E-Newsletter for Sunday, May 24, 2020

Justice & Outreach Commission, Environmental Action Team and more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, May 24, 2020 – Available in full online here.

Haga clic aquí para ver el mensaje de esta semana en español de nuestro misionero latino, Luis Valencia. 

From the Rector
The Rev. Dr. Jared C. Cramer, SCP
Dear *|FNAME|*

I love that in the midst of a quarantine, the Christians who make up St. John's Episcopal Church actually increase the ministry we are doing instead of decreasing it. You all are amazing.

This past Monday, at our regular vestry meeting, two important decisions were made. Both of these fall under the portion of our parish mission statement where we say that the people of our church, "strive to boldly love every person and all creation." As our plan for the future articulates it, we want to "increase the ecological sustainability of our ministry programs, building, and campus."

First, the Vestry decided earlier this year not to reinstate the former Mission & Outreach Commission, which had been on hiatus during our time of discernment in 2019. As conversations with parishioners progressed, though, a new sense of calling arose. That culminated in a Zoom gathering on Mission & Outreach, which produced a series of recommendations for the Vestry. The Vestry affirmed those recommendations on Monday and created the Justice & Outreach Commission of St. John's Episcopal Church. 

Like a Commission, this is a standing group (not one focused on one project, like a Ministry Team), on which anyone with a passion for justice and outreach work is invited to serve. The focus of the Commission will be organizing mission projects to which anyone can sign up, providing education about justice and outreach needs to the members of our church, and serving as a resource to anyone with an idea for a justice or outreach ministry but needing help in bringing it to fruition.

The Commission will  meet regularly for planning and the sharing of resources, perspective, and wisdom. Those meeting will begin in the next month using Zoom as the meeting format. If you think you might have a calling to serve on this new Commission, please contact me. Then, on Tuesday, May 26, I will reach out to all those who have signed up and organize a time for the Commission to gather for the first time so that they might select leadership and determine how best to begin their important work in this time of pandemic and quarantine. 

Second, the Vestry also created a new Ministry Team at St. John's. Based upon a proposal submitted by several parishioners, in consultation with me, the Vestry has created the St. John's Environmental Action Team (or EAT!). The purpose of this team will be to increase the ecological sustainability of our ministry programs, building, and campus. The Team Leader is Laura Rauwerda, the Vestry Connector is Nancy Collins, and the Communications Connector is Br. John Mark Kelley. Thank you to all three of them for taking the lead in this ministry.

The first project of EAT will be, appropriately enough, related to food. They will be leading the work of establishing the SJE Good News Garden, a ministry we are doing in collaboration with the diocesan initiative being led by Plainsong Farm in Rockford. Plans for Phase I of our Good News Garden include developing the space north of the Sixth Street/Franklin Avenue entrance sidewalk as a small plot totaling about 80 square feet of vegetable/herb beds in 2020 (see the plan here). In future years, additional garden beds will be developed in the space south of the Sixth Street/Franklin Avenue entrance sidewalk (see plan for phase two here), reaching a total of over 300 square feet of growing space whenever we get to the full master plan for the garden. The produce harvested from this garden will go to our Loving Spoonfuls & Food Pantry ministries, both to be used in the kitchen cooking and to be distributed to those in need. 

There is even a dream of Phase Three, building a deck off of the Timberlake Hall and Guild Room, with planters for herbs and flowers for use for Loving Spoonfuls meals. Tables and chairs for enjoying the great outdoors and a view of the garden with church family. That's probably a long way off, but it shows you the vision of the founding members of EAT.

If you would like to join the EAT, please click here to contact me. I'll work with Team Leader Laura Rauwerda to schedule a first meeting of the Team—but I will say that the Team's work has already begun! Earlier this week, we opened a Facebook Fundraiser to raise money to construct the raised beds and fencing needed for phase one of the garden. You can also donate through Realm online here. Amazingly enough, in just a couple of days we already raised our budget for phase ones. Further donations will enable us to move toward Phase Two, maybe sooner than we thought!

Thank you to J.B. Meeuwenberg and his dad who have volunteered to construct the picket fencing around the beds. We are still in need of help constructing the beds. If that sort of thing is in your wheelhouse, please contact me ASAP to let me know. 

I'm excited for these new ways for us, as a congregation, to demonstrate our love for all people and all creation. 

Let's grow some food, feed some hungry people, and change the world to make it a little more just. We can absolutely still do that, even in a pandemic.

Through Grace,

PS ~ Remember that adult Faith Formation resumes this Sunday at 11:30am with a special series taught on Zoom by Father Cramer, "An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible." Find out more at the Facebook event online here and be sure to click here and join us on Sundays!

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, May 24, 2020 online here

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