Parish Ministries

If you are interested in any of the ministries listed below, please call the church office at 273-6532.



This ministry promotes an aware and loving environment for our parish family to care for one another, giving us opportunities both to give and to receive.

The organized opportunities presently include hospital visits, home visits and calling of shut-ins and the sick; sending cards to shut-ins; knitting and crocheting of shawls and afghans for the sick and shut-ins; a Eucharistic ministry which brings the Sunday Eucharist to shut-ins; the delivery of flowers after Sunday services; providing rides to church services and events; preparing meals to parishioners on occasion;  and the ministry of providing receptions to families after funerals.

As other parish organizations also provide elements of pastoral care, this ministry is responsible that no one falls through the cracks.

Contact person: Lisa Tatusko


Members of this ministry are servants of the liturgy.  This ministry involves preparing St. John’s worship space with the furnishings, vessels, elements and linens used in all of its services.   At the heart of the altar guild ministry is the mission to reach out and welcome folks through care-filled preparation and hospitality and to enable them to feel peace and harmony when they enter St. John’s sanctuary.

While altar guilds can trace their roots to the women who cared for Jesus, at various times in the history of our church altar guilds have been composed exclusively of men or exclusively of women.  Today, anyone can be a member of the altar guild.  Anyone, men or women, young or old, may have a vocation for altar guild service.

Joining the altar guild means learning many fascinating aspects of church tradition, including the esoteric names for all the various vessels, vestments and linens we use in worship.  Most importantly, serving on the altar guild is a spiritual exercise.  Caring for the altar is a way to act out our relationship with God.  It is quiet, prayerful work.

You don’t have to have any experience to join the altar guild. Your training will consist of hands on instruction from experienced altar guild members, plus some background reading.

Contact person: Susie Backstrom


The Liturgical Planning ministry works with the Rector in planning and executing special worship services during the year, including an instructed Eucharist, the weekly Lenten evening services, the Good Friday service and the Easter Vigil.  It also is responsible for training and scheduling the Lectors and the Eucharistic Ministers who serve on rotation at the regular Sunday morning services.

Lectors read the first lesson.   The Eucharistic Ministers read the Epistle and the Prayers of the People, in addition to passing the chalice for Communion.   Anyone who is confirmed may apply to serve as a lector or a Eucharistic Minister.   Eucharistic Ministers also must be 21 years of age or over.

Contact person: Pam Talbott


St. John’s outreach ministry develops and promotes opportunities for outreach outside our parish walls, including development of relationships with other churches and dioceses as well as matters of social justice.

Following are recent examples of St. John’s outreach ministries:


  • Contributions of time, money and food to the Kitchen Cupboard in Ithaca.
  • Supporting families at Christmas through the Salvation Army “Adopt-a-Family program.


  • Cash and materials donations to Love Knows No Bounds, and to St. John’s #5 Faith Church, New Orleans
  • Cash donations to United Thank Offering.
  • ACT (Area Congregations Together)


  • Cash donations to the “Haiti Futures Fund” in response to a diocesan request.  This program supports new seminarians attending seminary in Haiti.  It is in line with the Educational portion of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), as it serves our Church in the most underdeveloped island nation in our hemisphere.
  • Contribution of parishioner time to Feed My Starving Children (a non-profit Christian organization committed to feeding God’s children hungry in body and spirit; specifically by hand-packing meals specifically formulated for malnourished children which are then shipped to nearly 70 countries around the world).

Contact person: Scott Russell



The Episcopal Church sees stewardship as more than simply contributing money to the church; it is also about contributing time and talents, and volunteering for ministry and mission.   It is about reaching out to build relationships from a perspective of abundance instead of scarcity

This ministry educates the congregation throughout the year to be good stewards of the gifts God gives us.   It also is responsible for the planning and execution of the annual pledge drive and for implementation of new forms of financial support.

Contact person: Eric Weinhold



The fellowship ministry is one of welcoming: welcoming parishioners, visitors and inquirers.   It shepherds and introduces newcomers and provides opportunities for fellowship and refreshment.   Specific opportunities include greeting folks at our worship services, gathering and providing information for newcomers, providing coffee hour hosts and promoting and planning parish meals and social events (such as the monthly Parish breakfasts, Mardi Gras, the Harvest Dinner and the Maundy Thursday soup dinner).

Contact person: Mindy Oakes




The Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF) is a national organization connecting all who seek a deliberate response to injustice and violence and want to pray, study and take action for justice and peace in our communities, our church, and the world.  This ministry is called to do justice, dismantle violence, and strive to be peacemakers.

EPF began as The Episcopal Pacifist Fellowship on November 11, 1939, Armistice Day.   In the early days of World War II, EPF supported Conscientious Objectors, urging the whole church to do so. At that time members were required to sign a commitment: “In loyalty to the Person, Spirit and teachings of Jesus Christ, my conscience commits me to His way of redemptive love and compels me to refuse to participate in or give moral support to any war.”

