St. John's Family News

Week of August 8-14, 2022 | Vol. 81 Issue 31 | @sjbccharlotte

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Thank You for My Study Leave

by Dennis W. Foust, Senior Minister


Each year for more than twenty years, I have used two weeks each summer as Study Leave. Most years, these weeks are scheduled for the first two weeks of August. A few people have asked about this practice, so I thought a brief explanation might be helpful.


This annual practice provides me with some less interrupted time for extended spiritual renewal and focused preparations for the next church year. Throughout my ministry, I have been fortunate to attend conventions, travel broadly, teach in universities and seminaries, guide projects of impact, serve on leadership councils and boards, facilitate conferences, and participate in numerous continuing education opportunities. However, the practice of summer study leave has always been the most spiritually renewing.


Two weeks ago, on August 1, after loading twenty-two boxes and bags of books, files, periodicals, folders, and notebooks into my car with my suitcase, I came to the North Carolina mountains. Two church families have been gracious, allowing me to set up my stacks in their vacation homes. Various years have allowed me to enjoy the kindness of different families. On my way, I stop and buy groceries that will carry through most of the time away. This allows me to stay sequestered. Paula usually joins me on weekends.


On that first Monday, August 2, I started with a blank tablet and a few scriptures that are important to me. This helped me center myself spiritually on my relationship of commitment with God and my calling to be faithful in my ministry of servant leadership with St. John’s. The rest of Monday and Tuesday saw me going through notes I have written to myself, articles saved, ministry idea folders, notebooks of ministries, and books to glean perspectives. Through these hours, I find myself trying to weave together the numerous threads of our congregational fabric and my role of inspecting our fabric, to identify what may be unraveling, fading, or wearing thin. Of course, this year has us regathering from a pandemic, gaining energy while also searching for new staff. I also study each of our primary congregational goals and how we are addressing them now. By the time of Wednesday’s dawn, several perspectives had found clarity enough to begin developing worship themes and choosing scriptures that resulted in sermon subjects and titles.


A variety of book stacks happen on subjects of Staff Team Development and Coaching, Pastoral Leadership, Systemic Change, Biblical Studies, Church & Community, Worship, Pastoral Preaching, Congregational Vision and Ministries, Leadership Development, Outreach, Spiritual Growth, Baptist History and Principles, Mission Initiatives and Partners, Ethics, Social Justice &Peacebuilding, Pastoral Care, Writing/Blogging, Messaging and Media, Planning, Theology, Christology and Ecclesiology. For a few months, I had written ideas to myself as to what I sensed going on among us, what conversations I was hearing (and not hearing that I wish I were), what is happening in our world, and what people need from the Church today, what do I need to focus upon to equip you (as followers of Jesus) to be ministers in daily life. You may recognize some of the authors with whom I share conversations: David Brooks, Walter Rauschenbusch, Brian McLaren, Glenn Hinson, Stanley Hauerwas, Marcus Borg, NT Wright, Gustavo Gutierrez, Maya Angelou, Barbara Brown Taylor, Howard Thurman, Joseph Girzone, Peter Gomes, Frank Stagg, Buddy Shurden, Nora Gallagher, Molly Marshall, Dan Stiver, Sallie McFague, Harvey Cox, and Robert McAfee Brown. Gradually, a direction emerges with various facets to become emphases. By the time I see you this Sunday, I will have a clear plan for my leadership for our 2022-2023 church year.


Looking into this next year, I see a changing world that is grinding through a time of malicious contention, war, fear, violence, mean-spiritedness, injustice, cynicism, hypocrisy, and confusion. We are living in a time when information is prevalent, but truth is intermittent. I see a lost world that needs local churches like St. John’s – people like you – to change what needs to change in church life while also going deeper into those dimensions that do not need to change such as our identity in Jesus Christ and our participation in God’s mission of inclusive compassion.


Next week, my article will review the preaching theme plan for the next year. Between now and Advent, I plan to preach 2 sermons on the subject of ‘Future Church Now,’ and 6 sermons on ‘The Way of Jesus.’ We will also welcome Al Staggs who will portray Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Saturday, October 15, and portray Clarence Jordan on Sunday, October 16. On November 6 and 13, we will focus on our commitments of financial support for our 2023 ministries. And, on November 20, we will welcome ‘Mending Wings,’ a group of youth and young adults of the Yakama Nation as they lead us in worship through their tradition, ‘Dancing Our Prayers.’ Thank you for my study leave. Between now and Advent, I hope to see you often



Help Us Reach Our $25,000 Goal!

