Blessing of the Animals

imgresClose to 100 creatures brought their owners to Thompson Square on Sunday, October 2 for the Blessing of the Animals.  Father Ronan and Tom led the assembly in prayers of thanksgiving for our pets and for all of God’s creation, and animals, including some beloved stuffed animals, were blessed. Thank you to Rosemary Kverek, who makes this annual event such a great success, with her planning, promoting, and designing of the certificates that were handed out.

We Gather in Faith, Formation, and Friendship

September brings a return to school and schedules, and we look forward to greeting you at St. John’s. Here is what is happening this month:

Sunday September 11th: Godly Play and Living the Good News Open House and “Blessing of the Backpacks”
We will be gearing up to begin the program year. Join Rachel Pfost at a Godly Play Open House on Sunday morning. Learn more about this program – and how you might want to help out occasionally as a “Doorkeeper” who greets children and assists during class time.  Simon Ringrose, our teacher for Living the Good News, will also be on hand, as well as Nan Armstrong, Children’s Choir Director. We will also have a “Blessing of the Backpacks” with prayers for our children at the 10 am service as they begin a new school year.

Sunday September 17th: Garden Group andSidewalk sale.9.2015.b - Copy - Copy (1) ECW Sidewalk Sale
The Garden Committee and the Episcopal Church Women of St. John’s Church invite you to a sidewalk sale from 10 to 1 on  Saturday, September 17th.  Dishes, games, knicknacks, jewelry, books,  and miscellaneous good quality new and tenderly used items will be sold. The event will take place rain or shine and will be in the parish house next to the church in the event of inclement weather. Items can be donated on Friday, September 16th between 5 and 7 p.m. at the parish house at 27 Devens Street.  Clothing. stuffed toys and bedding will not be accepted as donations.  Proceeds from the sale will be used for projects in the church garden and activities of the ECW and everyone is invited to attend. Want to help out on Friday night or Saturday? Please come if you can!

Thursday, September 15, 7:30 pm: Choir Rehearsals Begin  
Our Adult Choir will be singing for the first time this season at the service on Sunday, September 18th. Come join the choir for its first rehearsal on Thursday in the Parish House at 7:30 pm. If you have questions or would like more information, contact Organist and Choirmaster Douglas Witte at:

IMG_1589Sunday September 18th, Gathering Sunday: Our formation programs for young and older children begin on the 18th. There will be a picnic after the service, and a chance to reconnect with many in the church family. Burgers, hot dogs, salads, dessert and beverages will be provided.

Friday September 23, Evensong: Our monthly Evensong service will be held at 6:30 pm at the church.


A New Year of Faith, Formation, and Friendship

St. John’s begins a new program year on Sunday, September 13th, and we want you to be a part of it. Here are some of the ministries resuming or starting:

Children’s Formatiocartoon image of St. John's smaller file 001n Programs: Our two children’s classes begin at 9:45 am on the 13th. Do plan to come a bit early and register your children. Godly Play for 3 year old through 3rd graders meets downstairs, and our older class meets upstairs in the Parish Hall.

Children’s Choir: Nancy Armstrong invites all children in grades two and up to join her for the first rehearsal of Children’s Choir, at 9:15 upstairs in the Parish Hall.

Adult Choir: The choir sings at the 10 am service on the 13th, and holds their first rehearsal on Thursday, September 10th at 7:30 pm in the Parish Hall. Douglas Witte welcomes all – including persons new to the choir. Your voice will add to our praise.

Parish Picnic: A Parish Picnic follows the 10 am service on the 13th. Please plan to stay for hot dogs, hamburgers and more.

Confirmation Class on September 20: All high school age students are welcome to join us for a confirmation class, at 6 pm. We will meet on alternate Sunday evenings, with a light supper included. The class will provide an opportunity to explore what it means to be a Christian and a member of the Episcopal Church.


From Your Godly Play Teacher

From your Godly Play Teacher:

On May 4th, I’ll be walking in Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger! I’ll be walking with the Episcopal Chaplaincy at Harvard, where I’m Kellogg Fellow. We’re raising money to help feed the 700,000 children and adults who face food insecurity in Massachusetts. We’re also raising money in honor of Bishop Tom Shaw, part of his Season of Celebration and Service. It’s the most vulnerable around us who are most affected by food insecurity. When we give money to Project Bread, we’re helping feed children, the elderly, the disabled, and the unemployed. I’m doing this because I believe it’s one way to follow God’s will in my life. If you’d like to donate, visit this link ( and click the “DONATE” button above the picture! Some extra incentive: If you donate $50 or more, we’ll give you a free ECH Walk t-shirt … see below!hunger walk tshirt.2014

Join Us for Lenten Faith Conversations

Thursday evenings, 5:30-7:15, March 13, 20, 27, and April 3. 

We meet on Thursday evenings for soup, supper, and conversation. This will be a four week program, and you can come for any or all of them. The Rev. Lyn G. Brakeman, Priest Associate, will facilitate the conversations on various spiritual themes. No preparation or homework is required; any sharing is voluntary and confidential; all are welcome—your presence is enough. We’ll take turns bringing food to share. You can  sign up at Coffee Hour if you would like to come for any or all. And if you can only come on the spur of the moment – please do!

