Volume 5, Number 39 | September 15, 2018
September 2018 Newsletter
Rector's Letter
Dear Friends,

The Spirit moves in mysterious ways. We say it – but aren’t we still surprised, again and again? When we began looking for a new Director of Music, who could have guessed that God was bringing to Maine a wonderful Choral Director (Webb Parker) from Mississippi to begin a new position teaching at the University of Maine, while simultaneously bringing an incredible organist from New York City to retire in Maine? Perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise that God would provide so bounteously and providentially for our needs – but aren’t we still surprised, again and again? It was a further surprise to learn that both men have extensive experience and study of Gospel music. Our Search Committee had considered the importance of finding a Director with broad ability and knowledge and had hoped to find someone who could introduce us to some new music while also preserving our musical repertoire and heritage, but we would never have thought to ask for someone in Northern Maine who could lead us in learning Gospel. That would have seemed like too much to ask, but then God sent not one but two musicians with that knowledge and skill. Again and again, we are surprised.

When Anne-Marie Miller came on staff this summer to lead our Family Faith Formation and oversee our Sunday School, we began considering ways to better support our students, families, and teachers. Interest in multi-generational faith formation and more opportunities for kids to be in worship led to the consideration of a children’s chapel during church and a Sunday School craft response during coffee hour. We decided that it was worth trying for a year, and we begin this Sunday. Kids will come to church with parents. Nursery and Wigglers children can still go downstairs before worship begins. Elementary kids though will sing and pray with parents and listen to the lessons. Then at the Gospel Hymn, they’ll go to the chapel for their own Gospel or story and discussion and time of prayer, coming back to the church at the peace as they have always done. They’ll have time for their own liturgy of the Word before coming back for communion, and then their response with crafts or play can be at the coffee hour where they’ll be more integrated with the rest of our congregation, as will our teachers. This is the first significant change to our Sunday School in over a decade and it will be exciting to see what kind of fruit it brings. When we made the decision to try this new pattern, two providential changes occurred. One, it means that younger kids who wish to be in choir and in Sunday School can now do so without compromising either experience and without additional chaperones or shepherds as were needed to bring kids across the street in time to sing. A tension that has existed for years in our parish programs suddenly dissolved and new possibilities for engagement, formation, and service opened before us. God’s graciousness and generosity, working in mysterious ways, surprised us again. The other unforeseen benefit comes to our Adult formation. This summer Patricia Sprague, our Adult Faith Formation Director, began making plans for more Sunday programs to occur in the Undercroft during coffee hour. Suddenly, with the youth now coming downstairs for formation time, our after-worship time is anchored in formation and education opportunities. A vital part of our Christian growth and life together now has a time and place available for all ages, and its importance is lifted up and visible for us all. Providential, and yet still a surprise.

Coming up at the end of this month are more opportunities for us to be surprised. September 30th is both the kick-off of our 50-day Bible Challenge, reading the Gospel of Luke. It is also the date of our all-parish special meeting called by the Vestry for the presentation of the assessment of our church and tower by Ames and Associates, architects and engineers. If our building is to stand as an enduring witness to God’s presence in our community, it is going to need work. If the tower is to be a beacon of hope, it needs reinforcement. Isn’t the same true of our community if we are to be an enduring witness and a visible sign of hope – we need reinforcement and work too. The Bible challenge curiously begins on the same day. Returning to the Gospel of Good News, spending time with it, learning it, challenging it and being challenged by it – isn't’ this the kind of work that can strengthen us as a community, and in our ministry, and in the joy we experience and feel in our lives of faith?

I hope that you will come to church this Sunday, September 16, to welcome children into our service, to meet and greet our new musicians, - and to feast at our All Parish Picnic following the 10 am service. And I hope you’ll make a point to be present at the end of the month on September 30th for our special meeting with Ames and Associates – and to begin the 50-day challenge of reading and feasting on the Gospel of Luke. And be surprised! 

May God’s Spirit continue to work amongst us is so many mysterious ways.

