Among all the articles I have written thus far for this newsletter, the one which has overwhelmingly received the greatest response spoke about our responsibility to welcome all people who come through our doors as guests sent by God. I noted that when newcomers step out of the normal patterns of their lives into our church, they are opening themselves to God and seeking to see where the way of Christ intersects life. At St. John’s, we do an exceptional job at welcoming people during their initial moments of entrance through dedicated greeters and ushers. Where things get more complicated is during the next steps, as people can easily struggle to make the move from walking into our worship space to plunging into the expanse of our community life. Therefore, we, in turn, must be faithful to them and God by making their path into the fellowship and work of the Church as accessible as possible.
Our parishioner, Patton Coles, felt led to craft a new ministry program to help St. John’s shepherd people deeper into the life of our parish. Out of many conversations and hours of planning, what has emerged from Patton’s efforts is The St. John’s Ambassadors Program. The Ambassadors will serve as responsive guides, dedicated to transforming regular visitors into connected members of our church. They will answer basic questions, make sure newcomers know how to be a part of our programs and ministries, suggest avenues for greater engagement, and simply serve as friendly ambassadors for St. John’s. The intent is to open ever more broadly the front doors of our church, while shutting the many back doors through which people are slipping away. If you are interested in assisting Patton with this vital, new ministry of hospitality, please contact him and be an Ambassador for Christ at St. John’s (Patton.Coles@wellsfargo.com or 540-520-2095).
Another area where we meet those God sends our way is through our Outreach Ministries, by which our church serves those in need. Let me brag a minute: St. John’s is the most determined and generous parish I have ever been around when it comes to helping neighbors near and far in Jesus’ name. We do tremendous good through the monetary gifts and volunteer hours graciously given in love to those who are hurting. The good news is that through your generosity, the financial resources have been available year after year to give substantial care to those who come to us for assistance. The bad news is we have an acute need for volunteers to help with these ministries. Our most pressing need is for people willing to offer some time on Tuesday mornings at any point between 7:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. On these mornings, neighbors from the valley who are in need of emergency assistance for utility bills and other basic necessities come to St. John’s for our TRUE (Temporary Relief for Unexpected Emergencies) program. Again, the aid offered comes by way of your gifts and is staffed by our own volunteers. To a person, those who give of their time in this way speak of their own lives being transformed by their service. Yet, they need back up, and thus it is time for others of us to step up. While this might be intimidating for some, there is no need to let that be an impediment, as there are numerous ways to be helpful. If you would be willing to welcome in Jesus’ name those in need, please contact the Reverend David Olson (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get involved.
TRUE and St. John’s Ambassadors are but two of countless efforts our parish makes to be the people Jesus has called us to be. By seeking and serving Christ in all persons, we not only live into our baptismal vows, but also partner with God in reshaping the world ever more in Jesus’ image.
I don’t know about you, but for me, there is nothing more needed in the world, or needful for me to do with my own life.
Serving with you,
The Reverend Eric Long, Rector