(Question 1 was regarding email addresses for the Discernment committee)
2. In approximately one to two sentences, describe the values and goals of your congregatio.
Our congregation's mission is to be one family, called by Christ, to show God’s love, to enrich lives, and to welcome all within and beyond our parish walls.
3. In one to two sentences, describe the key qualities you envision your congregational community embodying under the leadership of this new priest.
Our community will continue to be welcoming and inclusive of all, strive for spiritual growth, and through discipleship grow in the capacity to share the good news of Christ.
4. In three to four paragraphs, please provide a brief history and biography of your congregation. Please consider the following: type, number, and times of weekly services; founding date and key moments in your congregation's history; highlights
of community services your congregation currently offers.
In 1789, Aaron Chew had a vision. He knew that a parish church was needed on this side of the Delaware. He took that vision to many of the heroes he fought with during the Revolutionary War, including George Washington. After talking with them, they were able to catch the vision as well and donated money towards the construction of a new church. That church became St. John’s Church at
the Head of Timber Creek and the first building was erected not far from where the current structure stands. Some of these first visionaries are now buried in our churchyard. The stone church we worship in today is the result of that vision. It has been the “little church on the hill” since 1858. There have been times of growth and times of decline, but through the decades St. John’s remained a
vital part of the village of Chews Landing. The church building was placed on the National Register of Historic Buildings, and the church yard was listed as a National Historic Site in 1980. The Township of Gloucester has absorbed Chews Landing, and the church remains a strong presence of faith, with many members participating in the life of the community. The Rev. Robert E. Sullivan guided St. John’s for 25 years and during that time, the parish hall was renovated, a new pipe organ was installed, air conditioning placed in the Church, and the church pews were refurbished. The pipe organ was installed in 1989 as a Bicentennial gift to the Church
from the parishioners. The air conditioning was gifted during this same time by a parishioner. Most recently, a new piano was gifted by two members of our choir. The 225th Anniversary of our church was celebrated in November 2014 during the ministry of our latest Rector, the Rev. Margaret Sterchi with a gala reception. Her spirit opened the door to a flourishing period of growth. Mother Sterchi
served St. John’s for 10 years prior to her recent retirement. We are an eucharistically centered, broad-based church using the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and 1982 Hymnal. We offer three services. The Saturday, 5:00 PM and Sunday, 8:00 AM services
celebrate Rite I. Rite II is celebrated at the Sunday, 10:00 AM service. This service is blessed with a choir led by our dynamic music and choir director. Sunday school for the children begins at 9:45 AM after which the children join the service following the Peace to participate in Communion with their families.
Our Holy Communion program, to prepare young children to understand and receive Communion, has been recognized by the Diocese, adopted by other congregations, and translated into Spanish. We are involved with the community outside our walls in several ways. We participate in our local township day celebration, we furnish meals and help serve dinner at a local church to feed the homeless, our choir participates in Ecumenical Services twice during the year, and we participate in a National Day of Prayer service with many other churches in the area. Weekly, we collect non-perishable food items to donate to senior citizens in our local community, as well as support a local charitable organization, Unforgotten Haven. It is also customary for our priest to serve as chaplain for the local fire company.
5. What are your congregation's goals for the future? In two to three paragraphs, describe the growth and potential success you envision for your congregation in the next three to five years.
Over the years, we have experienced growth and decline in our membership. Our congregation has experienced a recent decline due in part to the aging, infirmity, or death of several of our members. Our challenge is to increase our numbers and to reach out to visitors to assimilate them into the congregation. We also need to reach out to members who we no longer see at services and events to invite them back into the church. There has been an influx of younger families with children, and we are confident that we can attract additional families. We have a youth ministry with boys and girls serving as acolytes. Some of our teenage members are interested in becoming involved in a youth group to grow in faith.
6. What are your congregation's top five programs? What do you consider the most successful programs that you'd like to see maintained and grown?
Program 1: Preparation of young children for Holy Communion. Our Holy Communion program has been recognized by the Diocese and adopted by several other parishes.
Program 2: Fellowship Activities including: 5K run/walk, Pancake Supper, Spaghetti Dinner, parish picnic, coffee hour, annual pool party, and basket auction.
Program 3: Music Program with choir at 10 AM Sunday service from September through June. The choir also participates in at least two Ecumenical services during the year.
Program 4: Outreach Program serving dinner for the homeless, clothing collection, collecting food for seniors, providing backpacks and school supplies for children.
Program 5: Adult Lenten Program, e.g. with video series, “Who is this Man”, by John Ortberg.
7. How would you describe your congregation's style of worship? What are the values
and tone present in most services? What are you most committed to retaining in
these services moving forward?
St. John’s is a eucharistically centered broad-based church. We have services celebrating both Rite I and Rite II using the Book of Common Prayer and The Hymnal 1982. The 5:00 P.M. Saturday and 8:00 A.M. Sunday are said services, and the Sunday, 10:00 A.M. service is with choir. We have Lay Ministers who conduct Morning Prayer services during the Rector’s absence. Our services are family
oriented and inclusive of all.
8. What immediate and further-reaching challenges stand before your congregation? In three to four paragraphs, describe these challenges and how your congregation has encountered and engaged them in the past, and any plans that are currently in
place to mitigate them in the future.
Our immediate challenge is to maintain our membership as well as to continue our ministry while we are in the process of our call for a new Rector. After the retirement of Fr. Sullivan, who served St. John’s for 25 years, we had a long search for our permanent Rector. From 1998 to 2006, we had three interim priests and a priest in charge before Mother Sterchi answered our call. Through this period, we were able to continue with our regular ministry services. With the beginning of Mother Sterchi’s service in 2006, she opened the door to a
flourishing period of growth and a guiding spirit during times of change within the Episcopal Church.
The physical challenge we face is the aging of our historic buildings and grounds. Routine maintenance is always a financial task. We have had very successful capital campaigns to provide the funding for major repairs and updates to the buildings. We have very dedicated
parishioners who provide their talents and help in maintaining our church buildings and grounds for general upkeep. A second issue is providing access for the handicapped. Due to the historic nature of our buildings, we face challenges in the implementation of providing
access. We continue to explore new avenues and ideas and are committed to find a solution. As with all churches, we are again facing a decrease in attendance at services and membership. It is our hope that with a successful call for a new enthusiastic Rector, we will
together grow our parish through discipleship training; better practices to assimilate visitors into our congregation, reaching out to disenchanted members, improving stewardship and expanding mission opportunities for men and women.
9. What housing arrangements are available for candidates for this call?
There is a modest 1,200 square foot rectory that can house a family of 4. The rectory sits about one half block away from the parish hall on the corner lot. There are three bedrooms, one bath, living room, kitchen, attached office/den, full basement and a one car garage. It has a sizable fenced in backyard.
Questions 10-13 involves detailed financial information regarding St. Johns. We are happy to share this information with applicants prior to the interview process. Please contact us at either at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for this information.