Click here for an easy-to-print PDF of the July Spokesman.
Welcome Statement in Action
By Rebekah Turnbaugh
Before reading further, I’d like you to take a moment to close your eyes and remember a time when you felt fully welcomed into a place. What were the elements that made you feel especially welcomed?
When I do this exercise, I think of a couple of moments, one of which I will share briefly here. I recall one spring when I was in my mid-20s, I was in a unique position for a young person. I had decided to take a year off of school because I needed to undergo an 11-month medical treatment that really affected my day-to-day life, especially my energy and appetite. I was still working full-time in a job that I loved, but that spring was a particularly busy time and I had a couple months of regularly working 60- to 80-hour weeks with some travel thrown in too. By the time Father’s Day came around, the busyness had subsided and I was exhausted.
When I got to my parents’ house after church to celebrate Father’s Day, my mom received me and immediately led me to the backyard where my dad was laying in the hammock, picked me up, and placed me next to him in the shade. I know the rest of the day was lovely, but this is the moment that still stays with me today. My mom knew what was going on in my life, she knew what I needed that day, and she and my dad were prepared to receive me when I got there.
It may seem like a stretch to use this as a model for welcoming people we don’t know when they come to St. John’s, but let’s try.
As Pastor Frank shared last month, we have a new welcome statement. If you haven’t read it, I would urge you to find it on our website and read it. It is expansive and particular. It proclaims to many diverse communities of people that they are welcome here. I hope you find yourself in that statement.
One of the beautiful things about the welcome that my mom gave me that day was that it was particular to me. Welcome must be particular. It must take into consideration the needs and experiences of people. Clearly we won’t know the personal hurts that individuals bring with them the first time they come through our doors, but we can develop an imagination for what welcome might look like for people who are unlike ourselves and then make preparations for them. For example, if St. John’s insisted that all were welcome, but didn’t have an elevator to help me get into the sanctuary for worship, I would not believe that I was actually welcome there because consideration had not been given to the needs of people with disabilities that impact their mobility. What are the other “elevators” that we have not yet prepared for people that would communicate to them, “We thought of you, we understand some of your needs, and you are welcome here”?
We are working on some ways in which we can explore this question together as we live into the audacity of a radical and expansive inclusion where all are welcome because all are loved by God. Look for ways to join this conversation in the months to come. In the meantime, if you have any ideas, give me a call or shoot me an email at 916-444-0874 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
New St. John's Executive Director of Resources & Administration
By Frank Epegren
I am pleased to announce that St. John's member Linda Baldwin has accepted our offer to become the next Executive Director of Resources & Administration for St. John's Lutheran Church.
Since March 1st of this year, Linda moved from being St. John's Administrative Coordinator to become the Acting Director of Resources & Administration. Because of Linda's strong track record of successful administration of all things St. John's over the last four months, it was an easy decision for the Council to extend a full time offer to Linda to serve as St. John's top administrator permanently.
As the Executive Director of Resources & Administration works most directly with the Senior Pastor of St. John's, it was most important that Linda match up well to complement Pastor Frank's skill set. Pastor Frank is Linda's biggest fan for her thorough and thoughtful administration, project management, and business skills and abilities. Linda has not only gained Pastor Frank's confidence and trust, but the confidence and trust of the entire staff, Council, and other key lay leaders.
Please welcome Linda in her new role at St. John's and her crucial work of running the "small business" and "going concern" that is St. John's, and the management of the many projects and systems and facilities that underlie St. John's mission! With Linda on board permanently, we are delighted to be on such firm administrative ground!
Pastor Jon Haug
What a joy it is to be with Sarah Jessop Street as she approaches the birth of her first child with Keith. The St. John’s community wants to offer them all our love and support. We’ve had some parties for them and certainly are keeping them in our prayers. Sarah’s maternity leave begins Monday, July 23 which makes Sunday, July 22 her last day of work for a while. She and Keith will have some time to nurture their new little one and invest in that early bonding as well as figuring out life with their new child. Sarah has set up the Youth Program for her absence and Pastor Jon Haug will be the contact for families while she is out. Amy Paulson, Youth and Family Ministry Assistant will put in some extra hours of support and we’ll be calling on some more help from volunteers too. Sarah returns to work after Christmas in the the new year of 2019. But don’t be surprised if you see her in worship or around before then. Afterall, she does love this place and our youth and families! It will be hard for her to stay away. (Just don’t expect her to run a youth event until January.) Sarah and Keith, we love you, wish you so many blessings and can’t wait to meet your little one! God bless your family!
