Print This Notice Print This Notice

From the Rector

Dear Friends,

This past week was All Saints Day. I buried my beloved Grandfather on 11/1/89 and I always remember him with great love and esteem at this time of year. This year I have also been thinking about all the Saints I have encountered here at the ONE St. John’s over the past eleven plus years.

We can all make a list of the Saints of St. John’s who have passed before us into God’s tender care and keeping. Some of these wonderful people attended worship until the end of their lives. Most however, did not. Not because they didn’t want to be here, but because our beautiful Sanctuary became inaccessible to them. The stairs, the steep grade in both the front and the back, the heavy doors, the worry that their walker or wheelchair would be in the way or in the aisle, the fear of not being able to reach and use a bathroom easily and quickly from our worship space, all conspired to exclude these Saints from the comfort and sustenance of attending church at a time in their life when they most needed worship, community, fellowship, and the Sacrament.

Your Vestry has been watching these challenges unfold. Too many of our distinguished elders have struggled and are struggling to get into the building. This year we entered into a serious and hopeful conversation about what we would need to do to make our space accessible to ALL who wish to enter, regardless of age, infirmity, handicap, or illness. Because we take Jesus’ imperative of radical hospitality seriously at St. John’s, this is a plan to more fully include the most vulnerable members of our parish as well as potential visitors and attendees at funerals, etc. The letter below, from Committee Chair Elaine Anderson, shares some initial information. We will share a fully developed plan and cost estimates at the Annual Meeting. This project will be voted on at an all-parish meeting a few weeks after the Annual Meeting.

The Vestry has undertaken this work prayerfully with great intention and deliberation. We are not rushing into anything. No commitments have been made. We have retained an architect with deep experience in working with houses of worship and community buildings to guide us. We are deeply excited by the possibilities for the good people of St. John’s. Elaine Anderson came up with a brilliant name for this exploration and project: ACCESS or All Can Comfortably Enter Sacred Space. The space, the worship, the community we share is indeed sacred and we hope to make that sacred experience more fully inclusive and accessible for all our parishioners and visitors.

Throughout this process of learning, listening, exploring, imagining, and dreaming, God has been with us. The coming calendar year 2020 will be the 165th year of a worshipping community at St. John’s. We have SO much to celebrate and for which to give thanks to God. May we be propelled forward by the love, faith, and dedication of all the Saints, that vast crowd of heavenly witnesses, and the grace of our Lord Jesus. With a full and thankful heart, Virginia

St. John’s Parish ACCESS Committee, November 2019

Earlier this year the Vestry authorized the formation of a subcommittee to explore ways to enhance the accessibility of the parish grounds and buildings. The members of the committee, named the Parish ACCESS Committee (ACCESS – ALL CAN COMFORTABLY ENTER SACRED SPACE), are Elaine Anderson (Chair), Andy Halpryn (Vice Chair), Cheryl Abbott, Maria Evans (Parish Nurse) and Jim Simon. Adhoc members include the Wardens, Alicia Di Leo and Don Wills, and Facilities Chair Bill Francis.

The Committee has met with local architect Bob Hurd, whose experience and expertise have been invaluable as we explore options to make the St. John’s property a more (physically) welcoming and accessible space. At its November meeting the Vestry has approved a CAPITAL NEEDS ASSESSMENT, which will assess the condition of our church and parish hall and establish priorities for capital expenditures. The Vestry expects to include any anticipated expenditures in an ACCESS recommendation to the parish at the Annual Meeting on January 19.

The Committee has been educated over the course of the summer on the challenges the parish faces because of the unique slope of the property and applicable codes and regulations. Under consideration are improvements in three areas:

The site: 
Regrade both the north and south entrances to the church.
Relocate handicapped spaces within the parking lot.
Regrade of the walks to the upper and lower parish hall.

The church: 
Expand the narthex to include a restroom and to install a three-level lift (lower
parking lot, narthex and undercroft).
Upgrade of restrooms in the undercroft.
Upgrade of the emergency exit from the church
Adapt seating within the church to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers

The parish hall: 
Upgrade entries to both the upper and lower parish hall
Upgrade restrooms.
The Committee members welcome your feedback. Please feel free to contact anyone of us with your questions, comments, ideas, and concerns.

