Blog: We Gather

Sunday Supper: So Much More than Food

by Martha Keely I could report the stats of attendance and meal costs associated with our Sunday Suppers. These figures can be obtained from our financial secretary.  These dispassionate metrics do not reflect the many ways God’s grace and love shine during this time. Numbers would not indicate that Sunday Supper at St. John’s is about so much more than food. Sunday Supper is a time when we are enabled to do God's will. It is a time of healing and a time when... Read More
at Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Q&A: Why Is Worship Important to Me?

Five St. John’s parishioners reflect on the meaning of worship for them. Their reflections continue the theme of the article “Why Worship?” on page 3 in the December Record . As you read this Q&A and the article, perhaps you too will consider the meaning of worship for you.   By Janet Johnson Worship is a two-way conversation between God and me with prayer.    Those conversations include adoration and praise, thanksgiving for the blessings I... Read More
at Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Font: The Place from Which We Begin a Life of Love

by Phil McNeish Not long ago, I sang first tenor in the St. John’s choir for the better part of two years. Each Sunday the choir processed into the nave side by side. As we passed through the door coming into the church, we first encountered the baptismal font situated in middle of the center aisle. We moved around it, one line passing to the left, the other line passing to the right. It always called to my mind a rock jutting out of a river with the water flowing around it on either... Read More
at Thursday, November 21, 2019

St. John’s Children from Fall Faith and Fun Journey Group Create Art for Forthcoming Book "Making Room for Everyone: More Stories for Building a Children’s Chapel"

by Bill Gordh I smiled when I saw the art the children of St. John’s journey group created to go with the story “A Night of Peace.” The Scottish story tells of God speaking to the animals about a forthcoming night of peace. God tells the animals that when they see a mighty star in the sky, a star shining down on the little town of Bethlehem, they will feel peace in their hearts and in the world. The images the St. John’s children created—a wolf on a hill, a... Read More
at Thursday, November 7, 2019

Saints of God: Living the Way of Love

by Pattie Ames, Christian Formation Missioner, Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia One of my favorite hymns is “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God.” I sang it almost every day in chapel at the Episcopal Day School I attended. Our rector talked a lot about saints and shared their stories. He also reminded us of the last verse of the hymn which tell us that you can meet saints anywhere. I have met a lot of saints in my day, both in and out of the church. To me, they are... Read More
at Friday, November 1, 2019

Seen and Loved

by M. Todd Null I’ve spent most of my life deeply desiring to be seen by God.  In a bitter irony, I’ve also spent most of that time trying to be invisible. I was raised in a Fundamentalist Evangelical tradition that gifted me with many things.  It inspired my love of music and vocal harmony.  It taught me to cherish Scripture and the Truth it reveals.  It embedded in my DNA a deep respect and gratitude for the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist.... Read More
at Monday, October 28, 2019

A Common Bond: The Gathering Band and Being the Church

It has been my privilege to be a member of The Gathering Band for the past several years. As I recently gave thought to the band and its members, I was struck by how well its makeup reflects the overall makeup of St. John’s Church. Each band member comes from a different religious background. Some come from a decidedly Evangelical religious persuasion. Others have known only the joys of the Episcopal experience. Some came from a godly family. Some are spiritual orphans. But that is... Read More
at Thursday, October 17, 2019

On Love and Church

Love took us by surprise. We weren’t looking for love – as a matter of fact, we were looking for exactly the opposite. We were kind of hot messes, to be honest, and we thought it best to sort out our “stuff” on our own. There’s an adage about loving yourself before you can love someone else: we figured we had some work to do before dragging anyone else along for the ride. The first week, we went out for fun. The second week, we were surprised to find... Read More
at Thursday, October 10, 2019

Welcoming a God of Disguises

by Al Cole Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2) What would it be like to entertain angels? What would you talk about? What food would you serve? …and the thought most awesome of all, what if you have already entertained them? Angels are ubiquitous in the Bible, and often come in the guise of a stranger. Abraham and Sarah once entertained angels in the form of three men, and in... Read More
at Monday, October 7, 2019

Q&A: Strangers in Our Midst

Three St. John’s parishioners, Ivonne Fuentes-Wallace, Charlotte Simmonds, and Ruth Cassell-Huynh, reflect on powerful experiences with strangers. Ivonne Wallace Fuentes: I met E last fall: a young mother, her husband and adorable toddler in tow, asylum seekers from El Salvador in desperate need of housing help.  She was scared, bewildered by her new surroundings, still traumatized by the horrors behind them, only to find a startlingly aggressive bureaucracy shackling her and... Read More
at Thursday, October 3, 2019

