Beloved St. John’s community,

I can hardly believe another program year is beginning—the third since I joined you, as the world has utterly shifted around us with a pandemic, race crisis, and change in administration in Washington. Your relationship with church may also have shifted—perhaps you have found it difficult to be part of the St. John’s community, or perhaps it’s been more important than ever before.  Either way, I want to personally invite you to connect deeply with God and our community now, as we pause to reflect on the past and dream with God about our future.

The past year and a half, with all their challenges, have brought us gifts that will give us clues about the future God has in store for us. Some of these gifts include:

  • The surprising reality of rich, deep, and generative conversations over zoom, in which we got to know one another in a new way, explored the Way of Jesus together, and maintained our connection with one another (including through Noonday Prayer, Boot Camp, Sunday worship, book clubs, and racial justice & healing conversations)
  • The daily “Healing Our City” in-person and virtual Prayer Tent organized by Don & Sondra Samuels that brought together people of every race and religion, from all over the country and beyond it, to pray for Minneapolis after the murder of George Floyd, and after the trial of Officer Derek Chauvin (see Bishop Loya’s reflection or Lisa’s reflection offered at the virtual Healing Prayer Tent)
  • The Spirit’s leading to prioritize the work of racial justice and healing at St. John’s, in response to the deep needs of our time
  • Experiencing the profound impact of artwork and creative music offerings in our pre-recorded liturgies, and the ways this has opened our hearts to God’s presence
  • Welcoming two incredibly gifted new staff members: our Children, Youth & Family Minister Heather Miller, who has already connected beautifully with youth & parents; and Seminary Intern Elizabeth Lienesch, whose gifts for preaching, listening, organization and innovation have astonished and delighted us
  • The incredible generosity of several members who have made new projectors, screens, and upgraded internet access a reality at St. John’s
  • Finally repairing water damage in the chapel and chapel entryway

Throughout these times, we’ve experienced several themes: deepening our faith and relationships; responding to “repair the breach” where we see damage and hurt; and blessing one another and the world with incredible financial generosity, risk-taking, and courage.

In order to keep the learning going, we’re going to restructure some things—including this Rector’s Reflection! Instead of a weekly column from me in the e-news, we are going to experiment with sharing how and where we are encountering God through all of our ministries, including some or all the following:

  • Rector’s Reflection
  • Deacon’s Blog
  • Spotlight on Children & Youth
  • Spotlight on Music Ministries
  • “Outside our Walls” reflection on Justice & Service
  • “Way of Jesus Lab” reflections on innovation, experiments, and learning in all aspects of our communal life
  • “Behind the Scenes” thanks to a St. John’s member
  • Member Profiles
  • The Four Priorities of ECMN: formation, innovation, justice and vitality
  • Other subjects appropriate to the season

In some ways, this will be like the old newsletter—divided up into single articles every week.  But in other ways, this will be less focused on relaying the programs of St. John’s, and more focused on telling stories about where we are encountering God at St. John’s and outside it.  In telling these stories, we will practice recognizing God’s presence and listening for the movement of the Holy Spirit.

As we move into this program year and all that is known and unknown about it, I invite you to join me in paying attention to where you are encountering God—where there is life, energy, excitement, inspiration, transformation, or movement in your life. Where in your experience of St. John’s are you touched? Challenged? Invited? As we notice and share these experiences, we can continue the themes of deepening our faith and relationship with God, responding to the needs of our community and the world around us, and blessing one another by showing up with courage, ready to say “Yes” to whatever the Spirit is inviting us to do.

God bless each and every one of you for the continued gift of your presence at St. John’s.

In Christ’s love,
Lisa

Lisa Wiens Heinsohn
Rector