Vacation Bible Study 2018
School is out and summer is here and Vacation Bible School is right around the corner! This year VBS will be a little later in the summer than the previous year, July 30th-August 3rd. The official hours for the camp are 9am-3pm, but we will also offer an hour of care before and after camp where volunteers from St. John’s will lead the children in crafts, games and fun activities. VBS is for campers ages 3 to entering 6th grade. There will be two different camps occurring simultaneously; a pre-school camp for our younger campers, age 3 to entering Kindergarten, and a grade school camp for campers who have already completed Kindergarten and all the way up to those entering 6th grade.
The pre-school camp will be led by volunteers from St. John’s, and there are many opportunities here for volunteers of all ages. To lead our grade school camp, we are excited to welcome counselors from Mt. Cross Ministries back for our third year of VBS with them! We are blessed to have them bring to St. John’s the same level of fun, education, and excitement for Christ that so many of our youth have experienced on their retreats. At the same time, we are supporting our camping ministry at Mt. Cross, which has been a special place for the youth of St. John’s for many years. Registration is still open. If you have a child in your life that would enjoy camp, we would love to have them join us! Registration forms are available in the church office or on the church website.
This year the camp theme is “This Changes Everything” and the accompanying bible verse is "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is a gift from God." Ephesians 2:8. As people, we are born into a broken world. God’s desire for wholeness and life for us and the rest of creation was made known to us in the life and death of Jesus. This action by God through Christ literally changes everything – the world, us, and how we live in community with one another. Through this curriculum, campers will learn how God’s grace changes these things and how we can work with others to show that grace to the world. This curriculum has the same title as the theme for the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering. The lessons complement those that will be used for The Youth Gathering.
On the evening of Thursday, August 2nd we will have a worship service for the VBS families and the campers will have the chance to share the fun of camp with their parents, guardians, and siblings! On the last day, Friday, campers will have a blast with water play in the parking lot, then we will get them dried off and fed in time for a walk over to the Capitol building where they be given a private tour by Capitol staff. It’s going to be a great week!
This is not only a great opportunity for our kids, but also for our congregation. We have many volunteer opportunities available to help with tasks before and during VBS. We will need volunteers to help us decorate the campus before camp starts, as well as assistance during drop-off and pickup times at the beginning and end of each day. For those interested in volunteering directly with the campers, we have volunteer opportunities in both the pre-school camp and the grade-school camp. You can volunteer for any amount of time you are available. Even it is only a few hours, we would love to have you! Youth looking to volunteer with the grade-school camp must be in high school, but youth in middle school are welcome and encouraged to volunteer with our preschool campers. All volunteers over the age of 18 will need to pass a background check and participate in a training on our Safety of Minors Policy. We will be holding trainings during the education hour on Sundays July 8th and 15th. Keep an eye on the weekly announcements for more details!
Lastly, there are many opportunities for volunteers to provide food. Campers will bring their own lunch to VBS, but we will need help providing them snacks, as well as lunches for our volunteers and Mt. Cross counselors. We also need volunteers to help us provide dinners for the Mt. Cross counselors Monday-Wednesday of VBS week.
Volunteers interested in helping with food should contact Rebekah Turnbaugh at email@example.com, and all other interested volunteers should contact Maryann Hanner at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any questions about VBS can also be directed to me at email@example.com.
I hope you are as excited as we are for this year’s VBS! Thank you for all of your support year after year during this fun-filled week!
Meet the Staff
By Esperanza Foft
St. John’s is excited to introduce our newest staff member and Assistant Director of Music and Worship - Heather Frick! You may have already seen her in the choir loft during Sunday worship services or prepping the sanctuary for Wednesday healing prayer service. With her blond curls and infectious laugh, she is hard to miss.
Heather first came to join the St. John’s community 11 years ago when she was looking for a church to baptize her then nine-month old son. Now she and her two boys have come to know St. John’s as a second home. When she started attending, the sanctuary was undergoing reconstruction, and worship was being held next door in Goethe Hall. It was there that she met Heather Mercer, a St. John’s congregation member. One time while Heather was singing along with hymns during worship, Heather Mercer encouraged her to meet with our very own Steven Johnson, St. John’s Musical Director.