Washington National Cathedral Organ Tour

by Mike Milam "I'm never this lucky," I thought, as I clicked the button on Washington National Cathedral's website just a few days before my trip to D.C. in July hoping to snag a ticket at the last minute to an evening tour of the Cathedral's organ. Imagine my surprise when I discovered I had just reserved the last available ticket! It was a great evening, beginning with an overview and demonstration at the console, led by George Fergus, associate director of... Read More
at Tuesday, September 24, 2019

We Remember, We Repent

By Jenny Garrett Fife ( ) “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James Baldwin. I am a child of the South. By the early 1700s, all my ancestors had arrived in Virginia.  Some owned slaves.  One was an overseer.  They all fought in the “War Between the States.”  John Wilkes Booth was shot in my great-grandfather’s barn. I grew up outside of Richmond, lived in an... Read More
at Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Disruption and Inspiration

Cara Ellen Modisett, St. John’s communications director for the past two years, has left Roanoke to begin studies at Virginia Theological Seminary as a postulant for priesthood in the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia . Here’s a report at the end of her first month of school. I’m on an Amtrak train heading north, back to school after a short Labor Day weekend visit home with family. It feels in some ways as if it’s been years since I left Roanoke at the... Read More
at Monday, September 9, 2019

Pampas Grass

by Gail Tansill Lambert While driving down Franklin Road across the bridge, I saw pampas grass glowing in the sunshine and swaying in the breeze over the Roanoke River. I couldn’t stop but promised myself I would return with a camera and capture the scene forever. I passed the same spot several times again and again and yet each time I was without my camera.  Frustration grew. I would miss the fleeting glory of these coastal plants.   Finally, on a Sunday outing, I had... Read More
at Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Fall: A Season for Inspiration

by the Rev. David Olson I can always tell when summer is beginning to wind down because my tomato plants, which I plant fairly early in the year, stop producing tomatoes. Yesterday as I stood looking at their empty branches I couldn’t help but think about how fast summer seemed to go by this year.     But seasons change quickly and with the slow days of summer behind us, it’s time to turn to fall, what is so often for us the busy season. And for good reason.... Read More
at Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The Q&A: Where do you feel a sense of community at St. John’s?

Cayce and Anne Myers “Our daughter’s baptism at St. John’s was a day that was very special for our family. Not only did it mark the beginning of her belonging to the Christian community, but also the community at St. John’s. During the baptism the congregants say ‘We will’ when asked if they will support each baptized child in their lives in Christ. We and our daughter experience that pledge of ‘We will’ each Sunday at St.... Read More
at Monday, August 19, 2019

St. John’s, Shaping and Changing Lives

A reflection on giving back, by Wharton Ramsey Why would someone consider leaving an endowment to our church? After all, we seem to be getting along okay, don’t we? This is how I look at it. We all enjoy our beautiful church, and on a year-in-year-out basis we pay for its expenses, including upkeep, clergy, staff and outreach. However, none of us now living paid for the initial land and buildings, and the costs over the years to hand it down to our present... Read More
at Friday, August 9, 2019

St. John’s, the Building: A Conversation with David Tucker

This interview is the first in a three-part series about our church facility and keeping it sustainable for future generations. | by Carolyn H’Doubler “Here’s the church, and here’s the steeple – open the doors and see all the people.” How many times have we said this little rhyme to our children or grandchildren over the years? It is certainly true at St. John’s that upon opening the doors, we see many, many people, and not just... Read More
at Monday, August 5, 2019

Exuberance, Trust and Unexpected Life Turns

At the 20th anniversary of his diaconal ordination, the Reverend Eric Long looks back over his time with three different communities of faith. Wednesday, June 26 wasn’t just a normal Wednesday for me. It was a day of reflection, and truthfully awe in the winding ways my life has taken. That is because that day marked the 20th anniversary of my ordination as a transitional deacon in The Episcopal Church (Episcopal priests are first ordained deacons and then... Read More
at Thursday, August 1, 2019

Bach on a Thursday Morning

Marta Lemley, a parishioner and choir member at St. John's, also has a long background in church music, serving as organist for St. James Episcopal and Lewisburg United Methodist in Lewisburg, W.Va., All Saints Episcopal in Union, W.Va. and St. Elizabeth's Episcopal in Roanoke, Va. before coming to St. John's. She subbed this past Sunday while associate minister of music/interim minister of music Mike Milam was out of town, and we caught some of her Thursday morning practice on... Read More
Posted by Cara Modisett at Friday, July 19, 2019

The Q&A: What is your favorite parable?

