Photo by J eff Neuberger.

Spokane, Washington
                                                           June 12, 
Notes from the Dean


Forty-two years ago when I started what is termed "the process" toward ordination I knew perfectly well I needed to feel "called" to the ministry. Vocation meant perceiving that God wanted me to go to seminary and become a priest, and unless I was willing to say that, I would very likely not get past the initial interview with the Bishop. So I arranged to believe as best I could that God did indeed choose me for ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church, and communicated that choice in terms I could understand. Forty-two years later I don't believe that, and must say I haven't for a long time. Instead I believe God calls each of us to exactly the same vocation.
     The vocation I believe all of us share is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind," and "to love your neighbor as yourself." I accept Jesus' gloss on that vocation when, through the parable of the Good Samaritan, he defined "neighbor" as anyone who needs you, no matter what social, political, economic, ethnic, racial or religious issues might otherwise separate you.   That is "The Call" every human being receives.
     Some of us feel strongly pulled in the direction of one career, while some of us don't feel any strong pull one way or another. Painfully, some feel pulled in one direction but discover they cannot respond because of money, social status, prejudice, or something else. The Call, as I now understand it, has nothing to do with any of that. It is the call of God's love regardless of what you end up doing. Whether we feel pulled or not, whether we are able, or not able, to follow our dreams and aspirations, I am convinced the vocational question remains the same. How are you going to live out love of God and love of neighbor? Some people do that while homeless, others fail to do it as priests.
     Once I realized this I saw that the notion of a call to ordained ministry that is somehow qualitatively different from a call to any other way of living is elitist, and does a disservice not only to the laity, but to the clergy as well. My vocation is not different from anyone else's, and there are any number of people not in the priesthood who have lived into their vocation of love, despite tremendous obstacles, in ways I have not yet even begun to imagine are possible for me.
     I leave St. John's with a number of hopes, one of which is that all of you will remember this truth about vocation. The decision to become ordained is one way of responding to God's call to love, but just one way among many. Just as we share this ministry, so do we share a vocation to love God and to love neighbor. To live into that call as individuals is to fulfill God's will for us personally. To live into that call as a community is to fulfill God's will for this good place, regardless of who the dean is now, or ever.
     I wish you all every blessing as you continue, in your own ways, to live into the one vocation God has given everyone.


News from the Curate's

I was honored to take part in the Spokane Interfaith Pride Service last Wednesday night.  Coming together with clergy and faith leaders from a number of different traditions (including Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and more) and the greater Spokane LGBTQ community, we had a unique opportunity to share in our experiences of the holy, and honor and affirm the shared humanity that we all share, regardless of our identities and affiliations.
    With more than 100 in attendance, we prayed together, we shared stories, stories of changed hearts, stories of openness, acceptance, stories of love, stories of Pride.  It was special to be in this community, experiencing this sharing, experiencing how the love of the holy has conquered self-doubt, conquered uneasiness, conquered ignorance, conquered the fear of the unknown, and how we must continue to offer space for the holy to do this important and necessary work in all of our communities.
     This opportunity was especially important to me, because it was an opportunity to represent a church that has a conflicted past and still finds parishioners who struggle with our acceptance and affirmation of LGBTQ peoples.  As a church, we have made our decision that we not only welcome, but truly affirm LGBTQ peoples, affording them the opportunity to partake in all parts of our religious life and ceremony, much of which had been limited for a long time, too long a time. But, this doesn't mean that all in our church, or even all at St. John's, agree with this direction of the church.  However, we still all come together to celebrate as one community. This is because of our desire to be in community with each other, even when, perhaps even especially when, we are in disagreement with each other.
     This happens every Sunday when we come to the table together, to share in the sacrifice that Christ made for each and every one of us, regardless if we are straight or queer, cis-gender or trans or genderqueer, affirming or not.  And, when we come to this table, we all share in the same bread, the same cup. Your personal opinions do not matter at this table. The only agenda at this table is "ALL are Welcome."
     We are a church that strives to truly be a place for ALL of God's children, and as such, this by definition includes full affirmation of LGBTQ peoples, and still welcoming those who disagree with this move by the church.  We cannot be in community with one another, if we refuse to be with one another. We cannot change minds, expose the reality of God present in everyone, if we are not open to being a community where this can happen.  I'm proud that the Episcopal Church, and St. John's specifically, creates communities where all (ALL) are welcomed and affirmed, enabling all (ALL) to learn and grow from each other.

