This September it was a great pleasure to welcome our new Rector. It was quite a celebration when Beth was installed at the special service held in her honour in early January. Everyone worked together to make it a very special evening. We hope she will be with us for a long time.
The Thanksgiving fruit and vegetables were beautifully arranged by Vicki Robinson and her friend Margot Gowing. The congregation donated money so we could get lots of beautiful produce at the market. The fruits and vegetables were delivered to the Union Mission as we have done for many years.
Vicki Milnes had some great volunteers to help with the decorating of the church for Christmas. You might be interested to know that we have fun getting the wreaths that decorate the windows from the Cleraux family who have a farm south of Ottawa. They have delivered them to the church for over 30 years and still charge us only $10 each. They sell the same ones for $20 at the market! Thank you Mrs. Cleraux.
Beth wanted to help with the decorating so she agreed to place the doves above the reredos. She did such a good job you almost expected them to fly away!
Why not consider celebrated special occasions in your life with flowers? Arranging the flowers for Sunday ourselves has been a great success thanks to our faithful flower arrangers. You can take home the flowers you donate after they have beautified the church. There can be more than one lot of flowers on the same date. Some dates are kept on a regular basis for people who have donated flowers on those dates for many years. Contact Vicki Milnes if you are interested or have questions.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Altar Guild, please speak with Bev Bewley.
St John’s Choir is a group of 45 singers who are dedicated to creating Christian community through music. We rehearse every Thursday evening from Labour Day to the end of May. We sing every Sunday morning as well as for special services. As well, we present two concerts with orchestra every year. Many members of the choir are also active in other areas of parish life, which helps connect the choral experience with the broader experience of our common life as Johnians, and helps avoid the attitude of “worship the choir”.
We continue to be blessed by the presence of so many talented people in the choir. Cara Gilbertson is our Artist-in-Residence. She works with individual choir members on vocal production and technique, and frequently sings solos with the choir. Our choral scholar, Ashley Cross, moved away in the summer, and we were pleased to welcome back Hayley Swanton, a former member of the choir, as soprano section leader. We are also supported by instrumetal musicians from within the choir, such as flutists Wendy Williamson-Scrim and Aura Giles, and violinist Noah Waters, a graduate student in violin performance at the University of Ottawa.
The seating arrangement of the choir has been a challenge in recent years; since we no longer have an assistant organist, the choir must be seated in such a way that they can see the choirmaster conduct from the digital organ console. When Beth arrived as our new rector in September, she suggested a new seating arrangement which has proven to be very satisfactory for the choir. One unique aspect of this arrangement is that the soprano section is divided: first sopranos sit in the front of the choir, and the second sopranos sit at the back of the choir, raised up on the chapel steps so their sound sails over the rest of the choir. It is always a challenge to have good choral blend in the very dry acoustics of our nave, but this new way of sitting helps mitigate that problem somewhat.
In December we joined with the choir of Woodroffe United Church and the Strings of St John's to present a concert of music for Advent and Christmas. We performed once at Woodroffe and once at St John's, and both times had large, appreciative audiences. We look forward to collaborating with them again. All in all, it was an excellent year for the choir and we look forward to an exciting musical year in 2014.
Sunday School consists of two groups. Godly Play is for the 2 ½ to 6 year old group. This program follows a quiet and gentle routine which mirrors the liturgy. Bible stories are told with simple items to illustrate the events. Children then choose an activity such as retelling a previous story, play dough or painting. Two of the three Godly Play Leaders were able to participate in workshops this year and have revitalized this important area of Christian education.
The integrated Sunday School Group is roughly from Grade 2 -7. They meet with a leader to study the biblical passages and to do a follow up activity- sometimes arts and crafts, poetry writing, dialogues etc. They follow the Seasons of the Spirit curriculum.
The attendance is sparse some Sundays but generally there are participants each Sunday.
The Sunday School teachers met with the priest to help co-ordinate the Christmas Eve service for 4:00pm.
With dwindling numbers we are considering just having an all ages Godly Play group in the future.
Adult Education Committee
The Adult Christian Education Committee, comprised of Rob Heard, (until June) and Beth Bretzlaff (from Sept), Monica Patten, Mary Frances Marshall, Sally Andrews, Heather Mallett, Talia Johnson, Tony Lovink, and Vicki Robinson, meets every quarter, or as necessary, to plan a Christian Education program for the coming term. It is our objective to provide opportunities for learning and growth which cover a range of topics on a continuum of spiritual/religious content, which are offered in a variety of time slots, duration and group size, which appeal to the wide range of interests and age groups within the parish, which fit into the broader schedule of parish activities and which utilize the many resources and talents available within our parish community.
A theme of the program offered in 2012 was ‘pilgrimage’ with presentations on the Camino de Santiago and the Hajj, as well as a walk of the labyrinth at St Michael’s and All Angels Church. A 5-week Bible Study session during Lent was led by the Reverend Canon Robert Heard. There were two one-day retreats at Temple Pastures, one for Lent, the other for Advent. Other events included small group book discussions in the spring and fall, an information session in partnership with the Refugee Assistance Group on challenges facing refugees and their sponsors, and a workshop on Empathic Communication led by Brian Lynn M.D. Weekly lunchtime yoga in the chapel began in the fall and the committee publicized the very popular St John’s Women’s Retreat which took place at Galilee Centre, Arnprior in October.
