May, 2021

by Fr. Kevin Warner

How Covid-19 has Impacted SJD

I am sure by now you are just as sick as I am with the restrictions, economic uncertainty, and the true loss many of us have suffered due to a loved one succumbing to this pandemic. Many of us are exhausted from the challenges of the stay-at-home order, juggling pre-existing and current medical needs, and mastering zoom, streaming and all manner of electronic devices and services. Most of all, I hear from people they miss in-person contact; conversation at coffee hour, hugs and handshakes, and sharing a snack or meal together. I have been asked often how has Covid impacted the mission, ministry and staff of SJD so let me share a little about where the last year has left us, and where we see things going in the future.

Surprisingly, not all the news from this last year is bad. The true work of the church – Making Disciples who Make Disciples – has been flourishing. We have seen more people engaged in Sunday worship than ever before when you add the in-person numbers and online participants. As more and more people found us online our membership increased, and we have over a dozen new families with two new members being welcomed through Baptism a few weeks ago at our Easter celebration.

Darlene Craig, one of our baptism candidates, hails from Freedom Plaza where we have begun a “satellite” service led by Fr. Harry. Forced to be sequestered in the building together, they watch the livestream in their rooms and then meet Fr. Harry for communion distribution. Not only are our own members being ministered to, but they also brought friends, leading to the baptism on Easter - evangelism at 80! And, beginning Easter Sunday, we opened our second “satellite” service at Ashton Gardens; the Good News is spreading!

The other candidate, Ethan Freeman, was a child who with his family attended live worship at SJD for the first time that day. His mom Katie found us through the Livestreams and they, like several other families, have joined SJD. Likewise, the Youth Group which has grown to 14 regular attendees, saw three of its members worship in a church for the first time ever.

Covid has, however, brought forth many challenges. While our offerings received from those who were with us prior to Covid were maintained via mail and electronic giving, overall receipts are down. Obviously, offerings made in person do not happen when we are not in person. By the end of 2020, we had to pull from money set aside for 2021 just to finish the year. A big thank you to those of you who have continued to send in, drop off or electronically tithe to the mission and ministry of SJD.

This tightening of the belt has resulted in staff reductions, and uncertainty about the future. It has also been met by people who have worked very hard to do what they can to keep the momentum gained going. Special thanks to the group who have opened a temporary Thrift Store, the couple responsible for the SJD Mask fundraiser, and all others who have looked for creative ways to support SJD’s mission.

Often, things started as revenue producers have a secondary, greater impact. This is especially true with the Divine Marketplace. Our Prayer Booth is visited by many, vendors are becoming friends, and friends are coming to church. The Marketplace and Thrift Store also offer decent products at reduced prices for those who are, or because of Covid have become, economically disadvantaged, thus serving the wider community.

If you look carefully back at this article you will see reflected our three mission priorities alive and active, even during this season of Covid. We continue to Offer Meaningful Worship through our Livestream and satellite services as well as in-person worship. We are Teaching the Gospel with in-person and virtual attendance at Bible and book studies, and Youth Group meetings. Caring for God’s People is at the heart of all we do and our impact on the South Shore Community continues to grow.

Again, thank you to everyone who is involved in offering their time, talent and treasure as we, the SJD family, seek to spread God’s Kingdom.

II Timothy 1:11
“It just jumped out and bit me,” I grumbled as I walked in our front door. Of course, it didn’t, but it seems, however careful I try to be, I get punctured at least once a week by the devil plant in our front yard.
It is actually called Agave Americana and is an ornamental plant more commonly known as the Century plant because it takes many years to produce flowers. In truth, I like the plant a lot but know to keep my distance.

I believe I encountered the Century plant more often when we lived in Texas, but the Holy Land probably leads in the number and variety of prickly plants, with at least two hundred species of shrubs endowed with thorns. These armored plants sometimes make travel difficult today but probably more so in New Testament times, when a thorn broke off sometimes leaving its point embedded in the skin. Readers of the day had no difficulty in understanding the meaning of the apostle Paul’s writing when he described a personal infliction as “a thorn in the flesh”.            (2 Corinthians 12: 7)

Truly, Covid 19 has become our “thorn in the flesh” as the persistent problem has taken a terrible toll. As we in coming months, return to our “new normal”, maybe there is a lesson from the Century plant: keep our distance from the things we know will hurt us.
That gives us more time, too, to focus on things that really matter, like loving our neighbor. That’s going to need a lot of work.


