Week of April 25-May 1, 2022 | Vol. 81 Issue 17

As Spiritual Immigrants, We Cannot Settle

by Dennis Foust, Senior Minister

The people of God are never called to settle. We are called to go. We are called to be spiritual immigrants.

Tracing the story of God’s people throughout biblical literature and the past two-thousand years reveals a continual journey. When Abraham (Abram) left Haran, it was because the Lord said, “Go.” Abraham was continuing a journey which had been started by his father, Terah. Each person is continuing a journey of previous generations. As the people of God, we are never called to settle. God calls us to go while pursuing a promise and a vision.

You find the story of Terah and Abram in Genesis 11 and 12. Terah left Ur of the Chaldeans to go toward the land of Canaan. However, when he came to Haran, he settled there. Then, after Terah died, Abram heard the calling of God saying, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land I will show you.” Wouldn’t you have enjoyed hearing the conversation between Abram and Sarai when he told her they were going to rent a U-Haul truck and move to an unknown land which the Lord would show them? That land was Canaan, the same land Terah had pursued before he chose to be a settler.

From Abraham’s departure of Haran, to the Hebrews fleeing slavery in Egypt, to the Israelites returning to rebuild Jerusalem after Babylonian captivity, the people of God were on the move. From the infant Jesus whose parents became refugees in Egypt, to the disciples following Jesus along Galilean shores and scattering to spread the good news of the risen Jesus to various nations, to the early Church carrying Jesus’ message of compassion across various boundaries, the people of God never settled.

This weekend, we welcome Karen Gonzalez, author of The God Who Sees: Immigrants, the Bible and the Journey to Belong. Karen knows walking with God is an ongoing journey. She has learned that what we must all learn; following Jesus is never a call to settle. Walking with God and following Jesus require movement.

As we learn from Karen this weekend, please know that I will be praying for you. I will be praying for you to walk with God more closely and follow Jesus more devotedly. As you live in this world that over values being settled, I will be praying for you to renew your journey to live as spiritual immigrants.

I am exceedingly grateful to our Immigrant Refugee Ministry Group (IRMG), chaired by Beverly Hester. Others serving through this group are: Tom Blackmon, Anna Cushman, Nancy Fuller, Ashley Hogewood, Wanny Hogewood, James Laney, Nina Phillips, Barbara Schafer, Dick Schafer, and Keith Towery. They have coordinated Karen’s visit and deserve our full support. Beyond this weekend, this group will continue to help us minister to immigrants and refugees offering relational support and encouragement. They have written an excellent study guide that can be used by Sunday School small groups in the months ahead.

We know that life is interrupted for many people by the thoughtless, selfish, and mean-spirited acts of others. For some people, like residents of Ukraine, the life they plan is extinguished by a situation beyond their control. We were reminded of this reality more than twenty years ago when almost 50 Lost Boys and other refugees from South Sudan became part of our church family. We became aware of this reality again a few years ago when immigrants from Sierra Leone and Liberia became part of our church family. We know that lives can be uprooted, carried by winds of change, and finally begin anew upon soil that is altogether unfamiliar. Every day, more than 30,000 persons become refugees due to violence or persecution. This is 20 persons every minute with 9 of these being children.

Beloved, as we continue to walk with God and follow Jesus, we will always be on the move. We are on a journey of discipleship. We are spiritual immigrants obeying the one who calls to us, “Come, follow me.” “Come, learn of me.” “Go, teach all people.” We cannot settle!

What are you doing this Saturday night?

You've heard the news about Karen González in this very newsletter and the Sunday worship bulletin for the past few weeks. The time is here!

This Saturday evening, April 30, at 6PM, St. John's welcomes Rev. Karen González for a lecture on her book, The God Who Sees: Immigrants, the Bible, and the Journey to Belong. 

Her book weaves together her own immigration story and those of other immigrants with stories of immigrants in the Bible. Karen has lived the experience of being an immigrant, having arrived with her family in this country from Guatemala at the age of 9. She is a sought-after speaker who has written about and presented on a variety of topics, including spiritual formation, Latinx identity, race and culture, women in the church, the Enneagram, and immigration. 

Grab an early dinner out and join us! The evening will begin with a reception, followed by Karen’s talk at 6:30PM, Q & A, and a book signing. 

The event will be held in Broach Hall. Parking can be accessed via Hawthorne Lane or 5th Street.

Tickets for the April 30 event are only $10 and can be purchased through Eventbrite by clicking the button below.

González Tickets

Jazz Mass on May 21

On May 21 at 7PM the St. John's Sanctuary will be filled with singers and musicians from across the country, raising their voices to sing the traditional mass set to the Jazz music, composed by our own James Kevin Gray and Rick Bean.

The choir will be led by Maestro Sonja Sepulveda, a nationally known and loved choral conductor, and will feature soloists Dawn Anthony and Herbert Johnson.

This same group will be joined by several other choirs on June 25 at Carnegie Hall to give this work its New York City debut; but you will have heard it first!

We hope to see you there! There is no cost to attend.

Most of these singers will be coming from other cites and few of them could use housing. If you would be willing to house a singer on Friday May 20, please contact Kevin Gray at kgray@sjcharlotte.org or 803-524-0287

Senior Recognition Sunday

We will celebrate the milestone of high school graduation with our high school seniors during worship on Sunday, May 8!

The youth will sing one song during worship and help lead the congregation in another. Each senior will receive a “St. John’s honor cord” to wear with their graduation gear. These green & white ropes represent their involvement as youth at St. John’s and honor their place in our church community.  