This year, we are supporting the Nyarweng School in South Sudan as well as Project Ruth to support those affected by the war in Ukraine.

$20,000 will go to support Nyarweng School 

$5,000 will go to Project Ruth

You can give towards this goal today by donating online and specifying Global Missions (button below), or by writing "Global Missions" in the memo line on your check.

Give to Global Missions

Report from Youth Mission Immersion Trip

Youth spend the day at Hope Chapel, painting, serving lunch, and worshipping together

Spending the day at Baby Bundles sorting and packing essential baby items for mothers and newborns in need

Adding school supplies, fruit cups, and soup to the collection barrels for Highland Renaissance Academy

The youth and their terrific adult guides spent August 6-9 doing mission projects in and around Charlotte. On Sunday, they spent the morning at Hope Chapel, painting windows, serving a hot dog lunch, and worshiping together. Then, after some rest, they did an evening stream clean-up in Freedom Park. If you have paid any attention to the stream around Freedom Park, you know this clean-up is necessary!

On Monday, they served at Loaves & Fishes/Friendship Trays working in the warehouse and delivering food throughout the community. After lunch, they headed to Highland Renaissance Academy to learn about their backpack program. After that, they headed to Baby Bundles to organize and pack essential baby items for newborn babies and their mothers. 

On Tuesday, they sorted clothes at Crisis Assistance Ministries and shopped for school supplies for the Highland Renaissance Backpack ministry. In the afternoon, they tie-dyed t-shirts for the upcoming Charlotte Pride Parade on August 21. 

What a wonderful week! We are so thankful for our chaperones, leaders, and youth for a great and impactful time together in our own city. 

"I scream, you scream, we all scream for ICECREAM!"

St. John's invites you to lunch and an icecream social on August 21 directly after worship.

We will have food trucks and ice cream with ALL the toppings. No need to sign up. Just come and enjoy time together! After lunch, we will participate in the Charlotte Pride Parade in Uptown Charlotte. If you would like to sign up to make homemade ice cream please reach out to Meg Bond at 980-225-2824.

God Loves Everyone!

The Charlotte Pride parade returns to Uptown for the first time since the pandemic shutdown on Sunday, August 21. 

Here are the details:

  • The parade runs from 1-4:30 pm. Our slot in the parade is supposed to depart the staging area at around 3 pm.
  • There is a planned church lunch that day (with homemade ice cream)! so you can eat and socialize after worship.
  • Around 1 pm, we will make our way together Uptown to the staging area near 9th and Tryon. 

We need to get a headcount as soon as possible, so please register in Realm [button below] if you plan to march with us. More details to come.

Sign-Up for Pride Here!

Weekday School News

from Lydia Olmsted, Director

The WDS summer session offers a little variety from the regular school year. Our school year operates from Sept. – early June and our summer session allows us to end the year with fun in the sun. This year was another great summer! I’d like to share it with you in this write-up. 

We had 52 children participated in our program. The ages ranged from one year to Rising 5th graders. Most of the children in attendance were three years old and older. We had an awesome summer team; 9 teachers and two support staff assisting the summer session. 

How our summer program serves our community:

First, we offer families a four-week summer session during the month of July. We’re able to offer families who have elementary children to return during the summer. During the school year, we serve families with children ages six months to six years until 2:30 p.m. Some of the elementary children grew up at the WDS and have been with us since their nursery years. They’ve come to love the WDS. When they return for the summer, they instantly take on roles as junior helpers, assisting with water day set up, mentoring younger students, and assisting the teachers. It’s their community to grow and learn. Having older children/siblings attend the summer session allows families to have their children in one familiar place. Convenience indeed.