In many issues of The Record , we ask several parishioners a question and publish their answers. In the July Record, the question was about favorite parables. Here are the answers! Margaret Grayson The Romans during the time of Jesus were at the height of their power and glory. They had conquered and made provinces of much of the known world. Judea was a Roman province… one to which no Roman proconsul wanted to be assigned. Judea was too small, too poor, and the Jews refused to... Read More
at Monday, July 8, 2019

Finding Friendships, Strengthening Faith

Jonah Vanke writes about finding inspiration and welcome at Kanuga’s youth events. This past year at Kanuga , one experience that stands out the most to me has been my decision, motivated by a strong reluctance to leave, to wake up at 5:30 on the last morning to spend as much conscious time at Kanuga as possible. I walked to the edge of the lake (conveniently very close to my cabin) and enjoyed a beautiful sunrise, and was surprised to meet a few other friends I’d made during... Read More
at Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Summer in the Mountains, Faith Across Generations

When the Reverend David Olson picked up his children at Camp Lutherock this year, it brought back memories of his own summers there. Lutherock , in the mountains outside Boone, N.C., isn’t a traditional camp. It’s an outdoor adventure camp, which means it mostly just has a few rustic buildings and tents because most of the activities are outside. Everything from backpacking to river rafting to caving to rock climbing. As I drive across the creek and start up the steep... Read More
at Sunday, June 30, 2019

Family Corner: Mealtime Blessings

Al Cole sent this prayer from “my Lutheran aunt and uncle. Said at most family gatherings.” Come Lord Jesus, be our guest. Let this food to us be blessed. Dreama Maxey sent “a mealtime blessing my family used. It was one that my dad, Davis T. Maxey, said.”  Oh heavenly father, make us thankful for these and all our blessings. Pardon our sins and save us, for Christ’s sake. Amen. Did you have a bedtime prayer growing up, or one... Read More
at Saturday, June 29, 2019

St. John's: A Part of Our Lives

A reflection on giving back, by Rand Garrett I never realized how much St John’s really meant to me until several years ago when I took a seven-week bike trip across the country. As I finished up my trip, I entered some of my feelings into the journal I was keeping. I wrote that, in addition to my family, what I missed most about being away for such an extended time was being separated from my church community. Maybe, like most of us, I took for granted that St. John’s will... Read More
at Thursday, June 27, 2019

Reflections: Diocesan Spring Youth Event

On May 3-5, 2019 a number of our youth went to Camp Bethel for diocesan Spring Youth Event (SYE), a diocesan weekend retreat where fifth through eighth graders can explore their faith and God’s love for us with other Episcopalians from all over southwestern Virginia. The event is led by the Youth Mission Team, including a number of St. John’s high school youth. This year’s theme was True Colors, encouraging participants to show who they truly are knowing that God’s... Read More
at Monday, June 24, 2019

Remembering Rachel Held Evans

A reflection by Jenny Fife Rachel Held Evans died on May 4, 2019 at age 37. You’re either grieving this “fearless seeker of truth and servant of Jesus” according to Bishop Curry or you’ve never heard of her. Google her.   I “met” Rachel Held Evans in a journey group last fall, reading her Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again. This spring I joined another journey group, reading Shameless: A Sexual Reformation by... Read More
Posted by Cara Modisett

April Retreat: Two Reflections on Friendship

At the end of April, 29 of us gathered by Smith Mountain Lake to eat, drink, laugh, talk and simply be together. The first night, as we selected temporary tattoos to start off our time together, I looked at all of the options on the table and a small infinity sign caught my eye. Within the symbol was the word kindness, written in small cursive letters. After my annual announcement that these last for a week (and to think twice before putting it on your forehead), I chose neverending kindness.... Read More
at Thursday, May 30, 2019

Top 10 Reasons to Join the Summer Choir

10. It's a better place to sing than in the shower. 9. No audition or long-term commitment. 8. You don’t have to worry about what you wear to church. We give you a robe! 7. Walking and singing simultaneously is good coordination training. 6. The view is even better from the chancel. 5. No kneeling required. 4. We throw awesome parties. 3. Meet wonderful, interesting people. 2. Become part of WORSHIP. 1. When you sing, you pray twice. Did you ever think... Read More
at Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Relationship of Prayer

by the Reverend Mary Mackin When I was a child, my family gathered together each morning around the table for breakfast. But before we ate, my mother always read a passage of scripture and prayed. I can’t say I didn’t fidget during that five minutes, but nonetheless we all listened and prayed as well. My mother called this time our “devotions,” and we repeated this activity in the evening before going to bed, with a longer piece of scripture and more prayers. Though... Read More
at Wednesday, May 1, 2019