Yours in Christ,
Mo. Rita+
OUR UPCOMING EVENTS!
Fall Rummage Sale
Our fall rummage promises to be big one this year. We already have in storage items from a family that sold their house, 2 large boxes of jewelry, and 50 bags of quality men and women's clothes from an estate. We welcome donations of clothes, linens, shoes/boots, books, toys, music, jewelry, yarn, household items, and small furniture such as end tables/lamps/rugs/artwork etc. No computers or TV's please. Donations will be accepted in the Undercroft starting Sunday October 14. If you have a large amount needing pickup, see Jim or Claudia Blanchette. There will be a sign-up sheet to volunteer your time for set-up and to work the sale day on the Undercroft bulletin board (I'll put it up Sept. 30th). Many hands make for a big success in terms of money raised for St. John's and quality sale for the community.
Newcomers Brunch
The Welcome Committee will be having the Newcomers Brunch after the 10 am. service on Sunday Oct. 21 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.
Women's Book Group
The St. John’s Women’s Book Group will meet next on October 16, 2 pm at the home of Marisue and John Pickering.

Because we appreciated so much thinking aspects of current American culture, we have chosen another book that should be a good prompt for more thinking, American Nations   by Colin Woodard. It is available in libraries, including a library e-book. Also there are audio books, hardback, paperback, and Kindle books available at Amazo n.

The book’s subtitle is a quick summary: "A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.” Woodard, a Maine native and now resident, contends that our country has deep historical reasons for viewing o ur country so differently.

We hope the nature of this book will tweak the interest of readers curious about the book group. Please email or call Marisue to let her know if you would like to attend the meeting. 866-2606.
B.A.H.S. Food Truck
Please bring non-perishable food items to St. John's Episcopal Church, at 225 French Street, this Sunday and let’s see if we can fill up Jim Blanchette’s truck bed for the fourth year in a row to benefit the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter.
Celebration of Diversity
Please join us for our International Celebration on October 12th from 5 pm - 8 pm at the Shriners on Outer Broadway. We’ll have international food, beverages and music as we celebrate the diversity within our church and the community. Ticket prices: $40.00/per person, $70.00 per couple/2 people, $5.00 per person at the door for tastings.
Our New Organist - Joshua Singer

We are very excited to welcome our new organist, Joshua Singer.  Joshua studied Organ at Julliard where he earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. He’s been playing in Lutheran and Episcopal Churches for decades and joins us after serving as Music Director for 32 years at Grace Lutheran Church in New York City. Joshua has performed organ recitals in the New York Metro area, Washington DC and in France. Please join us in welcoming him to the St. John’s community.
Armistice Day, November 11

November 11 is the day on which the armistice was signed that ended fighting in The Great War, World War I. That day in the United States is designated as Veterans Day to commemorate military personnel from all our country’s conflicts. 

Out of the suffering of WWI came some of the most powerful poetry of the 20th century. On the Centenary of the Armistice, Sunday, November 11 at 4:00 p.m., we will gather in the church to hear some of that poetry and to consider both its awful beauty and its deep consolation. Reading of the poems will be accompanied by theological reflections, music, and a remembrance of those from Bangor who died during the war.

More details will follow closer to the event. For now, please mark your calendars; this event promises to be moving in the same way Richard Blanco’s appearance at this year’s MLK celebration was and, as with that event, we hope to welcome many from both inside and outside our parish.

If you have any questions, please speak with me or any member of the Committee on Music and the Arts.

Bruce Mallonee
Chair, Committee on Music and the Arts
Christian Education 2018

We’re making some changes to how we offer faith formation for our children and families. The central goal of our program remains the same, to teach children about the love of Christ by modeling that love and teaching the stories of our faith. Children learn about this love at home, at worship, and in community. Equipping families to help form faith at home is important, and it is also vital to help children to participate and learn the liturgy in an age appropriate way. Children need opportunities to question and to respond, both verbally and through art or other forms of expression. This year we will be offering our elementary children’s faith formation in three integrated parts:
 
An age appropriate Liturgy of the Word
Children will leave church after the Gospel, and will participate in an age appropriate time of story, discussion and prayer. They will rejoin the worship at the time of the Peace. The service bags and Children’s Corner will have a greater selection of items to help children to participate in and respond to the liturgy in a developmentally appropriate way.

A time to respond
At coffee hour, we will offer activities corresponding to the lesson and to the season of the church year. Children will be invited to respond, and to share their response with parents, families, and other members of the church family. Take home materials will be available (particularly for busy families who need to leave directly after the service), as well as suggestions and regular contact around faith formation at home.
 