From there, Heather joined the Celebration Singers and has been a regular member of St. John’s for over a decade.
When it comes to Heather’s favorite music, she loves to sing “folksy hippy music” to her boys like Joni Mitchell, John Denver and James Taylor but has a love for all types of music.
“I encourage everyone to use their voice to express who they are,” she said. “I really enjoy all types of music and how it reflects ourselves.”
Heather’s background is in musical education, and she worked as an elementary school teacher in the Galt area and Merryhill School where she taught choir, band, piano and singing for 17 years.
When Heather reached a crossroads in her career and felt the need to transition to another profession, she turned to her friends and colleagues whose careers she admired. She quickly came to the realization that they were all friends that she had come to know through the St. John’s community. Eventually, she came across an open position in our Music department and officially joined our staff this past May.
Heather is a self-proclaimed art lover in all its forms – visual, music, dance and drama. Because of her passion and previous experience of selling clothes online, Heather started an Instagram account where she focuses on body positivity and fashion.
“I love how you can express who you are on what you wear,” said Heather. “God made us all in different shapes, colors and sizes and loves us for who we are, and I think we should love each other in the same way.”
You will be seeing more of Heather as she steps in to help with youth and family activities as our own Sarah Street will be taking maternity leave. Please take a moment to welcome her and follow her at @DoYouKnowHeatherFrick on Instagram for fashion tips!
Never beyond God's compassion: Suicide Prevention Resources
Living Lutheran, Special to the Spokesman
Suicide is a leading cause of death in the U.S., and suicide rates have increased in almost every state since 1999 (some by more than 30 percent), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide occurs among all demographics, including all religious groups. And behind these statistics are individuals–people who live in our families, communities and congregations and whose stories and relationships are unique and important.
With the knowledge of the statistics regarding suicide and being mindful of the lives affected, the ELCA Church Council adopted “Suicide Prevention” in 1999, a social message that calls on members, congregations and leaders to learn more about suicide prevention and what they can do to help. The social message calls us to this work as people of faith saying, “We who lean on God’s love to live are called to ‘bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ’ (Galatians 6:2). Our efforts to prevent suicide grow out of our obligation to protect and promote life, our hope in God amid suffering and adversity, and our love for our troubled neighbor.”
In 2012, the ELCA Church Council adopted the social message “The Body of Christ and Mental Illness,” which seeks to raise awareness of the challenges of mental illness, offer reflection and direction, and inspire action. At the 2016 Churchwide Assembly, a social policy resolution advocating for suicide prevention research was adopted.
Below is a list of resources members, congregations and faith leaders can use to learn more about suicide and how to prevent it.
24-Hour Suicide Prevention Crisis Line
24-Hour Parent Support Line
Crisis Chat by TEXT!
Text the word HOPE to 916.668.iCAN (4226)
If you or someone you know is in crisis or considering suicide, call us at:
Sacramento (916) 368-3111
Auburn (530) 885-2300
Roseville (916) 773-3111
Lincoln (916) 645-8866
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: The Lifeline provides free, 24/7, confidential support for people in distress and advice for professionals. (800-273-8255)
National Alliance on Mental Illness: The nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization provides information on warning signs and risk factors for suicide and resources for helping people with mental illnesses at www.nami.org.
10 Years of Stephen Ministry At St. John’s Lutheran Church
By Debra Cribbins
More than ten years ago our Church Council made a bold decision to invest in
caring connections within our community. They sent laypeople — congregation
members — for an intense week of training and started on the path of changing the
spiritual dynamics of our relationships within and outside of our downtown church. The
three main components of this ministry are care receivers, Stephen Ministers, and
Stephen Leaders. The vessel of this ministry is a one-on-one caring relationship with a
spiritual companion equipped and empowered to provide high-quality, confidential,
Christ-centered care to a hurting person.
Care receivers are people — congregation members and others in the community
— who receive spiritual companionship from a Stephen Minister. These are people
struggling with a difficult time in life, experiencing grief, divorce, job loss, chronic or
terminal illness, or some other life crisis.