YMCA Summer Literacy Program:

Did you know that the WDS is selected as a YMCA Summer Literacy Infusion (SLI) program recipient? After applying again, we have been selected. The program is geared to rising TK through fourth-grade children. This year 26 children (four were staff children) participated in this learning adventure. The SLI program involves parent and child participation/reading together, a literacy coach who assists us and administers reading tests, and teacher and Director training with creativity to infuse the literacy curriculum through many fun learning avenues. Literacy has always been a strong suit to our curriculum and with the program materials and continuous training, it has been added and incorporated throughout the school year. The WDS also receives books to add to our library, and children receive materials and books to take home from the Book-a-palooza fair. 

WDS learning avenues:

All classes (even the nursery children) participate in water play day. It’s a hit! Freezer pops and popsicles are always on hand to cool it down. The use of the playground and picnic tables are important to our program. The nursery and three’s classes participate in art activities, music, playing, learning, and reading. Friends and teachers are bonding. All children tend to the garden and enjoy watching the plants and vegetables grow. It’s a safe, positive, and caring community. 

This year the fours and TK+ classes incorporated learning through literacy with science and hosted a science fair to share their Lego projects and experiments. This group also took a field trip to Elizabeth Creamy and performed three plays for the younger children to attend. We ended our last few days of summer with pizza and pajama day. What a way to end the summer!

Shout out to our parents, children, and our summer team (Ms. Rosa, Ms. Mon, Ms. Rosali, Ms. Samantha, Ms. Natazia, Ms. Norma, Ms. April, Ms. Aishah, Ms. Ashley, Ms. Kristen, and Ms. Kristina) for making our summer and WDS a continuous success! Well done!

And, thanks to the WDS Board and church staff for their continuous support.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about our summer program and learn a little more about the WDS. 

Lydia and WDS Team!

School Supply Drive for Highland Renaissance Academy

Throughout the month of August, St. John's is committed to collecting items to help the students at Highland Renaissance Academy. 

There are two barrels at the Main Entrance. In one barrel, we are collecting canned soup and fruit cups. In the other barrel, we are collecting school supplies of all sorts (glue sticks, pencils, notebooks, child scissors).

Drop off these essential supplies to help these sweet students! Questions? Contact Becky Skidmore at

We have a very good problem!

Need for Children's Volunteers


With nineteen babies born in the church family in the last couple of years, we have a growing children's program!

Of course, this means we need more volunteers to provide care during Sunday School and Worship on Sunday mornings.

For safety, we must have at least two workers in each classroom. Volunteers are asked to commit to one Sunday a month, Children's programming will resume after Labor Day on Sunday, 9/11/22. If you are willing to work in our nursery or one of our children's classrooms one Sunday a month, or if you would just like to substitute, please contact Mindy Vergakis at or Amanda Morrison in the church office.

Deliver Backpacks to Highland Renaissance

The backpack team needs your help!

Each week on Thursdays or Fridays, we need someone to deliver 15 backpacks filled with food for students in need at Highland Renaissance Academy. These backpacks are essential to filling nutritional gaps these students experience due to a lack of food at home on the weekends.

Contact Jamie Loftis at if you can help.

From the Heritage Room: St. John's Staff in the 1960s

The 1960’s were a decade of change in the country and the community. The church’s response to these changes were led by our Senior Minister, Dr. Claude Broach, who came to St. John’s in 1944 during a tumultuous period in the world and remained at St. John’s for thirty years. The church was also led by other very talented and dedicated staff members, some of whom were at St John’s for most of the decade.    

Read more here

Prayers, Thanks, and Celebrations

  • Tarsha Williams, Pauline Funderburk, Linda Finger, Rob Sellers, Arnold Philemon, Martha Brown

Ministers On-Call Schedule

  • August 8-14: Kevin Gray


Staff Contact Information

  • Amanda Morrison, Ministry Coordinator - 704-333-5428, ext. 11
  • Haley Blackwell, Minister for Youth & Young Adults
  • Dennis Foust, Senior Minister - 704-359-7234 (cell); 704-333-5428, ext. 12
  • Lee Gray, Minister for Congregational Care - 704-451-1309 (cell); 704-333-5428, ext. 15
  • Kevin Gray, Minister for Music and Worship - 803-524-0287 (cell); 704-333-5428, ext. 14
  • Mallory Brown, Media Coordinator - 704-477-3349 (cell)
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