This winter St. John’s engaged Ratcliff, a local architecture firm, to help create a master plan for our campus buildings and property. The goal is to develop a long-term plan for our campus, drawing on our prior investments in the invitation bridge and the work of the Campus Committee to optimize the safety, beauty and functionality of our property and facilities.
A search committee of church members selected Ratcliff for this project, based on their excellent reputation, knowledge of the area, and experience working with schools and churches. We expect to provide a full report to the Parish later this summer, with the architects on hand for a report and Q&A, and renderings of proposed improvements.
A steering committee, chaired by Debi Stebbins, leads the project for St. John’s. In the first phase, Ratcliff met with the Vestry, steering committee and three user groups to establish priorities that support the Church’s mission and vision, as well as to review the “guiding principles” that inform our campus improvements. Approximately 20 church members participated in these sessions.
Based on these discussions and guiding principles, the vestry approved a two-pronged approach. We are prioritizing improvements to the sanctuary and courtyard and a scaled back and less expensive version of the bridge project, which we have renamed the Gateway. Reflecting our guiding principles, the Gateway project dramatically improves the safety, access and approach to out campus. Improvements to the sanctuary and adjacent courtyard will provide a more flexible space that connects to the outdoors and capitalizes on the beauty of our campus.
Ratcliff is working with Sandis, the engineering firm we used for the earlier work, and construction company Oliver & Co. to determine the costs and timetable for the proposed improvements and sequencing of the work. Concurrently a Project Financing Task Force co-chaired by Vestry member Ed Likely and David Brown, is exploring multiple options for financing the desired improvements. This summer we expect to have more details along with renderings to show possible redesigns. “The project will be multi-year, rather than something we can complete in the next one or two years,” according to Fr. Scott. “We are excited by the wholistic nature of this plan and process, which will give us a roadmap to the future.”
After two and a half years at St. Johns, Rev. Jon Owens, associate for ministry development, is leaving St. John’s to pursue other ministry opportunities. In May Jon completed his interim master’s degree from Florida Atlantic University, where he is working on his PhD in Educational Leadership.
Jon’s arrival here in December of 2019 couldn’t have been been more timely! His digital communications know-how served us extremely well as Covid-19 profoundly changed how we worship and communicate. With his leadership, we met the moment, shifting all of our services and gatherings from in-person to online channels. “Jon introduced 21st century communications tools and infrastructure to St. John’s --- assets that were invaluable in peak Covid times and are now an accepted part of church life,” said Tim Johnson, chair of the communications committee and vestry member. In addition to preaching and presiding at services, Jon was instrumental in supporting St. John’s rebranding, redesigning the website, and building our social media and marketing presence in the broader community.
As a vocational Deacon, Jon brought Saturday evening contemporary services to St. John’s and will preside at the upcoming May 21st service. Check out the great music and intimacy of this 5:00 p.m. monthly service. And be sure to attend Sunday worship on May 29th, when Rev. Scott will recognize Jon’s many contributions to St. John’s followed by a special coffee hour reception in his honor after the 10:00 a.m. service.
Join us in celebrating Jon’s contributions to St. John’s and wish him well as he embarks on his next adventure.
Resolutions for Outgoing Vestry Members 2022
Whereas Katie Kroger courageously chose to join a board whose average age would be impolite to discuss, and whereas in doing so she injected youthful energy and vision in a time when we desperately needed it, and whereas the fruits of that energy and vision led to a beautiful transformation of our grounds under her leadership of the Landscape Committee, and whereas her vibrant spirit also inspired a vibrant re-branding of our church graphics, and whereas she also helped bring a new look to our worship helping design and produce our Saturday evening services, and whereas she did all of this even faster than she puts words together, and whereas she grew up at St. John’s and has continued to return the favor, helping us grow up in a challenging time,
Be it resolved that Katie Kroger has hereby earned the title Saint of Saint John’s.