Parish ACCESS Committee
Elaine Anderson 860.604.4125
Andy Halpryn 860.870.7788
Cheryl Abbott 860.872.4311
Maria Evans 860.818.2141
Jim Simon 860.729.5774
Alicia Di Leo 860.794.7357;
Don Wills 860.305.6005
Facilities Chairman
Bill Francis tel:860.836.674

Parish Pearls

Please note that there are time-sensitive attachments with this month’s Epistle.  If you are interested in any of the following, please open the attachments, print them out, and return them as directed to the St. John’s office.

NUT NIGHT, Thursday, November 21st at 6:15 PM. A Pizza, Salad, and Klondike Bars supper will be served. Please bring scoops and scales from home. We will eat dinner first and then pack up the goodies. Come help pack a ton and enjoy some good cheer.

The Gift Card Sale has begun, in two rounds.  Holiday 1 has an order due date of November 17 with delivery on November 24. Holiday 2 has an order due date of December 15 for delivery December 22.  The gift card sale is a great way to do three important things: (1) Contribute to our holiday food ministry by buying gift cards for stores that sell groceries and giving them to Tom Sessions to give to The Cornerstone and Hockanum Valley for distribution to clients in need.  (2) Managing Christmas giving for people for whom it is hard to think what to buy, or to whom your gift needs to be mailed. (3) Supporting the ministry and mission of the parish. If you have questions, please see Bill Francis or Virginia. Light Green order forms are in the Narthex.

Thanksgiving and Christmas Outreach
Gift cards for the needy in our community can be a wonderful way to reach out and spread our caring message.  Gift Cards for clothing would be especially useful for teenagers while some of the elderly might find restaurant gift cards more helpful, and of course grocery cards are always welcome. Remember them when you order gift cards. The Cornerstone can also use financial contributions during the holiday season, preferably in the form of checks made out to The Cornerstone. I will be available after the Sunday services to accept donations or call me for different arrangements.
Tom Sessions (860) 644-5892,

Cookie baking night for the Christmas Bazaar is Thursday December 5 at 5:30 pm (a light supper will be served) and the Bazaar is December 7.  Preparation for the Bazaar and the Bazaar itself is a sign of Christmas for our parish, a wonderful time of fellowship and connection, and soooo essential to our mission! Please jump in and see how you can help!

CHRISTMAS BAZAAR is Saturday, December 7th,  9:00am-2:00pm – We are looking for:  JEWELRY – Ruth Hoffman; BAKED GOODS (sign-up sheet in Narthex) – Betty Ellwood; CHRISTMAS TABLE (holiday themed Items) – Carole Cronsell; STOCKING STUFFER TABLE (kids and adults) – any brand new items  that fit in a stocking (small toys, cosmetics, tools, flashlights, food, candy, candles, kitchen items, pet treats, etc.) – Pat Cleveland; CRAFT ITEMS & BASKET TABLE– Terri Sessions (need medium and large sized baskets, people to make a basket  as well as to donate items to fill them including books, games and puzzles. See Terri for Pre-Orders with a particular theme or $10 grab bag gifts baskets for office parties, etc.   SILENT AUCTION TABLE:  items donated need to have a price list attached with starting prices.  GIFT CARD TREE:  Gift Cards.  Christmas items need to be priced by the donor, please.  There are marked collection boxes in the narthex.  We will have a RE-GIFT TABLE, and are looking for items for this.  Collecting thru November. Questions, please speak to the above chairs or call Carol Fenner 1.239.560.0399 or Terri 860.644.5892.

PREPARATION DATES:  Everyone is welcome (this includes our very helpful men)
Wednesday, December 4th:  6:00 pm to help set up
Thursday, December 5th:  5:30 pm in the kitchen to make Christmas Cookies
(so the cookies don’t get stale)
Thursday, December 5th:  5:30 pm set up continues
Friday, December 6th:  6:00 pm Finish setting up & collecting donations (especially baked goods)

Sunday, December 8th: After both services till noon. We would be grateful for a few volunteers to help the ECW women pack and stack boxes of unsold items back up. Carl and Chris Emery will help find boxes and pack them if that help is desired. They will also take down the tables and chairs and sweep up in an annual act of service to the Sextons and parish.

