E-Newsletter for Sunday, September 16, 2018

Holy Cross Day, What is Stewardship?, Movie Group and more in the E-Newsletter for September 16, 2018 https://mailchi.mp/6d0bb4ece924/ey7eu7o5mr-1402825

From the Stewardship Commission
John Harberts, Chair

Dear *|FNAME|*,

As you all know, our pledge drive is underway. There are actually only two weeks left to turn in a pledge for the 2019 budget. But I'm not writing at this moment to talk about the pledge details. Instead, I want to say a few words about how we think about pledging.

The chances are if I went up to most people in this church and said, “Are you engaged in a ministry?” most of us would say, “Oh, no. I am a parishioner and I attend church, but I am not engaged in a ministry.  We have a priest, staff, deacons, and so on. They do the ministry.”  We tend to have a rather passive image of our role in the church. Even if we are actively engaged, we don't think of ourselves as ministers. We say, "Oh, well I volunteer."

We need to seriously rethink that, if we say we are part of the Body of Christ. We are really, each of us, engaged in a ministry. If ministry is the act of helping someone in need so they can be closer to God, that is what we are really engaged in – not simply fundraising, but our own ministry.  

And at this moment, you have an opportunity… one we shouldn’t miss. 

We are a community—not just of Episcopalians, but —a community or ministry of God’s love. We all have needs: spiritual, religious, emotional, and most likely even at times physical needs with our health, food, shelter and so on. Together we are a community with needs that also has the resources to meet those needs.  God has invited us to worship as a group for that reason—because we all have needs and together we can meet those needs. If you think about it, I can hardly come up with anyone in this community who in the last few years hasn’t at some point faced the kinds of needs I listed. I can’t think of a time either, when those needs were ignored. God works through community. God works through our relationships.

God works through the people here for the people here. or relationship. That means God works through you…not just the staff.

So, you are engaged in a ministry. And we need to be clear that ministry isn’t always easy. It takes effort and even some sacrifice. The gifts and resources you have are yours. That is why giving is an act of love on your part. You are giving something you have received yourself. That is an act of love. You sacrifice something for others with no thought of payback.

A pledge should be seen as something deeply meaningful we all do.  As I mentioned, we call our collective efforts by different names. We call it volunteering, charitable giving, “helping out,” pledging, etc., but make no doubt about it, it is really your own ministry.  We need to know that, because we need to feel empowered as Christians, not passive.

That is what we are being called to do. This is your gift to give. Turning in a pledge is your chance to minister as much as Father Jared visiting someone, performing a wedding or baptism, a Stephen Minister counseling someone, helping at Loving Spoonfuls, or someone providing at the Unity School in Uganda. The list goes on and on. There should be no doubt that your pledge or gift is your opportunity to your own ministry because it is your love, your sacrifice that is being made. We are all part of the Body.

I simply want you to realize that an act such as pledging and giving is far more than meeting a budget. Pledging is a call, a knock on our door, an invitation to what is perhaps the most critical and essential ministry in this church. Because this single ministry—turning in a pledge—is what enable all other ministries here to exist, it is what enables them to blossom. 

The ministry of your pledge reaches children, those in distress, those without enough to eat, those who need lifting up, those who want to worship and thank God, those with joy in their hearts, those with sorrow, young and old – all of us. Please take this opportunity and share in the pride of being responsible for all the good we do.

So, if by chance someone does come up to you and ask, “Are you engaged in a ministry?” I hope you answer, “Yes, I am.” If we are part of the Body of Christ, we are not passive bystanders. Our actions and giving are active ministry. Please answer this call and click here to turn in your pledge today.

Yours in Christ,

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, September 16  https://mailchi.mp/6d0bb4ece924/ey7eu7o5mr-1402825

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, September 9, 2018

Mustard Seed Sunday, Ministry Fair, Ministry Training Day and more in the E-Newsletter for September 9, 2018 https://mailchi.mp/1242dd201a4c/ey7eu7o5mr-1400301

From the Rector
The Rev. Dr. Jared C. Cramer, SCP

Dear *|FNAME|*,

In the lectionary readings each Sunday we are currently working our way through the Epistle of James, a letter that challenges our religiosity.