Whereas Laura Kroger brought a true spirit of family to the vestry being the first person to serve on the vestry with her daughter, and whereas that sense of family is seen in the way she cares for our buildings and grounds, as if they were her own house and garden, and whereas all of her care of our campus and design of our Saturday service liturgy was grounded in her amazing sense of aesthetics, and whereas in bringing beauty to our campus she also faced off with contractors who had more than met their match, and whereas she was always extremely prepared for every meeting, having thoroughly studied each document, and whereas such attention to detail made her our most reliable proof-reader, and whereas she was the model of a team player, applying her amazing gifts to the vision of the vestry even if a given vision was not her cup of tea, and whereas the intensity she brought as she took on big projects was always grounded in a graceful spirit and gentle laughter,
Be it resolved that Laura Kroger has hereby earned the title Saint of Saint John’s.
Whereas Ruben Simpliciano faithfully answered the call to become the People’s Warden, and whereas his patience, kindness and sense of humor always inspired the people he represented, and whereas he could magically create a sense of calm in the midst of intense conversation, and whereas it didn’t hurt that his one-year-old daughter Lillian often joined our meetings, and whereas he brought our agendas to new heights with his technological skill and his gifts of analysis, and whereas he is committed to supporting our staff, serving on the Personnel and Search Committees, and whereas in Zoom meetings his hair always looked amazing all the way through the pandemic, even as he juggled bottles, high chairs, nap times and computers, and whereas his presence in meetings made everyone feel like it was not just a meeting but a caring community,
Be it resolved that Ruben Simpliciano has hereby earned the title Saint of Saint John’s.
Whereas Victoria Robinson had the courage to say Yes to being Senior Warden, and whereas that spirit of YES has set the tone for leading us all through a pandemic, and whereas her profound gifts and vision for development have inspired development on many levels, and whereas her first agenda item in every meeting is to ask how people are doing, and whereas her compassion and curiosity naturally inspire others to share their opinions, and whereas her humility and care have made her an inspirational consensus builder, and whereas her deep love for St. John’s and care about every detail leads to multiple texts and emails every day, and whereas she has managed to put up with constant meetings with the rector, and whereas she has done all of this with gratitude, humor, and great joy, seeming to get more out of things than she puts in, which can’t possibly be true,
Be it resolved that Victoria Robinson has hereby earned the title Saint of Saint John’s.
Many of you were present at St. John’s on December 12th, 2021, when Vinnie Pannizzo attended the service and gave a presentation explaining his work with the homeless. He is the “saint” who picks up our donation of meal bags and blankets/jackets every week on Thursdays. There was a craft fair that Sunday and all of the proceeds were given to either our VISION project or Vinnie’s organization: www.missionforthehomeless.org.
Soon after that, Vinnie’s well-used van broke down. The complete cooling system (radiator, hoses, and water pump) had to be replaced. The VISION team was very pleased to be able to cover that expense ($1200) due to the generous donations from St. John’s parishioners. THANK YOU!
The warm camel hair coat that Vinnie is wearing was also a donation from a caring member of St. John’s.
Our 'Give and Gift Bazaar' last Sunday raised more than $1200 for VISION - and Pastor Vinnie (Mission for the Homeless) was eloquent and grateful! This benefit sale reflected our commitment to outreach ministries, while strengthening our own church community.
From left: Laurie Bennett organized goodies from Silvia Sykes, the Slatoffs, and others, together with vintage gifts from Karen Gleason and Laurie's own grandmother; Sylvia Ahern sold her botanically-printed art scarves; master knitter Sara Evinger sold her creations - and donated 50+ other warm hats knit by her, Judi Marr, and Sylvia Ahern directly to Pastor Vinnie's ministry.
The CNC retreat is a time when youth going through the confirmation program learn to set up their own worship spaces and experience God. The do reports on world religions to understand what others believe and what makes that different from Episcopalians. They even have a little fun playing board games.
