Volume 5, Number 40 | October 18, 2018
October 2018 Newsletter
Rector's Letter
Dear Friends,

Many have asked about my plans for sabbatical. Generally, I am hopeful for a period of rest and renewal, with time to attend to sides of life that I often neglect in the midst of active ministry. I want to establish better personal health habits and regular exercise is a goal for my time. I look forward to reconnecting with friends and family as well. I have scheduled a week-long silent retreat at the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Cambridge, which I have long wanted to do, and where I will also be able also to meet with my spiritual director. A general area of growth and goal of sabbatical is study and regular writing. I will start up a private blog to help me write with accountability. And I will be reading and studying, both at home and in Italy.  

I am very excited to be spending a month at the Anglican Center in Rome. The question I am pursuing is, “What is a Diaconal Church?”. Additionally, how is it ordered or organized for mission, and how does it bring churches together in mutual witness to the world? In the early centuries of the Church, Rome had seven deacons, and only seven, for over 600 years. I’d like to know more about how the Diocese was organized with seven deacons, and their part in leading the Church in its witness and service. The Center has resources for study pertaining to ecumenical dialogue between our churches. I am hopeful to learn from Roman Catholic writings on diaconia and to review writings from the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission. Recently, on the occasion of the canonization of Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Oscar Romero, Pope Francis remarked that we must be an Outward-facing Church. It seems to me that an Outward-facing Church would be an apt description of a Diaconal Church and I hope to consider it more fully and what it might mean for our context here in Maine and in Bangor.

While I am away, the community will be engaged in an important period of discernment. We held our all parish meeting on September 30th to hear from Ames and Associates their report on our church exterior (including the tower), developed by the thorough work of their architect, structural engineer, and mason. In the report, they estimated that to address our church’s issues would require at least 1.5 million dollars and that the work would need to be done in 2-3 years to prevent the stone facade from falling dangerously down. We acknowledged at the time that the cost of this project is beyond what St. John’s can do as a faith community alone. To repair the church would require funds from our own capital campaign, and funds from at least 3 other sources: the Bangor community beyond St John’s; friends of St. John’s beyond Bangor; and foundations and grants from across the country. At the end of the meeting we asked parishioners to consider whether they would like to try to repair and renew the church by trying to raise funds or whether they were ready to leave the building (safely bringing it down) and begin considering how to be an “unhoused” congregation - either finding a worship partner/congregation to join or worship space to rent. We asked people to speak to Vestry to share their thoughts and feelings before the Vestry voted at its October 23rd meeting whether to sign a contract for a feasibility study for a capital campaign. A feasibility study inquires, and seeks to determine, how much support and potential financial commitment is in a community for a stated project. Since the meeting on September 30th, many people have spoken up to various Vestry members and staff. While there is not universal interest in trying to repair and keep our building, there is clearly a strong interest in trying to do so. The strength of that interest indicates that we will need to do a feasibility study. The feasibility study won’t guarantee that we will begin a capital campaign, but it will inform us as to how much support there is and how much we would still need to raise from external sources to complete the repair.

Given the strong interest in a feasibility study, the next important question is whether there is financial support to fund the study. Mr. Eftim Economsu left a bequest to St. John’s that we’ve used in part to fund our assessment of the building and its needs and that will pay for part of a feasibility study. However, there is an outstanding $6000 that we need to raise. One parishioner has already stepped forward and pledged $200 toward a feasibility study. If 30 people gave $200, we could sign a contract. If 20 people gave $300 we could go forward. Time is important. If you feel strongly that we should have a feasibility study and are willing to contribute to the cost of it, please email or call our office manager - or simply send a check to the parish office. 

A feasibility study generally requires three months from start to finish. If we are able to begin by the end of the month, there is a chance that the report could come in time for Annual Meeting, which would be an excellent time to share such important information and to know then what kind of funds we would need to begin seeking from external sources and what size volunteer teams we would need to accomplish such work.

At each step, our response will determine what options we have next and what roads we may take. The scope of such a project is great enough that we cannot forecast how it will end. It means God is asking whether we will engage in a process not knowing or controlling the outcome. It is an adventure, just like life, that we can only choose to accept or decline. To accept God’s invitation to journey means offering our “yes” to God regardless of the outcome and trusting that he will lead and guide us, that he holds our welfare in his loving hands, that he will not let us go and will not abandon us. Learning to follow without a clear map given in advance (and a sense of control) means growing in faithfulness - in trust, in listening and discerning, and in obedience as we seek to do God’s will not our own.