I've particularly enjoyed the conversations these readings have engendered at our regular Thursday Noon Lectionary & Lunch Bible Study. (Speaking of, did you know you can actually get a shirt with our Bible Study motto on it online here?) We've wrestled at those meetings with the insistence that faith that is not manifested in outward actions has no worth, no value. 

There is always a sense in our culture that the point of going to church is to feel good (or better!) about life. Or the sense is you go so you can get saved. The problem is that both of these views present a rather anemic understanding of the Christian faith.

The Christian faith is not only about you and your relationship with God. It is not only about your (or my!) sense of spiritual connectedness. 

The Christian faith is about experiencing the love of God and letting that love transform you so that you can be an instrument of God's love to change the world. 

As a parish community, we are in the midst of that time every year where we discern as individuals how we will take our part in God's work in the church and in the world.

One of the key questions during this month is how we will bring our worldly treasures to bear in that work. I know that as I have experienced rising violence, anger, and vitriol in the world, Bethany and I are more committed than over to being absolutely sure that a tithe, a full 10%, of our household income goes right here, to the work SJE does to change the world through the love of God. 

This year the Stewardship Commission is asking for all pledges to be submitted no later than Sunday, September 23—just a little over two weeks from now. Their goal is that we can then set a budget for what our church can (and cannot do) to spread God's love next year. With that budget set earlier in the year, we can truly devote the holiday seasons of November and December to gratefulness and joy. 

I truly hope you will join Bethany and me in committing to give a percentage of your first-fruits to the work of God through the people of SJE. If a tithe of 10% is beyond you, consider starting working in that direction, maybe giving 5%. And know that there are fellow parishioners who invite you to join them, who also tithe to the work of God here—or who even give more than a tithe. You can click here to make your pledge for 2019, or to change it if you have discerned God is calling you to something different. 

And as you discern, I really hope you will spend some time in the Parish Hall this Sunday after each service for the Annual Fall Ministry Fair. All the various ministries of the parish will have tables set up, with members eager to share with you what they do to transform lives and spread God's love and justice. 

And Sunday afternoon, our Worship Ministries will have their annual refresher meeting and workshop for new members. If you've been thinking of getting involved in a worship ministry, click here to see what's out there and what time each ministry is meeting. 

After all, our financial commitment to our faith is only one part of the puzzle. God also invites us to action, to standing up and doing something so that we can more faithfully Worship God, be Transformed in Christ, and Change the World. 

We cannot do this without you, without your generous support, and without your hands, feet, and hearts. 

Thank you, people of St. John's, for being a congregation that always wants to ensure that our faith is not just a fuzzy ideal, but that is a generous and sacrificial lived way of life that actually does change the world we live in. 

Through Grace,

PS~ And don't forget this Sunday, being the first Sunday of the Program Year is also the Blessing of the Backpacks AND a Mustard Seed Sunday. Kids and teachers bring your backpacks with you to be blessed. And at all three services, all children will be invited to join the Gospel Procession, sit on the chancel steps with Fr. Jared for the homily, and then stand with the other altar ministers around the altar for Holy Communion. 

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, September 9  https://mailchi.mp/1242dd201a4c/ey7eu7o5mr-1400301

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, September 2, 2018

International Mission Trip, Stewardship Drive, Vestry News and more in the E-Newsletter for September 2, 2018 https://mailchi.mp/7c5b7cf704ee/ey7eu7o5mr-1398541

From Diocesan Deacon for International Mission
The Rev. Beth Drew

Dear *|FNAME|*,

I invite you to join us for our mission project to Mosovi, Domincan Republic June 15-22, 2019!

Please join us to assist with the completion of the water well project our missioners started work on a few years ago. There is still much work to be completed as last year's hurricane season caused damage to the roads as well as the structures already in place. This is a much needed project and the health and well-being of our Dominican friends will forever be impacted.

There have been a few changes to the mission assistance policy in the diocese. The cost for each missioner will be supported 1/3 by the diocese, 1/3 by the missioner's parish, and 1/3 by individual fundraising. The cost for the trip usually runs around $1,500. Please apply early so we can jumpstart fundraising!