Stephen Ministers are congregation members trained to be spiritual companions
providing care to one person at a time, meeting with that person once a week for about
an hour. Stephen Ministers also gather twice a month with their Stephen Leaders for
supervision and continuing education. Stephen Leaders plan, nurture, and assist with
the ministry. They focus on the process of spiritual companionship and trust God for the
It is important to note that the relationship between a care receiver and a Stephen
Minister is confidential. Men are matched with men, women with women; and when a
care receiver’s needs exceed what a Stephen Minister can provide, the Stephen Leader
team makes a referral to an appropriate professional resource.
Stephen Ministry blesses our congregation because it is a practical and powerful
way to respond to Christ’s commandment to “…love one another [just] as I have loved
you” (John 15:12). Pastors have a team of gifted, trained, and committed laypeople
ready to minister to hurting people. Laypeople nurture and use their gifts in meaningful
ministry, growing spiritually as they serve others. And most importantly, people who are
hurting have a compassionate spiritual companion — a caring Christian friend who
provides emotional and spiritual support.
We have been blessed by the service of Stephen Ministry and will be celebrating
both past and current ministry members on July 8, 2018. We hope you will come be a
part of affirming our Stephen Ministers, commissioning our new Stephen Leaders, and
affirming ministry members’ gifts of love to our congregation over the past ten years.
(Add these two lists of past and current Stephen Ministers)
Rev. Frank Espegren
2nd Annual Women Leaders Gathering
By Gwynae Bird
I had the privilege of representing St. John’s at the 2nd annual Women Leaders Gathering in Tucson, AZ last month. It was a wonderful weekend spent in fellowship with other ELCA leaders, led by our Bishop, Elizabeth Eaton. There were actually 4 generations of Eatons there – the Bishop’s 92-year-old mother and her 2 adult daughters, one of whom is expecting!
Wendy Davidson, President of US Specialty Channels for the Kellogg Co., who asked us to embrace risk by asking “is it real; is it worth it; and can I win?” She told us that faith is risking what IS for what IS TO COME. She said to “be deliberate, not desperate.” She reminded us that “the opportunity is bigger than what stands in your way,” and discussed shaping experiences that will drive people to believe something different. (She also provided us with yummy snacks!)
Dr. Victoria Kisyombe, from Tanzania, started SELFINA, a micro-leasing company that has touched 250,000 lives, created 150,000 jobs, and generated $17 million in wealth for women in her native land. She asked us to “Remember our sisters who are still in the desert.”
Maria Rose Belding, a college student, who is the founder of the MEANS database – a food pantry communication system with partners in 48 states. Her database matches food providers with food distributors, to reduce food waste.
3 International Women Leaders scholarship Recipients – young women whom the ELCA has sponsored to attend college in the US. One was from Zimbabwe, one from Mexico, and one from Japan. All were remarkable women who came from patriarchal cultures, who shared their stories of empowerment as women, and how their education – both formal and cultural – will inform their work in their home countries.
Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro, president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, who is a passionate advocate for women and girls’ health and human rights around the world.
Bishop Eaton, whose State of the Church message was cut short due to time constraints, so she summed it up as “we’re fine!” She reminded us that we don’t honor God when we don’t use the gifts we’ve been given. In a discussion about bringing more youth back into the fold, she observed that we don’t want to treat young adults as “replacement parts” in the church (as our churches age.) When a youth (or anyone) says that they ”don’t believe in God” as a reason not to attend church, she advised that we respond by asking “tell me about this God you don’t believe in.”
We learned about ELCA Giving Circles, discussed what it means to be a philanthropist, and reviewed the Draft Social Statement on Women & Justice. I encourage everyone to read the social statement, and submit comments to the ELCA by the end of September. You can get more info, and read the draft here: https://www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Current-Social-Writing- Projects/Women-and-Justice/Draft
This conference was an excellent reminder of the amazing work that our ELCA does around the world and here in the US. All of these programs – IWL, Global Hunger, Global Fund for Women, SELFINA, and the MEANS database – could use your support if you are looking to expand your giving opportunities.
If you would like information on any of these remarkable women or the programs they’re connected to, feel free to contact me at GwynnaeB@gmail.com.
We had an amazing time taking part in the Pride Parade & Festival! We want to give a special thank you to Gordon Wolfe and other volunteers for their help and participation.
Thank you for taking part in demonstrating our message, “Live God’s Love in the World.