Our St. John’s Seniors are:

  • Abby Adams
  • Scarlett Goodson
  • Wilson Gray
  • Aluel Nyuon
  • Nick Vavra


Please plan to attend worship on this special Sunday as we celebrate our graduates!

Youth Mission Trip to Chicago

St. John’s middle and high school students are invited to serve and learn on our Mission Trip to Chicago June 19-25.

On this trip, we will participate in Experience Mission’s ministry in Chicago and partner with Sunshine Gospel Ministries (through the BridgeBuilders program) for an experiential service-learning opportunity.

The total cost will be $525 per youth.  This will include airfare, meals, and lodging.

Please pay $125 online when you register. You may pay your balance at any time via your Realm account.

Plane tickets will be finalized on Tuesday May 10, so we need you to register by Monday May 9. 

Register through Realm today and be sure to follow all the directions on the registration page on Realm! Click below to register.

Register Here!

Serving a Monthly Meal at Roof Above Men's Shelter


Are you ready to go back?

For 33 years St. John’s served the meal for the Men’s Shelter on the third Friday of each month. 

COVID messed up our record!

However, even during COVID, we provided money for the meal. In recent months, Jim Keesee and Lynn Bishop have been buying the food and delivering it to the shelter. Yet, we have not served the meal in-person since COVID shut us down. 

In recent weeks, we have talked with several people who are willing to serve again. Even our banana pudding preparers are beginning to ask when their next pudding will be needed.

The banana puddings from St. John's are a deeply appreciated dessert by these men at the homeless shelter.

So, here are your mission service opportunities:

  1. Food Gathering & Delivery: Jim and Lynn will continue to buy the food, but we would love to have your help – the food has gotten heavier over the years. 
  2. Serving Dinner: We need 4 servers at the shelter from 5:30 until 7:00 on the third Friday of each month. (You can sign up to serve each month, once a quarter, or twice per year.)

At least 9 banana puddings are needed. Check your schedule and look for a signup soon for May 20.

If you have any questions, Joy Jarrett will be glad to answer. worthjarrett@att.net

Strangers to Neighbors

Refugee 101 Orientation at St. John's

Conditions around the world are resulting in increasing numbers of people fleeing conflict in their homeland. Some of them arrive in Charlotte and become our neighbors. St. John’s is partnering with some of the refugee serving agencies in Charlotte and we are following their guidance in finding ways we can “welcome the strangers” that have come here seeking safety and security and a better way of life.

One of these partner agencies is Refugee Support Services, which offers a variety of services for many of the newcomers who settle in Charlotte. For anyone wishing to have direct contact with the clients served by RSS, participation in their volunteer orientation is required along with a background check. On May 18, at 11:30, the volunteer coordinator at RSS will come to St. John’s to provide the one-hour Refugee 101 orientation session.  


Plan to come to the lounge, bring a sandwich for lunch, and learn the latest about refugees arriving in Charlotte and how we can help extend a welcome to them. Whether you plan to volunteer for direct contact or merely want to find out more about the RSS programs and other ways to support the work of this organization, mark your calendar now and plan to join us for an interesting and informative session! Please email either Nina Phillips (ninacarl@gmail.com) or Beverly Hester (beverlyrhester@earthlink.net) to let us know that you will be there. Thanks!

Available Staff Position

Church Ministry Coordinator

The Personnel Resource Team of St. John’s is receiving applications for a position on our Administrative Staff. The title of this expanded role is Church Ministry Coordinator.

Please click here to see the job posting, which includes full position description and how to apply.

We ask all members and friends of St. John’s to help us spread the news of this open position.

St. John's in War and Peace

From the Heritage Room

The arrival of the decade of the 1940s was eventful with continued debt reduction, which by July, 1942, was paid in full after 20 years of building, growth and faithful stewardship. Yet, St. John’s could not escape the dark clouds of World War II. John Brock, who grew up in St. John’s, said the church faced the war years, “much as all Americans did. It was a time of sacrifice and much prayer. The war started on a Sunday afternoon (December 7, 1941). We were all in shock, and the church was full for evening services that memorable night.” 


Read the rest here!

Prayers, Thanks, and Celebrations

  • Shirley Ballard, Martha Brown, Stan Brown, Kathleen Bumgardner, Caroline Godsey, Tish Philemon, Jerry Stephens, Don Swofford, Dee Turner
  • Sympathy to Becki Vaughn in the passing of her husband, Gerald Vaughn, on April 24
  • The family of Martha Moore expresses appreciation to the church family for your financial gifts presented in her memory.
  • Congratulations to Lia Benton for completing her Master of Divinity at Union Presbyterian Seminary of Charlotte.
  • Congratulations to The Rev. Dr. Amy Chilton who has been elected as pastor of Phillips Memorial Baptist Church of Cranston, Rhode Island.

Financial Ministry Plan Report

  • Week of April 19-25: $7,808
  • Income through April 25: $409,316
  • Annual 2022 Ministry Plan Budget Goal: $1,135,000

Ministers On-Call Schedule

  • April 25-May 1: Dennis Foust
  • May 2-8: Kevin Gray
  • May 9-15: Lee Gray


Staff Contact Information

  • Jenny Godfrey, Administrative Assistant - 704-333-5428, ext. 11
  • 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
  • Jacquelyn McAbee, Church Administrator - 434-579-1177 (cell); 704-333-5428, ext. 20
  • Mallory Brown- 704-477-3349 (cell)

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