Click here to learn more and to apply. Applications are due by February 28th. Please contact me with any questions or to visit and speak with your congregation. I look forward to hearing from you!

La Paz,
Deacon Beth Drew

If you may want to be a missioner from our parish, please click here to give Father Jared a head's up so he can coordinate with the Vestry on fundraising for the parish portion of your mission trip costs!

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, September 2  https://mailchi.mp/7c5b7cf704ee/ey7eu7o5mr-1398541

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, August 26, 2018

Welcome back Fr. Jared, Our Kids Need You, Training Day and more in the E-Newsletter for August 26, 2018 https://mailchi.mp/9207ba13b958/ey7eu7o5mr-1396481

From Mark Kelley


Dear *|FNAME|*,

My Name is Mark Kelley. At the time of this writing, I am pursuing a life long, but at times ignored, calling to the Diaconate in the Episcopal Church. I have served the church which I have been a member of literally since birth in a number of different ministries and ways. But, they were and still are just the methods of learning what I must know to serve GOD’s church as a deacon.

With St. John’s blessings, I have gone through a two year long process of gathering the information, attending the meetings, and much discernment about this process which  starts with the calling of a Discernment Committee, who over the course of many weeks \ months quite rightly questions your desire to pursue the Holy Orders. After the discernment team gives you their blessings, the current vestry and parish priest must also forward a recommendation to the Bishop.

These three entities are not the final say in whether or not you can even aspire to become a deacon. That decision process involves meetings with the Bishop, a psychologist, a deep background security check, and then finally after you have delivered a thick packet of documents, you arrive with a date for a meeting with the Commission on Ministry. They are the gate keepers who ultimately make the recommendation to the bishop to appoint you as an “Aspirant to the Diaconate”, which the bishop can accept or reject.
After confirmation from the Commission on Ministry, and the bishop, I then will be given permission to attend the formation classes one weekend a month for the next 3 or 4 years, and even then with no guarantee of even being ordained as a Deacon in the Episcopal Church.

Many ask “why put yourself through all this?” And I just reply because it is what I was born to do. I have known since my youth that my calling was to in some manner serve GOD and his church in ordained ministry.  But even more importantly, I have also known this whole time that my place is not front and center of the altar, but rather to serve the altar, GOD, and his church from behind the scenes, delivering a message of GOD’s love to any that would hear it. 

I look forward to the day of ordination. Becoming a Deacon serving St. John’s is my desire, and my place in the church community.


Br. John Mark, Obl. OSB.



Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, August 26  https://mailchi.mp/9207ba13b958/ey7eu7o5mr-1396481

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, August 19, 2018

Transition in Latino Ministry, Mutual Renewal Workshop this Saturday and more in the E-Newsletter for August 19, 2018 https://mailchi.mp/d1906d0648b0/ey7eu7o5mr-1394317

From the Sr. Warden
Ms. Cathryn Marshall

Dear *|FNAME|*,

As we approach 2019 and the third and final year of the current grant cycle for our El Corazón Latino Ministry Initiative, there are some transitions we have decided upon.

As you know, last month Father John began a period of leave, taking his well-deserved vacation time. As some of you have asked, we feel it is important to be transparent at this time that his period of leave was precipitated by some difficulties within our Latino Ministry Initiative. Father Jared came out of his Renewal Leave in July to try and help our members and Father John work through those difficulties. However, it became apparent at that time that the best option instead was for everyone to take a step back for rest and reflection, that we might begin anew this fall when Father Jared returns and we can bring all the resources of our parish to bear on this important ministry.

Earlier this week, Father Jared came out of Renewal Leave again to meet with Father John about returning. I joined that meeting as Sr. Warden and our Canon Missioner, Mother Val Ambrose, also joined us. We had hoped that this meeting could provide a way forward to begin afresh with a vibrant and strong Latino ministry. However, by the end of the meeting, it became apparent to everyone involved that the best option for everyone—including Father John—would be for Father John to seek a new call elsewhere and for our parish to work to bring in someone else to assist in leading our Latino Initiative. 