Whether we repair the church or become “unhoused”, I am confident that this time in our life together can be richly used for our benefit - that we can be transformed by the process of making faithful choices and offering our selves wholly to God’s work and purposes, both individually and collectively. In the sabbatical period ahead, we will both be considering in our own ways what is the kind of Church that God is calling us to be. You will be daily in my prayers and I ask that you would keep me in your own.

Yours faithfully,
Mo. Rita+
Newcomers Brunch
The Welcome Committee will be having the Newcomers Brunch after the 10 am. service on Sunday October 21st in the Bangor Room in the Parish Community House at 234 French Street. We are looking for the participation of 3 Vestry Members at the event. We are also looking for volunteers to bake or bring food offerings to the event. If you would like to help and/ or attend, please email Cindy Oakes or contact Vanessa Young at the church office at 947-0156. All who are new, looking for a new parish family or those who have been attending for a year or less or those who just feel new are welcome to attend this festive fall brunch get together. We will provide information about the Episcopal Church and answer question that you may have. There will be a door prize for those in attendance. We look forward to seeing you there.
Rev Jonathan Appleyard
Please come Sunday, October 21st to welcome the Rev. Jonathan Appleyard as our celebrant and his wife Ruth. Fr. Jonathan will be our presiding priest beginning November 3rd when Mo. Rita starts her sabbatical.
Soup Kitchen
Extra help is needed for our monthly serving at the soup kitchen. We are scheduled to serve the fourth Tuesday of the month at the Salvation Army, from 10 am to 1:30 pm. Our next scheduled date is Tuesday, October 23rd . For more information, please see Nancy Henry or Phil Ulrich.
Prayer Shawl Knitting
Attention all knitters, the Prayer Shawl Knitting Group is meeting on Wednesday October 24th at 1 pm in the Parish House Oratory. All are welcome to join, both experienced and those who are looking to learn how to knit. 
Give Thanks Lunch
Please plan to join us on October 28th for our Give Thanks Luncheon.  This is a perfect time of year to gather together and give thanks for our community as we wrap up our Stewardship Pledge drive.  Join us for this delicious meal of turkey and all the fixings, hosted by our Stewardship Committee and SR YES. Come give thanks together.
All Saints' Service
Please join us on November 1st at 7:30 am for our special All Saints' Service in the Bethlehem Chapel. We will be dedicating items that were donated to the church in honor of those who have passed.
Brahms Requiem
Mark your calendar for the Brahms Requiem on All Souls’ Day, Friday, November 2nd at 7 pm. Childcare provided.  The St. John’s Choir will perform Cherubini Requiem in C Minor. You are invited to submit names to be remembered during the service – either by mailing them to the parish office or emailing them to admin@stjohnsbangor.org .
Second Saturday
Extra help is needed for our monthly serving at Second Saturday, hosted here in the Undercroft. We are scheduled to serve next on November 10th from 11:30 am - 1:30 pm. You don’t need to sign up in advance, or even commit to coming monthly, just stop in to help out when you can. For more information, please see Nancy Henry or Phil Ulrich.
Sabbatical Statement from the Vestry

St. John’s will embrace this sabbatical period as a time of renewal, opportunity and growth. We will continue to worship and serve as we always have, but with opportunity to renew ourselves in our life and ministry at St. John’s. We will discern the state and future of our church and tower through continued discussions. Finally, it is the hope of the Vestry for the congregation of St. John’s to identify its place as a center for service and compassion in the larger Bangor community.
We will continue to reflect on our ministry during this period of rejuvenation. Programs and ministries will continue to thrive and flourish at St. John’s, and the Vestry invites you to join in these outreach opportunities, whether serving at Second Saturday or serving God and His church through worship and service opportunities. The Ministry Fair held in early October offered a multitude of opportunities to serve: various Worship groups, including serving as a Lector, Acolyte, Eucharistic Minister or Usher; Adult Formation and Youth Education; Men’s Breakfast Group; Women’s Book Club; Financial Standing Committee and the Property Committee. The Vestry invites you to take on a new way to serve God and the community by joining one of these ministries at least once during this Sabbatical time. It is the hope of the Vestry that in participating in these ministries, we can nurture our relationships with one another and with God and His Church.
During this Sabbatical time, we will ponder the future of the physical St. John’s space and look to our future. We will discern God’s will for us and for our building while the Vestry gathers feedback from parishioners about the state of the tower. We will continue to discuss possible solutions. The Vestry will continue to communicate with the parish regarding the state of the building and potential outcomes. Discussions regarding the state of the tower and the building are underway and the Vestry requires your input. Please share your suggestions and thoughts about the state of the Church and tower and the future of St. John’s while we continue to discern God’s will for us and our building.
Additionally, this sabbatical period offers a chance for St. John’s to delve deeper into ways we can better serve others within the larger Bangor community. Over and over again in the Gospels, Jesus exhorts us to get out of our comfort zone and reach out to others, especially the most vulnerable. He even goes on to tell us that the worst thing we can do is to turn others away from God. What can we as a community do that invites others with open arms? Are there things we do that are unintentionally keeping us apart from others? When we look deeply into our hearts, we can identify times in our own lives when we were most vulnerable? Is what we are experiencing now with our building such a time? What are our fears about this sabbatical period? What will it be like to be without a shepherd? Our own vulnerability is a gift that allows us to have compassion for others. It’s our hope that this sabbatical time will be a rich opportunity for us to find answers to these and other questions and discover the gifts we can share with each other.

