Christmas Eve Gift

Dear St John families and friends,

Each year our church council decides to whom we will give our Christmas eve offering. This year we will giving this offering to our sister church, Girdwood Chapel. 

Housing in Girdwood is extremely expensive, more so than many neighborhoods in Anchorage. In effort to sustainably support a full-time pastoral appointment, Girdwood is seeking to build a parsonage. By financially partnering with our sister church, we are helping them to move from a part-time pastoral appointment to the ability to support a full-time pastor in a community that has very few churches.

This Christmas eve financial gift will be the first step in our partnership with Girdwood Chapel as they undergo this building process. Please join me in lifting Girdwood Chapel in prayer, and please consider giving generously to this gift on Christmas eve.

All grace and Peace,

Pastor Andy on behalf of the St John Church Council

The Season of Advent

Dear St. John Family,

The Season of Advent is upon us. The word Advent has roots in the ancient Latin language, Adventus means “arrival", and advenire means “to come.” This is the season that we learn to wait for the arrival of God in the flesh, Jesus Christ.

Our Bishop, Bishop Elaine Stanovsky, has encouraged us to consider using this Advent season as a kickoff to a year-long quest for spiritual formation, reorientation, and activation. We will be using a devotional by Brian McLaren entitled: WE MAKE THE ROAD BY WALKING.

The book is very easy to read, only 2-3 pages each week. This first Sunday in December, in Advent, we’ll begin with chapter 14, and read just one chapter each successive week through the new year, until we end with chapter 13 one year from now.

Bishop Elaine is inviting us to see 2019 as a CROSSOVER year, one in which we crossover into new life. St John is at a crossroads. Now that our debt is retired, what new and innovative ministry is God calling us to so that we can reach out to the next person with the love of Jesus Christ? Perhaps its not one of the roads before us at all. Perhaps God is inviting us to make a new path forward.

I want to invite you to join with me on this year-long quest for spiritual-formation, reorientation, and activation. You can purchase a copy of the book through your favorite book-seller. Our worship and sermons for Advent and Christmas will coincide with chapters 14-17a.  Throughout the coming year, there will be other opportunities to interact with one another about the material we are reading, and the grace we are experiencing together.

So please join me on this quest, entering this year of crossover, as together, we make the road by walking.

Pastors Andy & Emily

A Special Thanksgiving Message from Pastor Andy

Growing up in Massachusetts, Thanksgiving was a big cultural part of my upbringing. (The town I grew up in was incorporated in 1655.) I remember school assemblies and field trips commemorating the early European settlers and the help they received from the Wampanoag people to survive and thrive in those first years. Unfortunately, we also brought germs that the Wampanoag had no immuno-defense against.

As a child and youth, I remember the tradition of our annual high school football game against our arch-rivals. Those of us in the marching band would sit shivering in the stands, holding our freezing brass instruments and drums, intermittently playing fight songs and passing around hot cocoa, wishing half time would hurry up and get here so we could get out on the field and move around to warm up a little!

And most years, after the football game was over, we would travel to my grandparents house for the traditional meal of turkey and stuffing, sweet potatoes with marshmallows melted on top, and about every flavor of pie you could ever imagine. With aunts and uncles and parents and grandparents crowded around the table, we siblings and cousins were relegated to the folding tables in the living room to stuff ourselves silly. Above it all were loud voices and joyful belly laughs. And today I wish for one more gathering like that, but its not possible, because of distance, and because so many of those beloved people are no longer living.

Thanksgiving hasn't always been this way for me. Some years have been gathered with people from multiple countries and cultures. Some years have been quiet and alone, reflective times, and some have been with friends who are like family, very similar to the boisterous gatherings of my childhood.

Regardless of what your Thanksgiving gathering looks like this year, I encourage you to find a few moments, on your own, or as a group story-telling event, to remember those celebrations from years gone by. What was memorable? (What do you wish was NOT memorable!?) What did you love? What do you long for and miss?

And then, after remembering, give thanks to God. For the good, the bad, the boisterous and the quiet. For the love, the laughter, the joy, and the anger, and yelling, and sadness. Through it all, God has been with us, and God WILL be with us, “never leaving us nor forsaking us.”

In good times and bad, in sickness and health, in our wealth and in our poverty, God is with us. In Hebrew, Emmanuel, God with us. That is the blessing of this Thanksgiving season as we prepare our hearts for Advent. God IS with us. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Property Purchase and Being Debt Free Update

THANK YOU to all who have contributed to our land purchase and retiring the debt of St John. Because of your generosity, we have received cash and pledges totaling $514,915.47, well on our way to our goal of $900,000. We have been receiving gifts from people who no longer live in Alaska, but who once called St John home. I received a lovely card and generous donation from Rose McLean. It means so much that people across the globe believe in St John and want to continue to invest in her ministries. Please prayerfully consider joining those who have contributed to purchase the land next door and to eliminate St John’s mortgage and retire our debt. Every gift, from
$5 to $500,000 makes a difference! Thank you for your faithfulness and generosity.

~Pastor Andy

Property Purchase

Dear St John friends and family,

What an incredible weekend this has been. It has only been two days since our initial letter went out regarding the property purchase next door and your responses have been incredible.

As of Saturday morning I had received pledges from a family for a gift of stock in the amount of $5,000, and another gift of $30,000 to be used to generate matching donations.
A number of you pledged to participate in loaning funds to St John totaling $200,000!
On Saturday afternoon, Kenny Gerondale called me to make a gift (not a loan) with two caveats: 1) that we not borrow any money (from anyone) so as to not incur debt, and 2) that we would increase the amount we are raising so that we can set aside some money for drainage permitting or other expenses that will be necessary to actually use the land. Kenny has offered a gift of $250,000. He is allowing me to use his name to inspire others to give generously as well.

When I informed a few folks of these gifts, another St John member gave $30K, another gave $25K, and just this morning another family pledged $20K. To date, we have received commitments for $435,000 in gifts! This is yet another example of how we dream so small compared to the God-sized plans the Lord has in store for St John!
Therefore, our campaign has shifted focus and we are now intent on purchasing the land with cash and paying off our current debt.

We are no longer seeking funds to borrow from members. Thank you to all of you who were so willing to lend us the money. We are now seeking cash gifts to purchase the land, put aside money for its use, and pay off our debt.

Our new total to raise (property purchase, plus money set aside, plus paying off debt) is $900,000 and I am excited to say that after only two days we are rapidly approaching the half-way mark!

I fully recognize that not all of us are in the position to give gifts in the 6-figure, 5-figure, or even 4-range. Whether you are able to give a gift of $5 or $50,000 to purchasing the property and retiring our debt, please know, your gift matters and your gift is important, for we can only accomplish this goal by the grace of God and combining all of our gifts together.
I wanted to ask you to please prayerfully consider a cash gift in the amount you see fit to help us complete this goal.
Thank you to each of you who have already contributed, and thank you all for your faithful generosity to the ministries of St John!

Your fellow disciple,

Pastor Andy