Fr Nic

Reading a terrific (little-178 pages) novel about a 12th century saint--Godric of Finchale--ex-Crusader, hermit, whose best friends are two snakes, Fairweather and Tune.  Frederick Buechner was short-listed for a Pulitzer prize for Godric, and has justifiable praise for bringing unlikely and little known characters to light.  Saint Brendan of Ireland, Isaac, in Son of Laughter as well as many other novels and collections of essays and sermons.
     Save the dates of June 26 and July 24 for a highly enriched (and fun) experience!

Notes from the Deacon's Desk


As we wrap up the proverbial "program year" and get ready for some time to relax and enjoy the summer months, I thought I'd offer a few comments and observations in no particular order but speak to why I think this parish is so cool and important to me and hopefully you and this community.
      Thanks to all of you who responded to my call for more volunteers for Family Promise. The existing leadership team has done yeo man's work in overseeing this important ministry and  many of our existing and faithful volunteers were just stretched far too thin.  This new infusion of support is very, very appreciated.
     I was pleasantly surprised that so many folks turned out for this past Saturday's Evangelism training workshop.  Kudos to Fr. Nic for the time and energy he put into bringing this workshop to not only folks from the Cathedral, but others from throughout the Diocese. Nic did a great job of reminding us of how much evangelising we're already doing while not realizing it.  Everyone had at least one takeaway that can be implemented that will bring more attention and energy to our call to be compelling witnesses for Jesus Christ in the Inland Northwest.
     I believe we're incredibly blessed to have such a willing and able group of leaders who are overseeing the call process for our next dean including the work of the Rev. Barb Novak as its chaplain.  I echo Eric Baldwin's request to keep this search committee in your prayers as well as those who through their roles with the Diocese will be assisting the committee and Cathedral Chapter with this process.  Let us also keep Chapter in prayer as they work on the process of selecting the interim clergy person who will serve between Dean Ellis' departure and the arrival of our next dean.
     A huge thank you to those who've committed an amazing amount of time, energy, skill and love as part of the music ministry here at St. John's.  It seems like an embarrassment of riches to have such committed and talented musicians whether they sing or play an instrument in helping us honor God in our worship.  I'm absolutely thrilled that many who responded to the parish survey appreciate the role music plays as part of our liturgies, from Dr. Sievertson's playing of the piano for the casual 5:30 Saturday service to the elaborate choral and instrumental offerings during our Sunday liturgy.  In addition to Billie, I offer thanks to Drs. Westerhouse, Bodinger and McDaniel along with Tamara Schupman for their work with our choral and bell choirs.  When we sing we pray twice and they've helped us to pray well.
     A shoutout to our amazing Cathedral staff: Joan, Michelle, Rosie, Richie, Embali and our many unsung saints of vergers, acolytes and guilds. Our worship and ministry experiences would not be the same without their ongoing selfless offer of time, skill and friendship.  
Everytime I come into this amazing cathedral space I am reminded of all those who gone before us that through their gifts of financial support helped create opportunites for the gathering of the community for both sacred and secular purposes.  For those of you who are able, I would encourage your to consider a gift in your estate plan that will help keep this monument of faith alive and well into the future.  
     A special thank you to Dean Ellis, Fr. Nic, Canon Kristi Phillip, Fr. John Hay, Deacon Barb Novak, Fr. Rick Matters, Bishops Jim and Gretchen along with the Tuesday afternoon Manito Tap House clericus group of the Rev. Bill Osborne, the Rev. Linda Bartholmew and the Rev. Margaret Fisher for being such great models of compassion, leadership, listening and mentorship.  I would not be the person who I am becoming without these healthy and respected relationships.
     I am also very thankful to my wife, Julie, who fully supports my life of faith with you all and the wider Diocese.
     Now finally, my deepest and sincerest appreciation for their friendship and their leadership during these past 11 years to Bill and Beth Ellis.  I've learned so much from them both, especially Bill in his role as our Dean.  His un-anxious spirit, his willingness for us to try new things, his unceasingly clear and consistent preaching, preaching that cuts through a lot of ambiguity to call us all to love God and our neighbor, for sharing his passion for teaching and his encouragement to more fully discern my call to the priesthood, I have have been personally and spiritually enriched.  I am sad at their pending departure but excited for them and for what the next chapter in their lives holds for them.  Plus, it's really not that far to Bend where there are a ton of good golf courses.



