Warden’s Corner ARCHIVE

Updates from the Senior Warden, 11-23-2015
Dear Parishioners of St. John’s:

I wanted to get an update out before Thanksgiving so you would know where we stand heading into the holidays.

You all should have met our Interim Rector Barb by now and I’m happy to report that she has hit the ground running.  I particularly enjoyed her sermon two weeks ago on change because I so often fight it in my personal life.  Her plan is to meet with each of us personally so she can get a feel for St. John’s as not only a Church but also as a community. With community in mind I feel that it’s important that from here on each of us communicate directly with Barb when questions and concerns arise.  This is the only guaranteed way to avoid triangulation that often leads to misinformation and many times hurt feelings.

Your Finance Committee has been working tirelessly building a budget for 2016. Although we didn’t have a formal Stewardship drive this year, Sarah is mailing your pledge envelope out today with the hopes that you will fill them out and return them as quickly as possible.  You should know that our year to date revenue numbers are flat from last year, meaning that although we’ve had a very hectic year (with lots of change) we’re still on solid ground.  That being said it’s important for planning purposes that you return your pledge cards so we have solid revenue figures for 2016.

McPherson Builders will start the truss project the week after Thanksgiving.  This first phase will take a week to complete and will not require the organ to be tented. It is also going to cost much less than initially expected which will only help us on our way to fixing the stained glass windows.  The second phase of the project, where they fix the trim along the inside perimeter of the sanctuary will require the organ to be tented  which is why we will start this after the new year.

As the holidays approach please be mindful of the different ways we at St. John’s reach out to our local community to help those that are less fortunate.  Your Outreach Committee is currently working with GIAC to identify two or three families that need help this Christmas.  A tree will be displayed from 12/6 through 12/20 with different items that are needed for these families.  Once purchased these items can be dropped off at the Parish office and they will be delivered in time for Christmas.

Finally I would like to thank all of you for your support and prayers this year.  When Father Rich announced his leaving we all knew the rest of the year would be difficult at best, but with your support, we banded together and are stronger for it.  Many of you not only offered words of encouragement but also offered to take action and get things done.  Our Harvest Dinner was a tremendous success and we now offer two Sunday School classes.  Clear signs of a vibrant community based on faith and love.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


Brett M. Oakes
Senior Warden

Updates from the Senior Warden, 9-25-2015

Dear Congregation,

So much has happened since my last update, I feel it is time for another.

First, we had a very successful Rally Day at Stewart Park.  Although it sprinkled throughout the event, a good size crowd emerged and a great time was had by all.  Father Clark hit the mark, as usual, and Karen led a children’s program that beautifully incorporated music, scripture and a lesson and appealed to both young old alike.

We are excited to kick off a new Sunday School program  THIS Sunday, September 27! Using the “All-in-One Sunday School” by Lois Keffer, this program  is designed to accommodate children 4-12 years old and can easily be stretched to include 13 year-old’s  as well. The lessons contain a mix of attention grabbing activities, Bible study, life application of the Bible theme, craft items ,  and prayer. We conducted a trial run of the “All-in-One Sunday School” during Advent last year and it was very well received. The children were engaged and eager to continue beyond Advent. We will share the entire curriculum this year and we encourage the little ones in your life to attend!

Speaking of attendance, we will offer TWO Sunday School classes this year. In addition to our traditional class time of 10:25 a.m.  St. John’s is excited to also  offer a new class at 8:00 a.m.  Lisa Tatusko and Muriel Everhart will teach the  early class while  Mary Gitlin and Cora Yao will teach the 10:25 a.m. session .

Another change is that we will be meeting in the Parish Hall. We have created a separate space in the alcove at the front of the parish hall and we politely ask  that you  ensure your child(ren) are on time. Class ends in time for children to join their families and receive communion together. Please be on the lookout for opportunities to volunteer your time to assist with classes and projects. We’d love to have your participation.

Please join us! We are beginning a new Adult Christian Ed Forum this Sunday, September 27, 2014. Initially, we will spend 10 – 12 weeks exploring the Psalms. The book we will be using is “Conversations with Scriptures: The Psalms” by L. William Countryman. Rather than going through the Psalms sequentially, this study will look at The Psalms thematically from an Anglican perspective. For example, one week is “‘Praise God in His Sanctuary….’ Songs for the Temple” which includes a review of 14 Psalms that support this theme. We meet on Sundays at 9:15 a.m.  in the Chapman Room. Books will be provided. Hope to see you there!

Day care for the 10:30 a.m.  Service will now be located upstairs above the Sacristy.  You can access this space by going up the stairs between the Parish Hall and the Sanctuary.

We have finally received the necessary quotes to move forward on our truss reinforcement project.  You may remember from our Capital Campaign that the trusses in the Sanctuary are overloaded due to the weight of the wooden ceiling.  This is arguably the most important project we’ve undertaken and with the help of Hunt engineers we’ve managed to secure quotes from two of the leading builders in our area.  Once this project is completed we’ll switch our focus to the stained glass windows as many of them are in rough shape.

In other news, many of you have expressed concern for the Syrian refugee situation and we are looking into ways to help. As more information becomes available and our plan for involvement begins to develop I will keep you posted.