We invite you to join our Sabbatical Task Force, which seeks to provide support and continuity during this time of renewal. The Task Force will aid with hospitality for Father Jonathan and Ruth and the continued support of programs and services at St. John’s, while providing new ways to grow in our fellowship and community together. If you are interested in joining the Sabbatical Task Force, please speak to Alisa Wing or David Ulrich.
Centenary of the Armistice
"My subject is War and the Pity of War. The poetry is in the pity."

Wilfred Owen thus described his goal in writing poetry about the combat, death, pain, and loss suffered by soldiers who fought in the trenches in World War I. On November 11 at 4:00 p.m., we will gather to observe the centenary of the Armistice that ended that war--a treaty signed at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918--by hearing poems of Owen and other poets of the war recited aloud. The poems will be read by Joseph Bearor and interspersed with theological reflections by Rabbi Bill Siemers of Congregation Beth Israel and the Rev. Canon Anne Mallonee, with further observations on wartime experience by Judy Jones, a veteran of the United States Navy. This promises to be a deeply moving meditation on our world of conflict, past and present. Please join us.

Bruce Mallonee
Chair, Committee on Music and the Arts
Reflections on Stewardship
Lee Souweine

I have not spoken from behind this lectern since my wife, Ruth’s, funeral almost five years ago. As many of you remember, she was killed in a head on collision on the way to Sugarloaf. I was sitting next to her. She died and I didn’t.

Life is strange.

My being in this space now reminds me of how special this church building and this church family is to me and my loved ones.

When we first moved to Bangor in July of 1988, we attended our first service at St. John’s.

Our daughter Kristen was going to be a sophomore at Bangor High then and her first words upon entering the church was “Oh wow, I’m going to get married here” and she got her wish, some 20 years later.

This church has been important to my family in so many ways.
  • My mother’s and Ruth’s funeral was here.
  • Both of my children, David and Kristen, were confirmed here. Both are adults now and are active in the choir.
  • My son’s eagle scout ceremony was here
  • All three of my grandchildren were baptized here.

I am sure there are more events that I can’t recall.

At one point, there were four generations of Souweine’s coming here. I consider that amazing considering our family was not even from Maine.

This makes me think of stewardship, or taking care of something or someone other than ourselves. All of our lives we are taken care of, or we are taking care of someone or something. As kids we were taught to take care of our toys, our pets, and other things in kids lives. It always didn’t work but we were taught. We were taught stewardship. (or at lease our parents tried)

In turn, our parents took care of us: our health, our education, our shelter. They were stewards for us And they were still teaching by example. At some point, our parents were also probably in a position to care, or be stewards, to their aging parents. As we are stewards to our aging parents. My children may become stewards for me. They enter our lives and we do the best we can, then they move on towards their own journeys. We don’t own them.

We really don’t own anything in life, although we think we do. We may have a house and furnishings. They may stay in the family for a generation or two but it eventually becomes someone else's. I owned the big white house across the street from the church for 23 years. Now it belongs to John Bapst. Now they are stewards of that property.

During our lives, we may amass many things: furniture and other possessions. When we pass away, these things fall under the stewardship of others. Whether relatives, estate sales, rummage sales.

I have been very lucky in life. I flew helicopters on Vietnam and wasn’t killed as some of my comrades in arms were. In the army I was stationed all over the world and have seen firsthand the lack of stewardship in many places and in many areas. For some reason, I have done very well in life, but it is not because of me. I vowed long ago that I would not take credit for my successes, nor would I blame myself for my failures. It is greater than I am.

Many of us have given a lot to the church because we could. But it is all about proportion and proportional giving. If you have a lot, give a lot. If you don’t, that’s OK. Proportional giving is also time dependent. When starting out in life with families and responsibilities, there obviously is not a lot to give. Maybe not so much treasure, but there is time and talent. As you progress in life, things may change and you can give more treasure Eventually there is less to give, but what you do give represents a life well lived.