The ECW will be collecting paper goods for the Cornerstone and the local schools. These items are critically needed by many of our neighbors. These items are often costly, taxed, and are sorely needed by those facing economic challenges. We are collecting toilet paper, sanitary napkins, tampons, diapers, Depends, and baby wipes. There will be a large bin in the lower Narthex from January 5 – March 1.

UNDIE SUNDAY will be on March 1, with donations accepted on March 7 as well. We need underwear and socks for children of all ages. These will be distributed to the school nurses and the shelter if we have enough.

ABOUT THE “S” WORD…   I DO NOT ever cancel worship due to SNOW because I live next door to the sanctuary.  However, I never want any of you to undertake an unsafe trip to church for worship, fellowship, activities or service of any sort. I trust you to use your best judgement and decide accordingly.  And that includes even the days when you may be “ON” to usher or serve on the altar, or to help out in some other specific way. We are always able to Glorify God with the people and the gifts we have in the moment…..even snowy ones.  So please don’t worry about driving in snow if you don’t want to and remember that you won’t see our parish’s name scrolling across the bottom of any TV stations. Virginia

The Vestry was asked about the Parishioner’s Outreach Fund envelopes which were recently in the offertory boxes.  The Parishioner’s Outreach Fund is an internal discretionary fund to aid parishioners/ communicants in paying bills that they cannot afford which are critical to their health and safety. In the past, the Fund has paid for things like heat and electric bills, car repairs, and new tires.  The use of the Fund is always confidential and private. If you need help in any regard, please contact Virginia.


We are trying to save time, energy and phone calls this fall by asking you to sign up in advance for what you will make, bake, and bring to the Christmas Bazaar. Please fill out the check sheet with your name and return the form to Betty Ellwood, or drop the form in the Bake Table Offering Box in the Narthex. We would like all to have the sign up completed by December 1st.  THANK YOU!! 

Please bring items for the Bake sale table Friday December 6th, or before 9:00 am on December 7th.  Cover items with clear wrap and indicate if nuts or peanut butter are included.

  • Pies
  • Cakes Cupcakes
  • Rolls
  • Cookies by the pound (please specify type) _____________________________________________
  • Breads
  • Coffee cakes
  • Bars
  • Specialty cookies
  • Other ______________________________________________________________________________

Your name: ____________________________________________________________________________

We are asking you to send pictures to us at the special email address below, set up by Andy Halpryn.  We are inviting you to take and send pictures of ANYthing that happens here at St. John’s in which you or your family or church family are involved:  fellowship, worship, ministry, celebrations, faith in action.  We can use pictures taken earlier this year or last year, or over the next ten weeks. We need them by January 1st. We will be using them in a fun way at the Annual Meeting on January 19, 2020 and we NEED your help and input!! So get your cameras and smartphones out and ready to capture moments of SPIRIT and LIFE and RELATIONSHIP and LOVE at St. John’s!  Please send the pictures to

We are coming into that time of the year when colds and flu are common.  Please use the disinfectant hand wash which is placed around the church and parish house, especially before coming to Communion and at the time of the Peace. And keep covering your coughs. It is good to share…just not every single little thing!!  ☺


                  Christmas Memorial Flowers:                  
Given By: ____________________________________________________________

Daytime Phone or Cell: ______________________________________________________

In Memory of:  _______________________________________________________________________
Please make checks (minimum amount $25.00) payable to:   St. John’s Episcopal Church.
Please note:  To insure recognition of deceased loved ones in the CHRISTMAS MEMORIAL LISTING, this request form, together with your contribution, MUST BE RECEIVED NO LATER THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2019.    You may mail it to St. John’s at 523 Hartford Turnpike, Vernon CT 06066, bring it to the church office during hours, or put it in Margaret’s drop box.