Also, the response to the ongoing Ithaca Kitchen Cupboard drive has been a smashing success and I would like to thank all who have donated.

Finally I would like to thank our Vestry.  We are truly fortunate to have such an intelligent, loving and supportive group at the helm.


Brett M. Oakes, Senior Warden

Senior Warden's Corner, 8-19-2015

Dear Parishioner:

Last month’s attempt to share information from the Vestry to the Congregation resulted in such positive feedback that I thought I should keep a good thing going and send out another update.

With Father Rich’s departure, I’d like to thank all who helped make his two sendoff events so special.  Both were wonderfully attended, the food was exceptional and I know he truly appreciated the love that everyone showed him through his last days in Ithaca.

As you might know by now, Father Clark led his first service as our Supply Priest last Sunday and really “hit the ball out of the park”.  His uplifting Sermon was needed and appreciated and I look forward to hearing more of what he has to share throughout the coming months.

Now, something exciting you might not know–we’ve hired an Interim Rector!  This appointment has been approved by the Bishop and we’ve helped the new interim secure wonderful housing within walking distance to the Church. Speaking for the Vestry, we are very pleased with this candidate and I will gladly share more details this coming Sunday including the person’s name and a little about their personal and professional background.

Our talented Music Director, Karen Hindenlang, has returned after a short medical leave and sounds better than ever.  We have had several conversations about the music program and how we can enhance it so please stay tuned, more will follow.

Loaves and Fishes signed the Jubilee agreement and our two organizations are working together at a level never seen before.  Stephanie Nevels, your Junior Warden, meets monthly with their Executive Director to ensure our ministries are aligned and the lines of communication are open.

We approved the RFP (request for proposal) that Hunt Engineers provided last month and yesterday afternoon two contractors visited St John’s to look at the truss work that has to be done in the main Sanctuary.  We are hoping to move forward on that specific project prior to winter.

You may have noticed that the front of the Church has yet to be landscaped.  We would like to put together a committee from the congregation to come up with a suitable plan.  If you are interested please contact our Parish Administrator, Sarah Richtmyer, at 607-273-6532.

On September 13th we will be celebrating Rally Day, a 10:30 a.m. service at Stewart Park followed by a pot luck lunch which will end around 1pm.  Look for the sign-up sheet and bring your friends; what a great way to meet people from the opposite service.

Last but not least, I want to talk about the Ithaca Kitchen Cupboard supply drive.  I hear that the 10:30 service frequently has baskets of supplies to take to the Alter.  We at the 8 o’clock haven’t but that is about to change.  The first Sunday of the month is a non-perishable foods item drive followed by the third Sunday’s personal hygiene item drive.  Let’s see which service can donate the most on September 6th.  A list of needed items is in the bulletin so please give to this very important cause.

Thank you for your time.

Brett M. Oakes
Senior Warden

Senior Warden's Corner, 7-17-2015
Dear Parishioners:
Please take a moment to read through my notes below and know that as your Senior Warden I’m committed to sharing information and listening to your concerns as we work through several key initiatives related to our Church.

The Departure of Father Rich Towers
By now you’ve likely learned that Father Rich has taken a position as the Chaplain to the Lower School of the Episcopal School of Dallas.  His last Sunday with our congregation will be August 9th and we are planning a dish to pass at the Ithaca Yacht Club to celebrate his service and wish him a fond goodbye.

During the past three years, Rich and I have become very close and I am deeply sorry to see him leave.  I’ve heard from many members of the congregation as well who feel sadness and concern for his departure but I’m confident he is doing what’s best for him and I’m thankful that he is leaving St. John’s on such solid ground.  The culmination of our successful capital campaign has allowed us to improve upon the physical and emotional components of the Church that have been neglected for decades.  There has been a dramatic increase in attendance and we’ve seen an uptick in communication and involvement in almost all areas of church sponsored programming and outreach.  These are all signs of a healthy and vibrant parish.

Search for New Leadership  
As of today, the Vestry has identified a wonderful Supply Priest who will cover the gap between Father Rich’s departure and the placement of an Interim Rector.  Many of you already know Father Clark from ECC who has graciously agreed to fill this roll and we are excited and thankful for his support.  This means both Sunday services will continue uninterrupted and we are further finalizing plans to continue offering a service at Kendall.

Next, we need to identify and agree on an Interim Rector.  Interim Rectors are hired to do a very specific task, namely, to resolve internal strife and prepare a Church for its permanent Rector.  How long this process takes depends on how many needs exist.  While we didn’t use an Interim Rector at the time of Father Snyder’s retirement, we realize we must do it this time.  Fortunately, with the help of the Bishop, we have found a candidate with extensive interim ministry experience and who is well respected in the field.  Both Stephanie Nevels and I have spoken with this person and believe this candidate is uniquely qualified for the job at hand.  Our next step in the process is to invite the Vestry to interview the candidate via video conference.

Once the Vestry is in agreement and the Interim is hired we will begin the process of determining what qualities we are looking for in a Rector.  Our Interim will help us with this process but not drive it.  It is at this point that we will form a search committee.  This is when your feedback as parishioners is critical as I don’t view the hiring of our new Rector as a top down decision.

