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On New Member Sunday, St. John’s welcomed 10 new families into our faith community. Read on to get to know some of them a little better and say hello next time you see them!


Denis and Lynette O’Pray

Lyn and Denis are “coming home,” as they began attending St. John’s about 53 years ago, and their three sons were baptized here.

Denis started his life as a professor of American Studies. While worshiping and teaching at St. John’s (Lyn was Treasurer) he got the bug to become ordained in the Episcopal Church. Since then, they have lived in the Twin Cities, then in California for 27 years, then back to Minnesota ten years ago to lead the Church of the Nativity in Burnsville. They now have a “family compound” in Minneapolis where they and two of their sons have homes within the same block.

Denis and Lyn are active participants in the arts including the SPCO, Minnesota Orchestra, and the Guthrie.  Lyn also does glass work, reads a lot, and loves her kids and grandkids. Denis has a shop where he is building Shaker furniture that he hopes to enter in the State Fair.


John and Melissa Mulloy 

John and Melissa found the Episcopal church a bit later in life, after being brought up in Lutheran and Catholic traditions.  They first came at the invitation of Elaine and Tom Eyre and were drawn to the beauty of the church, the “formal” liturgy, and the music.

John works for Thrivent and Melissa is a business litigator at Larson King LLP, in downtown St. Paul. When they are not working, they enjoy football, running, kayaking and cooking. They have season tickets for Minnesota Gopher football, and are also enthusiastic Packer backers. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.


 

Edwin Schenk and Jennie Walker

Edwin and Jennie joined St. John’s after seeking out a faith community near their home. They wanted a congregation that could speak to their evangelical background, with Jesus-centered worship, but also with a sense of broad horizons.

Jennie is a librarian at the Debra S. Fish Early Childhood Resource Library in Little Canada, and Edwin owns Abstract Pigeon, a web development company.

They have been together for three years, and are raising two daughters. They enjoy cooking together, hosting friends, reading, going on walks, traveling, and working together on a blog. This summer they’re looking forward to keeping up the blogging, while fishing, getting out into the cities, finding the best restaurant patios, and doing some home remodeling.


Lesley Pandian

Lesley comes to St. John’s most recently from Dallas. He has a worldly perspective; his parents are from India and he was raised in Moscow.

He is a programmer at Thomson Reuters in their financial risk sector. He loves his work. Growing up, Lesley enjoyed playing video games, but while playing would imagine how he could make it better. He ended up getting his masters, where his work was to create virtual reality for people to train in “real world” environments.

Lesley is also an accomplished tennis player and thrives on the hard work and challenge that the game offers.


Amanda Gould, Joseph OBrien, and Olivia O’Brien

Amanda and Joseph are new parents who were blessed to welcome Olivia Rose into the world last fall. Amanda’s background in real estate keeps her plenty busy, as does Joseph’s background in structural engineering. They enjoy nature walks, volunteering, and writing children’s books.

They were initially drawn to St. John’s as a place of worship close to home. They’ve enjoyed meeting the church’s friendly members. during subsequent visits, and are excited for Olivia’s baptism.


Jeff, Sherryse, and Eleanor Corrow

While living in Canada, Jeff and Sherryse found an Anglican church, which they loved. When they moved back to Minnesota they began looking to find a church home here that would continue along the same path. A colleague of Sherryse’s recommended they try St. John’s. Jeff was happily surprised to see Richard Brynteson, a former professor of Jeff’s, attends here as well.

Jeff is an Operations and IT Manager for a non-profit and Sherryse is a professor of Child Psychology and Neuroscience at Bethel University. Five-year-old Eleanor enjoys sword fighting, riding her bike, and walking her new puppy named Jefferson.

Sherryse and Jeff are eager to get to know others at St. John’s.


Patty Voje

About a year ago, Patty moved to a brownstone across the street from the church. She spent last summer listening to the church bells at St. John’s, and finally made her first visit on Christmas Eve.

The mother of two 20-something daughters, Patty was raised as a Catholic but left the church after a divorce.  For many years she didn’t attend any church. She missed being part of a religious community but didn’t think that there was a place for her in organized religion. She appreciates many things about St. John’s; the warm welcome she’s received, our programs, and our music.  She feels that she has found a church home again.

Patty is the president of Spot Communications. She is also an accomplished oil painter who exhibits locally and nationally.


Richard and Paula Day

Richard and Paula have been attending St John’s since November of 2017.  They picked St John’s after checking out other churches.  They are here because of the music, liturgy, and outreach.