St. John’s Tree of Life

The St. John’s Tree Of Life, located in the Upper Narthex of the church, is now more than two years old.  And my, my, how it has blossomed and flourished! The Tree was conceived and donated as a sort of visual memory book for the family and friends of St. John’s Parish, providing the opportunity for us to mark important celebrations or life milestones: to express in a permanent, public and attractive way our gratitude for special people and occasions in our lives, and to remember and honor our beloved ones who have passed into God’s nearer care and keeping.  The Tree of Life provides a tangible way to remember and celebrate such events as the birth of a child or grandchild, milestone birthdays, baptisms, confirmations, graduations, engagements, weddings, anniversaries, particular thanksgivings, the passing of a loved one, and many other special life events. The tree has generated well over $20,000 which is being used to help fund our Parishioners’ Outreach Fund, our Capital Reserve Fund and our General Budget expenses.

We are entering into the season of Thanksgiving, followed closely by Advent and Christmas.  This time of the year provokes us to reflect on the healing ways in which God’s redeeming light and love is made incarnate in our relationships with family, friends, and community.  That is, the mystery of our love and connection through the grace of Our Lord Jesus is the spiritual focus of our faith journey through the secular aspects of this time of year, to the holy elements of the season.  The gift of a leaf on our Tree of Life in honor of a person or life event is a lasting way to celebrate those relationships and occasions which make our life whole and joyous, AND, happily, it is a way to support the ministry and mission of St. John’s.  Perhaps the gift of a leaf will be the gift that shows how much someone has meant to you in this season of giving thanks and giving gifts? Order forms are located in the Upper Narthex of the Church. For further information or to place an order, please contact Mary Wilson, 860-872-6607.

St. John’s Tree of Light

Our 5th annual Tree of Light celebration is scheduled for Sunday, December 15th.  There are forms in the Narthex for purchasing lights – $2 each / 3 for $5 / or 6 for $10. A tag is made for the Tree for each and every name that is submitted and I compile and print a list of all the names submitted. I would like to thank everyone for your support in the past years. Because of you, every year has brought in more money than the year before, and last year we broke all records with over $700!
This year, we are donating the money to World Central Kitchen.  WCK is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization devoted to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters. Founded in 2010 by celebrity chef José Andrés, the organization prepared food in Haiti following its devastating earthquake. Its method of operations is to be a first responder and then to collaborate and galvanize solutions with local chefs to solve the problem of hunger, immediately following a disaster.
Here is a sample of their work

  • Puerto Rico: 3.7 million meals after Hurricane Maria
  • Guatemala: 500,000 meals after the Fuego Volcano eruption
  • North Carolina: 300,000 meals after Hurricane Florence
  • Indonesia: 550,000 meals after the earthquake and tsunamis
  • California: 400,000 meals after multiple wildfires
  • Tijuana: 250,000 meals to refugees from Central America
  • Washington, DC: 100,000 meals for Federal employees during the government shutdown
  • Colombia: 670,000 and counting meals for Venezuelan refugees
  • Haiti: Over 13,000 meals to those affected by recent unrest
  • Nebraska and South Dakota: 22,000 meals after severe flooding
  • Mozambique: More than 350,000 meals after Cyclone Idai

We will gather at 5 pm at St. John’s to say a prayer around the Tree of Light and light it for the first time. We will share a potluck dinner of soup, bread, and sweets with Christmas caroling and fellowship. Join us and bring your friends. Even if you can’t join us on Sunday evening, you can still purchase lights in Memory of, To Honor, or to send Holiday Wishes.  There are a stack of name/tag sheets in the Narthex. Please give me or Bethany or Kimmie your completed sheets. Also, please sign up in the Narthex starting November 23 to indicate what you can bring and how many people you are coming with. Thank you, and we hope you will join us for the evening. Linda Borovicka, Bethany and Sid Chanthavisouk, and Kimmie and Dave Farrell.

Diane Gutzmer is in need of blank note cards (NOT birthday, sympathy or get well cards) to send out to the homebound.  Please leave them on the table in the Narthex marked for Diane.  Thank you.

The Senior Luncheon Group, aka the LUNCH BUNCH, continues to meet 10 months of the year, generally on the first Tuesday of the month in the Lower Parish Hall. Folks gather about 11:45 and everyone brings a dish or side to share.  The food and fellowship are always special and YOU are invited, whether you think of yourself as a Senior or Not.  🙂  If you have any questions, please see Diane Gutzmer, Chris Emery, or Virginia.  If ever the weather is inclement and it is questionable if the Sr. Luncheon has been cancelled, please call Diane Gutzmer (860)875-1041.