This was a painful decision for everyone. But every single person in the meeting was united in their concern for the best of the congregation of St. John’s—particularly our Latino members. The parish and diocesan leadership also wants what is best for Father John, for him to thrive as a priest in Christ’s church. 

Father John has declined an official sending liturgy and celebration of his ministry, believing it would be best for him simply to leave quietly. We know that the lack of an opportunity to greet him, thank him, and wish him well will be hard for many of you. It is hard for me as the Senior Warden. However, we want to respect his wishes in honor of the good ministry he has had among us in its various forms over these past several years. You should feel free to reach out to him privately, if you feel so moved, to thank him for his ministry and wish him well as he discerns God’s next call in his life. He will remain officially employed, but on administrative leave, until October 15. 

When Father Jared returns on Sunday, August 26, our Spanish-language Eucharist will resume at it’s normal program-year time of 12:45pm. Father Jared will both preach and celebrate at that liturgy going forward until we are able to call a new Associate Rector. You are warmly invited to join our Latino members at the 12:45pm liturgy on the 26th, to show your own support to them and this ministry, if you are able. 

Given that there is only one year left (2019) in the current grant cycle, we know that it may be difficult to find a Spanish-speaking priest who would feel able to relocate and be with us for this half-time position. Our hope is that our current grant will be renewed for another three years, but we will not know that until the Spring of 2019. So, in order to ensure that the momentum and vitality of our Latino Ministry Initiative is not further dampened, we will work very hard to find new leadership for this important ministry. 

When Father Jared returns he will immediately work with our Latino members to help design a position description that we can post. If you would like to assist, please reach out to Father Jared to let him know. Our Latino members will also be invited to assist Father Jared in determining who to call next to come and serve among us. A call to a one-year position may be more attractive if we could provide housing—so if you might be interested in hosting a new Associate Rector in your home for all or part of 2019, please contact the Parish Office immediately. When we find out the decision in the spring of 2019 about renewal of our grant, our new Associate Rector can then work with the Vestry, Father Jared, and all the members of our congregation in preparing for a transition to the next three years of this ministry—whatever that will look like.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Once Father Jared returns, he would also be happy to sit down and talk further with you.

In the meantime, please join me in prayer for Father John, our Latino ministry, and the strength and faithfulness of Christ’s church.

Yours in Christ,

Cathryn Marshall, Sr. Warden

**A version of this message is available in Spanish online here. / Una versión de este mensaje está disponible en español en línea aquí."**


Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, August 19  https://mailchi.mp/d1906d0648b0/ey7eu7o5mr-1394317

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, August 12, 2018

Training Day Announced, CROP Walk Meeting, Parish Camping Retreat and more in the E-Newsletter for August 12, 2018 https://mailchi.mp/83a94f3ab311/ey7eu7o5mr-1392441

A Message from Fr. Daniel Snyder

Dear *|FNAME|*,

I grew up in a family rooted in a dynamic faith. It was a great gift. Faith held us in warmth, comfort, and safety; but nonetheless had the strength of steel in supporting us at difficult times. I grew up loving my faith and being loved in that faith. That grounding led me to priesthood in the Roman church. I was active in public ministry for nine years. I loved ministry.  However, over time the Roman church’s position on women in the church and gay people led me to the point of an inherently conflicted position: I did not believe them and could not publicly teach the party line. Despite a critical priest shortage, there was a refusal to ordain women or married men. I faced a conflicted and exhausting future. I made the decision to leave public ministry and do my doctorate in psychology.

I practiced as a psychologist and addictions counselor and became a mental health administrator. I taught psychology at the graduate level. However, I was always still a priest in my heart. I loved preaching and sharing the Word, I loved and missed presiding at sacraments. My searching for “more than church on Sunday” led me to the Ecumenical Order of Charity, in which I have professed Life Vows and serve as the Vocation Director.

Finding St. John’s was one of the greatest blessings of my life! I felt at home immediately. My partner of over 30 years, John, joined soon after. I was formally received into the Episcopal church at Easter 2016. In talking theology with Jared, I discovered I had long been an Episcopalian at heart. Our discussions led me to formally discern using my priesthood within the Episcopal Church. If it be the intent of the All Holy, I see myself as serving as Jared needs me at St. John’s, as a supply priest, or possibly an interim, but not as a rector. I’ll leave that up to young people like Jared! 


Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, August 12  https://mailchi.mp/83a94f3ab311/ey7eu7o5mr-1392441

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, August 5, 2018

Morning Prayer, Coast Guard Parade, The Transfiguration, Immigration Process and more in the E-Newsletter for August 5, 2018 https://mailchi.mp/4d1473c0a9b2/ey7eu7o5mr-1389973

A Message from Jessica Robinson, Aspirant to the Priesthood

Dear *|FNAME|*,

Things in life have a way of taking a winding road that lead to some unforeseeable future. My journey to ordained ministry has been on a very long and winding road with many twists and turns since I became a believer and first felt the call to ordained ministry. Early in my first year at Hope College I declared Theology as my major. Before I graduated, I found myself in my first lesbian relationship. My worldview was small at the time and I had been taught that being a lesbian just simply would not work with ministry. I graduated with my degree in Theology and promptly went into teaching, ignoring the calling that I had so clearly received.  This set me on a track of ignoring as best as I could the gnawing call to ordained ministry for 10 years. That all changed when I stepped foot into Father Jared’s office for the first time. The time had come to heed the call.
My formal pursuit of ordained ministry began in 2015 at Western Theological Seminary in Holland. While I had always unintentionally attended Reformed churches, I found myself at SJE due to the social justice movements of the church.  Once I began to learn the theology of the Episcopal Church, I immediately fell in love with it.  I always considered my theological beliefs to have no real home until then. The Episcopal Church is home to my theological beliefs and practices. After all these years, I found my home in the Episcopal Church. 
I attended Western Theological Seminary for two years. I discontinued my education there for several reasons; the beliefs regarding my sexuality in the Reformed church became oppressive and my zeal and desire for ordination in the Episcopal Church began to dominate my mind and heart. Since the age of 18 (17 years), the call to ordained ministry has never left me, even all the times I attempted to leave it.  
The act of surrender always has to happen in some shape or form when we choose to listen to God. God beckons each and every one of us in some way if we are paying attention. One of the hardest parts in answering God is the simple, yet extremely difficult act of surrender. It takes confidence in what we hope for and assurance in what we cannot see. When God calls to us, often times it’s a simple, yet steady tug that we feel.  One thing I have learned is that when God really desires something from us, God is relentless in the pursuit. As God pursues all of us in individual ways, I am in prayer for you and thank God for you. 


Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, August 5  https://mailchi.mp/4d1473c0a9b2/ey7eu7o5mr-1389973

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, July 29, 2018

Help Wanted, CROP Walk, Exchange Student and more in the E-Newsletter for July 29, 2018 https://mailchi.mp/d8c1b3799279/ey7eu7o5mr-1387705

A Message from Cathryn Marshall, Senior Warden

Dear *|FNAME|*,

It’s almost upon us. The dreaded (by some) Coast Guard Festival. That time of year when we avoid the downtown area at all costs, try to stay off the highway, and shudder with every boom of the amateur fireworks! Then again, each year at this time, we come together to watch a great parade after celebrating Morning Prayer with music. We enjoy the best seats for the parade, right outside our own front door, across from the VIP stand, where we can hear the announcements for every float and marching band.

Join us for Morning Prayer at 10:00am on Saturday, August 4th.  Parking is available at the Presbyterian Church behind us for just $5. After Morning Prayer, come on outside with your blankets or lawn chair, plenty of sunscreen, and enjoy what is always a great parade. Be sure to watch for our own JB Meeuwenberg in the Scottville Clown Band at their usual spot at the end of the parade! 

