February-March 2020 Epistle
From the Rector
On Sunday afternoon, February 23rd, after joyful worship complete with a baptism, a cheerful and willing group will gather to prepare food for our Stewardship dinner. This crew will work with heart and humor to make a delicious hot meal and clean up after dinner is served. As I ponder the ways in which we are the Body of Christ in this place, Christ’s hands and feet, Christ’s eyes and ears out in the world, I rejoice daily to see Christ so evident among us. So many amazing and remarkable things are happening in our parish because so many members are making them happen, to the Glory of God and in Christ’s name. I am proud to be a member of such a kind and devoted community of people working together in mission and ministry, through thick and thin, with love and laughter, and with hope and faith! This year especially we will remember and celebrate the past even as we look forward in faith to the future.
Tom and I will increase our pledge/tithe again this year for several key reasons. First, we believe that every single gift and blessing in our lives flows directly from God, the undeserved result of God’s unfathomable and unconditional love. We are so deeply thankful to God for the abundance of our lives; for our family and friends, for our life and work, for all that nourishes us, for a warm and wonderful spiritual home, and for the faith that is in us. We are truly blessed to live here in Vernon amongst all of you. Second, we will increase our gift so as to live more deeply into God’s call to be Disciples of Christ, to be about Christ’s work in the world both near and far, to give thanks for all our Lord has done for us and our family, and to honor our relationship with Jesus. Tom and I are grateful for the sustenance of all our relationships and for the many privileges and comforts of our lives. Giving generously to St. John’s is a tangible way for us to give back just a portion of the vast abundance with which we have been repeatedly blessed. Finally, Tom and I will increase our pledge this year to demonstrate and support what we believe to be true about the potential and possibilities for our parish. So many exciting things continue to happen at the ONE ST. John’s because of God’s love, the leading of the Holy Spirit, and the good, hard-working, faithful, and forward-thinking people of this parish. It is our privilege to support this parish, its generous commitments to putting our faith into action, and its vision for a truly accessible and inclusive physical plant and worship space.
I hope that you will prayerfully consider your relationship with our Lord Jesus and with St. John’s parish as you make your pledge commitment in the coming weeks. I hope that you will join me in giving thanks for all the blessings of your life and for all the ways in which God has inspired, encouraged, protected, healed, strengthened, forgiven, restored, graced and loved you. Each one of us is God’s own child, created, redeemed, and sustained in God’s image. How we choose to spend our time, talent and treasure matters tremendously to God’s Kingdom and says volumes about what we believe, to whom we belong, and what we most value. I hope you will join me in speaking up for what God is doing here at St. John’s by filling out and returning (by mail to the church or in the offering plate on Sunday) your pledge card at the stewardship dinner or in the weeks that follow.
Our collection of paper products for the Cornerstone and local schools is ongoing. Paper products are taxed and many are expensive to begin with. Paper Closets are a growing supplement to Food Pantries. These items are not luxuries; they are necessities. We are collecting diapers of all sizes, diaper wipes, Kleenex, Depends undergarments, feminine hygiene products, and toilet paper. The collection will end on Undie Sunday, 3/2. There is a box in the Narthex!
On February 2nd St. John’s will be having its fifth annual SOUPer BOWL SUNDAY OF CARING. This is a national movement. We will be taking up a collection of monetary donations and non-perishable food items after both services for the Cornerstone in Rockville, East Hartford Interfaith Ministries (EHIM), and the food drive for hungry students at Eastern CT State University (being worked on by Sam Evans, Maria’s son), in order to provide extra funds and food for those who are hungry in the midst of a national day of vast extravagance. Please make checks out to St. John’s Episcopal Church, Vernon and our Treasurer will distribute one check for each organization. Non-perishable food will go to Sam Evans’ food drive for ECSU.
On Sunday, February 23rd, at 5 pm, we will kick off our annual Stewardship Appeal with our special stewardship dinner. Bishop Ahrens will be our guest speaker again in this stewardship season of St. John’s Parish. Skip Sutcliffe is our Stewardship Chair in this crucial work. Vestry members will be in touch with you about attending the meal and the evening’s presentation. Please RSVP when you receive your invitation! Our Stewardship Appeal, which will run until April 5th, is an essential element of the sustainability of St. John’s ministries and mission. It is also an important part of our observance of Epiphany and Lent as we ponder our relationship with Our Lord Jesus, the gratitude and abundance to which God calls us, how we live out our gratitude to God for all the gifts so freely bestowed, and the grace-filled ways in which the Holy Spirit is moving in our personal lives and our life together as the Body of Christ at St. John’s. A special meal for children will be served and childcare will be provided on 2/23. We hope you will be present!
