Archive for August, 2019

In the past few weeks if you passed through the undercroft Gathering Space, that spot directly below the nave of the church (the place with the pews where we sing and worship on Sundays), you may have noticed it was starting to look a little different. And, if you were paying close attention to recent communications about where children’s programming was going to be held, you might have caught wind of what those changes in the undercroft meant. Things are moving around at Saint John’s for 2019 and 2020. We’re trying something new with our space!

With the kick off of the program year on September 8, all Children’s faith formation will be moved from its old space in the 2nd floor classrooms to the Gathering Space, and adjacent rooms, the Nursery, Class Room, and Meditation Room. Collectively, in this trial year, these are now the Children, Youth, and Family Ministry Center. The library will remain the library, but the other rooms will now be dedicated on Sundays to the work of Children’s and Family Ministry. This means that coffee hour is moving, too. Once we come back indoors (at the close of the Farmer’s Market in October), Coffee Hour, like most other parish events, will be held in the Gym. Think of it as a grand “parish hall” (only with stripes on the floor). We’ll be bringing in some furniture from elsewhere in the building, maybe a rug or two, and making other minor changes to make it a bit cozier.

You might be wondering “why” we’re making these changes. And, the answer is, for a couple of reasons. In conversation with the vestry, we decided we wanted to see what it would be like to place the children’s ministry in our best space in the building, closest to worship. We say we value Children’s ministry at the core of our life at Saint John’s, yet our children’s space has, up until now, been shared space, relegated in the furthest corner of our building, leaving children’s ministry often out of sight and out of mind.

We also want to see what it could be like to have a genuine full parish hall, a large flexible space for all kinds of events. At coffee hour we notice that even on a moderate attendance Sunday, our coffee hour space is full. In order to keep growing, we need more space. Use your imagination in the gym, and think of it as a diamond in the rough (albeit a rather large one). What could it become? How could it even better house and support our many ministries (neighborhood gatherings, parties, Project Home, etc.)? We want your feedback over the year, and of course we’ll be seeking it out in concrete ways.

Thanks for your patience as we move things around to make space for all God’s children in all that we do, in worship, in work, in prayer, and in play. If you have any questions about the changes in how we’ll be utilizing our spaces during the 2019-2020 program year, please don’t hesitate to speak with me.

Faithfully, Jered

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On May 5, St. John’s celebrated New Member Sunday and welcomed new families into our faith community. Read on to get to know Beth Rhodes a little better and say hello next time you see her!

Beth Rhodes

I grew up in Ohio and the Philippines, for the most part. I have a daughter in Portland and one in Fargo, a sister in Baltimore, and a sister and brother outside Dayton, Ohio. I love friends and family, traveling, photography, scrapbooking, and many more creative endeavors.

I’m a lifelong Episcopalian. The internet brought me to St. John’s and the people keep me coming back.

Originally published in the July/August 2019 Evangelist. 


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On May 5, St. John’s celebrated New Member Sunday and welcomed new families into our faith community. Read on to get to know a new family a little better and say hello next time you see them!

Courtney Veszi & Oszkar

I grew up in Alton, IL in an American Baptist church. After a long stint away from the church, moving abroad, and then moving back again, I settled in Saint Paul for a fresh start. My 4 year old son Oszkar and I moved here at the behest of my oldest friend Erin Weber-Johnson and I’ve been overjoyed to find a community of welcoming people that challenge me and my faith.

What I enjoy most about St. John’s is the intelligent way that faith is viewed. I look forward to investigating and deepening my relationship with God and the people here. The things that give me the most joy are, hands down, my son and creating meaningful art that inspires and touches those around me.

Originally published in the July/August 2019 Evangelist.

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After limiting my exposure to the news and social media for health and sanity reasons, tonight at 11 PM I checked in after finishing some writing and there it was: “Trump insults heckler’s weight.”

The portly president telling someone in the crowd they could stand to lose a few pounds? I flash back to his comments about ”horse-face” women and his ruthless pantomime of a handicapped person.

Clearly, acting “presidential” has been left behind long ago,

But instead of screaming, I just feel like crying.

Every single day, there is another outrage, a new insult, another scathing blow to an individual or group. My reaction is visceral.

When I try with all my heart to listen to 45’s supporters, the vast majority of the time they start talking about Obama. Where can you possibly go with that?

If I wanted to, I have the lessons to work with on Sunday to blast away at the Washington insanity. The Gospel talks about Jesus promising to bring division, not peace. In fact, he’s furious, almost out of his mind with anger about what he has to go through and the state of the world.

Me too.

I am so defeated by the constancy of it all that I am worn down, like I have PSTD. So I will focus on to the equally-scathing epistle (talk about violent language!) with its beautiful concluding words about the “cloud of witnesses,” that is people who have helped us know how to live. Three people who exemplify character, courage and creativity for me: “A Nun, a Bishop, and a Sinner”. Not one of them meek and mild.

The thing is, there are people who are upset on Sundays if the preacher isn’t traditionally “spiritual” enough and gets into political* (I would say moral) territory. There are others who are upset if the preacher ignores it. There are people who see church as a refuge from the world and others who see it as a place to confront the world.

So you say a few prayers, lead with the Gospel and follow the prompting of the Voice within that you just can’t ignore. None of us is cavalier about this, I assure you. We agonize over these decisions.

See you in church.