This year, El Corazon will once again be putting together a taco sale right on our lawn, with proceeds going to help fund their ministry. If you’d like to help with set-up, sales, or clean-up, please click here or call the church office. We would love to have your help!
In God’s Grace,

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, July 29  https://mailchi.mp/d8c1b3799279/ey7eu7o5mr-1387705

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, July 22, 2018

Mutual Renewal Workshop, Concert this Sunday, Migrant Quilt Project and more in the E-Newsletter for July 22, 2018 https://mailchi.mp/8b408f04983e/ey7eu7o5mr-1385341

A Message from Alicia Hager, Aspirant to the Priesthood

Dear *|FNAME|*,

Our Senior Warden Cathryn Marshall asked me if I would be willing to share with you some of my own journey toward ordained ministry. For me, and for many others who have felt so called, it begins with a tugging feeling. I obeyed my tug and through the process of parish discernment was moved to discernment at a diocesan level as a Nominee to the Order of Deacons. 

I enrolled in the Academy for Vocational Leadership, which is a collaboration with the Seminary of the Southwest and also the three lower Michigan dioceses. I spent 3 years attending the Academy in Clarkston, Mi, one weekend per month. We studied the Bible, Church History and Theology & Ethics. We also had practical courses and spirituality courses. I graduated just last month with my Certificate in Theological Studies. 

It was through my time at the Academy that I felt that my own call to ministry was shifting, I felt that tug again, but I tried my best to ignore it for a lot of reasons. Two priests in one family?! But I have kids! But I have to work a regular job and pay bills, how will I find time for this? But I don’t want to give up who I think I am and my own plans…. What I was doing was throwing up barriers to God and where I heard God speaking in my life. The process of tearing down those barriers, being willing to listen with a spirit of true openness, and finally saying out loud what I was hearing, was the better part of 18 months and was very difficult. 

I wonder what you are hearing, beloved family. I wonder where God is speaking in your life and where you too have put up barriers. Not everyone is called to a life of ordained ministry, but we are all called at our baptism to ministry. My own call takes its shape from my deep love of the church and her people. Your own ministry may take the shape of telling Godly Play stories, singing in the choir, becoming a Eucharistic Visitor or feeding the hungry at Loving Spoonfuls. Whatever your own tug is, I hope you will obey. There is great joy to be found in service to God and community, wondrous freedom in a call to ministry that is obeyed even though it seems impossible or difficult; even though it requires sacrifice. 

I believe that it is only through each of us obeying our distinct call to minister that the kingdom of God can be ushered in. I am in prayer for you, SJE, as you are in prayer for me. 

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, July 22  https://mailchi.mp/8b408f04983e/ey7eu7o5mr-1385341

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, July 15, 2018

Mutual Renewal, Women’s Group, Choir Opportunities and more in the E-Newsletter for July 15, 2018 https://mailchi.mp/4f0aa9d580f9/ey7eu7o5mr-1383417

A Message from Cathryn Marshall, Senior Warden

Dear *|FNAME|*,

Well, we’ve made it more than halfway through our Mutual Renewal time together!  How has this time affected you?  Sunday services are just a bit different with a variety of supply priests celebrating with us. Our Latino members have begun to join us at the 10:00 service while Fr John takes a break.  We’ve all noticed that people are absent from week to week as families take their annual vacations.  Many have joined in at the Mutual Renewal workshops where we have explored how God is calling us to live into our spirituality, and our life of prayer. We’ve learned about the power of healing and God’s grace.  Our next workshop will be led by our own Alicia Hager on Saturday, July 21st.  Alicia will be sharing her thoughts on lay leadership.   Have you stepped into a different leadership role during this time of renewal?  Have you noticed others who have?  Many of you have taken time to thank me for the work I’m doing as your Senior Warden. I want you to know that I really appreciate your support!

I’d like to invite you all to dig deeper during this second half of our Mutual Renewal time.  Click here to explore your Rule of Life.  This document came from the Diocesan Church Development Institute (DCDI), a two-year program I’ve been attending since last year. Beginning in 2019, this program is going to be restructured and presented as twelve one-day seminars instead of the current eight two-day sessions.  The new DCDI will be held at a church in Midland on twelve Saturdays spread out over two years.  I highly recommend it!

I hope you all continue to enjoy the warm weather, the beach, the picnics, and everything else that makes summer great.  Be sure to join us in welcoming Fr Jared, Bethany, and Lucy back to St John’s on Sunday, August 26th!
In God’s Grace,

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, July 15  https://mailchi.mp/4f0aa9d580f9/ey7eu7o5mr-1383417

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