A pledge to St. John’s
a way to give thanks
a way to further the parish’s ministries and mission
a way to invest in the future of the parish
a way to demonstrate discipleship
a way to remember that everything we have is from God
a way to keep faith
a way to honor and emulate our Lord
a contract or irrevocable commitment
just about the budget
simply a financial decision
known to other members
just another bill to pay
the cost of membership
Tuesday February 25th is Shrove “Fat” Tuesday. Paul Finney & Friends will reprise his absolutely fabulous pancake-plus-all-the-fun-fixings dinner in the lower Parish Hall from that evening from 6-7 pm. There will be GF pancakes as well as regular ones. A free will offering will be taken. Thank you to Paul and the kitchen team!!!
Ash Wednesday Worship will be at noon and 7 pm in the Sanctuary on February 26th. There will be the Imposition of Ashes, candle lighting, and Eucharist.
March 1st will be our annual UNDIE SUNDAY. Please pick up child, teen or adult-sized underwear, socks, hats, mittens, and gloves for a special collection that morning. All the underwear, socks and outer wear is donated to the local school nurses and two homeless shelters. The need is great!
Lenten Series 2019: A Collaboration between St. Mark’s, Storrs and St. John’s Vernon
Trying on Spiritual Practices
Each evening will run from 6:30-8 and will start with a soup and bread supper, followed by a conversation and/or activity related to a Spiritual Practice. Each evening will end with Evening Prayer or Compline chosen from various Anglican Books of Common Prayer.
March 4 at St. Mark’s focusing on making Prayer Beads
March 11 at St. John’s focusing on Fasting
March 18 at St. Mark’s focusing on Sabbath Time
March 25 at St. John’s focusing on Using Technology as a Spiritual Tool
April 1 at St. Mark’s focusing on Meditational Walking/the Labyrinth
The host church will handle the meal. Brian and Virginia will work together on the programs and the Evening Prayers.
A Lenten Quiet Day: Meeting Jesus at the Well: Is it Well With Your Soul? March 28th from 9 am to 1 pm at St. James, Glastonbury. Register to attend by contacting Virginia. Breakfast food will be available upon arrival and lunch will be served. There will be three meditations on the story of the woman at the well from the Gospel of John, and plenty of time for quiet reflection alone or at several prayerful activity stations. This is a collaborative endeavor on the part of several clergy from NE CT and our Regional Missionary.
The St. John’s Book Group meets once a month at the Rectory. The members select the books to be read together. We read both fiction and non-fiction and discuss the book of the month for about an hour. Several times a year we share a potluck supper together. We have all enjoyed and been challenged by reading books we might not otherwise have found or picked out. We also enjoy a lovely and lively fellowship. We would love to have you join us!!
There will be another round of the well-attended and deeply rewarding NE CT Lay Preachers Class starting on April 23rd and running for 6 consecutive weeks. To learn more about the class speak with Elaine Anderson, Paul Finney (who both took the class in the fall of 2019), or Virginia (who is one of the instructors). If you are interested in attending, see Virginia.
Please remember our policy regarding the S word, SNOW. Since I live right on campus, I never cancel. I trust you all as adults to decide what is safe for you and what is not. So, you will never see our parish’s name scrolling along the bottom of a TV screen. And you should make your best decision in the moment. Finally, please never worry about being here because you have a role or job that particular morning. We always make do with who and what God provides!!
Dates to Remember
February 2 Epiphany 5: 8 am Rite I and 10 am Rite II with Nursery Care, Sunday School, Music, Senior Choir, and a Coffee Hour immediately following.
February 4 11:45 am Lunch Bunch in the Lower Parish Hall
February 5 10:30 am Knitting Fellowship in the Upper Parish Hall
February 5 7 pm CareGivers Support Group in the Upper Parish Hall
February 9 Epiphany 6: Racial Reconciliation Sunday, 8 am Rite I and 10 am Rite II with Nursery Care, Sunday
School, Music, Senior Choir, and a Coffee Hour immediately following. At the Coffee Hour The Brotherhood
of St. Andrew will do a presentation and lead a discussion on Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.
February 10 7 pm Vestry Meeting in the Undercroft
February 12 10:30 am Knitting Fellowship in the Upper Parish Hall
February 12 7 pm The Brotherhood of St. Andrew meeting in the Undercroft
February 16 Epiphany 7: 8 am Rite I and 10 am Rite II with Nursery Care, Sunday School, Music, Senior Choir, and a Coffee Hour immediately following.
February 19 10:30 am Knitting Fellowship in the Upper Parish Hall
February 19 10:30 am Pastoral CareGivers at Riverside in East Hartford
February 19 5:30 pm Book Group reading Lady Clementine, by Marie Benedict at the Rectory
February 20 10:30 am Pastoral CareGIvers at Fox Hill
February 21 10 am-2 pm Joining Jesus clergy meeting in the Undercroft
February 22 9 am -2 pm Joining Jesus Team at the Commons in Meriden
February 23 Last Sunday of Epiphany: 8 am Rite I and 10 am Rite II with Baptism, Nursery Care, Sunday School, Music, Senior Choir, and a Coffee Hour immediately following.
February 23 5 pm Stewardship Supper with Bishop Ahrens
February 25 6 pm Paul Finney’s Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper in the Lower Parish Hall. A free will offering will be taken at the door.
February 25 7:15 pm Women’s Spiritual Growth Group in the Undercroft.
February 26 10:30 am Knitting Fellowship in the Upper Parish Hall
February 26 noon Ash Wednesday Worship
February 26 7 pm Ash Wednesday Worship
February 27 and 28 ECCT Women Clergy’s Retreat at Camp Washington with Bishop Ahrens
March 1 Lent 1 and UNDIE SUNDAY: 8 am Rite I and 10 am Rite II with Nursery Care, Sunday School, Music, Senior Choir, and a Coffee Hour immediately following.
March 3 11:45 am Lunch Bunch in the Lower Parish Hall
March 4 10:30 am Knitting Fellowship in the Upper Parish Hall
March 4 6:30 pm at St. Mark’s Storrs. The beginning of our Lenten Series, Trying On Spiritual Practices, which will include a Soup Supper, a conversation and/or activity, and worship. See the Parish Pearls for more details and a flier. Carpooling will be available.
March 8 Lent 2: 8 am Rite I and 10 am Rite II with Nursery Care, Sunday School, Music, Senior Choir, and a Coffee
Hour immediately following.
March 9 7 pm Vestry meeting in the Undercroft
March 10 7:15 pm Women’s Spiritual Growth Group in the Undercroft March 11 6:30 pm Lenten Series at St. John’s in the Lower Parish Hall
March 11 7:30 pm The Brotherhood of St. Andrew meeting in the Undercroft
March 14 Northeast Region Crafting As a Spiritual Practice Day. See Lois Valliere for additional information.
March 15 Lent 3: 8 am Rite I and 10 am Rite II with Nursery Care, Sunday School, Music, Senior Choir, and a Coffee Hour immediately following.
March 16 7 pm Joining Jesus Team in the Undercroft
March 18 10:30 am Knitting Fellowship in the Upper Parish Hall
March 18 10:30 am Pastoral CareGivers at Riverside in East Hartford
March 18 6:30 pm Lenten Series at St. Mark’s
March 21 5:30 pm Annual Corn Beef and Cabbage Dinner in the Lower Parish Hall. Buy Tickets in Advance.
March 22 Lent 4: 8 am Rite I and 10 am Rite II with Nursery Care, Sunday School, Music, Senior Choir, and a Coffee Hour immediately following.
March 25 10:30 am Knitting Fellowship in the Upper Parish Hall
March 25 6:30 pm Lenten Series at St. John’s in the Undercroft
March 26 10:30 am Pastoral CareGivers at Fox Hill
March 26 5:30 Book Group reading The Second Mountain, by David Brooks at the Rectory
March 28 9 am – 1 pm Lenten Quiet Day, The Woman at the Well: Is It Well With Your Soul? at St. James in Glastonbury: see Flier and Parish Pearls in this Epistle for details. This half-day retreat is a collaboration of the NE CT Clergy and our Regional Missionary.
March 29 Lent 5: 8 am Rite I and 10 am Rite II with Nursery Care, Sunday School, Music, Senior Choir, and a Coffee Hour immediately following.
May 2 NE CT Regional Convocation
June 5 and 6 Relay for Life
Environmental Committee News
The Interreligious Eco-Justice Network invites you to Make Your Voice Heard: Hartford Green Forum on State Legislation on Tuesday, February 4 from 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm at the Unitarian Society of Hartford (refreshments available at 6:00 pm). We will cover several important topics that are proposed for this year’s state legislative session including, plastic pollution, pesticides and PFAS chemicals, greenhouse gas reduction, and forests & carbon sequestration. For more info and to rsvp:
https://hartfordforumstatelegislation.eventbrite.com or www.irejn.org
Green Forum on Environmental Racism
Monday, March 2,6:30 pm – 8:00 pm,Unitarian Society of New Haven,700 Hartford Turnpike, Hamden, CT
RSVP here (at irejn.org). From the zoning of power plants to lead in drinking water, communities of color experience more pollution and environmental hazards that white communities. Join us at this forum to learn about environmental racism here in CT and what you can do to address it!
Saving the Planet with Your Fork: The Impact of Meat on the Planet
Thursday, March 12, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 59 Main Street, Cheshire, CT
RSVP here (at irejn.org)
Join us to learn about the impact of animal agriculture on climate and pollution, the difference between local and corporate farming, the health benefits of including more plants in your diet, and a spiritual approach to food.