Dear St. John’s community,
I have good news to share with you. The fence around St. John’s is coming down today.
As you will remember, last summer the city erected fencing to protect the church. Over the ensuing months our neighborhood experienced many ups and downs, and while the fencing did provide a measure of security, I have never grown used to seeing a fence around St. John’s.
For more than two hundred years St. John’s has been a steady witness to welcome and grace in Washington. As the fence comes down, we will be thinking of ways to both attend to the security of the church’s campus in thoughtful ways while also making our space even more useful and inviting.
We are blessed to be working now with OLIN Studio to develop a long-range comprehensive plan to enhance safety while also making the physical presence of St. John’s reflect a spirit of welcome and service. We look forward to sharing more details of this plan as it develops. OLIN has a stellar reputation; we know that the opportunity to enhance the exterior space of St. John’s is inspiring to them.
Once the fence is removed, the plywood over our stained-glass windows will be taken down. Removing the plywood covers is more difficult than putting them up, so the project will take some time. We expect to have all the windows around the church unboarded by Palm Sunday, while those over the Parish House may take a little longer. The beautiful and inspiring paintings by the artists of P.A.I.N.T.S. Institute that cover some of these plywood boards have been a treasure to us and our neighborhood, sending a message calling for love, healing and justice, and upholding the truth that black lives matter. Many of these will be donated to the Smithsonian.
Although a barrier has been around our buildings for several months, we have been at our best when we have gotten out in front of it so much as we have. I am thankful that despite the challenges, we have found many ways to overcome the obstacles we have faced during this past year. We have built new relationships in our local community, and we have extended our spiritual and worship offerings through technology. In fact, in many ways, we have become a church without walls.
This past year has been a formative time for us, and I pray it equips us for opportunities that God has in store for us in the years ahead.