From the Priest in Charge

for September 2023

This month, I am continuing a series of articles for newcomers explaining worship in the Episcopal Church and, in particular, at St. John Divine. This month, using a drawing from our Verger, Aubrey Thompson, I will explain a pattern for receiving Holy Communion at the Second Service on Sunday mornings. (The first service is different because only one priest is present and the evening service is different due to individuals receiving who are on walkers and in wheelchairs).

As you come from the parish hall (outside the main worship space) you have come to your seat in the Nave for the first part of the service.

When the invitation to come forward is given, you come, in single file to the Celebrant (A) to receive the consecrated bread. At this point, you can move right or left, (1 and 2) or (3 and 4), whichever is making it more convenient to return to your seat. Both turns allow you to receive from the Common Cup or, if you prefer, receive intinction before returning to your seat or proceeding to one of the prayer stations on either side. 

(continued next issue)

Father Lee

Congregation of St. John Divine Church

August 7th, 2023

We were asked by Fr. Lee to share with you about an exciting change and opportunity that has taken place for Gerry. A little over 2 months ago, Bishop Doug Scharf met with her and asked Gerry to take on an appointment as Lay Pastor at our former church, Church of the Holy Spirit in Osprey. We first began attending CHS in 1994, and subsequently served there in a number of roles for 17 years: as the administrator and coordinator of the healing ministry (Gerry) and as worship leader for their worship team (Scott). In 2014, we moved to Salt Spring Island in British Columbia for three years and served there as interim pastors of Community Gospel Chapel.

We have been attending St. John Divine Church for almost four years. We started attending here when Scott came on staff as the Praise Band Leader for SJD.  

Church of the Holy Spirit in Osprey is currently without a rector and has been preparing for their search for a new rector. Bishop Doug wants to provide some needed support to this congregation for the next year. As Lay Pastor, Gerry will provide pastoral oversight and care of the congregation and will assist them with organization, strategic planning, stewardship, and leadership development.

This all happened in a short time and required the approval of the Diocesan Commission on Ministry before any announcement could be made to CHS, to SJD, and to others. This approval came only a few weeks ago and was just before we were to be away for vacation.  

We met with Fr. Lee on 8/1 to share this with him as it impacts our continued involvement with SJD and all of you. Gerry began as Lay Pastor at CHS on August 1st per the Bishop’s request. With this short timeframe, she did not have the chance to speak to the church here in person or say goodbye. Instead, a letter she wrote was read at the Sunday morning service on 8/6.

Our agreement with Fr. Lee is that Scott will continue leading the praise band on Sundays until a replacement is found or other decisions are made about the worship team, but no longer than the end of September. After that, we will attend CHS together.

We are grateful for the opportunities that we have had to serve here at SJD and for the friendships we have made over these past four years. You are a very welcoming church community. As our time with you is coming to a close, due to our calling to CHS, we do look forward to those times we will see you at various future events.  

Know that we are in prayer for St. John Divine Church and the rector search and we ask your prayers as well for this new season in our lives. 

God bless you all.

Scott and Gerry Gardner

Do you know of someone who would like prayer


Would you like to be a part of our Prayer Team?


Barb Gingrich at 813-633-5649 or


Val Bryant at 813-352-1207 or

Rector Search Updates

Members Of the Search Committee include: Jean Brown, Michael Carrano, Barbara Gentry, Barbara Gingrich, D.J. Holt, Susan Morgan, Natasha Nowak-Palma, Aubrey Thompson, Sharon Van Loan and Katie Arp as the Vestry Liaison

You may not know why, several months ago, a brief prayer for our Vestry was inserted at the beginning of the Prayers of the People. It was added when we embarked on our search process. It seeks guidance for the Vestry as they manage the search process and ultimately make a decision about who to call as our next rector, based on our Search Committee’s recommendation.


Currently the Vestry is adding final touches to the documents we will send to the diocese to make available to potential candidates. They include information from our parish-wide survey, as well as historical, programmatic and demographic information about us and our surrounding areas.


An executive summary of the results of the survey is being prepared for members of the congregation and will be available shortly.


