Narrative 1: Describe a moment in your worshipping community’s recent ministry which you recognized as one of success and fulfillment.
Response 1: Two recent programs in our worshipping community served to spread the Good News and demonstrate the love of Jesus. The first was our adult Lenten Program. Here the Gospel was further discussed and shared with a video series, “Who is this Man”, by John Ortberg. It gave rise to new information, views and further understanding, while at the same time allowing for fellowship. The second was our Holy Communion program for Sunday School children. Along with instruction the children participate in worship services and interact with their parish family as well as their own family.The Holy Communion Program is strongly supported by the diocese and used by other parishes and has been translated into Spanish.
Narrative 2: Describe your liturgical style and practice for all types of worship services provided by your community.
Response 2: St. John the Evangelist Church is a Eucharistically centered, broad-based church using the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. We offer 3 services: Saturday 5 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. celebrate Rite I. The Sunday 10 a.m. service is celebrated using Rite II. This service is blessed with a dynamic choir, music/choir director, an organ and piano. Sunday School begins at 9:45 a.m. The children come into the service after the Peace to participate in Communion with their families.
Narrative 3: How do you practice incorporating others into ministry?
Response 3: There are Lay Eucharistic Ministers, acolytes, lay readers, choir members, altar guild members, ushers, Sunday School teachers, building and grounds maintenance, vestry members and wardens. We are blessed with a very active and dedicated ECW. Our core “culinary” specialists prepare food for our fundraising and fellowship events. All of whom engage in the work of serving Christ through their ministry. St. John the Evangelist is open to new ideas whether it be for worship, fundraising or normal operations of the parish. We invite visitors to fill out newcomer cards in the pews and join us for coffee hour. During our annual stewardship pledge, we not only request the amount of treasure people can give but include a list of ministries people can indicate they would like to be a part of.
Narrative 4: As a worshipping community, how do you care for your spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being?
Response 4: We promote spiritual growth both during and outside the regular services. Homilies tie together scripture readings, give historical background and relate them to current day.The Prayers of the People are personalized and expanded to include the sick, the needy, servicemen and first responders who are also listed weekly in the Church bulletin. Birthdays, anniversaries and any other special milestone are recognized and blessed. Eucharistic Visitors take Communion to the homebound and the Rector makes home visits. Sunday School and Adult Education also enrich our spiritual growth. Our coffee hour, Parish Picnic, Choir, ECW, Spaghetti Dinner and a Parish Pool Party promote emotional well-being and foster wonderful fellowship. Physical well-being has been encouraged through the 5K run/1 mile walk which also serves as a fundraiser, and we anticipate adding strength and conditioning classes.
Narrative 5: Describe your worshipping community’s involvement in either the wider church or geographical region.
Response 5: We are involved with the community outside our walls. We participate with a booth in our local township day with displays to show who we are. Once a quarter we furnish and serve dinner at St. Paul’s Church, Camden. Our choir participates in Ecumenical Services at least twice during the year. We participate in a National Day of Prayer service at our township building with many other churches in the area. On a weekly basis we collect non-perishable food items to donate to senior citizens also in our local community. It has been customary for our priest to serve as chaplain for the local fire company. We are fully committed to fund our minimum marks of mission giving annually.
Narrative 6: How do you engage in pastoral care for those beyond your worshipping community?
Response 6: Prayer is an important and powerful means of our outreach. We pray for all those in need listing them in our weekly bulletin to enable parishioners to continue to pray for them at home. The Rector and Lay Eucharistic Visitors serve those who are unable to attend weekly services. Each September, we supply backpacks filled with school supplies for needy children, donate food for a local senior food bank, and contribute to a local charitable organization to help needy people and animals. We also support the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund.
Narrative 7: Tell about a ministry that your worshipping community has initiated in the past five years.
Response 7: Who can be contacted about this? We recently have initiated “Noisy Sunday” which is a second collection on the last Sunday of the month. The name Noisy Sunday is derived from asking parishioners to donate the change in their pockets. From these donations, half goes to a local charity, Unforgotten Haven, that assists families and animals in need. The other half is donated to the clergy discretionary fund. In addition to furnishing aid, it does raise awareness of those in need locally, outside our worshipping community.
Narrative 8: How are you preparing yourselves for the Church of the future?
Response 8: Our congregation is working to improve our website and reach out through social media. At a time where attendance is dwindling, especially among the younger community, it is difficult to reach and keep people engaged. Our parish is currently working on what might be done to better serve and interact with the community, to “seek and serve Christ in all persons.”
Narrative 9: What is your practice of stewardship and how does it shape the life of your worshipping community?
Response 9: We have presented the message of Stewardship to our congregation in several ways. Each fall, we begin the Annual Campaign with our Estimate of Giving letter sent to each family that includes an Estimate of Giving form for monetary contributions, time and talent. Aside from the annual campaign, the Stewardship committee has focused on year-round stewardship with programs discussing time, talent and treasure as stewardship and discipleship. We’ve included a Stewardship Corner article in our quarterly newsletter to highlight stewardship events. Canon Phyllis Jones also presented a Stewardship program to our congregation and discussed Planned Giving, Special Gifts and Legacy Gifts. Previously, we ran a successful Capital Campaign to raise funds to install air conditioning in our Parish Hall.
Narrative 10: What is your worshipping community’s experience of conflict and how have you addressed it?
Response 10: There is a set process for conflict resolution. When conflict arises, the Senior Warden (Rector’s Warden) and Junior Warden (People’s Warden), as appropriate, are apprised of the situation. The Warden(s) then insure that there is good communication with both parties. If needed, the Warden(s) may ask the vestry for their input on the situation. Hopefully, after thorough discussion and exchange of ideas, a compromise can be reached to insure that both parties are satisfied, so that no harmful feelings remain. We have not experienced conflict often, but when it arises, our process for resolution serves us well.
Narrative 11: What is your experience leading/addressing change in the church? When has it gone well? When has it gone poorly? And what did you learn?
Response 11: With the calling of Mother Margaret in 2007 it was the first time St. John’s had a female rector. For many parishioners, this was untraditional and met with reservation. Through the years her warmth and caring in administering to our spiritual and emotional needs endeared her to our church community. This allowed us to open our Eucharistic Ministry and Acolytes to females. We learned through this experience to be open minded and allow change, as changes to long standing traditions and practices require careful planning, discussion, and patience.
Narrative 12: Provide words describing the gifts and skills essential to future leaders of your worshipping community.
Response 12: Make scripture relevant, enthusiastic, fresh vision, involve youth