About the building. You may well ask why spend so much money on a structure when there is so much need in the world. You need to answer that question for yourselves and there is no right answer. No matter how much one gives, there is always even more need. That is the way of the world. Since the beginning of time. But you do need a home or base from which to reach out. That’s what this building is. This is our home. This is my home.

Thank you for listening to my story and my random thoughts. God bless you and your lives. You are important and and one does what one can.

If not in the past, then now. If not now, then later. It’s all good.

Thank you.
Adult Education & Formation : 2018 - 2019

The Adult Education & Formation year has gotten off to a great start. Our first, and anticipated to be annual, fall 50-Day Bible Challenge has already commenced. During the Renewal Works exploration of the spiritual needs and wishes of the people of St John’s, parishioners indicated a strong desire for increased Scripture study. The truth of that stated desire is evident in the numbers of your fellow parishioners who have committed to the daily discipline of reading the Gospel of Luke. The daily reading schedule began on September 30 th and will continue through November 18 th . For anyone who somehow missed this opportunity, it is not too late. Reading schedules will be available throughout this Challenge on the education & formation table at the back of the church and in the undercroft during coffee hour.

We expect to be conducting a 50-Day Bible Challenge every fall, cycling the Four Gospels and the Book of Acts. If there’s interest, more of the Bible may be read in a similar communal manner during other seasons.

This year the Adult Education & Formation program offers many opportunities to broaden our spiritual horizons. Several book discussions ( Who Needs God , and Good News of Jesus ) will have a focus on the need humanity has to connect with the Divine, resulting in lives filled with meaning and purpose. There’ll be a video series ( The Buddha ) and a four-week course (Introduction to Islam) that will help us know our neighbors – and therefore ourselves – better. Two books offered in Eastertide will educate us concerning some of the great conflicts of our time, and will also challenge us to examine our own role in both perpetuating the problems and in rising to meet the responsibilities of Christian discipleship. The discussions around  Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence and Waking Up While, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race are sure to be interesting. 

There will opportunities to learn and practice three different spiritual disciplines this year: Praying with Bead, Centering Prayer, and Chanting the Psalms. The first session for each will teach the discipline. Participants will commit to one week of practice, and then come together again the following Sunday to discuss the experience. 

There are three Quiet times included in the 2018 – 2019 schedule. We continue our practice of having a Quiet Evening or Afternoon in Advent (featuring the music of Thomas Tallis) and in Lent (Lenten Reflections). Additionally, in the Chapel during the Sundays of Advent there will be an opportunity for an hour’s respite from the stress many of us experience in a season that ought to be one of quiet and reflection. Music of the season, peaceful chanting, and candle-lit icons will help restore a sense of the holiness of this anticipatory season. Feel free to bring your handwork or to just sit in quiet companionship.

For more details on these or other offerings, see the schedule below or the published Adult Education & Formation brochure. As the date of each event approaches, information will also be found in the weekly bulletin insert and This Week at St John’s .

CHECK IT OUT is a new opportunity for parishioners to alert our faith community regarding books, articles, movies, or other things that have touched them in some way. If you feel moved to share something, send it to formation@stjohnsbangor.org .  It is not necessary to write a long book report or review (unless you want to). All that is needed is to convey your recommendation and why you believe your fellow parishioners might benefit from reading or seeing whatever it is.  

CHECK IT OUT: The Road to Character , by David Brooks
Many of us are familiar with David Brooks as a NY Times columnist and frequent television commentator. In this book, The Road to Character , Brooks brings that same humor, charity, and insight to his discussion of the deeper values that should inform our lives. He distinguishes between what he calls “resume virtues” - achieving wealth, fame, or status – and “eulogy virtues” – the things that we would all like said about the entirety of our lives, that we were kind, honest, faithful, etc. Most of the book is devoted to chapters focused on people from the past who were shaped by the struggles of their lives, achieving a strong inner character. Brooks does not lecture us. Instead he uses the stories of these people as parables for our own times and needs, usually allowing us to make the connections for ourselves. His subjects range from Maine’s own Frances Perkins (Secretary of Labor under FDR) to Augustine (Father of the Church) to Dorothy Day (tireless but very human worker for the poor) to Samuel Johnson (social commentator of the 1700s) to George Eliot (author) to A. Philip Randolph (civil rights leader). He reveals that none of these people escaped their humanity but rather embraced it. 

The Road to Character is available at the Bangor Public Library.
St. John's Episcopal Church | 207-947-0156 | stjohnsbangor.org