September 2018 SPOKESMAN

Click here for an easy-to-print PDF of the September Spokesman.

What’s Your Net Worth?

In the Gospel of Mark, the first chapter includes what feels like an almost terse recounting of the story of Jesus calling the first disciples. Jesus, it says, is just passing along the Sea of Galilee, sees Andrew and his brother Peter, fishermen, and recruits them with the following: “Follow me and I will make you fishers of people.” The result? “Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” Pretty powerful stuff!

This tale of recruitment, influence, and career course correction underlies our stewardship theme for 2019, a play on Jesus’ vocational call to the first disciples: What’s Your Net Worth? Of course, when this is asked in the secular world, the first and only thought of worth is financial: how much money do I have in the bank, equity in the house, 401ks funded, etc. And with it the presumption that worth is tied up in financial success. But Jesus most definitely seems to take a different approach.

Our worth seems tied up in nets designed to benefit people, in trusting in higher callings, in following Jesus in the both amazing and challenging way He leads us.

So this year, we intend to explore our Net Worth in powerful spiritual experiences and deep commitments. We’re going to broaden our response to how we intend to live into 2019 beyond just making a financial commitment, important as that is for the wellbeing of our financial planning and budgeting. We intend to teach and coach and even challenge each and every one of us into additional deep commitments: in how we spend our time relating to God in sabbath rest, worship & devotional focus. In addition for your planning in 2019, we will urge you to form a deep commitment in your service to neighbor and advocacy for those in need.

So What Is Your Net Worth? May each and every one of us be divinely inspired as we explore and answer this question together to the glory of God, for our own benefit, and to the benefit of those who need us To Live God’s Love in the World. God’s love is the exact net worth getting caught in!


Pastor Frank Espegren and Rebekah Turnbaugh

A Moral Acoustic

By Steven Johnson

Director of Music & Worship

In my recent travels to Oxford, England, where I participated in the Choral Conducting Institute, I embarked on a journey that proved to be one of the single most transformative experiences of my life.

I first heard about the Conducting Institute last summer and had an instant realization that I would be going to Oxford. I was being summoned and it was clear that something far greater was at play in creating this journey.

Dr. James Jordan, who created this conducting institute in collaboration with St. Stephen’s House in Oxford and the Westminster Choir College in New Jersey, is one of the most influential choral conductors and music educators in America. The content of his latest book, A Moral Acoustic, was brought to life and lived out among all of us who participated in this experience. (Investing in yourself was not an option, it was a requirement.)

There’s no way I could summarize every detail of my experiences in this article. However, listed below are the significant spiritual principles that influenced a community of people who then collectively transformed each other’s lives.

- Be solution oriented. (Challenges must be seen as opportunities for clearer choices, not reasons to judge or make others wrong.)

- A desire to be in communion with each other cultivates human abundance.

- A willingness to be less so others can become more.

- Vulnerability is necessary and required for soulful expansion.

- Give up control and allow greater accessibility to spirit.

- Relationships must lead the way to inspiration.

- Respond to others by seeing the best in them. (Even if they don’t demonstrate it.)

- How we care for each other matters most.

- To speak/sing as one voice out of a community of many is one of the most powerful communicative mediums on the planet.

- Passion, love & commitment to being together improves everyone’s lives and the collective ‘work.’

- Giving back moves us all forward.

As I walked away from conducting the choir at our final concert I realized that I had a sacred encounter with the divine that dwells within all of us. It wasn’t from learning or conducting challenging repertoire, even though that too, was required. It was because I had been given the opportunity to experience God’s grace lived out by a group of musicians that gave of themselves unselfishly and for the purpose of allowing others to grow and expand through the experience. I had a palpable connection with my own soul and was reminded in “real-time” that it’s how we “show up” for ourselves is all that ever matters. Creating an environment where we have the freedom to live through our vulnerabilities is LIFE giving.

“Renaissance philosophers often said that it is the soul that makes us human. We can turn that idea round and note that it is when we are most human that we have our greatest access to soul.” - Thomas Moore in Care of the Soul

Our music & worship life needs your unconditional voice; whether it be from the pew, being a lector, singing in a choir, during fellowship or in educational conversations. Connecting to our collective soul is where the grace of God presents itself. We’re all in this together; and as humans, we are born into a world hard-wired from birth with the need to connect into a broader community.

I look forward to seeing how we all “show-up” for each other!

Singing In God’s Glory,

Steven Johnson

Director of Music and Worship

My Experience as a Food Pantry Volunteer

By Karin Johnson

I have been volunteering at the St. John’s Food Pantry every Tuesday for about six months now. I decided I wanted to do something for the ever increasing homelessness situation. I do believe that it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness and this was something I could do. With rare exception I have found the people we serve to be grateful for what we can provide and often offer their blessing to us for being there. It continues to amaze me the look of joy that I often see when I hand someone a Gatorade or a banana.

