile to know that my work officially began on October 4th, 2017 -- the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.

John Wallingford

I had opportunity this summer to watch dogs more closely.  Our daughter, Jessie, had some long work days on her schedule and her usual dog walker was away for the summer, so we took her dog, Ellie, with us to the lake for a few extended stays.  It's our poor version of grandparenting.  Chase, our springer spaniel, is Ellie's brother and they've spent a lot of play time together.  But Chase has a lot more experience at the lake and when she arrived he lorded it over her.  That was one of the first observations.  He taunted her to keep up on our morning walks, bounding uphill and sailing over logs.  Chase has been kicked in the face by a deer and had a standoff with a skunk up here, so he's earned his place.
      There was one interaction that really amazed me.  We were watching the evening news when a dog barked from a few cabins down the bay.  Ellie jumped up, ran out of the room and crouched, pointing at the front door.  Chase cocked his ear but didn't move.  Hearing no further barking he gave a muffled bark, almost under his breath.  Ellie lowered from a crouch to a lie.  After eight or ten seconds or so, Chase repeated his muffled bark in  a slightly lower volume.  And then again, after the same interval he gave a yet softer bark.  He repeated this 5 times in all, evenly spaced.  It did not take much imagination to understand he was soothing Ellie, letting her know everything was all right, not to worry.  The timing between barks was because he knows how short-fused she is, and just when he needed to repeat his reassurance.
     I had a quiet conversation with each dog later in the evening.  I think they understood just what I was trying to communicate.  In fact, it occurred to me that they understand a lot more of what we say to them than we understand of what they communicate to us.  They are so intentional in their observations. Darwin wrote on the expression of emotions in man and animals, and we love dogs because they show so much emotion in their facial expressions.  They get along with us because they can read our emotions even better than we read theirs.  They can smell 10,000 times more extensively than we can.  No wonder they are thrilled to run through the woods.  They hear tones above and below our dynamic range.  It is presumptuous of us to think we know more than they know.
     Later still that evening I imagined that someday artificial intelligence would allow us to understand exactly what dogs were saying to us.  Maybe some day humans would realize they alone could not write the programs for AI, we would need the help of dogs and the other species to enrich it and make it full.   And suddenly it seemed to me, the earth might reach parousia.
     So as we hold our service for the blessing of the animals let us be humble and thankful, and ask the animals to seek God's blessings on us.

David Walker

In cooperation with the Diocese of Spokane Foundation, the Foundation for the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist is presenting an estate planning workshop in the Guild Rooms of the Cathedral on Thursday, October 19, 2:00pm-4:00pm.
     The presenter is Ms. Stephanie Taylor of the Spokane law firm of Randall-Danskin. Ms. Taylor is a member of the bar in the states of Florida, Washington and Idaho, earned her J.D. from Gonzaga University in 2001 and her LL.M in Taxation from the University of Florida in 2002. She is also a member of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel as well as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Gonzaga University specializing in Estate Planning.
     Ms. Taylor will provide an update on important issues impacting individual's decisions relative to their estate plans including wills, trusts, powers of attorney and health care considerations.
This presentation is one of several that are being scheduled throughout the Diocese over the coming year to help members of our congregations get the important information they need as they consider how best to handle the technical and personal issues involved with one's estate.
     The workshop is free and scheduled for mid-afternoon so attendees don't have to deal with driving after dark.
      If you have questions, please call the office at St. John's or email the Rev. David Walker at

Robert Stevens

Upgrades to the fabric of the Cathedral are always taking place, ranging from the unseen to the grand are always under way: installation of new stained glass, replacement of standard windows with energy-efficient ones, pew cushions.
     Some of the improvements are funded from the endowment, some from regular budgeting, and others from the gifts of generous parishioners.
     Four recent and notable projects include the installation of new carpeting in the Guild Rooms. This project was generously funded by the great ladies of the Church Service League under the leadership of Linda Finney.  
     Lucas Kulhanek-Arenas, Children and Youth Ministries Coordinator, is undertaking, in conjunction of the Property Committee, a rehab of our Nursery space to make it tidier, warmer, more secure, and more welcoming to both children and parents.
     Between now and the end of the year will see a Foundation funded make-over of the Ellis Center (formerly known as the Conference Room). There will be new paint, carpet, window treatments, and book shelves. The official portrait of Dean Ellis will hang in the Ellis Center. We hope to have Bill and Beth with us in January for a proper dedication of the space.
     The most significant recent change comes to the Cathedral proper. You may have noticed the presence of a Sanctuary Lamp in the High Altar Sanctuary. The light burning in the lamp is a sign that the Blessed Sacrament is reserved there. The reserve Sacrament, bread and wine consecrated but not touched, is kept or "reserved". When a priest or deacon takes Communion to a hospital patient or shut-in it is from the Reserve Sacrament.
     The Reserve Sacrament is kept in an Aumbry. The Aumbry itself is new. It was designed for, and installed in, a space that makes it look as if it has always been there. Our Aumbry is a locking cupboard that sits just below the Credence Shelf to the right of the High Altar. The doors of the Aumbry depict bread / wheat and grapes / wine and were custom designed for the Cathedral.
     The Aumbry and Sanctuary Lamp were made possible by a generous gift from Bill and Harriet Fix.
     Thinking further on the subject of gifts leads me to the gift of our Interim Vicar, Canon Kristi Philip. Kristi is an able administrator, a deeply knowledgeable priest, an excellent teacher, and someone who just gets it when it comes to the subject of transition in a congregation. Her greatest skills, in my estimation, lie in pastoral care. From day one this was tested as, to date, she has officiated at and/or helped to plan at least seven funerals or memorial services.
We are in a time of transition that necessarily means uncertainty and that uncertainty can breed anxiety--acknowledged or not. Time and again, Canon Philip has proven to be a calming presence for the congregation, for staff, and for leadership. She is helping all of us to focus. I applaud and thank her for taking on this "creative challenge" bringing to bear a strong mind, big heart, well-developed sense of humor, love of God, the Church, and of this church.

For the poor and the oppressed, for the unemployed and the desitute, 
for prisoners and captives, 
and for all who remember and care for them, 
let us pray to the Lord.

Lord have mercy.

For all who have died in the hope of the resurrection, 
and for all the departed, 
l et us pray to the Lord.

Lord have mercy.
Prayers of the People.  Form I

  • October 13           Acolyte Training Session. Lunch included. 12:30-3:30pm.
  • October 19          Estate Planning Workshop, with Stephanie Taylor, presenter.  2:00-4:00pm
  • November 4         Empty Bowls Fundraiser with speaker, Kent Hoffman, 6:00pm.  Tickets, $25.
  • November 5        The Rev. Becca Stevens, Guest preacher and presenter, 10:30am
  • November 12       Acolyte Training Session. Lunch included. 12:00-3:00pm.

The November issue will be published on November 13, the second Monday of the month.  Articles or announcements are invited.  Please send copy by the previous Thursday.