E-Newsletter for Sunday, March 24, 2019

Movie Group Tonight, The Annunciation, Taizé Evening Prayer and more in the E-Newsletter for March 24, 2019  https://mailchi.mp/82e25ac3e43f/ey7eu7o5mr-1457525

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

Dear *|FNAME|*,

I hate to jinx it, but I think that spring is beginning to… well… spring. Finally.

The sun is shining, the grass seems to be just beginning to come back to life, and seeds and bulbs are all beginning to awaken from their long winter sleep. Pretty soon, we'll be seeing the new life of spring in the St. Francis Prayer & Meditation Garden.

If you don't know the story behind this garden, it was a legacy gift from Dick Swain, a long-time parishioner who had a deep love for this congregation and for the natural beauty of God's creation. Dick wanted to make a legacy gift to the parish—but he also wanted to see the fruits of it while he was still alive.

He spent more than a year working with Grand Haven Garden House (GHGH) in designing the St. Francis Garden. Once it got close to conceptualization, he then entered into conversations with the Property Commission and the Vestry. Finally, when all was designed and settled, the amazing staff at GHGH put shovels in the dirt and set to work transforming what had been a vacant grassy lot to the beautiful garden we all love today. The finishing touch on the garden was a brick pathway that runs through it, an anonymous gift from a family at this parish who found themselves inspired by Dick's generosity.

One of Dick's goals with the pathway is that it would help raise money for a new Landscaping Endowment, so that the landscaping and grounds of our parish could always be professionally maintained no matter the budget struggles that came or went. In the now nearly seven years since this garden was installed, that endowment has grown through the purchase of bricks in the pathway and other outright gifts. It is now valued at nearly $40K, producing an annual distribution that is enough to cover roughly a quarter of our landscaping costs. 

With the garden coming to life again, it's a great opportunity to consider joining with Dick's legacy in supporting the beautiful campus we have as a congregation. You can click here to download the brochure for purchasing a brick which you can have inscribed in memory or in honor of someone. Small bricks are $100 and large bricks are $500. You can also click here to simply make a gift of any amount to the Landscaping Endowment.

I hope you'll have a chance in the days and weeks ahead to walk through this lovely space. Remember people like Dick, now passed into the nearer presence of God, and others like him who have sought to cultivate this peaceful place of rest and refreshment at the top of the hill in Grand Haven. 

I still miss him on a regular basis. And I'm grateful for the example he gave me of what it means to give of yourself to a community and a place.  
 

Through Grace,

PS~ Don't forget this Sunday is the last day to be a part of our children's underwear and socks drive to help kids who visit a clothing pantry in Muskegon. You can place them in the designated bin in the coat room. Or, if you would prefer, you can also make an online gift to my discretionary account. All gifts made to that account between now and Sunday, March 24, will be used to purchase children's underwear and socks for this drive. 

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, March 17, 2019   https://mailchi.mp/82e25ac3e43f/ey7eu7o5mr-1457525

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, March 17, 2019

Socks & Underwear for Needy Kids, MESSIAH Concert Patrons, Byzantine Iconography, and more in the E-Newsletter for March 17, 2019  https://mailchi.mp/2701ad0594d6/ey7eu7o5mr-1454117

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

Dear *|FNAME|*,

The Season of Lent is a season of forty days of penitence, prayer, and preparation for the feast of Easter. These days are traditionally observed with three core practices: fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. 

Fasting is what most of us think of when we think of Lent. It can take many forms. For some people it is giving up some food or drink that is a normal part of your routine. For others, it is abstaining from meat on Fridays. If you choose to practice a traditional fast, you would eat one normal meal each day as well as two smaller meals that, together, are not as much as a full meal. However you practice fasting, the discipline reminds us of our Lord's words that we do not live by bread alone, but that we are actually sustained by our loving God.

There are many ways to incorporate prayer more deeply into your life. Our Lenten Series on Sundays at 11:30am and Tuesdays at 6:30pm uses various prayer practices to explore several of the Followers of Jesus. On Wednesdays at 6:00pm, the St. Cecilia Choir is offering a contemplative service of Evening Prayers in the style of Taizé. And the most traditional prayer practice in our tradition is that of the Daily Office—prayers said in the morning and in the evening. (There is a website that will put all the proper prayers and readings in for you—and there's even an app for your smartphone!)

