A Note from Fr. Humphrey 

Friday, 17 July 2015


Dear People, Neighbors, and Friends of St. John's,                                        

This week's letter is a bit easier for me to write, because I simply am reporting what I announced from the pulpit during my sermon last Sunday the 12th.


July 11th marked the 140th anniversary of the first church service of the mission to the Point that became St. John's, in the home of Peter and Harriet Quire. That same day last week, I received an email from our treasurer saying we had received an anonymous grant, which will be matched dollar for dollar up to $18,000 for capital improvement projects. The challenge expires on December 1st of this year.


Because I know nothing of who donated this challenge grant, I am designating this the Peter Quire Challenge in honor of our founder and the day on which it was received. If you write a check with "Peter Quire Challenge" or "matching grant" in the memo line, it will be counted toward our $36,000 goal. I personally pledge at least $419 dollars toward this challenge. Why $419? Because that's the amount that Peter Quire left as a bequest to St. John's when he died in 1899.


According to the inflation calculator of DaveManuel.com, $419 in 1899 would be equivalent to giving $11,971.43 today, so Peter Quire's gift was far from an insignificant bequest. At the very least, then, I figured I ought to match his actual dollar amount, which is equivalent to a mere $14.67 in terms of 1899 dollars. 


As I announced on Sunday, this Peter Quire Challenge is more than a simple fundraising effort, however. In addition to giving, it also has two other aspects: inviting and forming.


As for inviting: There are twenty Sundays between now and the expiration of the challenge grant period. Put that way, all we have to raise is $900 a week designated for this purpose to meet this challenge. But what if, in addition to the fundraising, we were to invite one or more people each Sunday to discover what Peter Quire knew in 1875: that St. John's is a place to call home.


Twenty people may seem like a lot, but I'll reduce your quota if you can find just one person who is inspired by our hospitality to return and claim (or re-claim) this church as his or her home over the next twenty or so Sundays. 

By the end of 2015, we could easily double or triple our Sunday congregation with that sort of commitment. At the very least, don't let a week go by without thinking of whom you might invite to join you the coming Sunday. And remember: it need not be a newcomer; it might simply be a member who might not otherwise be able to be here except for your initiative.


If the Peter Quire Challenge is to give and to invite, over the next twenty Sundays, this church could be transformed in ways that we haven't seen since Peter Quire's own day. But there remains one aspect more to what I have come to think of as the Peter Quire legacy, and that is the whole purpose behind giving and inviting. Let me see if I can put it into something more concrete.


Inspired by Peter Quire and the saints who have gone before us, we give to St. John's and we invite people to St. John's so that together we may be formed by St. John's through worship, fellowship, and service. So the third component to giving and inviting is forming. "Christian formation" is the term generally given to this component, which can mean many things. In most churches, it means an adult Bible Study or children's Sunday School or other program. And I hope that by the end of 2015, we will have made great strides in the development of just such new programs and initiatives. But we cannot develop such things until we take responsibility for them personally. Peter Quire took responsibility for his own Christian formation. He opened the doors of his house and he opened the doors of his heart.


In order for us to grow as a parish, we must individually and collectively take responsibility for our formation. So the third aspect of the Peter Quire Challenge is for each and every one of us to decide what we need in order to grow as a Christian, and to pursue that with intentional focus over the next twenty weeks. This may mean banding together with others, and to do that, I will need to work with you to identify and connect people who share similar goals for their formation. In a church of this size, rather than erecting a one size fits all program for Christian formation from the top down, we have to let things sprout up from the grass roots level, just as this church did from its very beginnings. This means reaching out and letting me know what you would like to do in order to take responsibility for your deeper formation.


In our own day, we must not be shy about examining what we need at St. John's and from each other in order to be formed as the human beings and as the Christians God is calling us to be. So the Peter Quire Challenge for the rest of this year has three components: to give, to invite, and to form. If we do these three things at St. John's, we will be doing a great service not only to ourselves, but to our neighborhoods and to the world.


