By Rebekah Turnbaugh
A theme that we have been working with here at St. John’s in 2018 has been “Connections.” It’s a good theme. It calls us to taking first steps and maybe even taking on some risk. I often use this word when I am contacting someone for the first time: “Can we connect over coffee sometime soon?” Or after an encounter with a new idea, experience, or person, connections will be made in my mind and heart that I hadn’t been able to make before. After a connection is made, however, we have choices to make. Is this new connection healthy for me? Will it change me in some way?
A while back St. John’s and City Church made a connection. The connection was about a building and the two congregations entered into a relationship. It would have been simple enough to maintain a transactional relationship, with a physical structure being at the center. Instead, these two congregations decided to enter into something else: a relationship centered on our shared commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ, which calls us to love each other and the world in radical ways.
In May and June, we will have the opportunity to live into this relationship in more intentional ways than we have done in the past. On May 27, Pastor Mark Meeks will come to St. John’s and will preach alongside Pastor Frank. The following Sunday, Pastor Frank will go to City Church and do the same. Come and hear the love of Christ proclaimed at St. John’s on May 27 and get to know Pastor Meeks a bit.
Then mark your calendars for June 16 from 9-11am to spend some time in fellowship with members from City Church. We all know that folks from St. John’s love Old Soul coffee, so come grab a cup of coffee and something to nibble at Old Soul @ 40 Acres (3434 Broadway, Sacramento) for Soul to Soul--a time to connect with our brothers and sisters from City Church.
These are moments to connect. There will be others. There will be choices to make as we move along. Will we build relationships and will we allow them to change us if we feel the Spirit moving there? Will these relationships call us to greater solidarity in communities and neighborhoods that may be new to us?
*** Due to Pastor Meeks’ visit on May 27, the Connections Fair that had been scheduled that day is postponed until a later date. We will communicate with you when that is rescheduled.
What Does a Conversation about Race Have To Do with St. John’s??
For 2,000 years now, the Gospel of Jesus Christ finds us where we are. And for us that means we are living out our faith right here in the heart of the City of Sacramento. We are called to be a good neighbor to those we meet, and not in a pretend way, but with eyes and hearts wide open. That means that for weeks now, we have been living into the aftermath of a police encounter with Stephon Clark, an encounter in which this young African-American man, our Sacramento neighbor, was shot and killed. Our experience of this has taken many forms: shock, anger, sadness, examination and apathy. We have experienced protests - some coming within blocks of us, and certainly close enough to hear. Some of you have joined in these protests. Some of our own whose career is in law enforcement could have been called into the midst of the protests to protect and serve. Important questions are rising up – questions we must not avoid – questions about race and white privilege play into all our undertakings, assumptions and encounters in our city and in our country. And most importantly for us, what does the Gospel have to say to us about that?
Christianity is not a religious expression based on racial identity. Christians come from all parts of the world, from every race and tribe. We find our primary identity not in our DNA, but in our allegiance to following Jesus the Christ, who changes us by His love and sacrifice. We Christians have many traditions and expressions that are specific to where we come from, but if our traditions do not work to bring us together, to have faith as our common core, I fear we are not listening very well, and certainly not in a way that brightens God’s heart, or, ultimately, ours. Any version of Christian faith that prefers one person over another for any reason, especially race, is a perversion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a perversion for which we cannot stand.
It was heartening to gather for a conversation about race here at St. John’s – we came from many callings and perspectives to speak in love to one another. We listened intently to the challenge of police officers – how can we have this conversation without their frontline perspective? We also heard stories from others of unfair and even violent treatment that our brothers and sisters who are not white have endured as they have sought to live peaceable lives. All of it underlies the importance that we who gather as the people of God here at St. John’s have a conversation about race and white privilege, that we truly talk with each other, and listen, and that ultimately, whatever action springs out of our conversation together will be a strong, public witness of faith living in our City.