Contact person: Nancy Siemon



The Christian education ministry promotes comprehensive Christian education for St. John’s diverse community of all ages.   This ministry includes providing guidance for, developing, and supporting, the leadership of nursery care, children’s Sunday School, education and activities for junior and senior high students, the adult class for the specially challenged, adult Bible study, adult forums, Education for Ministry, the junior and senior youth groups, and intergenerational events/

Contact person: Muriel Everhart



Acolytes are people who assist with services at St. John’s.  The word “acolyte” is derived from the word “akolouthos,” which is the ancient Greek word for an attendant or helper.

At St. John’s, acolytes are responsible for lighting the candles before the start of church services and for extinguishing the candles at the end of the services.   Acolytes also serve in several other significant duties. One acolyte, known as the crucifier, carries a long staff topped with a cross. Two acolytes known, as torchbearers, walk two steps behind the crucifier and carry mounted candles.  Another acolyte, known as the server, carries a Bible from which the priest reads the Gospel.

An acolyte known as the server assists in the preparation of the communion table.   The server is usually responsible for passing the sacred vessels to the priest as he or she consecrates the elements of the Eucharist. After communion is finished, acolytes are responsible for clearing the altar.

An acolyte also receives the offering from the congregation at each service and presents it to the priest.

People of any age are welcome to serve as acolytes at St. John’s.

Contact person: Karen Comisi



This ministry designs and maintains the St. John’s parish website.   It also advises the vestry and the Rector about the information technology needs of the parish including, but not limited to, internet service, printing/copying/scanning, computer needs and upgrades, software, and telephones. If you know what can be accomplished using information technology and you have some imagination, you can make a contribution to this ministry.

Contact person: Mike Roman



In cooperation with the Rector and the parish administrator, this ministry develops and supports leadership for the parish newsletter (the Eagle), bulletin boards, the weekly bulletins, orientation booklets for newcomers, the parish directory, and other publications and means of communicating both within the parish and to the larger community.

Contact person: Susie Backstrom



Loaves and Fishes of Tompkins County is a non-profit Christian ministry which provides a place for free meals, hospitality, companionship, and advocacy for those in need, regardless of their faith, beliefs, or circumstances.  This ministry is served from the parish house at St. John’s.

Loaves & Fishes provides free meals each weekday.  Lunch is served from noon to 1 pm every Monday, Wednesday & Friday.  Dinner is served from 6 pm to 7 pm every Tuesday & Thursday.

Individuals being helped by Loaves and Fishes come from all areas of Tompkins County and include the working poor, the unemployed, the underemployed, individuals with disabilities, the homeless, people in crisis, families with inadequate public assistance and anyone in need of companionship.  Loaves and Fishes serves an average of 125 guests per weekday.  All are welcome.

Ministry volunteers for Loaves and Fishes help with a variety of activities, including: fundraising, food preparation, visiting with guests during meals, crafts, food rescue, music and entertainment at mealtimes and special projects.



EFM is an international program which helps individuals discover how to respond to the call of Christian service.  EFM helps students encounter the breadth and depth of the Christian tradition and bring it into conversation with their experiences of the world as they study, worship, and engage in theological reflection together. Participants are given weekly assignments to study with the help of resource guides.   In the seminars , members have an opportunity to share their insights and discoveries as well as to discuss questions which the study materials raise for them.

The EFM group which meets at St. John’s typically consists of 6 to 12 students with a trained mentor who meet weekly for two and a half to three hours over the course of a nine-month academic year.  The program takes four years to complete and is broken up into these courses of study:

• Year One: The Old Testament
• Year Two: The New Testament
• Year Three: Church History
• Year Four: Theological Choices

Contact person: Jim Johnson



The St. John’s music ministry  includes all who worship in our sung services. The voice of the congregation is supported in hymns and service music by our Chancel Choir, a multi-generational four-part ensemble that prepares and offers weekly anthems, September through June. The Balcony Bells provide hymn reflections and anthem accompaniments in select services. A variety of parish instrumentalists contribute when possible, and the world’s largest instrument — a pipe organ — shapes and unifies the sound of our liturgy.

The ongoing rehearsal and worship life of our choral and handbell groups provides a spiritual context for mutual fellowship, growth, and support. Young and old, we work together to offer our gifts from God to the people of God through musical prayer, poetic illumination, and heartfelt praise.

The Anglican Communion, of which we are a part, nurtures one of history’s strongest and richest traditions of sacred music. All members and friends of St. John’s Church are invited to participate in renewing and affirming this transcendent heritage every week.

Contact person: Karen Hindenlang, Director of Music and Organist