First of all--many thanks to all those who shared lunch and an invigorating discussion of some of the issues that describe our Cathedral right now and our imaginative hopes for the future during last Sunday's Symposium.  You will definitely be given the details as we assemble our many faceted profile.
   However, to facilitate that profile, don't forget to check into CAT, our Church Assessment Tool, through the Cathedral website:   Scroll down the main screen to the lower left corner for the link that will take you directly to our survey.  Give it an uninterrupted half hour, and come away knowing you have done one more thing to move us to the next great step in our future!

Thanks from the Dean's Call Committee

The Ivey Ringers of First Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, North Carolina, directed by Trevor Cook will present a concert of handbell music in our sanctuary on Thursday, June 22, at 7pm. The Ivey Ringers play a wide range of repertoire from sacred music to transcriptions of classical masterpieces, to jazz and pop. Please plan to be with us for this memorable program. Freewill offering. 


Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to another due,
Labour to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
John Donne, Holy Sonnets
We are delighted to announce that Lucas Kulhanek-Arenas has agreed to become our Coordinator of Children and Youth Ministries, starting July 1.  Lucas, a graduate of Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, grew up in Wenatchee where he was an active member of St. Luke's Episcopal Church. For the past three years, Lucas has been Youth Minister at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Spokane, serving as a youth and children's formation coordinator. He has also served as Assistant Director at Camp Cross for three years. Lucas has been a leader in organizations focusing on social justice and inclusion.
     He and Gabriel Kulhanek-Arenas have been married for two years. We are pleased Lucas has agreed to join the staff at St. John's Cathedral.  

And we are delighted to welcome Californian Wesley Arai as our guest carillonneur for his seventh year!  He will play a variety of carillon favorites: patriotic music, American tunes, and virtuoso pieces designed to display the beauty of the bells. The concert begins at 9pm, preceding the city fireworks display.  Bring folding chairs, a blanket, snacks, and enjoy this exciting evening. 
     Come and enjoy this spectacular free concert!  
  • June 22       Ivey Ringers Bell Concert.  7:00pm
  • June 25       Farewell Celebration for Dean Bill and Beth Ellis.  12:00noon.  Great Hall
  • June 26       Summer Reading of Godric  & Picnic.  6:00pm.
  • July 4          Carillon Concert.  9:00pm. Cathedral lawn.
  • July 7          St John's at the Ballpark.  6:30pm.  Avista Stadium.  Free.  RSVP.
  • July 24        Part 2.  Summer Reading of Godric & Picnic.  6:00pm.
  • August 28   Movie Night: The Princess Bride. 8:00pm. Centennial Park.
  • November 5     Becca Stevens at the Cathedral.
There will be no July issue.  The August issue will be published on August 14, the second Monday of the month.  Articles or announcements are invited.  Please send copy by the previous Thursday.