Proceeds from these ventures will bolster the financial needs of our church created by Covid-19. The THRIFT SHOP will be OPEN on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3rd Saturdays with the DIVINE MARKETPLACE from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. The THRIT SHOP is located in the North Sunday School Room. Outside entry only. DIVINE MARKETPLACE takes place outside in front of the Banner Building.

Due to limited space, DO NOT BRING ITEMS TO THE CHURCH. If you have items to donate, please call either Barbara Gentry (813-633-3363) or Jackie Winder (813-633-3198). They will determine donation acceptability based on available space and quick sale potential. Please stop by and take a look.

As always, masks and social distancing will be required.

The Good News

As many of you know, I have volunteered as a law enforcement chaplain for the past 4 years, two of which has been serving the women and men of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Law enforcement professionals are called to a vocation unlike any other in our society. It is an incredibly demanding vocation that can take a great toll on those folks emotionally, physically, and psychologically. I am honored to be able to be a presence of Christ to these folks, many of whom long for a relationship with God. I am also a person who has promised before God to seek justice and respect the dignity of every human being, in part, by working against injustice and inequality. Those in our society, mostly people of color, who experience injustice and inequality suffer too, emotionally, physically, and psychologically. I am also honored to be a presence of Christ for those folks whose voices have traditionally been undervalued.

I was recently asked, “as an Episcopal priest how do [I] reconcile my ministry in law enforcement with a commitment to social justice and respecting the dignity of every human being?”

Let me begin to answer this question by stating unequivocally these two things, support of and ministry to law enforcement and social justice, are not mutually exclusive! Unfortunately, I believe we have come to point in our “civil” discourse that it is a commonly held belief law enforcement and social justice are at odds with one another. I do not believe that to be the case. I believe that it is absolutely possible to support those who are called to protect and serve the communities in which they live and at the same time recognize the injustices our society has perpetrated largely against people of color.

I invite all of us to reject false dichotomies such as these, law enforcement vs. social justice. I invite all of us to be mindful of the dangers of all or nothing thinking that leads to polarization and division. As people of faith, we are called to strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being, regardless of vocation, regardless of skin color, regardless of ethnicity.

Easter Blessings,
Fr. David+
Happenings and Bulletins

We wish to inform you all of a change to Happenings. Going forward they will now also contain the upcoming Sunday's Bulletin. They will be at the bottom of Happenings and accessible through one of two buttons, one labeled 9:15 Bulletin and the other 11:00 Bulletin. Select the button for your preferred service's Bulletin. We hope this simplifies things for all.
Last Article for Now

Hello everyone! Due to my ever growing workload and the demands of additional services, I have decided to step away from writing articles for Revelations. The needs of maintaining this publication and others has made writing articles an unneeded strain.

Thank you for reading, and I will keep working on Revelations as your editor,

Tristan M. Warner
Media & Tech Specialist 
Healing and Church Growth
When a church is growing, like ours is, it is an exciting place to be. These are exciting times at St. John Divine.

There are at least three ways a congregation grows.
Some churches grow by transfer growth. The Sunday morning services are made so attractive that people decide to leave their old congregation and join the growing church.

The second way a church grows is by being in an area with rapid population growth. That is certainly happening in our region. All the churches in the area get their share of new members from the growing population, and especially when people with a particular denominational preference move to the area.
The third way churches grow is when people’s lives are changed by an encounter with the presence of Christ and they come into a saving relationship with Him. I believe this is the type of growth that is most pleasing to God. This is the growth we are to be intentional to produce. Jesus commissioned His Church to “Go make disciples…” (see Matthew 28:18-20). In fact, in churches where lives are being transformed, the other forms of growth will accelerate too.

Divine healing is a prominent way people encounter Jesus Christ and have their lives changed. In the Gospels, the kingdom of God was not just taught, it was demonstrated. Jesus’ method was “show and tell.” That’s the way the Lord wants His Church to reveal His kingdom.

I believe healing is a gift that has been given to every Christian, including you. And it is actually quite easy. John Wimber was a well-known Christian leader who said, “I just reach out my fat hand, invite the Holy Spirit to come, and command the sickness or injury to be healed.” Often times, when he did that, healing happened. I have found the same to be true in my life.