 January 19, 2020 is the date set for our Annual MeetingWe will have unified worship at 9:00 am.  Afterward the Vestry will provide brunch and we will have our meeting.  The budget will be presented and the financials for 2019 will be briefly summarized.  We will thank departing Vestry members. The ACCESS Committee, aka All Can Comfortably Enter Sacred Space, will present accessibility plans, cost estimates, and answer questions. All Annual Reports from Fellowship, Ministry, Service, and Faith in Action groups of St. John’s MUST be in the office by hard copy or email by January 2nd in order to be included in the printed Annual Report.

Updates from the Environmental Ministry

1. Did you know that your bathroom tissue products might come straight from the beautiful Canadian boreal forests? offers a greener alternative to tissue products we use every day.  The company is based in Australia, and offers:

  • two toilet paper products -one made from bamboo, and one from 100% recycled paper
  • facial tissue, made from bamboo
  • kitchen towels, made from a blend of bamboo and sugarcane.

Lauren has donated some toilet paper and tissues to the parish hall bathrooms, so you may be using them already!
WhoGivesaCrap is not only a company dedicated to making greener products; they also donate 50% of their profits to build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world. As of October 2, 2019, WhoGivesaCrap has donated $490,000 to these causes.
For additional questions, the company has an email contact: 

2.  Did you know that there is a national Episcopal Church (TEC) carbon tracker, at ?  Here is a way all Episcopalians can engage in the stewardship of creation and make our voices, and actions, count.  Climate change is already affecting God’s Creation in California with fires and in the Southeast with floods. Many of the changes associated with a 2 degree rise in temperature are going to be seen at 1.5 degrees, and as early as 2040. We have the technology, today, to solve this problem. Did you know that 40% of U.S. emissions (according to the 2017 EPA emissions inventory), come from basic household activities in the categories of electricity use, home heating, transportation, food and waste? There are now affordable and accessible alternatives to all of these categories that most people can choose and lower their impact significantly.  These actions often also save money, improve local health (air quality) and create local jobs. Join TEC carbon tracker and pitch in!
We have set up a St. John’s Vernon page already.  We can use this website to help reduce our carbon footprints and inspire others to do the same!  We will hold a workshop early in 2020 (January 9, 2020) to introduce the carbon tracker and how to use it, so SAVE THE DATE!

Christmas Services

Christmas Eve, December 24th 5:00 pm, Family Lessons and Carols led by the children and young people of our parish and Eucharist, Rite II.

Christmas Eve, December 24th 9:45 pm, special music presented by
the Senior Choir, 10:00 pm Lessons and Carols and Eucharist, Rite II.

Christmas Day 9:00 am, Holy Eucharist Rite I with Carols.

December 29th (the First Sunday after Christmas), Unified Worship at 9:00am, Holy Eucharist Rite II

Dates to Remember

Nov. 17  8 am Rite I and 10 am Rite II with Music, Nursery Care, Sunday School and Coffee Hour
Nov. 18  7 pm Joining Jesus Team in the Undercroft
Nov. 20 10:30 am-12:30 pm Knitting Fellowship in the Undercroft
Nov. 20  7 pm CareGivers Support Group in the Undercroft
Nov. 21 10:30 am Pastoral CareGivers at Fox Hill
Nov. 21 6:15 pm Nut Night, dinner served first, packing nuts to follow. Bring scoops, scales & holiday good cheer.
Nov. 24  8 am Rite I and 10 am Rite II with Music, Nursery Care, Sunday School and Coffee Hour