We don’t have a great deal of interaction, but I have heard the short version of numerous stories. Each person has a different story which leads me to believe that there are no cookie cutter solutions for homelessness. What I do know is that as a Christian and a Scandinavian I should always feed people. I consider myself a hostess at St. John’s, my second home, and that feeding God’s children is necessary and important.

If you aren’t familiar with the food pantry, it has been operating out of a small area next to the entrance to the church office. It is open weekdays from 3-5 PM, except holidays. We provide what is referred to as a “lunch,” or a “snack bag” consisting of a protein item, fruit, carbohydrate, granola bar, and a drink, based on the items available.

If you might be interested in volunteering in the pantry, I would recommend it to you! Right now, we could use some help on Thursdays, in particular the 2nd and 3rd Thursdays of the month. If volunteering in the morning is better for you, we are also looking for people interested in helping to organize the pantry and pre-prepare snack bags for the afternoon volunteers. If volunteering on a regular basis is difficult for you, but you could be available to fill in when one of our regular volunteers is away on vacation or out for some other reason, let us know and we can put you on a stand-by list!

The bottom line is that, at least for the foreseeable future, there is a need for our food pantry in the downtown area.

If you would like to donate to the pantry, here is a good list of regular needs. Thank you to all of you who have been very generous with your donations. We couldn’t keep this service going without your help.

The items need to be ready-to-eat, as our homeless neighbors usually do not have access to can openers or to sources of heat. The food needs to be in individual servings, about 2-4 ounces.

  • Protein – Vienna Sausages, tuna/chicken pouches or lunch kits, individual servings of peanut butter, beef jerky

  • Fruit – fresh, durable fruit such as oranges or bananas, fruit cups, individual apple sauce

  • Carbohydrate – small rolls of crackers, cheese or peanut butter crackers

  • Granola bars – any protein, fruit, or snack bars are very good due to their long shelf life

  • Drinks – Water is always needed, but Gatorade seems to be much appreciated, as well as individual servings of fruit drinks

When possible, we try to give those who come to our door a choice based on the protein in each lunch, as some people have allergies or there is a need for soft food due to dental problems…and we all have taste preferences!

To get involved in the pantry, please contact Rebekah Turnbaugh at or Eric Piotrowski at, or you can reach both Eric and Rebekah on the phone at 916-444-0874.

Back - to - (Sunday) School!

By Amy Paulson

Wow that was fast! Summer break is already ending and schools all over the area are back in session. While your children are settling into the new school year, don’t forget their faith education! Another year of Sunday school will kickoff on September 16th, and registration is open now! Our Sunday school program is for children age 3 to entering 6th grade. I hope you’ll have your children join us for another year of fun and learning!

Registration forms are available on the second floor in the education wing, outside of the Arts and Crafts room (Room 210), or outside of the sanctuary on the children’s bulletin tables. Completed forms can be submitted to me via email ( or my mailbox in the church office. You can also register online at

This Changes Everything

By Heather Frick

A few weeks ago, from July 30-August 3, St. John's hosted a Vacation Bible School program for almost 50 youth of our congregation. My own children had the opportunity to attend VBS at St. John's. Simon is 8 and was with the incoming 3rd graders, and my older son Alex, who is 12 and is headed to middle school, got to work as a volunteer youth helping lead the younger children. Simon loved singing time and the Friday tour of the Capitol building, and Alex loved getting to know the younger kids, as well as forging new friendships with his peers. It was such a fun opportunity to have my boys here with me at church for the whole week!

The counselors of VBS were college-age students from all over the country who had dedicated their summer to traveling and teaching for Mt. Cross, based out of Santa Cruz. They were all so wonderfully enthusiastic and energetic, they even drew out the best of my very shy Simon. Their songs and stories were captivating to the kids, and they made sure everything was organized, safe, and FUN!

One of the highlights for our family was the wonderful family worship service on Thursday evening, which was preceded by a dinner in Oehler Hall made by many of St. John's fabulous volunteers. All of the families enjoyed fellowship and songs and the evening was just a delightful time with our awesome community.

I am so grateful to St. John's, and especially to Pastor Jon, Amy Paulson, and our amazing volunteers including VBS coordinator Maryann Hanner, and Shirley Capp and Mark Lytel (who brought the sanctuary to life with their amazing decorating skills!) for creating such a wonderful environment for all of our children to learn about living God's love in the world. Alex and Simon are thrilled to start both confirmation class and first communion classes, respectively, later this school year. One of my favorite philosophies of education is, "Watch one, do one, teach one," and the counselors from Mt. Cross and all of our adult staff and volunteers did the very best job of bringing that philosophy to life by being real-life examples of God's grace and love. We cannot wait until next summer when we can do it all again!


Kicking off the 10th anniversary of the installation of our Bedient organ in the remodeled sanctuary, St. John’s Resounds! Concert series proudly presents organist Nathan Laube in concert on Sunday, September 16th at 3pm.