(*And if you’re worried about these words are too “political,” expect a little tutorial Sunday on the separation of church and state. I’ve done research.)

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Episcopalians believe that we shape our faith through interactions with Scripture, Church teachings, and our own reason and experience.

We will be working with two of the three this fall in Bible Study on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month from 10:00 until 11:30 at St. John’s in the library.
Facilitated by the Rev. Barbara Mraz, the group will be working with the lectionary readings for the upcoming Sunday.

Everyone is welcome but, if you haven’t done so already, please email Barbara to let her know you are coming.

Pictured is Barnabas, probably at a group studying Scripture.

Be like Barnabas.

Come to Bible study.


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By Beth Bowman and the Rev. Craig Lemming

Stories are incredibly powerful. They connect us to each other. They surprise us, delight us, and move us.

We all have stories to share. When we share our own real-life experiences with others we come together in new and authentic ways.

In our shared life of faith at St. John’s, when we listen to the sacred stories of Holy Scripture, when we liturgically and ritually remember the story of God’s radical love for us in Holy Eucharist, and when our own sacred, personal stories of deep joy or harrowing struggle are shared and heard, our spiritual identity unfolds and deepens with authenticity and grace that is palpable, genuine, and inspiring. We recognize profound spiritual truths which connect us to one another and our spiritual ancestors through faith stories that knit us together as beloved children of God who are made in God’s image.

We plan to curate, share, and preserve the faith stories of our St. John’s community by partnering with American Public Radio’s StoryCorps platform. StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit project of recorded audio interviews. Their mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.  It is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind. StoryCorps interviews usually take place between two people who know and care about each other. A copy of each interview is archived at the Library of Congress for future generations to hear, and we would like to make the recorded faith stories of St. John’s available on our website as well. In support of St. John’s strategic goals and priorities, we hope to engage, curate, share, and preserve the faith stories of our members.

In recent StoryCorps surveys, 81% of listeners were reminded of their shared humanity; 80% helped see the value in everyone’s life story and experience; and 71% became interested in thinking about how society could be improved. By participating in this project, we will each have the opportunity to have an extraordinary impact on the lives of one another and the lives of all the people we welcome into our community of faith.

Please join us on this storytelling adventure! Contact Beth Bowman (bethbowman@mac.com) or the Rev. Craig Lemming (craig.lemming@ stjohnsstpaul.org) to find out more information about serving as an interviewer or sharing your faith story.


Originally published in the July/August 2019 Evangelist.



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We are people made of body, mind, and spirit, and it is important to intentionally care for each of these aspects of our whole selves when we’ve been traumatized or hurt by the events around us. News of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton and the ongoing struggles of immigrants and asylum seekers has left many of us numb, horrified, and grieving — and longing for something to do or a place to turn next.

Here are three resources offered as pastoral care to your whole self: a reading for your mind, a rally for your body, and prayers for your spirit.



The Reverend Daniel Romero, a pastor in the United Church of Christ and the minister for Faith Formation at First Congregational Church of Minnesota, was our guest preacher at our annual Summer Picnic with Holy Apostles on August 4th at Lake Phalen Park Pavilion. Daniel is deeply engaged in the work of community organizing and activism for immigrant rights and immigration justice in Minnesota. He is an outspoken advocate for immigrants, refugees, and those seeking asylum in our country, and has become a powerful leader in the Interfaith Coalition on Immigration (ICOM) and the Minnesota UCC Immigration team.

Click here to read the full sermon from the Rev. Romero.



Minnesota Capitol: Honor Them with Action
A Rally Against Gun Violence and Hate on Wednesday, August 7 from 7-8:30pm at the Minnesota State Capitol South Steps
Stand up against gun violence and hate at this rally co-sponsored by Protect Minnesota and MN Moms Demand Action. We will honor recent victims with calls to action, demanding meaningful gun reform by Congress and our state legislature. Minnesota Gov. Walz, gun violence prevention champions from the legislature and Minnesota’s congressional delegation, student activists, and leaders from law enforcement, immigrant and faith communities will be among the featured speakers calling for immediate passage of stronger gun laws. This rally is co-hosted by the ISAIAH coalition, one of St. John’s Faith in Action partnerships. WEAR ORANGE!

To view the full details of this rally, click here.


Daily Morning Prayer is held each weekday at St. John’s from 8-8:30am in the Chapel. The readings and prayers invite us to steep ourselves in the themes of the Christian faith and listen for the voice of God speaking to us.

We offer this prayer for our troubled spirits:
Loving God, you are the author and sustainer of our lives. You know the anguish of the sorrowful; you are attentive to the prayers of the brokenhearted. Hear your people who cry out to you in their need; strengthen their hope in your lasting goodness.We pray for those who have died because of vile acts of terrorism. Draw them to yourself; let your face shine upon them. May they be greeted with choirs of angels and experience your eternal peace and joy.Be near to all those who have been touched by terrorism: those who have been hurt, lost their loved ones or lost their sense of security. Be for them a steady comfort and safe resting place.Soften the hearts and steady of the minds of those who would do violence to others. May hate be replaced with love, violence with peace, and darkness with your light. Amen.


Source unknown-possibly The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet- Los Angeles Province


If you have pastoral care needs or prayer requests, you can always reach out to the church staff or clergy, including Craig Lemming or Terry Dinovo.

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