Yours in Christ's service,

N.J.A. Humphrey+


Peter Quire Challenge Update
To date, we have received one pledge of $419 and over $600 in donations toward the $36,000 Peter Quire Challenge, designated for capital improvement projects, made possible by an anonymous challenge grant of up to $18,000. We need to average $900/week in pledges or donations between now and December 1st in order to meet this challenge, so we are off to a good start. Pledges toward this challenge may be emailed to the office at parishoffice@saintjohns-newport.org, and checks with "Peter Quire Challenge" in the memo line may be mailed to the church at 61 Poplar Street Newport, RI 02840 or placed in the collection plate on Sunday. 



The Few, the Humble, the Brave: The Acolyte Corps


Fr. Humphrey is looking for fresh recruits for the Acolyte Corps at St. John's. Acolytes assist the clergy at the altar-at High Mass on Sundays, and especially during Holy Week and on feast days. Acolytes set up the chancel before Mass and make sure all is in good order after Mass. During Mass they carry out various duties, including subdeacon, thurifer, master of ceremonies, crucifer, server, and torchbearer.


The corps is healthiest when it is comprised of young children, teenagers, and adults. The oldest serving acolyte is well over sixty-five. 


Acolytes can sign up on a regular, seasonal, or special event basis, so participation need not be an every week commitment. We have acolytes who only serve in Holy Week or at Christmas, or when they are home from school.


If you have children or grandchildren who need something useful to do on a Sunday morning to keep out of trouble, especially in the summer, now is a wonderful time to join. 


Interested in exploring what it means to be an acolyte? Whether you are an adult or a young person, please speak with the Vicar today--or have your child or grandchild email him this week! He is always available at vicar@saintjohns-newport.org

There will be a Summer Fair meeting this Sunday, July 19 at 9:15 a.m. in the Guild Hall. All are welcome to attend. Please see John Garagliano for more information. 

Wednesday, July 22nd is the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene. We will observe this feast with a Low Mass in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament immediately following Evening Prayer at 5:30 p.m. (approximately 5:45-6:15). All are welcome to attend. 

Music on the Lawn returns to St. John's on Thursday, July 23 from 6-8 p.m. Featuring Mike Warner and The Ubiquitones, playing Johnny Cash to The Clash, George Jones to The Ramones. Come enjoy the cool, funky, low down blues and rock and roll. Donations are greatly appreciated. Appetizer plates, wine and ale available for purchase. Some seating and tables will be provided so get there early, otherwise bring your blankets. 

Mark your calendars now! Saint Stephen's will be joining us in Newport for the feast of the Transfiguration on Thursday, August 6th at 6:30 p.m. We will be joining Saint Stephen's in Providence the next week for the feast of the Assumption on Saturday, August 15th at 11:00 a.m.

Bach and Friends at Quarter Till returns June 13 through September 6: Saturdays at 11:45 am and 2:45 pm; Sundays at 2:45 pm, 5:45 pm, and 8:45 pm. 

Fifteen-minute concerts/mini-demonstrations with organ music of J. S. Bach and another composer at 

each program. Admission 25 cents (put a quarter in the "Quarter Till"), or any amount you wish. With new video technology made possible by a grant received from the New York City American Guild of Organists Centennial Millennium Fund. Last summer, 110 of these mini-concerts raised over $11,000 to begin restoration of our historic 1894 Hook and Hastings instrument.

Do you have a freer schedule this summer? Consider joining us for Morning Prayer (8:30) or Evening Prayer (5:30) during the week. These brief services are a wonderful way to start and/or end the day.

Want to get more involved at St. John's? There's plenty to do outside and inside St. John's. If you'd like to become more active than you already are, please reach out to Fr. Humphrey at vicar@saintjohns-newport.org.
Need a visit? Please be in touch with Deacon Close at deacon@saintjohns-newport.org and he or Fr. Humphrey will be in touch.