Offered by the Society of St. John the Evangelist

The daily video meditation offered by the monks of SSJE  has begun, based on the Gospel of John. Love/Life: Living the Gospel of Love, provides the opportunity to pray and meditate on a daily reflection. We’ll schedule a few gatherings during the season so that we can share our responses together. For more information, and to subscribe to the series, go to this link:

A Suggestion for Personal Reading in Lent from the Rev’d Dick Simeone

There are countless possibilities for personal reading in Lent.  One I highly recommend is The Last Week by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan, (HarpersSanFrancisco) available from Amazon in  print or Kindle.  Using the Markan text, the only one of the four Gospels that follows a day by day chronology of Holy Week, the book explores the depth and meaning of Holy Week.  Drawing us more deeply into this pivotal week for Christians, it provides rich opportunities for prayer and reflection in preparation for celebrating the most important days in the Church Year.  Commenting on this work, the late Peter Gomes, long time minister of Memorial Church at Harvard, wrote: “If there is one book for the redemption of Holy Week, this is it.  Lent can not be better concluded than with this expert guide through the passion to Easter.  This is a ‘must read’ for clergy and laity.”  May it be a fruitful resource for your Lent pilgrimage this year.  —The Rev’d Dick Simeone.





Thank you!

IMG_8688To say that the observation of my twentieth anniversary at St. John’s bowled me over would be to understate it by quite a bit.  “Just a bit of cake” I thought when Tom told me the occasion would be marked, maybe a sip or two of prosecco and we would all be on our way.  Well, the songs, the gifts, the congratulations from past Rectors, and the remarks from the floor really moved me, and I thank the people of St. John’s for making the day truly a special and memorable one for me.

As I said at the time, when I arrived at St. John’s I really didn’t expect to be here very long. I had just returned to the US from two years in Amsterdam, and was at loose ends and simply took the first job offered me because I needed the work. Why have I stayed? I may have been less than articulate last week when I tried to express this, but aside from the beautiful organ and devoted choir and unusually  beautiful building, I am still at St. John’s because this congregation here present cares for its own in very important and fundamental ways.  This parish’s practice of welcome and acceptance is second to none, and I know that I am far from alone when I say that at times of great personal crisis, I have felt cared for here.  This really is a parish family.  From conversations I’ve had with colleagues, I have come to know that this is rarer in parish life than you might think, and much to be cherished.

Further, working at St. John’s has been a constant education.  There are many things about parish life they don’t teach you in music school, and I have been very blessed to have a place to learn those things.  Whether you know it or not, you have been patient and thorough teachers.

So thank you, not just for the nice party with cake, but for making this my home for these last twenty years.


Christmas Services – O Come, Let Us Adore Him

Our celebration of Christmas begins on Christmas Eve, and continues for the 12 days of Christmas, culminating in our celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany on Sunday, January 5th.

Christmas Eve
Family Service and Eucharist at 4 pm
Candlelight Service and Eucharist with Choir at 10 pm

Christmas Day
Holy Eucharist at 10 am

The Feast of St. John the Evangelist, Friday December 27Evensong at 6:30 pm, followed by refreshments

The First Sunday of Christmas, December 29
Holy Eucharist at 8 am and 10 am

The Feast of the Epiphany, Sunday January 5
Holy Eucharist at 10 am, with the Visitation of Bishop Shaw


The Word Goes Out

Dear Friends,

Last week at a clergy luncheon, I was approached by the Rev. Canon Connie Ng Lam. Connie is new to our diocese, and is the Canon for Asiamerican Ministries at St. Paul’s Cathedral. The cathedral has a flourishing Chinese American congregation, and Connie told me that she had distributed the Advent calendar that I design each year to the congregation. As I looked at her copy, I was surprised and delighted – all of the scripture citations and devotional suggestions had been translated into Chinese.

In the twenty years that my friend Merry Watters and I have been producing this calendar, we continue to be amazed at how it finds its way to places we never would have expected. We make an effort each year to produce it, but once we send it out into the world, it seems to take on a life of its own. The fruit of our efforts is the result of much more than our efforts. And for that we are grateful.

This Sunday, I am inviting to you to join in a conversation after church about our parish’s mission and ministry in the larger community. I know that Advent is already a busy time. I know that the very last thing we may want to be doing two weeks before Christmas is to explore what new challenges or tasks we may be called to undertake. And yet they are not challenges or tasks. When we consider Christ’s call to us to serve others, it is to hear an invitation to participate in something that is about much more than our own efforts.

Though it is not a regular part of our Advent readings from the Hebrew scriptures, in this season I am particularly fond of these words from the prophet Isaiah:

For as the rain and snow come down from heaven,
and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.      (Isaiah 55:10,11)

The word goes out. And the way in which that word manifests itself is always the result of much more than our efforts. I invite you to join me on Sunday to consider what seeds God may be planting in the good soil of this parish, so that the word will indeed accomplish all that God intends.




A Visit from St. Nicholas


St. Nicholas 2

St. Nicholas arrives for his visit

On Sunday, December 8th, our Godly Play students and teachers were delighted by a surprise visit from St. Nicholas (who no doubt was on his way home after the celebrations of the Feast of St. Nicholas on December 6th). The children heard the story of this early Christian saint, and received small gifts. Later in church, one child noticed that one of our own patriarchs, Steve Spinetto, bore a distinct resemblance to St. Nick.


St. Nicholas and the children of St. John's

St. Nicholas and the children of St. John’s


St. Nicholas and one of his fans