To my St. John's family and friends - thank you so much for the outpouring of generosity and love which you exhibited on my retirement from St. John's. The cross, the monetary gift, and CAKE! You are truly a gracious congregation and faith family. I am honored to continue to serve in ministry and will see you regularly as we worship together.
Best wishes, Fay
It is that time of year again. We will be participating in a back-to-school supply drive for McBee Elementary School, as we have done for many years. For those of you who aren’t familiar with McBee, it has a very underprivileged student body. We will collect supplies until September 4, 2022. Below is a list of potential supplies, if however, you don’t want to purchase supplies, you may make a monetary donation with the “school supplies” noted on your gift.
Supplies needed are:
For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)
Dangerous heat conditions. Fires raging. Crops failing. Inflation rising. Violence raging. Anxiety rising. Wherever we turn, there seems to be one more thing to worry about. It can be overwhelming. It’s tempting to despair and wonder where is the God in all this? It’s easy to be blinded by the things that are not right. Easy to not see the things that are an expression of God’s loving presence in our lives.
Yet, I see the presence of God here at St. John’s. I see a community that welcomes the stranger and invites them to join in. I see families who seek healing and comfort. I see a long list of loved ones for whom we pray because we trust that God’s presence will provide strength, courage, and hope. I see people who are willing to learn and face the truths about our country’s history of racism, so that they can discern how to right these wrongs. I see seekers who desire to learn more from Scripture and to entertain theological reflections that may open new vistas of understanding. I see a passion for serving God in many ways in the church and in the community. I see a zeal for justice, particularly about affordable housing and homelessness. I see the kingdom of God.
Thanks be to God!
I write this article as I am preparing to go on vacation. I am very grateful to this community to give me the opportunity to be with family and summer. It is a time for rest and reflection. There is a lot to reflect on this year. Many changes have occurred in our congregation and in our country.
Our church continues to grow not only in numbers but in discipleship. We have seen an increase in people from our neighborhood attend services as well as people who have seen us on the internet and have decided to join us in person. We have also had 10 baptisms and 2 confirmations since last July with two more next week.
Faith communities are charged to support new members in deepening their faith. We are called to provide love and support to the people that are members. The question is what experiences or teachings do they need to grow in their faith. How can we best love one another?
Our agenda of issues adopted at the annual meeting is being put into action. Several leaders have attended leadership training. Leaders have met with organizations that work on affordable housing. They have met with council members in support of budget items that help our community. And, they have met with the neighborhood association and the Austin Parks and Recreation Department to learn about increasing park space in our neighborhood. All of these efforts are in response to our congregation’s desire to be more connected in the community we are located so we can better serve our neighbors.
The country has experienced a series of mass shootings bringing to the forefront once again the need for gun safety laws. We have also had a series of Supreme Court rulings that will impact our community in ways we still cannot imagine. So the question for us as it has always been for Christians is what will our response be to events of our day.
Faith communities have also always been asked to care for the most vulnerable when natural and human disaster strikes. We need to find those that will be most affected and find ways to lighten their burden and soften the blow. The question is who are the most vulnerable and what do they need from us.
As a congregation we have many questions to discern. Questions that have complex answers. I invite you to also take this month to pause, reflect and pray. Let us listen to what God is asking of us.
A group of St. John’s members took a historical tour of west Austin with an emphasis on black history stories in honor of Juneteenth. The tour began at the historic Neill Cochran Mansion on San Gabriel Street, which dates to well before the Civil War. Behind the mansion stands the only slave quarters known to remain standing in Austin.
Haskell House is a historic residence in Clarksville, an old freedman settlement in what is now west of downtown. The land was originally a cane thicket, purchased in 1871 by Mr. Clark, a former slave. Clark cleared the land and sold parcels to other freedmen for home sites.
Sweet Home Missionary Baptist is a church established in the Clarksville Freedman’s settlement soon after the founding of the settlement. It remains an active congregation 150 years after its founding.
Although Black people were forced out of west Austin by the City’s discriminatory 1928 Master Plan, the congregation to this day remains mainly majority African American, many of them descendants of early congregants. One of the congregants was nice enough to allow us in and give us a personal tour.