In 2020 I lost my mom and I lost my husband, Jim. I still have my sweet Caramel, but she’s 17, and a dog cannot last forever. Put simply, pandemic or no pandemic, I don’t know where I would be without St. John’s – the love, the history, the vision, the community, and the place of engagement.
Have you ever felt this love for this place – for this community? Even briefly? Maybe you felt it and moved away. Maybe you felt it once and then decided it wasn’t real. Maybe you thought it was the people and not the church, the person not the community, the group not the faith. But this year I have learned that making these distinctions misses the mark – these are all aspects of community, and they all matter.
Ann Lamott tells the story of a Rabbi who shares with his students the importance of having God’s word on their hearts. And when a student asks, “But Rabbi, don’t you want us to have God’s words in our hearts?” the Rabbi replies, “Only God can put his words in your heart, but if I put God’s words on your heart, when your heart breaks, they will fall right in.”
Our world is on fire in one corner, and flooding in another; we are losing loved ones, we are grieving, we are aging; there is real fear – not just imagined – for the future of our planet and our country. Is your heart-breaking to see the world so? Mine is. But good things are happening, too - new family members, new friends, new missions and new challenges. Are we celebrating the love alongside mourning the loss?
Recently, I took a wonderful course on Climate Change and Activism from an organization whose mission statement is to create a socially just, environmentally sustainable and spiritually fulfilling human presence on planet Earth. And I asked myself – isn’t that what we strive for at St. John’s? Why am I looking at other organizations? What is missing at my home church? These questions haunted me.
So, when I was asked to chair the Stewardship campaign this year, I jumped at the chance because I know we’ve got something really special here, and we need to step up our commitment or we could lose this most precious, bighearted community. We could lose the power of God’s presence in a positive community. In this campaign we are asking you to examine our relevance. We want us, together, to re-view what St. John’s has been, what it is, what it could be and what we want it to be for all of us. What can we do together to bring the values we share to the forefront? How do we bring our commitment to God’s love as a gift and inspiration to love each other, our planet, our island home, and our community? I believe that when we look at this closely, we will say together, “Pandemic or no Pandemic, we can make the world a better place if we channel the potential right here, right now at St. John’s.”
Of the 8 Pillars of Joy, this year we choose to focus on these two: Gratitude and Generosity. I am grateful for so much, despite the losses in 2020. I know words of gratitude strengthen us, heal us and bring us joy. We hope you will use the enclosed 3 thank you cards and use them to exercise your gratitude muscles however you choose.
And as for Generosity, know that Jesus spoke well when he said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
In gratitude and love,
St. John’s has arrived at a crucial moment in our history. I like to think of it as a rite of passage. Of course, every year is important, but there are times when the stars align and we are invited to consider radical change that also promises great opportunity. We are, without a doubt, in such a time.
The pandemic proved something once and for all. St. John’s is determined to not only survive but to thrive no matter what we face. We saw this determination before the pandemic when, after completing a strategic plan that inspired us to realign our staff, you all stepped up and funded this plan which included hiring a full time Associate for Congregational Development. We determined at that moment to not be part of the 90% of churches in decline, but rather, to invest and start acting like the 10% of churches that were growing. Vision inspires generosity and you all caught the vision and, Wow, were you generous. Giving increased by 20% for 2020. Together, we made a commitment to our future and completed the first step in our strategic plan.
Now, we have the opportunity to take the next step in our plan: to enhance and deliberately empower our ministry to children and youth. This is especially challenging as Kellor is retiring. But she has graciously offered to make sure the baton is firmly placed in the hand of the next runner. I am optimistic because we have hired Ministry Architects, a national consulting firm that has helped churches across the nation redesign their youth ministries to meet the challenges of future generations, and we have formed a dynamite team of young leaders in our parish to work with them as we renovate how we renew and restructure our ministries.
Our job in this transition is to make sure that the baton lands in the hands of the right person and that that person is properly supported by the infrastructure of our parish. What is clear to me is that we need to be in a position to do a national search process and attract a full-time youth and family director that will bring the talent we need to put our ministry renovation plan into action. Attracting new families to St. John’s is something we all want. Now we need to step up and fund this desire. What an amazing opportunity we have!