When the church offers the principal celebrations of the Holy Eucharist at the weekly services, special services, weddings and funerals, the clergy relies on the help of lay communion assistants with the distribution of the wine. Lay assistants are invited by the Rector, approved by Parish Council and licensed by the Bishop.
The Communion Administrators have been working together as a group for many years now. We are able to step in at a moment’s notice, in any given situation and handle it with grace and competence.
Celebrating Christmas Eve at the Chancel Altar this year introduced us to some changes made by our new priest, Beth, in which the four administrators quickly rose to the occasion.
We extend a Thank You to three people who left us throughout the year; Peter Anderson, Rosemary Anderson and Margaret Capelazo.
The team of administrators for 2013 was:
Karen Berg, Kitty Cocks, Melodie Conlon, Joan Dolphin, Detlef Dransch, Alain Lanoix, Peggy Lister, Wendy McCutcheon, Don McGibbon, Monica Patton, Glen Robinson, Marietta Stenman and Wayne Teal,(for the summer months).
St John’s is fortunate to own a three-octave set of English handbells cast by the Schulmerich Bell Company of Sellersville, Pennsylvania – one of the world’s oldest and most respected bell foundries. The memorial bell at the back of the church is engraved with the names of the people in whose memory the bells were donated. We use handbells in worship to accompany psalms and other sung portions of the liturgy, as well as in solo performance. Our handbell ensemble meets each week on Monday morning to rehearse and plan music for the coming weeks. In 2013 our handbell ringers were Maura Beecher, Peggy Lister, Barbara Brown, Joan Dolphin, Marietta Stenman, Daphne Strange and Jo Cassie.
During 2013, much beautiful music has been heard at St John’s. Vocal and choral music as well as handbells and other instrumental music create an atmosphere of creativity and learning, where we tune our spiritual senses through the harmonies of music.
St John’s is well known in the community for the varied, interesting music that happens here – not only on Sundays, but throughout the week. Our church is home to several community choirs and music groups who rehearse and perform here. Every night of the week there is a choir rehearsing in the choir room; these include the St Cecilia Singers, the Ottawa Bach Choir, Tone Cluster: Quite a Queer Choir, In Harmony women’s chorus, and the Ottawa Gay Men’s Chorus. Starting in September, the Ottawa Regional Youth Choir began rehearsing at St John's as well.
We are especially fortunate to have a fine orchestra, the Strings of St John’s, which makes its home at our church. The Strings present five concerts each season, two of them in collaboration with our choir. They bring creative energy and exciting music to St John’s.
We are truly blessed to be surrounded by beautiful music!
Our community of prayer members continued faithfully to pray for the many needs in our parish. We also organized a Retreat at Temple Pastures in Feb 2013 which expanded into a Parish event. We look forward to this new year and renewed opportunities to connect and support each other in our journey of prayer.
The role of Server is very specific and important to any church service. The Servers lead the Priest(s) and choir into and out-of the Nave, lead the Gospel and Offertory, and help the Priest in the preparation for the Eucharist This assistance is required at the regular services as well as at special services, festivals, weddings and funerals.
The Guild’s membership has remained fairly consistent over the past few years with twelve members rotating through the schedule as either crucifer, server or acolyte. Their knowledge and experience shines through when we have a special service that requires different directions and duties.
The Christmas Eve Service this year saw three of the servers; Erinn, Susmita and Charlotte transform into Liturgical Dancers for the presentation of the light.
The servers for this past year are; Sherrie Dagg, Laxmi Darjee, Kailash Darjee, Sunita Darjee, Susmita Darjee, Amit Darjee, Marcel Gaxiola, Wendy McCutcheon, Erinn Stenman-Fahey, Charlotte Williamson-Scrim, Declan Williamson-Scrim and John Veenstra.
Sunday ministries provide an opportunity for parishioners to participate more fully in the Sunday morning services as well as in special services such as those around Christmas and Easter. Volunteers who participate in Sunday ministries are vital to ensuring that the service runs smoothly. There are opportunities for volunteers in the following activities:
- Altar Guild – takes care of the altar, its furnishings, the communion vessels and the flowers.
- Servers – assist the clergy during communion.
- Readers – read the appointed texts from the old and new testaments during the service
- Intercessors – lead the congregation in prayer during the Prayers of the People.
- Communion Assistants – assist clergy to distribute the bread and wine during the Eucharist
- Sidespersons – assist the Duty Warden in welcoming people to the service, distributing pew bulletins, collect the offering and participate in the procession carrying the bread and wine, the offerings and the Food Bank donations to the altar. Sidespersons also ensure the orderly flow of people to the communion table during the Eucharist
- Tower Bell Ringers – ring the tower bell prior to and concluding worship services sending out the message that St John’s is open and welcome to all.
- Refreshments – provide coffee, tea, juice and cookies for fellowship in the Parish Hall following the service.
In 2013 there were 73 volunteers (Rosterians) on the list to perform these various tasks. A roster (hence the term “Rosterians”) is drawn up every quarter (three months) so that each Sunday 18 Rosterians plus a Duty Warden are assigned to these duties. The church office reminds Rosterians a week in advance when they are scheduled on the roster. Given that each quarter has 12 or 13 Sundays, approximately 225 positions need to be filled each quarter. A number of Rosterians volunteer in 2, 3, or 4 of these activities in order to fill the schedule so parishioners who would be interested in participating in any of the Sunday ministries would be most welcome.
Every Sunday morning, we gather together to read the scriptures for the service and, through discussion, seek to understand what God might be saying to us individually and as a community.