|Date Posted||September 6, 2023|
Connecticut (Amber Page Gehr)
|Compensation||We adhere to the ECCT guidelines, which can be found in the Commons Companion on the ECCT website.|
|Diocesan Compensation Info||https://www.episcopalct.org/administration|
|Health Benefits||Full Family|
|Is there a rectory?||No|
|Communicants in Good Standing||296|
|Average Sunday Attendance||45|
Additional comments re: compensation, benefits and housing.
Compensation We adhere to the ECCT guidelines, which can be found in the Commons Companion on the ECCT website.
Diocesan Compensation Info https://www.episcopalct.org/administration
Liturgical style and practice
St. John’s draws those who love broad church liturgy with many opportunities for lay participation in all services. Holy Eucharist (Rite 2) is the chief act of Sunday worship during most of the liturgical year, but in Advent and Lent Holy Eucharist (Rite 1) has been offered in the past. The liturgical calendar is followed in shaping our corporate worship. In the absence of a priest, Morning Prayer is led by licensed lay worship leaders and trained lay preachers.
Musically, we love the Anglican Communion’s range and history: from Latin texts to early English, African-American Spirituals, Wesleyan Hymns and 21st century work. We use the 1982 Hymnal and LEVAS as well as other sources. St. John’s has a creative music director and an excellent choir.
Experimentation in worship, using ‘Enriching Our Worship’ and ‘Holy Women, Holy Men’ is made available. Previously, the mid-week Thursday Eucharist reflected on the day’s saint. There is also a strong preference for homilies that focus on Scripture rather than emphasize current events.
Lay involvement is growing. Weekly there is a Dwelling in the Word Bible-study group and a lay-led Facebook service. Our lay preachers are enthusiastic, and we appreciate hearing many voices.
St. John’s is a community of Christians who work hard at putting our faith into action. One of our strengths is that parishioners step up to serve – whether the need is for lay preachers for our worship services, lay weeders for our garden, or to fill just about any other need. Ask for help, and someone steps forward.
We are an involved congregation, committed to our church and our fellow parishioners and deeply immersed in our community, where we lead or support numerous activities. One tangible example is our Little Free Pantry, which began in a small, stand-alone cupboard several years ago and has grown to fill many shelves that require frequent restocking. Along the way, we have been humbled to realize that so many of our neighbors are fighting hunger.
The church’s financial stability is another measure of parishioners’ commitment to St. John’s. It has been achieved through monetary donations as well as the hard labor of fundraising. We have a very attractive, well maintained church, garden and office.
Another strength is our commitment to one another. We are a true family in Christ, led by a solid vestry and assisted by a superb administrator. This strength was beautifully realized during the Covid lockdown, when we found creative ways to support one another. The way we have pulled together during these past 10 months to keep St. John’s moving forward without the leadership of a priest has been nothing short of amazing.
Lastly, we are a deeply spiritual congregation on a lifetime faith journey with Christ as our shepherd, in liturgy and prayer. To better understand who we are, we suggest that candidates read our self-published book, “Gathered in God’s Name,” in which several dozen parishioners reflect on their spiritual journey during the Covid lockdown. The book’s subtitle is “How One Church Came Together in a Year of Being Apart.” And so we did.
St. John’s biggest challenge is also our biggest opportunity: expanding our membership by rekindling the yearning for the unique community connection that is part of living in the Life of Christ. That includes continuing to reach out to parishioners who are on the membership list but rarely attend worship services as well as identifying and welcoming newcomers to St. John’s. Attendance at worship services has not fully recovered since the Covid lockdown – especially for families. Families who used to be regular attendees remain infrequent participants.
We need to do a better job of reaching out to families with children. Central to this effort will be rebuilding our children and teen formation offerings which had enjoyed a long, successful history pre-Covid. We used Godly Play material as the basis for the school.
We also need to build on our success in establishing a strong presence in the community. But we need to do more – and we probably need to refine our approach to community involvement with a more targeted plan, including a blueprint for attracting members. One of the explicit goals of our fund-raising activities is to introduce St. John’s to our neighbors. And we need to do a better job of reaching out to the less fortunate among us. New Hartford is a mostly middle-class town, but there are pockets of poverty and social isolation here. As many of our members are aging, we need to be prepared to support them.
St. John’s missional orientation can be summed up by a single word: openness. It is significant that despite many concerns over the last few years, the parish church of St. John’s is open 24/7. Our doors are never locked. We give 24/7 access to our food pantry (the only food pantry in the area that functions this way), to our parish hall, and most importantly, to God’s altar. We welcome everyone into a safe harbor from which we can emerge into the world and continue our walk with Christ. And we are out in the world: we have a solid relationship with the Town of New Hartford, supporting the Neighbor to Neighbor Fund, opening our doors when there are community events on the green, hosting an annual Jazz Concert for the high school, hosting AA and other groups (even through Covid).
St. John’s has a long history of involvement with the diocese, with various parishioners serving on diocesan boards. However, equally important is our connection to other churches and community groups. Prior to Covid we held a monthly service at Cherry Brook nursing home. This was a service that reached the people who needed it most and we will be restarting it soon. Our relationship with Trinity Collinsville, Trinity Torrington, and with other churches is long standing. For example, for years we had an ecumenical Thanksgiving service which was shared between us, the town’s Congregational Church, and at times the Catholic, Lutheran, and Jewish faithful as well.
Check out the parish website here.
Amber Page Gehr
Diocesan Transition Minister
Phone: 203-639-3501 ext 131