|Date Posted||January 7, 2021|
Connecticut (Rev. Lee Ann Tolzmann)
|Compensation||Will meet diocesan guidelines.|
|Health Benefits||Full Family|
|Communicants in Good Standing||$832,861|
|Average Sunday Attendance||181|
|Child Population in Church School||50|
|Adult Population in Church School||30|
|Teacher Population in Church School||16|
St. John’s greatest strength is its people. We are welcoming and inclusive, as reflected in our growing and increasingly diverse congregation. Worship is the heart of the St. John’s community, and we offer a varied program of services, including spoken and choral Holy Eucharist, Choral Evensong, a monthly Celtic contemplative service, youth-led liturgies, and outdoor summer services. Defying national trends, our congregation has been growing, with new members of all ages, including families attracted by the vibrant programs for children and youth overseen by the Reverend Margie Baker, our assistant rector.
St. John’s is known regionally for musical excellence, and music is part of everything we do, including worship, education, and outreach. Director of Music Scott Lamlein is a renowned organist who has grown our Royal School of Church Music-affiliated Youth Choir, our semi-professional Adult Choir, and our Music at the Red Door community concert series, which draws diverse audiences for both live and online concerts. Music at the Red Door also sponsors a Kids’ Community Music Camp that provides at-risk children with quality, inclusive music education by introducing a variety of musical expressions in a safe, educational, and fun day camp program.
When asked what drew them to St. John’s, many parishioners mention the church’s magnificent Norman and neo-Gothic architecture and stained-glass windows. The parish grounds are home to a Cloister Garden with a stone pulpit and memorial garden; a community vegetable garden; plentiful parking for worshippers, visitors, and concert goers; and green space regularly enjoyed by the parish and our neighbors. We strive to be good stewards of our beautiful spaces and are up to date on maintenance, including a project completed this year to protect the building from water damage by improving the drainage system.
Our location in suburban West Hartford, only one block from the Hartford line, is integral to our parish identity. Straddling communities of relative wealth and need keeps us focused on the importance of community partnerships and outreach. St. John’s made a strategic choice several years ago to focus outreach in three areas: education/literacy, housing, and food. The parish supplies financial and volunteer support to several community partners in these areas, including schools for at-risk students, Hartford’s premier organization addressing homelessness, a neighborhood feeding ministry, and an ESOL program serving recent immigrants and refugees, which holds classes in our education wing.
Our worship, physical plant, and ministries are supported by a pledge base that has grown in recent years and a healthy endowment. St. John’s clergy and staff work as a team to be good stewards of resources as they support the church’s ministries and people.
In the past year, the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racism have presented St. John’s with significant challenges, along with new opportunities to serve our parish and community. In part because we had been live-streaming services since 2018, St. John’s quickly adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic with a robust program of online worship, education, and fellowship opportunities. With 2021 bringing both fresh hope and continued uncertainty, we will remain flexible and creative in finding safe ways to worship, make music, and provide education, pastoral support, and opportunities for connection.
We have just begun the hard work of honest, productive conversation around racism — a sometimes difficult and uncomfortable endeavor for our relatively privileged parish membership. St. John’s recently launched Sacred Ground discussion groups in partnership with St. James’s, the other Episcopal parish in West Hartford. These groups, led by laypeople from both parishes, meet virtually to reflect on race and racism together using the Sacred Ground curriculum of the national Episcopal Church. Our assistant rector has invested in training and materials to address racism with our older youth in the coming year and is recognized within our diocese as a source of wise leadership for supporting children, youth, and families in addressing issues of race and privilege.
While the number of pledging households and pledge income have grown in the past few years, our annual operating budget still relies more on our endowment than is ideal for the parish’s long-term financial health. We want to ensure that St. John’s has the resources to respond to changing and growing needs within our parish and community, particularly given the potential long-term effects of the pandemic on physical and mental health, employment, and housing and food security. As we strive to be responsive to those needs, we confront questions including: Are we welcoming enough? Are we diverse enough? Are we flexible and open enough to what God is calling us to do and be? We are intentional in our efforts to respond honestly and productively to those questions.
We are in a very stable position and have seen growth in membership and participation, including during the pandemic. We are well placed to continue to expand on this growth when the impact of COVID-19 diminishes. Besides our engaged and committed parishioners, our incredible clergy and staff have made this growth possible. In addition to our full-time assistant rector and director of music, we are blessed with a multitalented parish manager, highly effective financial administrator, and dependable, can-do sexton who lives on-site with his family in a parish-owned house.
We adhere to the Episcopal Church in Connecticut compensation guidelines, which can be found in the Treasurers' Newsletter here.
Visit St. John's website here.
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The Reverend Lee Ann Tolzmann, Canon for Mission Leadership