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Tending the Roots

By March 9, 2023No Comments

Dear St. John’s Community,

Those of us who attended the annual meeting this past January know that our current financial trajectory is unsustainable even though we are also experiencing lots of vitality and growth. In two years we will deplete our operating reserves and, though we have healthy additional savings, we do not wish to operate indefinitely in the red.

Given this reality and keeping in mind our Bishop’s message to “tend the roots of our congregation,” both Lisa and your Vestry have been prayerfully discerning how we move through this financial winter toward thriving again. Even as we tend our roots, we also want to create space for the Spirit’s leading and innovation. Ultimately, we need a map toward missional and financial sustainability. As often happens with the Spirit, pieces have fallen in to place that make it possible for us to take faithful steps toward a new chapter.

The first puzzle piece happened late last year, when two former members of this congregation–Mr. Nish Jamgotch and Ms. Mary Miller–left our church significant bequests in their wills.

As the Vestry considered our 5 core values (Sacredness, Belonging, Spiritual Nourishment, Creativity, Transformation) and considered the generous gifts from Mr. Jamgotch and Ms. Miller, we began to see a picture come into focus.

We first imagined a new part time person, who would work for us for up to two years, to develop a ministry of creating “missional sustainability”.  We could use a portion of last year’s generous bequests to support this work.

This ministry would focus on innovative ways to bring income to the church, while continuing to spiritually nourish our congregation—all in ways that keep our mission and core values at the forefront of what we do.

The next piece of the puzzle was to find someone who would be a good fit for St. John’s. This person’s sole intention would be to partner with St. John’s to “midwife” us through this season of curiosity and innovation.

And wouldn’t you know it, we found someone we think fits that bill! Rena Turnham is an Archdeacon of ECMN and who has served several parishes during times of needed change. She and our Rector Lisa worked together at St. Mark’s Cathedral, and she and our deacon Rex McKee have often worked together as well.

Rena has a vision for how she could support St. John’s in this journey in a way that lines up with our values.  She sent a proposal to the Vestry, a subset of whom recently interviewed her. The vestry has enthusiastically agreed that she is a good fit for St. John’s, and we are excited to announce our intention to hire her part time, to join our magnificent staff on April 1st. Her position will be no longer than 2 years, and we are very excited to see how the Holy Spirit leads us all together in our vision to create missional sustainability.

We would like to hear your thoughts, excitement, questions and concerns about Rena’s role at St. John’s. On Sunday March 19th, we will host an adult forum during coffee hour. This will include a short video from Rena, sharing with us an introduction of herself, as well as her vision for this mission at St. John’s. You are all warmly welcomed to attend, hear more about what she will be doing with us, ask your questions, and help to support what God is up to at St. John’s!

We will provide more information specifically about Rena, including a photo and letter from her and from Lisa, in the coming weeks. But for now, please join us at the adult forum on March 19 to talk about her role and what we hope to accomplish through it. We hope to see you there!

~ With gratitude,
Laura Meister, Senior Warden