I have been thinking about the last few months of 2012. Most notably, the excellence of our worship of the LORD God through our music and liturgy.
Tom Elston, our Music Director, has put together the most amazing transformation of our music program over the last year. The Rutter Requiem Mass choir and orchestra were astonishingly beautiful. The quality of the music in our Sunday morning worship services is of such excellence. The depth and richness of our worship in music through Advent and Christmas has literally blown open the doors of what is possible for us as a congregation. This has all come about through more hard work than most of us know, on the part of our Music Director and our truly inspired choir.
Thank you, Tom, and thank you, choir!
Also, Kei Breedlove, our Sacristan for the last year and for the coming year, has continued to direct our acolytes with increasing devotion to the worship of the Lord. Through the densely packed months of October through December, Kei has worked tirelessly with our acolytes, and now in training our new Altar Guild leader, Ms. Linda Cage. The mark of beautiful worship in our liturgy is seen not so much in the precision of our acolytes, though this certainly is a necessary component, but as in the devotion and piety of all those who serve.
Thank you, Kei, and thank you, acolytes and Linda!
I also wish to point out the truly herculean and heroic efforts of Frank Harrell and Philip Maniscalco in putting together our parish wide events over the last year and of caring for the physical plant of our buildings. These two men devote an enormous amount of energy, love, and care to our congregation. They tirelessly, and largely unobserved, are constantly working to ensure that our buildings are kept in good shape and that our congregation gathers for wonderful dinners and in a festively decorated church, and continue to cultivate the dramatic arts in our congregation.
Thank you, Frank and Philip, you both give so much to us, and you enrich our lives!
Bo Waddell and Tim Bacon have given an enormous amount of their time, talent, and financial resources in so lovingly caring for our front gardens of the church. Their loving attention to our front gardens has begun the transformation of our church grounds into a beautifully designed, well kept, and attractive adornment for our church. They also joyfully took lead us in our Emmaus House toy drive this year, again with marvelous success!
Thank you, Tim and Bo!
The Kitchen Crew: Linda, Reuben, Janet, Corley, Bruce, and Daniel; all of you loved us, fed us, and warmed our hearts with your profound dedication, energy, and care this last year. You fed us on Wednesday nights, the Speeders group, 2nd and 4th Sunday brunches, Mardi Gras and Anniversary dinners, receptions and parties galore. Your ministry among us has been, and continues to be, one of the strongest and most important parts of our church’s life and outreach to our neighbors.
Thank you, Kitchen Crew, for all the hard work and love!
Daniel Alston has worked so hard this last year in putting the beginnings of a food ministry in place. Through his attention to detail, reaching out into our community, inspiring volunteers, and gathering the supplies, we now are poised to reach out into our larger community to help feed the hungry in new and more meaningful ways.
Thank you, Daniel!
The Bargain Shop, under the faithful leadership of Jane Holloman, Honey Harris, and Will Manders, continues to help meet the needs of our most vulnerable and needy neighbors. Through their efforts, and those of our army of volunteers, the ministry of St. John continues to be known and felt where our poorest and most needful sisters and brothers in East Point and College Park need to have their needs met.
Thank you, Bargain Shop, for your faithfulness and loving ministry!
This year, for the first time, the Saint John Gay Men’s Fellowship, coordinated the efforts of the Diocese of Atlanta in the annual Atlanta Pride weekend, helping the Episcopal Church have a visible and loving presence amongst our sisters and brothers who largely feel excluded and unwelcome by God and the Church. Richard Pfleger led the entire effort, giving an enormous amount of time, energy, and love to creating a united front of offering the love of God to some of the most wounded children of God in our community.
Thank you, Richard and all the men of the Fellowship!
Jane Randolph has, for another year, kept our Speeders ministry going at full speed, arranging for inspiring and engaging speakers, and creating a safe, loving, and warm environment for our senior members to gather for fellowship and mutual support. You are never failingly kind, cheerful, and have more than once pulled off miracles on the spot in supplying for the needs of this lovely community.
Thank you, Jane!
And thank you, Vestry, for another year of creating the most loving, respectful, intentional, and insightful vestry with whom I have ever had the pleasure to serve. You have worked with such care and devotion to maintain the life and ministry of the parish church, to enlarge our scope of ministry, to support and encourage new ministry initiatives. You have also continued to work with Bp. Keith Whitmore, giving up your weekends to continue your own spiritual growth and ability to lead God’s people. You have all inspired and challenged me, and I thank you.
And thank you all, dear people of St. John. You continue to show up with a love of worshipping God in your hearts, a desire to grow in grace, and a fierce love for each other. This last year has been transformative for us all, and for me personally. Your joy in worship is palpable and has been remarked upon by more visitors than you perhaps know. Your ability to offer way beyond what our numbers would suggest is possible is such a sign of faith and hope in what the Lord God is doing amongst us here, in the parish church. God is indeed with us, and there is literally nothing that you cannot do with the Spirit of love and of joy in the faithfulness of God!
I thank the Lord for you all!