Almsgiving can be as simple as being more intentional about giving to the poor. However, at St. John's this year, we have a special opportunity for alms giving. As our parish Nominee to the Sacred Order of Priests, Alicia Hager, tells us…

A new friend of mine at work also volunteers in a clothing pantry run by her church, Grace Reformed, in Muskegon. Margo shared with me how children's clothes, particularly new underwear and socks, are incredibly difficult to come by. She shared a story about a little girl telling her that she has three pairs of underpants, because she just has to turn them inside out to get another day of wear from them. I think most of us would agree that clean under clothes are a very basic necessity. Beginning on Sunday, March 3 parishioners are invited to bring in packages of underwear and socks in varying sizes for boys and girls.  A collection basket will be available in the coat room for donations until Sunday, March 24, at which time I will deliver our donations to Margo for the clothing pantry. Margo let me know that they never charge for the clothes they supply, and that every week brings the new challenge of immigrants who have nothing (no coat, no suitable pants or sweaters) coming to her for aid. Your donations are so appreciated. You can supply a child the dignity of clean underwear and the warmth of socks as our Michigan winter drags toward Spring. Thank you for your generosity.

As you continue to walk these forty days of Lent, I'd invite you to consider helping with this children's underwear and socks drive by bringing some to donate and placing them in the designated bin in the coat room. If you would prefer, you can also make an online gift to my discretionary account. All gifts made to that account between now and Sunday, March 24, will be used to purchase children's underwear and socks for this drive. 
 

Through Grace,

 

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, March 17, 2019   https://mailchi.mp/2701ad0594d6/ey7eu7o5mr-1454117

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, March 10, 2019

Holy Land Carvings, Lenten Opportunities, Loving Spoonfuls Totes, and more in the E-Newsletter for March 10, 2019  https://mailchi.mp/34c1e50b3c69/ey7eu7o5mr-1451901

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

Dear *|FNAME|*,

As many of you know, the Holy Land is an important place in my own spiritual journey.

One of my greatest joys early in my years at St. John's was leading a pilgrimage group from the parish to Israel and Jordan, walking the many holy sites there with some of you! It was not the first time I had gone. I've been blessed to have been able to attend several times in previous years.

So I was truly delighted when Bithan Abufarha came by the parish office a few weeks ago. She and her husband work with Holy Land Carvings, a company that represents the Palestinian Christian wood-carvers in the Holy Land. The violence in the Holy Land over the past several years, along with the actions of the State of Israel (often supported by our own country) has nearly decimated the Christian population. The Anglican bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem has even seen his own visa revoked in recent years and had to file court action to be able to reside in the city of his cathedral (see more online here).

Thousands of families in the Holy Land are no longer able to find work and for Christian wood-carvers, their trade in olive-wood religious items has been significantly impacted. 

So, this Sunday, Bithan and others from Holy Land carvings will be set up in the Timberlake Hall to sell hand-carved nativity scenes, crucifixes, rosaries, statues, pictures of the last supper, and many other items. They will set-up and be available after 8:30am liturgy, both before and after the 10:00am liturgy, and before the 12:45pm Spanish-language service as well. 

I hope you'll have some time on Sunday to look through the items they will be bringing. Not only will you likely find something that can be a part of your own household devotions, but you'll be able to support your sister and brother Christians struggling to survive in the Holy Land.

Through Grace,

 

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, March 10, 2019   https://mailchi.mp/34c1e50b3c69/ey7eu7o5mr-1451901

Not subscribed to our Weekly E-Newsletter? You can do that here: http://eepurl.com/n0r8P

E-Newsletter for Sunday, March 3, 2019

Loving Spoonfuls Grocery Totes, Opportunities in Lent, SJE Cares and more in the E-Newsletter for March 3, 2019  https://mailchi.mp/b82108afe5a8/ey7eu7o5mr-1451437

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

Dear *|FNAME|*,

As the Season of Lent approaches next week, plans have been laid by a variety of opportunities for you to engage in this Holy Season. I'd encourage you, if you have not yet done so, to click here to download the 2019 Lenten Bookmark. You can also get a copy of it at the Parish Information Table. 

Next Tuesday, March 5, is Shrove Tuesday, also known as Fat Tuesday, Mardis Gras (which is just Fat Tuesday in French), or Carnival (the putting away of meat in Spanish). At SJE we will have our Annual Pancake Supper at 6pm, but it will be extra special this year. Our SJE Youth Group will be cooking the pancakes in competition style—so you'll get to vote for who made the best pancakes! We'll also have Karaoke entertainment. 

Lent then begins with Ash Wednesday on March 6. I'll be out on the streets doing Ashes to Go from 8:00am-10:00am and again from 3:30pm-5:30pm. If you'd like to help me at either of those times, please let me know. During the day, our Eucharistic Visitors and I will also be bringing ashes to people on our Pastoral Care list. The services here at the church will be in English at Noon and Bilingual at 6:00pm. 