Nathan is currently Associate Professor of Organ at Eastman School of Music, a position he has held since age 24. At age 16, he was Assistant Organist at the Wanamaker Grand Court Organ, the world’s largest playable organ. For his 21 st birthday, he was a featured performer at the national convention of

the American Guild of Organists. A star among young classical musicians, he has quickly earned a place among the organ world’s elite performers. His brilliant playing and gracious demeanor have thrilled audiences and presenters across the United States and in Europe, and his creative programming of repertoire spanning five centuries, including his own virtuoso transcriptions of orchestral works, have earned high praise from critics and peers alike.

Mark your calendars now- this is an event you don’t want to miss! Bring your friends! Ticket information is available on the St. John’s church website.

Parish Nurses to Attend National Health Ministry Association Conference

Cindy and Suzi will be headed to Kentucky on September 7 to attend the National Health Ministry Association Annual Meeting and Conference. This year’s conference is entitled The Sacred Practice of Caring: Partnering for a Healthy, Hopeful Future. The conference provides us with educational and networking opportunities and also offers inspiration for us to help make a positive impact on those we serve here at St. John’s. The conference will include several keynote speakers, concurrent sessions, and a Peace luncheon. We look forward to sharing what we learn when we return from the conference.

The Ministry of Listening

By Debra Cribbins

The human ear is simply an amazing organ and a wonderful example of God’s creative power! There are only three bones in your ear and all three of these bones can fit inside the space of a penny. In addition, your ears play an essential role in your sense of balance and equilibrium.

While your physiology is magnificent, when it comes to Stephen Ministry, ears should be considered active listening devices and can help people achieve a sense of balance in life. Listening communicates human care, which demonstrates divine care. Listening shows concern by action rather than words. Listening requires humility as Paul stated in Phil. 2:3-4:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (NIV)

Active listening requires giving up self for someone else, accepting others, respecting others, and encouraging others to keep talking. Listening also means being comfortable with difficult issues. Listening is extending God’s grace to those who sorely need it. By listening to an aching heart, Stephen Ministers can be a major catalyst in helping it to heal.

In their 50 plus hours of training, Stephen Ministers learn to hone and improve their effective listening skills for the process of spiritual companionship. They are available as spiritual companions for those experiencing a life crisis, whether it’s death, divorce, illness, relocation, financial difficulty, or whatever else they may need.

More specifically, a Stephen Minister is available to listen when someone needs to pour out their heart and hurts. They will not give specific advice, but will listen and validate the pain. Stephen Ministers provide one-to-one, face- to-face emotional and spiritual companionship to people in need. They are available to anyone in the community who is hurting, not just church members.

Stephen Ministers are non-judgmental and will not “fix” someone, instead they will be a constant point of light and love for the hurting person. If you have a hurting heart, need to talk about it and would like a spiritual companion to walk with you, please contact the Parish Nurses.

Lorenzo Farewell

After completing his Bachelor's degree at the University of California--Davis with a cumulative GPA of 3.967, Lorenzo Ramsey is now preparing for a career in business. As he applies to Business Administration (MBA) programs at Stanford (GSB), UC Berkeley (Haas), and the London Business School (LSB) for the 2019-2020 academic year, Lorenzo has accepted a position with Hired Inc. a technology-based talent firm, headquartered in San Francisco's Financial District. His musical plans include private voice study and joining the Oakland-East Bay Gay Men's Chorus.


Financial Peace University

Sept. 6 - Dec. 6

St. John’s is bringing Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU) back to our community. FPU is a 9-week program with classes every Thursday (excluding the second Thursday of each month) beginning on September 6 and ending on December 6 (there will be no class on Thanksgiving) from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm. Questions? Contact Dan Welch at Dan will staff an information table between the 9:00 and 11:30 services two weeks prior. We look forward to seeing you at FPU!

God's Work, Our Hands: weekend of September 9

This year we are going to be all over our Sacramento community for God's Work, Our Hands! We even have opportunities to participate on Friday night or Saturday, in case that accommodates your schedule better.

It is VERY helpful to have you sign up in advance because there are a number of projects that can only accommodate a limited number of people and we'll need to communicate that to the organizations with whom we are working.

So, to sign up for you and/or your family, go to this link and take a look at how you can get involved!

Be sure to read the explanations for each activity, and if you are signing up more than one person, please be sure to pay attention to how you do that.

If you have any questions, please reach out to Rebekah Turnbaugh at or 916-444-0874. Thank you!

Soul to Soul

September 15

As you know, we hosted a Soul to Soul gathering back in June with members of City Church and members of St. John's coming together simply to start getting to know one another. It was a great time and more than 20 people showed up! We want to continue this relationship building and getting to know our siblings over at City Church. Join us on September 15 between 10am and 12pm at Old Soul @ 40 Acres (3434 Broadway, Sacramento) for friendship and a good cup of coffee. For any questions, please contact Rebekah Turnbaugh at or 916-444-0874.

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We are attentive to God's word, prayerfully discerning God's will to do God's work with grace, in trust, by faith, through action.

st. john's lutheran church

1701 L Street

Sacramento, CA 95811
916-444-0874 |

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