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Rector’s Reflection 1.26.23

By January 26, 2023No Comments

Beloved St. John’s community,

St. John’s is at a crossroads. We are a vibrant, warm, compassionate faith community that is exploring new things, increasing in attendance, pouring ourselves out in service of neighbor, and learning new ways to think about following Jesus’ Way of Love. This year, we identified five values that capture how St. John’s sees our innovative participation in an ancient spiritual path: sacredness, belonging, spiritual nourishment, creativity, and transformation. There is so much happening that is rich and meaningful. And, our current financial situation is not sustainable beyond about two more years.

We are in a crazy paradox of incredible abundance on the one hand and unsustainability on the other. Because we have very generous members, some of whom have left us extravagant gifts in their wills after passing away this past year, we have significant operating reserves—enough to cover our anticipated budget deficits for up to two years. We also have another large fund we can use for whatever purpose aligns with our mission and the leading of God’s Spirit. What this means is that we can dream, listen, imagine, and experiment on changing ways to follow the Way of Love as a community. What this also means is that if we stay exactly the same, we will likely need to let go of our building or staff or both within the near future. It’s true that the church has been through a cycle like this before – growing and shrinking and growing again. But this time, I believe the pandemic has accelerated changes in our culture and society that are far bigger than anything happening at St. John’s and Minneapolis, and we cannot assume that things will just “get back to normal” after another year or two.

I am sharing this with you, not to suggest that we ought to proceed with anxiety, but to ask you to please attend the Annual Meeting on Sunday, January 29 (there is one service at 10am followed by the Annual Meeting and brunch at 11am). If you can’t attend in person, you can attend on Zoom here and view the Annual Report here. There you will hear more details, and you will also be asked to begin to think about what really matters to us as a community. I am asking you to open your hearts and minds to God, to your own deepest desires, and also to the desires of others in our community who may have a different vision than yours. In the collection of all of us, we will sense the Spirit’s leading—the “signal amid the noise,” as a friend of mine would say.

We will be using the next year to discern and experiment with new ways of being church that align with Jesus’ Way of Love and our values—sacredness, belonging, spiritual nourishment, creativity, and transformation. How can we explore alternative financial models of being church? How can we deeply tend our roots, our authentic connection with God as it really is, to be healthy and generative for the sake of the world God so loves?

Thank you with all my heart for being the warm, creative, loving and generous faith community that you are, and for opening yourselves to change in order to remain aligned with our values and God’s Spirit.

With love and hope,