The only drawback is when I do that, sometimes the healing doesn’t happen and I run the risk of appearing a bit foolish. But I have never been criticized for trying. The people I pray for seem to recognize that I care about them enough to be willing to take the risk. It always seems to be viewed as an act of love, whether they were healed or not. And many are healed. When they are, I’m given the opportunity to let them know that their healing is an invitation from God to come closer to Him. What he has done for their physical body He wants to do for their whole life. I find this to be the easiest way to convert someone to the Christian faith.

There is one more drawback. Most of us have sat in the pews of the church all our lives and have never seen any kind of supernatural healing. Over the years, we come to believe Christianity without healing is normal. Its not. But there is good news. God’s gift of healing is being restored to the church in our day and time. We now live in a time in which there is a growing expectancy of God moving in miraculous ways.

So give it a try. You may be amazed at the result. If you want some coaching on healing prayer, look for me in church next Sunday. I’m usually hanging around the sound booth. I’ll be glad to help.
Let’s go make some disciples for our Lord.

by, Howard Roshaven
First Friday Debuts This Week
Join us this coming Friday evening, May 7, at 7:00 pm for our inaugural “First Friday” happy hour – a no-agenda gathering via Zoom! This is the first of what will be monthly happy hours on the first Friday of every month.
While Covid restrictions continue to ease, most of us are still avoiding large gatherings, so this monthly event was created to enable us to “gather separately” to chat while enjoying our beverage of choice. It affords us the opportunity to visit with church friends, meet people who worship at a different time on Sunday morning, catch up with fellow committee members (since most groups have been on hiatus), and meet newcomers. Whether you are working or retired, this is a great way to wind down after a busy week and usher in the weekend.
To access the Zoom happy hour, save this newsletter and click on this link: or go to the SJD website ( and select the “Events” tab to find the link there.
We look forward to seeing you on Zoom this Friday!
-Vestry members Valerie Bryant, Linda Duhn, Chuck Lieble and Anthony Primiano
The St John Divine Altar Guild is looking for new members to join us. For those of you who may be interested but want to know more, here is a little background. Understand that Altar Guilds vary from church to church because they function under the direction of the priest of the church
Altar Guilds today are groups of men and women who are called to serve God by preparing and tending the places where Episcopalians worship. It is an offering of time and many talents. Altar Guild is a ministry of love undertaken in the name of Christ that goes on quietly behind the scenes.
Unlike in most other parish business or organizations, an Altar Guild is not intended to be involved in parish business or social matters; it has a special role as the priest’s liturgical partner in making the worship life of the parish go smoothly. Talent and know-how are always useful attributes for Altar Guild members, but loyalty and commitment are indispensable if the priest is to lead the parish in worship with equanimity,
Altar Guild work is truly a vocation: workers are “called” to it. Their response indicates a willingness, as Bishop Appleton Lawrence said years ago, “to give more of their time and of themselves than is usually asked by the Church.” 
When several of our Altar Guild members were asked why do you serve on the Altar Guild, this is what they said:

“I enjoy Alter guild. The people, Pastors. Best of all I am doing God's work....... And there's no better feeling than that. Join us, make God and yourself happy.” - Sharon Rose
“Camaraderie - we enjoy working together because it is fun to work together having a common goal.
Useful - we feel like we are doing something useful to help our priests & our church. Behind the scenes - we enjoy doing our work without drawing attention to ourselves; we try to make everything as perfect as we humanly can. Mass - we feel more of a part of the Mass itself by preparing the table and the elements; we pay close attention & pray we have done things right!” - Janice Violetti & Marianne Horowitz
“Am I a Martha or a Mary? I enjoy being a team member of the Altar Guild. It is my way of praising the Lord while I help set up the altar for the next service. Then, attending the service and listening to the word of the Lord, I am Mary. So, I’m a little bit of both. Spontaneous prayer is not easy for me; I stumble over the words. I feel that I am praying when I lovingly wash, iron and gently fold the altar linens and return every to the proper place. When I was a child, I was always in awe watching the nuns going in and out of the sacristy, carrying the sacred vessels and vestments. It is an honor and a privilege to serve.”
- Bea MacDonald

Altar Guild members are the quiet strength of a church, the strong support that enables the people of God to worship in beauty and holiness. Interested? Contact information below. We’d love to hear from you. Reference “The New Altar Guild Book”

Peace and Blessings,
Chér Cerebe or (813)526-1646.
God Spa is back!