It’s a sin issue for sure. We are separated from each other, and from God, and the cause of our separation is rooted in our fear. May we come together as brothers and sisters in Christ and not be afraid of each other, or to talk about what is wrong with us, all of us. My prayer is that we not shrink away from our responsibility to live in peace and love and justice with all our neighbors. May our conversation together, our prayerful reflection, and our lives of sacrificial action be measured by a discipline of accountability. Stephon Clark’s black life matters. As children of God and followers of Jesus, what are we willing risk to make sure that for us it does?
Pastor Frank Espegren
Pastoral Call Committee Update
By Gwynnae Byrd
The Constitution of the ELCA charges the Congregation Council with appointing a Call Committee to fill a pastoral vacancy. At our last council meeting, we reviewed applications from many excellent candidates, and ultimately selected 7 people to serve.
The Constitution allows no more than 2 members of a call committee to be current council members. The council decided to name Pastor Frank and Joel Kimmelshue to represent the council on the committee. The other members who have agreed to dedicate their time for this important work are:
Because he has prior experience serving on a call committee, Joel was selected to serve as the chair.
Please keep these members in your prayers as they meet to discern the will of God in welcoming another pastor to join our team of rostered leaders at St. John’s.
We Are Church Together: This Is Our Neighborhood ALL ARE WELCOME! June 2 Synod Assembly Breakfast at St. John’s, with Sacramento City Councilmember Eric Guerra. All are welcome at the annual breakfast hosted by the Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California in conjunction with the Sierra Pacific Synod Assembly, which meets at the Hyatt Hotel. A full buffet breakfast is served in at St. John’s in Oehler Hall beginning at 7:00 a.m., Saturday, June 2, with program beginning about 7:30 and concluding at 8:20. In keeping with the Synod Assembly theme of We are church together: This is our neighborhood, Sacramento City Councilmember Eric Guerra is our guest speaker. He inspired the crowd at the 2017 annual dinner of Family Promise, as well as participants at a dinner held in Goethe Hall for the 2016 national convention of the Society of Environmental Journalists. Council member Guerra has a compelling personal story. Reservations for the June 2 breakfast are required, cost $15: RSVP to Mark Carlson, 916-447-6666, email@example.com, or on line at stjohnslc.org.
Sharing God’s Love at Pride
By Gordon Wolfe
Sharing the Good News with others is much easier than we think possible. Each week we are commanded to “Go in peace, serve the Lord, and live God’s love in the world!” Simply listening to others and understanding their life’s situation is part of that command. That is where I begin my outreach. Yes, along the way I have dispensed words of advice and encouragement. And, there have been times when I simply could not answer a question. Regardless, I say to all who inquire that our God is a God of love, mercy, and grace. This year marks the sixth year that I have been involved with the Sacramento area Pride Parade and Festival. It has been a great privilege to represent St. John’s at the festival, along with our pastors and other members. Through the years, I’ve met and spoken with people from all backgrounds, ages, and religious beliefs. Some who visited our booth had never set foot in a church beyond a wedding or a memorial service. Some grew up in the Christian faith but were later rejected or felt abandoned by their church shortly after coming out as gay or lesbian. To all I say, “God loves you, and you are welcome at St. John’s”. Interested in making a difference in the LGBTQ community? If so, please join us for the Pride Parade and Festival on Sunday, June 10, on the Capitol Mall. The parade begins at 11 am, and the festival runs from 11 am to 5 pm. We are encouraging St. John’s members and regular attenders from all backgrounds (ethnic, gender, age, gender preference, etc.) to experience the joy of reaching others for Christ. I will have more information at a “sign-up” desk during the 10:15 am education hour beginning Sunday, May 20. You can also email me with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can make a difference in peoples’ lives.