Don Fisher, Senior Warden

Rector Search Video Updates

New Rector Call Status 3:

New Rector Call Status 2:

New Rector Call Status 1:

From the Desk of the Jr Warden

It's been a long hot summer and fortunately our AC units have been able to keep with 3 units working and one still to be commissioned.

It has been a struggle with delivery of the new unit but for the most part it is installed and we are waiting on some last minute parts to be received until we are able to turn it on.

I hope you have all noticed how the grounds are looking thanks to John Gentry who is always doing something to help out while his wife Barbara is working in the jewelry shop. Thank you John and Barbara.

We are working on removing a few dead trees and branches that may cause a problem and should be done in a week or so.

All in all I think we are in pretty good shape but if you see something that needs attention please fill out the form which is in the office and we will see it gets done.  

Welcome back to our northern friends who have returned or will be returning soon.



Steve Van Loan

Jr. Warden

Birthday Celebration

Everyone enjoyed Aubrey’s 75th! Yummy chocolate fudge cake, a champagne/mimosa bar and lots of well wishes from the congregation.

The kitchen carried out all of Clare’s instructions for a fun event. Aubrey is the perfect verger and we are all very lucky to have the Thompsons as part of our Church family.

Cheers Aubrey!

Ramblings of an Over-Caffeinated, Sleep Deprived, Child Rearing, Millennial:

Goodbye Gardners


Hello everyone! Like many of you, I’m feeling bittersweet about Scott & Gerry Gardener’s announcement. I am very excited for Gerry’s new position as Lay Pastor with Church of the Holy Spirit Osprey (CHS) and pray for their success and future. We are going to miss her at SJD with all she does here. If you’ve read my articles before, Gerry has been an amazing AV Volunteer and she will be missed. She also served as a Lector, Prayer Minister, or whatever was needed by the congregation. SJD is going to feel this loss, but we know CHS is getting the best there is.

Now, about Scott. Before I was hired at SJD, I was a volunteer in the Praise Band. Prior to moving to Florida, I would help in the band under Howard Roshaven when visiting my parents. After moving to Florida, Scott was running the band. Scott and the praise band was one of my first experiences serving at SJD. He was always a joy to work with and I have always loved his approach to music. It truly brought me to SJD and connected me to this church.

Scott & Gerry are two of the best people I know. They were and are so kind to me, my family, to everyone I’ve seen them with, and to SJD. These are two people who keep SJD running, through their service and compassion. Thank you Gardners for everything you do and have done. You both will be missed.

Thank you all for your support,

Tristan M. Warner

Media & Tech Specialist 

Show and Tell

Icannot  count the number of times that parishioners have approached me before and after the service, enquiring who and what is a Verger. Here is the Tell of the Verger. The motto of the Verger is: “Service through Worship and Worship through Service.” A verger is a specialized form of Sacristan; therefore, a biblical origin for their office can be found in those members of the Priestly Tribe of Levi set aside by King David and the prophet Samuel. The office of Verger has its roots in the earliest days of the Church’s history, and it shares certain similarities with the former minor orders of “porter and ‘acolyte.” Vergers were responsible for the order and upkeep of the house of worship, including preparations for liturgy, the conduct of the laity, and many other duties in the church. In medieval times,  the Verger was the Protector of the Procession. The Verger escorted the procession as it moved from the Vestry around the church or cathedral and through the front doors. The Verger at SJD is a Fellow and member of the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church. To attain such a title, he is required to sit and pass an examination given by the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church. He/she works under the direction of the Rector, Vicar or Priest in Charge to assist with the organization and operation of worship services. In addition to escorting (not leading) the procession, the Verger is responsible for scheduling the Eucharistic Ministers and Lectors and arranging for the certification of the EM’s. The Verger prepares the Customaries dealing with most Liturgical events like the Bishop’s Visitation. He also interfaces with Altar Guild to ensure that any given service is coordinated. The Verger records and distributes the weekly Staff Meeting minutes. The job of the Verger calls for an ability to see the big picture of a complicated event, while also being attentive to the tiniest details, and being able to quickly and quietly fix whatever problem crops up without warning.