Way back before Covid some of you were registered to attend God Spa with me. Recently we received an email saying that the camp is bringing it back on their schedule for October, 2021. I am going, and I would like you to all go with me. (Sorry, gentlemen, ladies only this time.) This again will be a joint venture with Redeemer Ladies. One of the rules we are going to enforce is that you must have your Covid vaccine(s) to attend. More information will follow as I am still waiting on my email from the camp for all the information. Keep watching this newsletter for more information. If you have any questions please email me at

Thank you and I miss you all so very much,
The Interfaith Social Action Council

In 1971, three churches in Sun City Center developed a plan for offering financial assistance to local residents. The following year, they formed the Interfaith Social Action Council, ISAC, to administer the plan. Next they launched the nearly New Shop as a way to raise funds for supporting the plan. City residents responded immediately by generously donating an abundant supply of nearly new items that the shop could sell. I

As the city population increased, the number of houses of worship eventually grew to nine, where it stands at present. The shop grew substantially, so in 2001, it was moved from Wimauma to the rear of the Sun City Center Plaza.

To date, the shop has earned revenues of more than four million dollars from the sales of donated items. After expenses, the funds are used to support scholarships to college-bound students enrolled in local high schools and to contribute grants supporting projects developed by local schools and charitable organizations.

Educational Institutions

The ISAC sponsors competitive college and university scholarships for graduating students from East Bay and Lennard High Schools. This year we will be adding Sumner High School. From 80 to 100 scholarships of $2000.00 each renewable for as many as four undergraduate years are awarded each spring.


The ISAC also awards more than &160,000 in grants each year to South Shore service organizations with an approved IRS 501©3 designation and to local schools with an 85-8012621971-c-8 designation. The purpose of the grants is to benefit residents of our service area, bounded by the Alafia River on the North, Hillsborough County line on the East and South, and the Tampa Bay Shoreline on the West.

All houses of worship in Sun City Center are eligible and encouraged to join. St John Divine has been active with ISAC for several years. Jay Sparkman, is a past Council President, Barbara Mariforte is a past Council Vice President, and Dawn Henna is a past Secretary. Chér Cerebe is now a member and co-chair of the Scholarship Committee and a member of the Grant Committee. SJD is looking for more members to take an active role in the Council.

If interested, please see Chér at or (813) 526-1646

Thanks and Blessings,


Jean Brown - 5/1
Larry Kleven - 5/4
Alan Watson - 5/6
Mark Hunter - 5/6
Ethan Ruggles - 5/6
Don Fisher - 5/7
Jackie Winder - 5/7
Curt Arp - 5/7
Ellen Peck - 5/8
Joy Sparkman - 5/8
Bill James - 5/9
Kelley Lyons - 5/11
Elizabeth Arp - 5/12
Gerry Gardner - 5/13
Nancy Weiss - 5/15
Eliza Robertson - 5/15
Rolly Ford - 5/16
Janice Violetti - 5/17
Wayne Lillie - 5/20
John Patterson - 5/21
Heather Holmes - 5/23
Gator Galbraith - 5/26
Karen Pinckard - 5/28
Judy Budziak - 5/28
Ron Drummond - 5/29
Linda Worachek - 5/31


Tom & Jackie Winder - 5/4
Carl & Stevie Lingertot - 5/20
Charlie & Beverly Gaussiran - 5/21
Debbie & Bill Carlisle - 5/27
Bob & Jennie Lamp - 5/29
David & Nadine Wyly - 5/31

Greg Diehl, Linda Floyd, Allie Maiocchi, Linda Cardillo, Debbie Carlisle
Linda Duh, Chuck Lieble, Anthony Primiano, Doug Roderick

Vestry Officers

 Howard Roshaven - Sr. Warden, Annie Hunter - Jr. Warden
Valerie Bryant - Clerk, Lisa Galbraith - Treasurer

Clergy and Staff

The Rt. Rev. Dabney T. Smith
Bishop of the Diocese of Southwest Florida
The Rev. Kevin Warner - Rector
The Rev. Lee Miller - Associate Rector
The Rev. David Wyly - Assistant Rector
Scott Gardner - Praise Leader, Joan Frankel - Organist & Choir Director
Tristan Warner - Media and Tech Specialist, Tommy Blair - A/V Assistant
Connie Minnoe - Accounting Administrator, Sharon Bakay - Kitchen Manager

St. John Divine Episcopal Church
1015 E. Del Webb Blvd. Sun City Center, FL 33573