Outreach
We will be increasing opportunities for children and families to participate in outreach in meaningful ways. This will involve regular opportunities to help at Second Saturday, visits to our homebound members, and projects in our local and larger communities. Several opportunities will be offered each semester outside of the Sunday morning time in hopes of reaching families with complicated schedules.
 
Our preschool children will continue to participate in the Wigglers group, although we will likely have some Sundays that we do an all-ages group (with nursery available as needed for littles). Youth Sundays will remain similar in terms of structure and children’s involvement.
Logistically, children will gather at the lectern during the Gospel hymn and process out after the Gospel is proclaimed. They will pray and hear a story in either the chapel or the Undercroft, depending on what is planned. They will return to church at the time of the Peace as we have traditionally done. Children will be able to participate in both the choir and Christian education if desired, and teachers will be able to participate more fully in the service and also in leadership roles as desired. Curriculum will be thematic, focused around liturgical season, and drawn from a variety of sources, some new and some we have used before. A detailed description of curriculum and stories planned for the year is available.
Adult Education & Formation : 2018 - 2019

There’s a new structure to Adult Education & Formation at St John’s. There will be three terms within the adult education year: Back to Basics (fall), Love of God (winter), and Love of Neighbor (spring). This new structure is meant to enhance the ability of parishioners to anticipate and plan for the varying types of programming offered throughout the year. Each term will have a particular focus but yet you’ll find that these foci will not be overly confining in regard to what’s offered. How, for instance, are we to confine growing in the love of God to one type of book, video, or meeting? Or to one time frame?

A benefit to the new three term structure is that you will always be able to anticipate some types of programming occurring at about the same time each year. A prime example of this is our very first class in which we’ll be reading the Gospel of Luke together as a parish. You will be able to count on a similar class every fall. The book we’ll be using this time, A Journey with Luke , is part of a series by the same editor, with a book for each gospel, as well as the Book of Acts . Many people find that Scripture study is quite addictive, so while we anticipate reading the gospels and Acts as a cycle, meaning we’d be rereading Luke in another five years, we anticipate growing interest in studying more of the Bible, either together as a parish or within small groups. 

The following is a bare bones listing of what’s being offered this year. You’ll find more details, such as times and places, in the Adult Education & Formation brochure. As each event draws nearer, even more information will be found in the weekly bulletin and This Week at St John’s . But for now, please look down through the list and note any that especially interest you. We believe that you’ll find some topics quite intriguing. 

The title BACK TO BASICS (fall through Advent) speaks to its primary content: Scripture study will be its outstanding feature, as well as Anglican identity, and other basic Christian education.
  • 1st Annual 50 Day Bible Challenge: The Gospel of Luke, Sep 30 - Nov18
  • Hearts & Hands: Peaceful Contemplation of the Season, Sundays in Advent
  • Book Discussion: Who Needs God, by Rabbi Harold Kushner, December

LOVE OF GOD (Epiphany through Lent), focused on growing in the knowledge and love of God, and personal and corporate spirituality.
  • Book discussion: Good News of Jesus, by L. William Countryman, February
  • The Buddha (video & discussion), March
  • Introduction to Islam, March
  • Inquirers Group, Sundays in Lent

LOVE OF NEIGHBOR (Easter through Pentecost): growing in discipleship through widening and deepening of definitions of “neighbor.”
  • Book discussion: Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence, by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, April
  • Book discussion: Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race, by Debby Irving, May

There will also be two Quiet Times: The Music of Thomas Tallis on December 18, and an evening of Lenten Reflections on April 17.

During Lent, there will be four opportunities to explore spiritual disciplines as possible enhancements to your prayer life: Ignatian meditation, Centering Prayer, chanting the Psalms, and praying with beads.

Finally, there are two “going deeper” groups forming here at St John’s:
  • Spiritual Discernment, learning to listen to the Holy Spirit in helping others discern God’s will for them
  • The Jesus Movement, St John’s Chapter, a discipleship group offering mutual spiritual direction and sponsoring occasional events for the parish.
St. John's Episcopal Church | 207-947-0156 | stjohnsbangor.org