Friday, 24 July 2015
Dear People, Neighbors, and Friends of St. John's,
You might notice that my salutation every week is tripartite. This is because in my mind you, my audience, fit into one or more of these three categories, and I try to shape my message accordingly.
My first audience is the "People" of St. John's. I generally prefer this term to "Members," because a church, while being a voluntary association, isn't a club. We are not for "Members Only." Rather, the people of St. John's are those who have chosen St. John's as their spiritual home. Some have felt an explicitly divine call to be here. (On my best days, I do!) Others were born into this family of faith. Still others just found themselves here by some twist or turn in their lives: they walked through the open doors and stayed. They got married here and stayed. They found us on the web, checked us out, and stayed. I am grateful to the people of St. John's and hope that our "tribe" will increase!
My second audience is the "Neighbors" of St. John's. I think specifically of all those who live on the surrounding streets in the Point neighborhood, and beyond that, in Newport. Some of you are with us seasonally, others year-round. It is my hope that St. John's will always be a good neighbor, as we depend upon the neighborliness of those around us. What can St. John's do for you? Your goodwill and participation in what we do is important to us, whether it is taking a class in the Guild Hall (exercise, dance, and massage have all been recent offerings), hanging out at Music on the Lawn (the next one is September 4th-bring the kids and grandkids!), or coming to the Summer Fair (you haven't missed it-it's Saturday, September 19th; for the record, the first day of Fall is September 23rd). I am grateful to the neighbors of St. John's and hope that I will get to know more and more of you in the weeks ahead!
And then there are the "Friends," those of you who tend to live farther afield who may once have been members of the congregation or lived in the neighborhood-or whose mobility prevents you from being physically present as often as you'd like, but who nonetheless are interested in what we're up to and want to keep abreast of events. Our friends support us by forwarding these emails to other friends and supporting us both spiritually and materially. We are grateful for your prayers and always pleasantly surprised when you show your love and support in tangible ways. For example, one friend in Pennsylvania last week sent us a check for the Peter Quire Challenge when she read about it in the email. We have friends who pledge to the church whom I've never met, and others who make it a special point to come by for a visit whenever they're in the area, whether that means simply praying in the quiet church on a weekday afternoon or participating in a special service or event. I am grateful for our many friends, especially those far away, who make an effort to stay connected and to keep in touch-I hope I can connect with more of you and deepen our friendship!
Whether you are among the people, the neighbors, or the friends of St. John's-or all three, I am grateful for you. And I am especially grateful when you choose to be with us on a Sunday morning or other service, regardless of your "membership status." Will you be here this Sunday? I can't wait to see who shows up!
With the Peter Quire Challenge, I'm encouraging all of us, people, neighbors, and friends alike, to be intentional about spreading the word that St. John's is a place to call home. For our neighbors and friends: you may not be "churchy" or even Christian, but perhaps you know someone who is looking for a community of faith. Why not recommend us? We may not be everyone's "cup of tea" (who is?), but I know more than one Methodist or Baptist or Roman Catholic who came on their own or with a friend to St. John's and were surprised to find that the "tea" we serve was as invigorating as the best "coffee" they may have savored in their own tradition. And because we have special services (such as Transfiguration on Thursday, August 6th at 6:30 p.m.), those who are (commendably) committed to their own churches on Sunday mornings can come from near and far for a "cuppa Ango-Catholicism." It's delicious, and it smells great, too!
Whether we are your drink of choice or not, I ask your help in reaching out to the spiritually thirsty around us by keeping St. John's in mind. We are all thirsty for meaning and purpose, after all, and some of us are even starving for a sense of the transcendent, often without even knowing it.
And if the cup of tea at 8 or 10 isn't quite to your or your friends' taste, there's always coffee hour to look forward to after each service! I hope to see you at one soon.
Yours in Christ's service,