The Earliest Gospel
Led by Pastor Mike Degner
Sundays at 10:15 beginning May 13
Have you ever wondered how the written 'Gospels' came into being? Have you ever wondered what might be 'fact’, ‘fiction' or even 'fabrication' in the gospel narratives? How is the gospel narrative relevant to my life today? Beginning May 13 and for the following 5 Sunday's during the education hour we will be focusing on the Gospel of Mark with these and other pertinent questions in mind. The format will be presentation with opportunity for questions and discussion. The material presented will be researched, refreshingly new, and relevant to faith development and growth in discipleship. A tentative outline for this class is:
May 13 -- Mark-- It's origin, structure, purpose and, most importantly--genre
May 20 -- Jesus as Prophet
May 27-- Jesus as Messiah
June 3 -- Jesus as Teacher
June 10 -- The Mystery of the Kingdom
June 17 -- The ending
We will be discussing, among many other items, Jesus' conflict with authorities, the 'messianic secret', the concept of 'Son of Man', the unique messaging in Mark's passion narrative.
St. John’s will be sending the following voting clergy and lay leaders to the 2018 Synod Assembly:
Pastor Frank Espegren
Pastor Jon Haug
Council Member Lisa Berg
All St. John’s members are welcome to attend all or part as well.
To learn more about the Assembly, go to:
The Role of the Parish Nurses at St. John’s
By Cindy Carroll, R.N.
In May, we celebrate National Nurses Week. This year’s theme is: Nurses Inspire, Innovate and Influence. We would like to take this time to recognize and thank all the nurses who are members of St. John’s. We would also like to spend some time sharing what Suzi and I do in our role as coordinators of congregational care and parish nurses at St. John’s.
The ministry of health and healing is central to the life of the church. Many traditional church activities are rooted in a ministry of healing.
What is a Parish Nurse?
A Parish Nurse is a Registered Nurse who is specially trained in whole-person care; care of body, mind and spirit. This specialty care is provided to individuals, families, and groups within a faith community. Our goal is to make St. John’s a place where health and wholeness are valued. We are committed to the intentional care of the spirit as well as care that promotes whole-person well-being.
Our core responsibilities as coordinators of congregational care and members of the pastoral staff include; Prayer Ministry, Bereavement Ministry, Stephen Ministry and Eucharistic Ministry. It is essential to the success of congregational care that the parish nurses and the clergy work closely together, sharing non-confidential information and making referrals to one another.
How the Parish Nurses Provide Member Care
· Provide individual health counseling
· Provide referrals to health care services and resources within the congregation and the external community
· Follow-up with you if you have a health concern
· Help you talk with your doctor
· Pray for or with you
· Provide a listening ear
· Call when you are ill
· Support you during times of grief
· Visit you if you are hospitalized or become homebound
· Bring you communion
· Assist and provide support if you are making decisions regarding medical services, treatment options and care facilities for yourself or your family
· Asist you with Advance Health Care Planning
· Arrange health education classes (Let us know what topics interest you)
What the Parish Nurses Can’t Do for You?
· Give any “hands on” nursing care
· Duplicate services provided by hospital, home health or hospice
· Give medications
· Change dressings
· Invasive procedures, for example: give shots, draw blood
If you have any questions, concerns or want to make an appointment with us, please call us. We will be glad to meet with you.
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34
Maundy Thursday was a particularly meaningful day for me this year. The gifts that Holy Week Day Camp brought enriched my worship life and the emotional content of the day tremendously.
To begin, we started our day as usual for the week, sitting on the floor of the sanctuary lit by candles to learn about the scripture of the day. I read the story of the Last Supper with the aid of some helpful readers out of our Spark Story Bible. And while the Spark Bible shared a beautiful picture of the last supper, it missed that important part of the story where Jesus gives the mandate-- which we get our Maundy from-- to love one another. We asked the group what they thought that commandment might be and Koop raised his hand first and shared without hesitation “to love each other”. This young man knows without question the importance of the gospel and his call as a Christian. My joy in these children and their rich faith lives only continued as the day went on.
In the afternoon, our campers helped create prayer flags using their painted feet to make butterflies (you may have noticed them in the sanctuary on Easter Sunday). Each child sat patiently and had their feet painted by Pastor Jon and I as we knelt before them to share the beauty from these feet that are constantly bringing good news. After the craft was complete Pastor Jon and I (assisted by Kathryn and Lucy, who would assist again that evening) washed every child’s feet. Each and every one of them received special attention and care. Each washing changing the color of the water, leaving its mark as if to say “I was here”.