Music Ministry
Many of you know that Karen Hindenlang our Music Director has taken a short medical leave which began the first of July.  I’m happy to report she is recovering nicely and is hoping to be back at her bench by August 3rd.  We all wish her a speedy recovery and look forward to her return.

Children’s Ministry
As a father of two small children I can tell you we simply must do a better job with our Children’s ministries.  Once the items above are taken care of we will be shifting our focus to that end.

Community Outreach
Likely our most visible Church ministry, Loaves and Fishes, is due to vote on our Jubilee agreement next week at their monthly Board meeting.  There has been quite a bit of back and forth negotiating concerning insurance but I believe we have cleared that hurdle and I’m hopeful for a final resolution.  Currently, Loaves and Fishes is operating without an agreement which can’t continue as the risks to St. Johns are just too high.  Our intent throughout this lengthy process has been to preserve the integrity of this ministry while protecting each of you, our physical church structure, and the Diocese of Central New York.

Buildings and Grounds
We continue to move ahead with our construction projects.  This week the Vestry received the proposed RFP for the truss work inside the Church.  We are reviewing it now and once approved Hunt Engineers will send it out to potential contractors.  Ideally we’d like to begin construction by the end of 2015.  Our stained glass windows are next on the list.

We have removed the dead and leggy shrubs from the front and side of St. Johns.  Most of the damage on the Buffalo Street side was due to the drain that was installed in the Garth which runs down the inside of the sidewalk.  The removal of the shrubs to the right of the main entrance occurred when we painted the Church.  It was because of this lopsided look that we decided to remove the remainder of the shrubs in order to maintain the beauty of our facility.  Our next step will be to solicit bids for the replanting of shrubs and small trees that can be easily maintained.

Special Thanks
At this time, I’d like to specifically thank the members of our Vestry.  This group commits an extensive amount of time, energy, and emotion to St. Johns.  Further, they do a fantastic job and it’s not always easy.


Brett Merrick Oakes
Senior Warden

Junior Warden's Corner, December 2013
By Susie Backstrom

Our diocesan convention took place near Syracuse in November and its theme was “Wonders Never Cease.”   To over-simplify some great presentations and worship experiences, the theme linked the wonders of science with the practicalities of theology.

We were treated to an incredible presentation Friday night by the Reverend Arthur Suggs, who is both a pastor with the United Church of Christ and a scientist with a Masters in Physics.  Rev. Suggs’ presentation linked concepts of particle physics with the elements of Christian theology to show the two were not mutually exclusive.

And then, on Saturday morning, part of Bishop Adams’ address to the convention caused me to sit up straight and take note, because it echoed a thought that our rector, Father Rich, had shared earlier this year with St. John’s vestry as we considered the idea of launching a capital campaign at St. John’s.

Father Rich noted the energy and effort it takes for us at St. John’s to maintain and keep in repair our very old buildings as well as to structure and roll out the Sunday liturgical services.  He hoped that, if St. John’s found it feasible to conduct a capital campaign, we would do so not only to raise funds to repair our buildings and to continue our beautiful worship services, but to maintain and grow ministries that are meaningful to us as Christians in 21st century Ithaca, New York.

Now keeping that in mind, following is an excerpt from the Bishop’s address that sat me up straight in my seat:

 “The next time you have a vestry meeting, look at your agenda and see what, over a period of time, you are primarily talking about.  Is there more about the needs of the community or more about in-house needs?  I would say that the main responsibility of our parishes, of any size, is this: To be an intentional community of transformation and missional wisdom.

Be a people of the neighborhood.   As God in Christ came to the neighborhood, so are we to go to the neighborhood.  Look at the streets in front of you and around your own faith community.  Know your neighbors as much as they will allow you to do so.  Pray for them at every service.  Love them. Form relationships.  Ask God in your personal and corporate prayer how to best serve the people of your neighborhood in order to realize the reign of God in that neighborhood.  And what we will discover I think is that normal life is Exodus, not our own little Zions….

Our boom of the 50’s was more about demographics and the cultural realities of the day.   All of that is gone. So for a long time we got into the mode of COME. We tend to be pretty good preparing people for Sunday morning, but not as good about the transformational ministry of the neighborhood.

Many of us still focus on what we can do to make ourselves as a community more attractive and get people to come and be among us. [emphasis added]. Don’t stop doing that, but it cannot be our emphasis. We must shift from the mode of church as attracting new members to engaging the community in mission ventures.  …It is no longer come to us.  Now it is GO.  Reclaim GO.  The morning of the resurrection was a literal footrace of GO.  The Ascension leads to GO into all the world.  The Eucharist leads to GO.  The Word made flesh is about GO.”*


This is what Rich also had been saying to us in our vestry meetings.  It makes a lot of sense to me.  It is my hope that, during the coming weeks, we will have meaningful conversations within our parish that will signify our desire as a Christian community to enliven and expand our ministries to become a parish that reclaims GO.

*Bishop Adams’ entire address to the 145th Covention of the Diocese of Central New York may be read at https://cnyepiscopal.org.