Letter from the Sr. Warden

February 15, 2017
Fellow members of St. John’s,

Thank you for entrusting us, as members of your Vestry, with the responsibility for taking St. John’s forward.   We are fortunate that Matt Hart and Neil Gray, who stepped down as senior warden and treasurer, left our church in such fine shape.  They were good stewards.

We have a nursery school bursting at the seams, a thriving Sunday School, and a growing number of young families who have recently joined St. John’s.  We have a large group of long-time and highly involved parishioners.   We have a remarkably talented group of men and women on the Vestry.  Father Joe is dynamic and caring, and he knows how to blend spiritual insights and humor in a sermon.

As you know, we face some challenges, as church attendance for mainstream churches such as ours has broadly declined in the US.  Still, our membership has stabilized, at about 150 pledging households, after declining from 200 in 2000.  Weekly attendance is growing.

As a parish, we have collectively decided to call a curate, which will significantly increase expenses in a tight budget.  However, we believe that the addition of a curate will strengthen our spiritual community and allow us to expand our programs.

I want to give you a brief summary of our discussions of the Vestry’s two-day annual retreat in late January.   We talked about many issues, of course, but here are the main priorities we identified:

  • Growing St. John’s–restoring our membership to 200 households within five years
  • Developing a five-year strategic plan for St. John’s –what do we want our church to look like/be focused on in 2022?
  • Enhancing and fine-tuning our Sunday School program to give our children an even stronger grounding in the core principles of our faith
  • Strengthening St. John’s presence in our broader community
  • Addressing the key physical needs of our beautiful, 125 year-old church and Parish Hall… in a financially prudent manner

One of our goals is to make St. John’s a warm, inviting environment for newcomers looking for a spiritual home, and we plan to launch a number of initiatives to accomplish that.
We will ask you for your views on how St. John’s should evolve over the next five years, as we create our strategic plan.  Stay tuned for more on that front.

We have formed an advisory committee, under the leadership of Debra Quintana, our director of Christian Education, to study three possible curricula for the Sunday School and make a recommendation soon.

We would like to provide more hands-on outreach opportunities for the entire parish.  This might include small projects or reviving a large-scale initiative like “Beyond the Walls” in which, for many years, dozens of St. John’s members worked together on targeted, one-day projects.  We will look to parishioners for suggestions and volunteers to lead these efforts.

We also hope that several of you will join an infrastructure committee that we’ll create soon. The committee will help us to assess the needs of our physical plant, set priorities and plan the necessary projects.

We hope that all of these efforts will be a two-way process.  We’d like to hear from you on what’s working at St. John’s and what you think could be improved.  We know that this is not yet paradise on earth.  So please get in touch with me ([email protected]) or a Vestry member.  Below is a list of Vestry members and their specific areas of responsibility.

I feel lucky to belong to such a vibrant, warm church, and I hope that you do, too.

Best regards,
Ryan O’Connell
Senior Warden

St. John’s Vestry, 2017

Ryan O’Connell – Sr. Warden, Stewardship
Linnet Tse – Jr. Warden, Buildings and Grounds, ECW, Church Infrastructure
Rick Berry – Clerk, Church Governance, 5 Year Strategy Plan
Kathy Brenner – Outreach, Arts Preservation, Church Infrastructure, Buildings and Grounds
Liz Bruce – Sunday School Committee
Christopher Burrows – Church Infrastructure, Parish Picnic
Diane Goodman – Sunday School Committee, Newcomers Ministry, Nursery School
Dacey Hall – Pastoral Care
Teresa Kim – Newcomers Ministry
Jay Klancnik – Church Infrastructure, Men’s Ministries
Mike O’Connell – Investments Committee, Men’s Ministries
Frank Pierson – Treasurer (member ex-officio)
Susan Swanezy – Church Infrastructure, Arts Preservation
Amy Van den Dijssel – Outreach, ECW
Sue Wahrhaftig – Buildings and Grounds, Environmental Stewardship, Arts Preservation