They are relative newlyweds, having been married for just about a year and a half now.  Richard was living in Madison and Paula in Eden Prairie when they met via the internet.  They clicked and picked a middle-ground location in the Mac-Groveland neighborhood of St. Paul to settle together in.

Richard is a widower and has a married daughter with two teenage children.  Paula has two sons from her previous marriage. Richard is retired from medicine, an internist; Paula still works as a media buyer and planner.

Richard knows several languages and Paula several more. Richard plays the organ (they have one in their house!) and enjoys musical performances, while Paula enjoys reading, music, politics, and travel (and her work).


Megan August-Hau and Andrew Kampa

Megan & Andrew are planning to marry in February, 2019. After graduating from Cretin DH, Andrew went to UW-Stout, but decided to move back to St. Paul and found his calling attending Dunwoody College for HVACR Systems Servicing. He is now an HVACR Service Technician.

Megan grew up in St. Paul and spent her early years at St. John’s, leaving to continue her education at U of MN – Morris. She then returned to St. Paul, completing her degree in Social Science at Metro State University. Megan is now a Logistics Program Manager.

Megan and Andrew enjoy spending time outdoors, camping, and relaxing at the lake . When asked if they have a “favorite” part of the liturgy, Andrew mentioned the Homily; Megan enjoys the passing of the Peace.

 


Mike, Jamie, Louie, and Charlie Bents

Mike and Jamie Bents have a very busy household.  Besides two energetic boys— six-year-old Louie and two-year-old Charlie, they both have careers and lots of hobbies.

Mike is a software engineer with Target, having received his MS from St. Thomas. Jamie is a transportation planner, working in Environmental Studies out of Chicago, and is able to work from home.

When not working or tending their boys, you will find Jamie in her potter’s studio or with her plants and gardens.  She is also very involved in social action campaigns. Mike likes hockey (playing and watching) and is interested in baseball stats.

Their quest for finding a mutual church home has been an interesting one, as their backgrounds are very different.  Jamie comes from a Reformed Jewish background in Iowa, while Mike was raised as a WELS Lutheran.  While living in Chicago, they gravitated to the Methodist Church, but began looking at the Episcopal Church.  After moving to this part of St. Paul, they found St. John’s and feel as though they have found a real fit.

 

 

Originally published in the May-June and July-August 2018 Evangelists.

 

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The world’s greatest superpower is under the contrail of a fragile and insecure narcissist known for objectifying women, bragging about his wealth, and turning every personal slight into a full-blown national crisis. His ineptitude would be comical were if not for the xenophobic advisors who hood court in his administration, threatening the lives of religious and ethnic minorities with unjust laws.

Gotcha.

The reference here is actually to King Xerxes of Persia, identified in the book of Esther as “Ahasuerus.” Eventually the king gets outsmarted by a Jewish orphan named Esther and a group of shrewd resisters. (1)

Sometimes the parallels in the Bible to present day events is startling. Such is the case this coming Sunday with the lesson from the Hebrew Scriptures about David and Bathsheba.

David was “a man after God’s own heart” but was by no means perfect. The story of the rape (and it was a rape) of Bathsheba is perhaps his most egregious failing:

David did what was right in the sight of the Lord and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. (I Kings 15:5)

Uriah was Bathsheba’s husband.

Is David just another failed political leader who disappointed those who followed him? Why doesn’t God deal more harshly with David? Does the repression of women in “Biblical times” taint its message for women today? And – have to do it—what are the parallels to the present and its implications of what we must demand of our leaders? And, more importantly, of ourselves?

Lust, a rape, a murder, a cover-up, and one man who speaks the truth and changes everything.

See you in church.

Barbara

(1) Rachel Held Evans,” The Bible is literature for the resistance,” Washington Post. July 12, 2018

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The deepest crisis of any society are moments of change when the stories we live by today become inadequate for the present situation.”

Thomas Berry
American monk, historian

Stories have been a major theme at St. John’s for some time, especially the stories about ourselves that we tell each other and the stories of Scripture that we hear each Sunday.

The thing is, the “truthiness” of stories changes (thank you for the term, Stephen Colbert). I know that some of the stories that I used to tell about myself aren’t as true as they once were because I have finally learned some new ways to understand my life. Old stories such as: Me as the kid whose parents never told her they loved her; Me as the kid in high school who never fit in; Me as the sad but valiant survivor of divorce.

My stories now are more like this: Me not fitting in during high school but who wanted to be with those people anyway; Me modeling resilience for my daughters; Me as “successful” by the standards I now value; Me, grateful for the changes that almost destroyed me.