Dec. 1 Advent I,  8 am Rite I and 10 am Rite II with The Brotherhood of St. Andrew Re-dedication, Music, Nursery Care, Sunday School and Coffee Hour
Dec. 3  11:45 am The Lunch Bunch in the Lower Parish Hall
Dec. 4  10:30 am-12:30 pm Knitting Fellowship in the Undercroft
Dec. 4  10:30 Pastoral CareGivers at Riverside
Dec. 4  6 pm Bazaar Set-Up of tables
Dec. 5 and 6 Bazaar Set-Up in the afternoon and evening
Dec. 5  5 pm Cookie Night in the Lower Parish Hall
Dec. 7  9 am – 2 pm The Christmas Bazaar
Dec. 8  Advent II,  8 am Rite I and 10 am Rite II with Music, Nursery Care, Sunday School and Final Sales for the Bazaar at Coffee Hour
Dec. 11  10:30 am-12:30 pm Knitting Fellowship in the Undercroft
Dec. 11  7:30 pm Brotherhood of St. Andrew Meeting in the Undercroft
Dec. 15  Advent III, 8 am Rite I and 10 am Rite II with Music, Nursery Care, Sunday School and Coffee Hour
Dec. 15 5 pm Tree of Light Lighting with Soup Supper and Christmas Carols. Sign up in the Narthex please!
Dec. 16 7 pm Joining Jesus Team in the Undercroft
Dec. 17 7:15 pm Women’s Spiritual Growth Group – Undercroft
Dec. 18 10:30 am-12:30 pm Knitting Fellowship in the Undercroft
Dec. 18 5:30 pm Book Group reading and discussing, The Art Forger, by B.A. Shapiro at the Rectory. Sharing Christmas Potluck Supper.
Dec. 19 10:30 Pastoral Caregivers at Fox Hill
Dec. 21 9 – 11 am Christmas Pageant rehearsal
Dec. 21 11 am- 2 pm Youth helping deliver Christmas Gift Bags to our homebound members
Dec. 22 Advent IV, 8 am Rite I and 10 am Rite II with the Christmas Pageant, three Baptisms, Music, and Coffee Hour. All Children will be in Church for the festivities
Dec. 24   5 pm Lessons and Carols and Rite II Holy Eucharist for Children, Youth, and Families
Dec. 24 10 pm 5 pm Lessons and Carols and Rite II Holy EucharistCarol sing along starting at 9:45
Dec. 25 9 am Holy Eucharist, Rite I
Dec. 29 Christmas I, 9 am United Worship, Rite I with Music

Jan. 5 Christmas II, 8 am Rite I and 10 am Rite II with Music, Nursery Care, Sunday school and Coffee Hour
Jan. 6 6 pm ECW Epiphany Party, with light dinner served and Yankee Swap (Bring a gift worth about $10)
Jan. 7 11:45 the Lunch Bunch in the Lower Parish Hall
Jan. 8  10:30 am-12:30 pm Knitting Fellowship in the Undercroft
Jan. 8  7:30 pm Brotherhood of St. Andrew Meeting in the Undercroft
Jan. 9 7 pm in the Lower Parish Hall The Episcopal Church Carbon Tracker Workshop sponsored by the St. J’s Environmental Commission
Jan. 12  Epiphany I, 8 am Rite I and 10 am Rite II with Music, Nursery Care, Sunday School and Coffee Hour
Jan. 12  4 pm Altar Guild Dinner at the Rectory
Jan. 15  10:30 am-12:30 pm Knitting Fellowship in the Undercroft
Jan. 19  Epiphany II, United Worship at 9 am followed by an All-Parish Brunch and Annual Meeting
Jan. 20  7 pm Joining Jesus Team in the Undercroft
Jan. 22  10:30 am-12:30 pm Knitting Fellowship in the Undercroft
Jan. 22  10:30 Pastoral CareGivers at Riverside
Jan. 23  10:30 Pastoral CareGivers at Fox Hill
Jan. 26 Epiphany III, 8 am Rite I and 10 am Rite II with Music, Nursery Care, Sunday School and Coffee Hour
Jan. 28 7:15 pm Women’s Spiritual Growth Group – Undercroft
Jan. 29  10:30 am-12:30 pm Knitting Fellowship in the Undercroft

Save these Dates!!
February 23, 2020 5 pm Stewardship Dinner with Bishop Ahrens
February 25, 2020 Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper
February 26, 2020 Ash Wednesday, Worship at noon and 7 pm

Visit us on Facebookyoutube

Share this on Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedin