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Dear Friends,

Although we often talk about this time of year as “welcome back,” our summer at St. John’s has been full of activity, of conversation, of vision, and of thoughtfulness.  I am grateful, once again, for the many who have been supportive of me as I have had to be careful to make extra time to be with family over the summer. It has been challenging, but things are well, and I am very glad and grateful for all the support given me by you.

Creative Thinking

In these coming weeks we embark upon a Visioning process.  There is much happening, and starting to happen, at St. John’s, but a sense is emerging that we need a focus, a strategy, maybe even a plan, to move forward with.  There are many projects for the building itself that we would like, and in some cases, need to progress with. There are programs people are earnest to offer. There is a re-engagement with our Social Justice and Social Action concerns that we need to bring clarity and purpose to.  All of these concerns and others bring me to the point that I believe we need a clear, purposed, Visioning process to take place in the near future, and to be concluded around Vestry 2018.  We have the excellent Quo Vadis report to build on, but to consider how many of those reflections should be implemented, or built on, and to take account of changes within and around our community since it was published, is a major task we as a community must undertake.

In the near future I will announce a visioning day or evening to which the whole parish will be invited, we will then proceed to create a small group to take suggestions from that day forward and create our Vision Plan.  It is my hope that Bishop Logan will be able to come and assist us in our initial meeting, which may take place following a main Sunday Service.

Changes and Celebrations

Some things stay the same – we are fortunate for the time, love, and energy poured into our ministry by volunteers, lay and ordained leaders, and the staff of our community. Amongst our staff we have had two changes- firstly that our Curate Gillian is now, as you will know, exercising her ministry as  Presbyter (Priest) as she enters the second part of her time here at St. John’s.  Gillian’s Curacy will continue until at least the late Spring of 2018.

Also, with the departure of Catherine, our Parish Administrator, I am pleased that Carol-Ann Zenger has accepted my appointment as full-time Interim Parish Administrator for a period of six months, at which time we will engage on a review of the appointment.  Carol-Ann continues with Front Office duties, though we will be sticking with the published office hours of 9am-12pm and any visitors or groups wanting to be here outside  those times will need to arrange access to the building  with Carol-Ann or the person they are visiting.

Amongst our Parish Council (PC) we have had some changes. Many thanks to Heather Lee for her work as Treasurer. She has had to stand down, and Council has ratified Kate McCabe as our new Treasurer. We also have a new Parish Clerk, Molly Patton, following the resignation of Betty Miller – thank you Betty for your contribution.

Happening Now!

Sunday, 10th September, our Youth and Families Ministry program and our Music programs begin again in earnest – please talk to Ruth MacIntosh, our Youth and Family Ministry Co-ordinator, or our Director of Music, David Stratkauskas for further details on these programs.

I’m grateful for those who have volunteered – or accepted the invitation – to sit on our new Finance Group and the Social Justice and Social Action Group. As we consider our moving forward into an exciting future together it is my hope that these groups will aid us in clarifying and communicating our shared Vision. More details of these groups will be available soon. We also have a new group starting which will encourage us to connect art and spirituality in a very practical and enjoyable way – the group is called Art and Soul – and details are available from our weekly bulletins.  Of course, all of our ongoing activities continue – Contemplative Group, Prayers, Worship, Property Committee, Parish Council, Book Studies, Sermon Circle, Contemplative Knitters, Food Bank at St. John’s, Healing Group, Sunday Worship Contributors, Chancel Guild, Sunday Reflections, Divine Brunch, Divine Walkers, Spiritual Direction and so much more (apologies to those I have not named).

Pastoral Care considerations

This fall will see the launch of some exciting regional initiatives in pastoral care designed to support and equip the work of lay pastoral carers in a congregation. The Two Saints Ministry spearheaded a proposal to the Diocesan Vision Fund for funds to support both an intensive Pastoral Care Workshop for lay people, with basic and advanced modules, offered with the support of South Island Centre for Counselling & Training, and a series of short modules on special topics in pastoral care.

The Pastoral Care Workshop is being held on October 14 at St. Peter’s, Lakehill. The cost is being largely underwritten by the Diocesan Vision Fund. Registration is through the South Island Centre and preference is being given to lay people who are involved or are will commit to being involved in pastoral care ministries within their parish.

The first pastoral care module is being held on September 30th at Christ Church Cathedral. The speaker is Dr. Deanna Thompson, a theologian who lives with stage IV cancer and will be speaking out of that experience to talk about caring for those who live with terminal illness. Numbers for this pastoral care module are limited and again, preference is being given to those who are involved or will commit to being involved in pastoral care ministries within their parish.

For information about or to register for the workshop and/or the module, or to see about being involved in the pastoral care ministry at St. John’s, please speak to Rev. Gillian.

There is, as I frequently say, much to be thankful for in the life of our community – and I will say more in our Thanksgiving letter in just a few weeks. Thank you all for your ongoing support, your friendship, and our partnership in the Gospel, with love and prayers for you all,