Now for the show: The attire of the Verger consists of a red and black velvet chimere over a white alb. Adorning the chimere under the right breast (A) is the seal crest signifying a Fellow of the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church. Under the left breast (B), is the seal crest of the Episcopal Church. Holding the chimere front together (C) is a pewter morse. As a symbol of the office, the Verger always has a Virge (D) (Staff) when in procession. At the top of the Virge (E)  the Final could either be Basic, Canterbury or Fellow. The Final indicates whether the Verger is a Fellow or not. The last piece of jewelry is the Veger’s Cross (F) sometimes it is suspended on a golden chain or on a red ribbon.

This concludes the show and tell. I hope I have answered a few of your burning questions. If there are still unanswered ones, please do seek me out either before or after the church service on Sunday.

In God's Grace and Peace,

Aubrey V. Thompson

Head Verger

Divine Jewelry Shoppe

We have an idea for you. How about some early Fall cleaning, getting rid of things like jewelry you know you’ll probably never wear again? We could sure use it at the shop. During the five months we have been open, we received wonderful jewelry, but donations have slowed down, and we are asking again for you to see what you can contribute to Divine Jewelry. We accept costume and/or real jewelry. At this time of year, we would also welcome Christmas items or New Years glitzy items. The best time to drop off is Sunday morning in the Parish Hall. Just look for Barbara or Jackie. If you would rather, you can drop off at the office Mon-Thurs 9 to 12. If you have a good amount to donate but cannot get out of the house, one of us will come get it as long as you are in SCC area. Last but not least, we ask for your help in spreading the news to neighbors and friends that we are open every Wednesday 9 to 12. Let your hairdresser know, they are always a good resource. In the meantime, thanks again for your support. The shop is taking a short break Sunday Sept 10th AND Wednesday Sept 6th and 13th

We sincerely appreciate your help with this Church Fundraiser.

Barbara & Jackie



Grief is the internal meaning given to the experience of loss. Mourning is when you take the grief you have on the inside and express it outside yourself. Another way of defining mourning is “grief gone public” or “the outward expression of grief.” 

As people, we may experience any number of losses throughout our lives, including the deaths of people close to us. Not all of these losses will have the same impact on us. Different losses will prompt different types of grief and mourning. Losing a pickleball game will elicit a different kind of mourning than being unable to continue competing due to an injury or losing the ability to ever play pickleball again. Similarly, losing someone to a sudden, unexpected death often results in a different grieving experience than losing someone to an anticipated death (i.e., terminal illness).


Grief is often associated with a few distinct emotions, like sadness, depression and anger. However, mourning usually involves a huge range of emotions. It can encompass many emotions including anger, sadness, guilt, irritability, resentment, relief, helplessness, and disbelief. Any of these emotions may happen alone or simultaneously. Grieving and mourning are unique to each person.


Even when processing the same event, people have diverse personal, and spiritual factors that will influence how they grieve and ultimate mourn. There is no “right” way to do either. There is no instruction list to grieve; there is no menu for mourning. Whatever your feelings, they are valid.

While grief may affect you psychologically, it is more than just what happens to your emotions. You may notice all aspects of yourself including mind, body, and spirit are impacted by your grief. This could look like changes to your sleeping or eating, energy levels, or your ability to focus. Remember, everyone grieves differently, and nothing is wrong with you for how you mourn. There is also no correct timeframe for either.

Nevertheless, sometimes people need more support than their friends and family can provide. If your grief is interfering with your ability to complete daily activities, you feel numb or detached for more than a few weeks, or want assistance in processing your feelings, consider asking for additional help.

The Grief Support Group at Saint John Divine offers more than just discussions for those who have lost someone. Grief is a natural process. It isn't a disorder or an illness. You may be grieving about anything you've lost, whether it's a loved one or a job or something that had meaning for you.

We meet every month on the 2nd and 4th Mondays at 10:00 AM in the Dons Room in the Banner building. When you feel the need, we can be there for you.

Flower Guild

Tap Into Your Talent


Summer is a time to try something new! The Flower Guild challenges you to tap into your creative side and put it to good use, arranging flowers for

The House of the Lord.