Later in the evening during worship, I had the distinct pleasure of being able to watch from the altar as I sang while our members came up to receive the gift of being touched and washed clean by their pastors, leaders, and four of our young people. I watched as Kai dried his father, Pastor Scot’s, feet gently and with reverence and I watched as Lucy attended to her mother, Susanne, mirroring the care and attention she paid to our young people just hours before. I was able to see as Annika and Vivienne, two of our campers, each made their way up the aisle and to the front of the church to have their feet washed again knowing that there is a place for them here at St John’s and they are welcome to take part in all aspects of this week.
Please know that this ministry with our children and young people extends more broadly to all of us here at St. John’s. We are all welcomed and loved-- chosen by God to be God’s children. In working within the church, taking care of it and our neighbors, and coming together for study and worship we feel a sense of connectedness not just to each other and this place, but to God.
Thank you as a congregation for your support of this important ministry. Thank you to all the parents who trusted us with their children for this week. Thank you to the volunteers-- youth and adults-- who gave fully of yourselves and your time and attention. Thank you to our staff for providing such a welcoming presence to our young people-- and for the beautiful hospitality you showed us all at lunch Friday. And most importantly THANK YOU to every child and young person who participated in this week of service and learning!
Kathryn, Lucy, Kai, Tavi, Jacob, Magnus, Mateo, Maggie, Koop, Henry, Ella, Annika, Vivienne, Reagan, Mason, Grace and Torbyn you have shown us all what it means to live God’s love in the world.
Mark your Calendars,
“ Big Day of Giving” (#BDOG) – May 3, 2018
What do we do and why is this date so important to the Central Downtown Food Basket? CDFB reliably provides healthy and fresh groceries with “Dignity and Respect” to the food insecure at mobile sites throughout Sacramento. This event allows us to raise much needed funds for our many programs. One of them being the CSUS (Sacramento State) “Pop-UP Pantry” where we distribute fresh produce to students in need on campus. The students are so appreciative of what they are receiving and many have told us that they were running low on food until their next paycheck and that this was going to make a difference. Watching them walk away with a bag, sometimes two bags of produce makes this program worthwhile.
CDFB has also started a new Senior Program at the Golden Palms Estates. There we distribute groceries to the food insecure elderly on a monthly basis. The boxes include items such as juice, milk, cheese, cereal, canned chicken, canned fruit and vegetables, soup and other much needed items.
Thanks to Big Day of Giving and other generous supporters, we were able to purchase a second truck to haul our 18’ box trailer. This allows us to deliver more fresh produce along with additional staples that our households are in desperate need of.
The Big Day of Giving helps us achieve goals in feeding the hungry throughout the greater Sacramento area. Your support means that we can continue our mission in helping those that need a helping hand.
Executive Director, CDFB
The LLL Book Club--RELEVANCE is our middle name!
By Shelly Brassil
Our book selections take on some of the most important issues of the day--
Join us every 3rd Friday at 11AM in the church library--all are welcome!
May 18: BARKING TO THE CHOIR by Father Gregory Boyle--the author of Tattoos on the Heart returns to East LA--this time to explore the concept of "radical kinship." It turns out all of God's children have more in common than they can imagine.
June 15: BEHOLD THE DREAMERS by Imbolo Mbue--this novel is about the intersection of lives--African immigrants to the US meet Wall Street--privileged meets poverty--the American dream realized versus the struggle to pursue happiness in a strange land.
July 20: A LAND OF HARD EDGES by Peg Bowden--The US-Mexico Border is much in the news lately. This series of true stories about those who are enmeshed on the front lines of controversy--serving in migrant shelters--very timely indeed.
August 17: BORN A CRIME by Trevor Noah--A successful young stand-up comedian tells the story of his upbringing in South Africa as it transitioned away from apartheid. Being mixed-race was difficult, not made easier by complicated family dynamics. Written in a stark but entertaining style.
Questions about LLL Book Club? Contact Donna Shadle, email@example.com