Beloved St. John’s community,
As our Senior Warden Laura Meister shared with you a few weeks back, we will soon have a new staff member! I am delighted to welcome the Venerable Rena Turnham as our new “Minister for Sustainable Mission.” Her first day with us will be Palm Sunday, April 2, when she will give a brief homily. She will be a half time staff member, and she will also serve independently as a Deacon for us (serving alongside our Deacon the Rev. Rex McKee) when her other ECMN duties permit.
Rena’s primary role will be to assist me and a core team to lead St. John’s through a two-year period of prayerful discernment, curiosity, experimentation, innovation, and discovery, to chart a clear, concrete ‘map’ for congregational mission that is financially sustainable well into the future.
This process will begin by revisiting foundational questions about St. John’s identity, purpose and impact in the world. It will be rooted in prayer, scripture and tradition, and shaped by St. John’s core values of sacredness, belonging, spiritual nourishment, creativity, and transformation.
As you will see in Rena’s attached letter, she is a thoughtful, innovative, and relational follower of Jesus’ Way of Love who will help to midwife what God’s Spirit is bringing to birth at St. John’s. Having worked with her in founding Circle of the Beloved and at St. Mark’s Cathedral when I was a Transitional Deacon, I can attest that Rena is a highly gifted and missionally-minded person who will be a great addition to our team. I welcome her with all my heart! Please mark your calendars and be sure to come on Palm Sunday, April 2, to meet Rena and welcome her to St. John’s.
With joy and blessing,
To the Good People of St. John’s – Minneapolis, grace and peace to you!
I give thanks to the God of possibility for bringing us together in the ministry of dreaming and planning for the future of St. John’s!
I come to you as follower of Jesus, a lover of all people, a seeker of wisdom, and a ‘journeyman’ in the spiritual and practical sense. I am a cradle Episcopalian from ECMN, and I live in the city of Minneapolis. I currently serve as one of three archdeacons in the ministry of supporting the diaconate in ECMN.
Together, under the leadership of your rector, The Rev. Lisa Wiens Heinsohn, I will work with the vestry, congregation, clergy, and staff, to develop a ministry of creating “missional sustainability”. This ministry will be one of clarifying what it means to be church in this time and in this place, and beyond, and to create a plan for the financial sustainability of this vision.
We will seek out and plan for the next stage of new life for this congregation. It will be borne of your roots, your stories of hope and healing, your dreams for the future, and God’s dream of Beloved Community. If intentionally and prayerfully tended from the foundation of your core values of Sacredness, Belonging, Spiritual Nourishment, Creativity, and Transformation, this new life stage will sprout forth from seeds sown by all of you and past generations, for the sake of this community and the world God created.
To be faithful in this endeavor will mean to be open, curious, courageous, and expectant. This is a ‘pregnant’ moment to be sure—a transition to prepare for a future where God’s mission is at the center and to where only the Spirit can accompany us.
We will make our way, together, through prayer, deep listening, innovation, experimentation, and reflection. We must expect this journey to take time, to sometimes have a pace of its own, and it will require us to assume the best intentions of one another, especially when there may be disagreements among members. One thing is for sure, our experience will be exciting and inspiring. Sometimes, it may be challenging and even anxiety producing. Through all of this, we will build trust in one another, and in the movement of the Spirit. I pledge to give my best to you and to this effort.
The journey is the process, the work, and the ministry. It’s a pilgrimage of sorts, and God willing, we will be transformed, and so will our community. I am honored and humbled to walk this journey with each of you, a journey that will be driven by shared purpose, guided by the Spirit, and fueled by our collective energy and gifts. On that note, please prayerfully consider if you have energy and gifts to offer to this endeavor, as this is the ministry of many!
I look forward to finally coming to be among you, in this important time in the life of this congregation. I can’t think of a better time to begin our ministry together than Holy Week, when we will walk together from the triumph and the tragedy of Palm Sunday, to the Last Supper, to the cross, to the tomb, and finally, to embrace the Risen Christ.
With expectancy and hope, and in believing in the God who makes all things new, my prayers continue for our ministry together.
The Venerable Rena Turnham, ECMN Archdeacon