So, as you prayerfully consider your pledge for 2022, I ask you to do two things:
Vision is the bedrock of generosity and generosity leads to gratitude which leads to more generosity. Now is a time like no other in our history. My prayer is that you will continue to be inspired by the vision so that together, we each can do what we can to assure that St. John’s meets the future with great faith and joy!
The Rev. Scott Denman+
CELEBRATING CONNECTION – STEWARDSHIP
Prepare to be entertained and challenged
Are you ready to gather for some truly lively conversation?
in person in the Vestry Room or by Zoom?
The 2022 Stewardship Committee is inviting You
Come to any of 10 Gatherings scheduled between October 2 – 13 and share what you think about the past, present and future of St. John’s – but through a different lens. We want people to talk about what they love and what is inspiring at our spiritual home, but we also want to have people brainstorm about what is missing, what keeps people away, what disappoints, and what discourages people from being loud and proud about St. John’s - what we can do more of and what we can do better.
Help St. John’s create the new normal!
Each session will seek to explore a unique aspect of our mission. Each team will take notes and the notes will be visible to the next groups and ALL the thoughts will be brought together on November 14, to discuss how we can all invest in and inspire the FUTURE of St. John’s.
If you are a facilitator, scribe or a host, please do not fill out a doodle for your session.
To attend in person click here.
To attend online click here.
An email will be sent for online zoom links prior to your session.
Thanks to our technology investment, these will be hybrid gatherings to ensure everyone feels welcomed and safe - attendance is limited to 8 in the Vestry Room and 8 online for the same date. We need your voice to be part of the conversation so sign up NOW.
It was a fun week of bidding and getting together on Zoom for St. John’s auction. Hosts Jim MacIlvaine and Laurie Bennett showcased people in eight ministries through videos and stories during the live portion on August 29th. If you didn’t see it, you can still view it on St. John’s YouTube channel by clicking this link. And if you didn’t pledge that day, you still have an opportunity: send or leave a check at St. John's by September 20 or pay online through the St. John's website. https://onrealm.org/StJohnsOakland/-/give/now and choose" 2021 Auction" on the right side drop down menu.
The online auction ended on August 30th. Sixty-six bidders from all over the country were reminded via email, “You’ve been outbid!”, and this reminder generated spirited bidding right up until the 5 p.m. closing.
At this date, the auction has totaled over $35,000 in gross proceeds. This money will be distributed between the specific funds highlighted in the live auction and put to good use for the general operations of St. John’s.
But none of this was possible without a huge cast of talented volunteers. Planning began in March when Deacon Jon reported to leadership groups about the possible live streaming options that would allow St. John’s to meet in person and continue an online worship experience. The biennial auction was the right vehicle to broadcast this need and the Auction Committee was in action soon. MANY THANKS and ADMIRATION go to this amazing core group.
Laurie Bennett – chair
Judi Marr – auction database coordinator
Sylvia Ahern – database analyst and video creator
Jim MacIlvaine – auction host and script writer
Scott Denman – Da Rector Productions for videos and showcase creation
Jon Owens – Zoom technician extraordinaire and Communications
Carolyn George – Celebrating Connection Happy Hour planner and chef
Ken Fuller – Donation coordinator and Happy Hour
Pat Harden – Communications
Kathy Araugo – mailings, forms, office support
This is the cast of workers for whom my gratitude is boundless: Lisa Cadwalader, Jerry and Bonnie Moran, Silvia Sykes, Anne Meyer, Sean Van Straatum, Greg Slatoff, Alex Slatoff, Molly Marion, Michelle Ziegmann, Laura Kroger, Katie Kroger, Ben Riggs, Abby Smith, Kellor Smith, Sarah Jones.
And the event would not have been successful without the wonderful donations from our parishioners: Thank you, Thank you, Thank you,
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