And now you don’t even have to eat with me!

Some of the stories in Scripture are not as pristine as we may have thought once. Next Sunday’s lesson from Samuel is an example. The story is about the selection of David as the new king of Israel and it begins with a lie.

Saul was losing it as a king and God sent Samuel out to find the new king – with a cow. He did this so when the nervous elders asked him what he was doing in Bethlehem he would say, “Oh nothing, just going to church to make a sacrifice — see the cow?”

No report on what happened to the cow, but Samuel found David, the greatest of Israel’s kings.

Each Sunday the preacher of the day has a mighty challenge because of what people want at church. Some want comfort, peace and direction –they are unhappy if the stories are interpreted too much in light of present events, especially political ones. Others are unhappy if the stories are NOT interpreted in light of the present day because the outrage and despair they feel about the state of the country and sometimes their own lives cannot be instantly forgotten as they walk through the red doors. They want immediate relevance.

Jesus didn’t have much time for the separation of church and state. In fact, he was forever reinterpreting the stories of his Jewish tradition. He enlarged the meaning, he changed it; sometimes he even said it was just wrong. He roared against the injustice and selfish arrogance of the Roman oppressors.

Stories are living, breathing entities that change as we learn more about ourselves and about God.

Mine sure did.

See you in church.

There will be stories.

Barbara

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By Eric Odney

In June of 2015 Pope Francis issued his encyclical (letter) titled Laudato Si. The encyclical dealt with many issues but chief among them was a concern for the environment and a “…care for our common home…”.

In 1991 the Episcopal Church General Convention called on “all citizens of the world, and Episcopalians in particular, to live their lives as good stewards with the responsible concern… for the environment” and urged all Episcopalians “to reflect on their personal and corporate habits in the use of God’s creation.”

In a very small and fundamental way, we here at St. John’s can participate in this effort by renewing our commitment to recycling. We applied for and received a grant from BizRecycling (a program of the Ramsey/Washington Recycling and Energy Board) for new recycling bins and signage. With this grant, we hope to improve and expand our recycling efforts, and to send less trash to the landfill.

(This also benefits the stewardship of our financial resources, along with our environmental ones. Ramsey County charges a 53% on garbage collection for non-residential customers — but recycling is not taxed!)

We offer our thanks to you for participating, and a prayer that we may be good stewards of God’s creation and our common home!

Originally published in the May-June 2018 Evangelist. 

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Michael Corleone’s words in “The Godfather” (Part 3) not only live on in film history but possibly in our own experience. Just when Corleone thought he was making a life outside of the Mob, he can’t completely get out. And just when we thought we were out – of a relationship, a commitment, an illness, or a pattern of behavior, these things “pull us back in” in ways we may not completely understand.

I think they also apply to church, at least for me. Many times I have been SO done with it all: unimaginative liturgy, exclusionary language, irrelevant preaching, people staring at their phones.

But then there is a Sunday where everything lifts me up: exquisite music, inspired preaching, a sense of community and energy and shared meaning. It “pulls me back in.”

The blog “Journey with Jesus” puts it this way: “We may embrace the consumer mindset, trusting that we are free to join up, and free to quit as personal preference dictates.” Free to miss summer church, free to attend if nothing better comes up, free to let others set the table, do the dishes and plan the programs. All true. Yet we’re also there to worship God, to hear the Scriptures, to praise. It’s not all about what we get in the short term.

The lessons for this coming Sunday challenge a “Lone Ranger” mentality. “Abide in me,” Jesus says. (Note he doesn’t way “believe” in me.) Stick around; get to know us; dig into the Big Questions. Sing. Pray. You are always welcome and we will always support you if you let us know what you need. Abide.

I’m making you an offer you can’t refuse!
See you in church.

Barbara

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Easter fell on April Fools Day this year, and one of my musical colleagues handed out bulletins to the choir that had Christmas carols listed for the hymns. I’m guessing that chaos and consternation ensued! There were surely plenty of unfortunate jokes told as part of sermons all over the world as well, and so it doesn’t feel quite as unseemly as it might to suggest that we were celebrating Jesus thumbing his nose at death on Easter.

Thumbing his nose? Where on earth did that kooky expression originate? […]

from Sonya Sutton’s blog Notes for a New Day  Click to read the full post.

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[…]When I pay attention to the big picture I am constantly outraged, and I have to admit that is as depressing and wearying as it is overwhelming. The words of Good Friday’s O vos omnes remind me, however, to pay attention to those right around me. Those that I might otherwise walk by[…]

Read more at: Attendite — Notes for a New Day

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