In her book, The Church Ladies' Guide to Divine Flower Arrangements, nationally renowned flower arranging expert Gay Estes offers the following prayer: 



PLEASE don't let my flowers wilt,

my lilies stain the vestments

or my vase leak.

LET my arrangements neither fall,

nor catch fire from the candles.



 Although written with humor, the prayer expresses real thoughts of a church flower arranger. In addition, there is the desire to give life to surroundings in a church service, to create harmony between wood-and-glass and the congregation. Flowers enhance the beauty of a service and remind us of God's

promises and blessings.


Much thanks goes to current Flower Guild Members: Sharon Bakay, Marcel Butts, Sharon Pappas, Janice Robinson, Kathy Thomas, and Clare Thompson, with an occasional assist from Barbara Pfeil or Joyce Fisher. They invite you to join them and let your talents bloom for all to see!


 Yoniece Miller

 Flower Guild Director

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.

As the city population increased, the number of houses of worship eventually grew to eight, 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.

Educational Institutions

Scholarship Committee

The ISAC sponsors competitive college and university scholarships for graduating students from East Bay and Lennard High Schools. This year we will be adding Sunmer 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.

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.


Find Purpose and Friends at Nearly New

Our volunteers, caring donors and faithful customers help us promote funds to support our houses of worship food pantries, essential needs, and other programs, and local nonprofits including SCC Emergency Squad, Security Patrol and other social service programs. We provide college scholarships to local graduating high school students and other adults and award Grants to local not-for-profits.

Our volunteers are INVALUABLE to us. Without them and their many talents and skills, The Nearly New Shop would not exist.

More information and applications will be available on a table in the Fellowship Hall.

Members representing SJD on the Interfaith Social Action Council are Chėr Cerebe, Linda Floyd, Linda Justin and Nancy Sealy.

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

Thanks and Blessings,



The bishop will be here to consecrate our Healing Center on Wednesday September 13th at 6:00 p.m.

The entire congregation is excited about this special ministry and we pray for its success.

If you wish to give online, please scan or click the QR Code


Barbara Sirois - 9/1

Connie Keister - 9/2

Jim Ray - 9/3

Jon Bronson - 9/3

Jack Phillips - 9/4

Deb Risner - 9/4

Tyra Dambacher - 9/5

James Moore - 9/8

Carol Fahnestock - 9/9

Linda Jeker - 9/10

Judy Flaherty - 9/12

Vincent Robbio - 9/13

Barbara Baker - 9/15

Joyce Fisher - 9/15

Connie Minnoe - 9/16

Cindy Watson - 9/17

Sandi Gaudet - 9/18

Sharon Pappas - 9/18

Pat Soja - 9/19

Clare Thompson - 9/21

Nancy Sealy - 9/21

Mary Arendt - 9/23

Edward Brown - 9/23

Pauline Andrews - 9/23

Linda Floyd - 9/23

Walter Croll - 9/24

Mary K Merrill - 9/26

Harry Benter - 9/27

Colton Garis - 9/28


Lee & Yoniece Miller - 9/1

J. Morris & Joy Johnson - 9/11

Dick & Alyson Barrett - 9/14

Don & Joyce Fisher - 9/22

Trevor & Lisa Watson - 9/23


 Don Fisher -- Sr. Warden, Steve Van Loan -- Jr. Warden,

Val Bryant -- Clerk, Thomas Kramer -- Treasurer

Marianne Strehar, Linda Duhn, Mary Lane Kullmann,

Doug Roderick, Clare Thompson, Jackie Winder,

Dennis Accardo, Katie Arp

Clergy and Staff

The Rt. Rev. Douglas F. Scharf 

Bishop of the Diocese of Southwest Florida

The Rev. Lee Miller - Priest in Charge

The Rev. Carl Buxo - Assisting Priest

Scott Gardner - Praise Leader; Valerie Southwell - Music Director

Connie Minnoe - Accounting Administrator; Cheryl Savini - Receptionist

Tristan Warner - Media & Tech Specialist

Vivian Smalls - Nursery Coordinator; Denise Smalls - Nursery Attendants

St. John Divine Episcopal Church

1015 E. Del Webb Blvd. Sun City Center, FL 33573


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