During the Season of Lent, you will then have several opportunities for worship and formation:

  • Our regular Thursday Noon Bible Study will be a time of conversation and study on the Scripture readings for the upcoming Sunday. 
  • We are offering a Lenten Formation Series on Sundays at 11:30am and again on Tuesdays at 6:30pm (you can pick whichever is more convenient for you to attend), looking at the Followers of Jesus and engaging in their stories through various prayer practices. The series will be led by our three aspirants to the priesthood. Find out more online here.
  • Also, each Wednesday evening at 6:00pm we will be offering Contemplative Evening Prayers in the Style of Taizé, led by the St. Cecilia Choir. This style of worship comes from the ecumenical community in Taizé, France, and features the beautiful reputations of Taizé music and ample time for reflection and prayer. 
And, of course, if at any point in your Lenten journey, you are wanting to unburden yourself through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I'll be available in the All Souls' Chapel on Wednesdays at 11:30am for private confession. You can also contact me to make an appointment for doing that rite at another time. 

And mark your calendars for the First Sunday in Lent, March 10, as the Sunday School holds their Annual Lent Workshop at 11:30am. This year we will be making “Family At The Foot of the Cross” décor to bring into our homes to keep Our Lord in the minds and hearts of all who enter our homes. You will also have the option of doing the Easter Garden as we have in the past if you so choose. The cost is only $15 and all proceeds will go to fund our Sunday School Ministry.  If cost is an issue please don’t hesitate to talk to our children and youth coordinator, Reyna Masko. We do not want that stopping you from participating. Please sign up at the Parish Information Table to let us know you'll be participating. 

Lent is one of the holiest times of the church year, a wonderful time to open yourself more fully to the presence of God in your life. I hope you'll find ways to move deeper in this season. 

Through Grace,

PS~ Don't forget, these are the final days for you to make a gift to the Sabbatical Purse for our Parish Administrator, Cindi Sanders. Gifts can be made online through Realm, or through a check made out to St. John's. Either way, just please write "Parish Admin Sabbatical" in the memo line to ensure it goes to the right place. We are asking for gifts to be turned in no later than Ash Wednesday, March 6, so that Cindi will know how much we are giving her and have time to prepare accordingly. 

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, March 3, 2019   https://mailchi.mp/b82108afe5a8/ey7eu7o5mr-1451437

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, February 10, 2019

SAVVY This Saturday, Parish Mission Survey Online, Sign up for the Bishop’s Workshops, and more in the E-Newsletter for February 10, 2019  https://mailchi.mp/b2b774ee5127/ey7eu7o5mr-1443309

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

Dear *|FNAME|*,

One of the true forces that makes St. John's the congregation we are is our Parish Administrator, Cindi Sanders. 

Cindi and Dave have been a part of St. John's since 1989. In the spring of 1996—twenty-three years ago—Cindi began her service as Parish Secretary and then Parish Administrator. Before that, she had also served as Church School Director and Youth Group Co-Leader. 

During these past twenty-three years Cindi has served three different priests with faithfulness, joy, and a never-ending commitment to the good of St. John's. One of the first things my predecessor, Fr. Henry Idema, and the Interim Priest who served after him, Fr. John Laycock, both told me was how blessed our congregation was to have Cindi in the office. 

The provision of sabbatical for clergy and also for full-time lay professionals is an increasing part of the life of the church, recognizing that those who give themselves full-time to parish ministry—whether lay or ordained—need time away to refresh. Congregational structures also need a break, so that churches can continue to think creatively about who they are and not rely unduly upon one person. Many dioceses are even making sabbatical provisions for both clergy and lay professionals a part of their own official policies.

After twenty-three years in this role, Cindi absolutely has earned some time to step back and be renewed and refreshed. I know you share with me in wishing her all the best for this time. 

As we head to her Sabbatical beginning in May, there are two ways you can help:

  • First, you can give to this Sabbatical Purse that the Vestry is pulling together. Gifts can be made online through Realm, or through a check made out to St. John's. Either way, just please write "Parish Admin Sabbatical" in the memo line to ensure it goes to the right place. We are asking for gifts to be turned in no later than Ash Wednesday, March 6, so that Cindi will know how much we are giving her and have time to prepare accordingly. If you’d rather Cindi not see your gift (since she is the one who opens the mail!), you can address the envelope to the bookkeeper, Sarah Witte, or you can give it in a sealed envelope to me, and I will then put it in the safe for the bookkeeper to open.
  • Second, you can sign up at the Parish Information Table to help as a Volunteer Receptionist during the week. You can take a two or a four hour shift, between Monday and Thursday, to help pick up administrative tasks and also welcome people who come to the office. (You can find out more at the sign-up sheet online here and even e-mail Fr. Jared if you'd like him to sign you up.)
I believe this time will indeed be one of much-needed renewal for Cindi. And I think it will also be a good time for us, as a congregation, to discover new gifts and resources for ministry so that when Cindi returns, she can return as well to a congregation that she knows will always support her in her ministry.

Through Grace,

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, February 10, 2019   https://mailchi.mp/b2b774ee5127/ey7eu7o5mr-1443309

Not subscribed to our Weekly E-Newsletter? You can do that here: http://eepurl.com/n0r8P