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Rector's Reflections

One Service Continues this Fall

By June 26, 2024July 3rd, 2024No Comments

Beloved St. John’s community,

In May, I asked for all of your feedback about the experiment we have engaged in since January—that we have consolidated our two previous services, traditional and expansive liturgies, into one 10:00am service. Over the course of three weeks in May, a survey was provided in the e-news soliciting your feedback about this experiment, which was also announced on Sunday morning. After prayerfully considering the seventy-two responses we received, staff and vestry have reached consensus about the following decisions:

What will be the same:

  • We will continue to have a single service at 10:00am in the fall
  • We will continue to have Sunday School during the service three times per month
  • We will continue to have a Community Forum at 9am during the program year (September 15, 2024 – May 18, 2025)
  • We will continue to have coffee hour after the service at 11am all year

What will change:

  • We will always have our traditional, Book of Common Prayer Rite II service the first Sunday of each month, beginning September 1. The other Sundays will use expansive liturgies as we have been doing
  • We will add a spoken (non-musical) traditional Rite II service at 8am the third Sunday of each month, beginning September 15
  • In addition to the once per month children of every age are in the service for the Peace and Holy Eucharist, there will be a second Sunday per month in which children are released from Sunday school early, to attend Holy Eucharist with their parents (so families with the youngest children can receive communion together twice per month)
  • Staff will make coffee for the Community Forum at 9am, so that people volunteering for the coffee hour do not need to be at church all morning, but only for the post-service, 11am coffee hour

What needs clarification:

  • There seemed to be confusion about “not having children in the service anymore.” What is actually true is the following:
    • There is Sunday school for the youngest children, 4th grade and younger, during the service three times per month. All older children 5th grade and above have the opportunity to be in every service, every week, in our new system—their programming occurs on Sunday afternoons.
    • Sunday school only happens three times per month. Once a month, all children of every age have been attending the service (except for Children’s Chapel during the sermon, which has always been offered)
    • As mentioned above, we will add a second Sunday per month in which the youngest children will return from Sunday school to receive Holy Eucharist with their parents.

More Information about Survey Results:

  • 78% said we should continue with a single service at 10am; 4% said we should not; and the rest offered nuanced answers whose perspectives we have tried to address with the changes named above
  • 92% of responders said the 10am time worked well or somewhat well for them
  • 92% said they liked the increased energy of the consolidated service
  • 80% said it was very true or somewhat true that they found spiritual nourishment regardless of whether the liturgy was traditional or expansive
  • 86% said they appreciated getting to know people they hadn’t previously known from St John’s due to attending different services
  • 25% said they missed having traditional services every week; for them, we are adding a second traditional service (at 8am, spoken service) every month
  • 7% said they would find it hard to make the current arrangement work
  • 90% said they prefer having the coffee hour after the service
  • 70% said the 9am Community Forum time works for them or they were neutral on the subject
  • 85% said they valued that the single service has simplified workload for staff
  • Of people who said they had children, 86% said we should continue to have Sunday school during the service

About the timing of Sunday School:

We have decided to keep Sunday school during the service based on your responses and the following facts:

  • Attendance in Sunday School is significantly increased when it occurs during the service
  • Allows for a “large group” for kids of all ages who hear the day’s story / teaching from Heather and also “small groups” for kids to do age-appropriate learning activities based on the story; this promotes greater energy and joy for the kids in the same way that a consolidated, fuller service does for the adults
  • Using the larger Parish Hall space allows for more options of activities than downstairs (science experiments, cooking, acting, life-sized posters, games, etc)
  • It is easier to recruit volunteers because Heather is doing most of the teaching and volunteers lead activities
  • Space conflicts between Children’s Ministry and Music Ministry are significantly reduced
  • Heather’s workload is reduced because she is doing most of the teaching, and can nuance the curriculum based on the age of the kids attending; only needs to create different age-appropriate activities

Based on concerns expressed by a few parents that they missed having their children in the service for Holy Eucharist, which previously occurred only once per month for the youngest kids, we are now adding a second Sunday per month for the youngest kids to return from Sunday school in time for Holy Eucharist.

In Conclusion

Thank you for continuing to be a wonderfully engaged, courageous, open-hearted community who values the needs of the whole, who is willing to experiment and communicate, and who centers what is most important—cultivating a community that supports each other and is learning to embody Jesus’ Way of Love together. Please reach out to me, to Senior Warden Doug Mensing or to Junior Warden Heidi Weaver if you have further comments, questions or feedback about this subject. It is a great privilege and gift to be your Rector.

In Christ’s Love,

The Rev. Lisa Wiens Heinsohn