All Things Come of Thee

A reflection on giving back, by Gates DeHart As a single man endowed with a modicum of wealth and few financial responsibilities or burdens, it has always been my pleasure to pledge at least a tithe of my income to the church each year. As my sister, Betty Stanley, says, "Gates, it's all God's money." I believe this with every fiber of my being, else I could not, in good conscience, say, "All things come of Thee, oh Lord, and of Thine own have we given Thee."... Read More
at Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Easter: Coming Home Again

Friends, A few weeks ago in worship we heard the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32). This most famous of Jesus’ stories tells of a son who does the unthinkable – basically wishing his father dead by asking for his premature inheritance, only to waste every bit of it in a foreign land and then be left starving in a pigsty (a shameful fate for a Jewish boy). Finally, at the end of himself, the boy “comes to himself,” and remembers that he has a father and... Read More
at Friday, April 19, 2019

Addiction: Finding Hope, Love, Transformation

Drs. Dave and Cheri Hartman spoke at our Sunday services on March 17, 2019 about addiction and recovery. They each have more than three decades’ experience working with individuals in addiction and recovery including work in private practice and at Carilion and the Bradley Free Clinic. David : “I have the honor to work with a number of these individuals in six groups a week, and through the use of medication-assisted treatment as well as group therapy, we’ve been... Read More
at Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Different Stories, Same Home

A Lenten reflection from the Reverend David Olson I’m sitting in the middle of a long table, and looking around, I see all kinds of different faces looking back at me. They are all men, as this is a meeting of my St. John’s men’s group, but beyond that each face represents a totally unique individual. Each is a different person.  Each has his own path. Each has his own beliefs and ideas about politics, social issues, life. No two are exactly alike, and no two believe... Read More
at Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Listening for the Voice of God

Eloise Chandler, a senior at Roanoke Catholic, gave this sermon for Youth Sunday this year, on March 24. A bush on fire but not burning? God calling a shepherd to save the Israelites, an entire population of people? It makes sense that Moses was confused and frightened by the will of God. Moses was afraid to look at God. Moses stumbled upon God’s mountain by mere circumstance. He did not know God’s plan for him but proceeded to follow God’s instructions. He was afraid... Read More
at Sunday, March 24, 2019

A Prayer for our Muslim Family

As so many are, I have read with sadness of the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. I share this prayer with the recognition that it is an explicitly Christian prayer offered on a day when those suffering are Muslims, victimized by sectarian, tribal hate. But I do so, as a Christian, because the best of our faith is a universal – never tribal – regard for all of humanity, as this prayer attests. We pray and stand together with our Muslim brothers and... Read More
at Friday, March 15, 2019

Ash Wednesday: The Public and the Personal

Ash Wednesday sermon by the Reverend Mary Mackin Today, we begin the season of Lent, a time when we are called to reflection and repentance in order to prepare ourselves to walk with Jesus during the events of Holy Week and Easter. We spend time in self-examination, study and various spiritual practices that will bring us closer to Jesus and to the way of the cross.  Our gospel for today is a section of the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus focuses on some of the spiritual... Read More
at Wednesday, March 6, 2019

A Conversation Between Priests

The Very Reverend Barkley Thompson, former rector of St. John’s and now dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Houston , Texas, will be at St. John’s in early April to read from and sign copies of his book, God in the Midst of the City. Barkley, along with the Reverend Eric Long and communications director Cara Ellen Modisett, talked via e mail about ministry, cities, Lent and politics, for the March issue of The Record . You are both priests in larger churches (one a... Read More
Posted by Cara Modisett at Friday, March 1, 2019

St. John's and a Connection to Kenya

by Christine Mortlock, minister to children and families Since November, Eva Mdachi has been visiting her sister Sheila Mdachi, a longtime Roanoke resident and attendee of St. John’s. Eva returns to her home in Nairobi, Kenya, in March. They worship at either the 8 a.m. or 10 a.m. service, while Sheila’s son, Joshua, a first-grader at Roanoke Catholic, participates in St. John’s Sunday School. During her stay, Eva is volunteering her time to help in our children and... Read More
at Wednesday, February 13, 2019

When Pure Love is Present

Closing remarks to St. John’s Episcopal Church, February 10, 2019 David-Charles Campbell, Minister of Music “When pure love is present, who is giving and receiving become so elided that neither is distinguishable from the other” (C. Anne Hallmark, interim rector, 2010) And so it is that pure love, at many levels is present here today. Who would have imagined that when Tom O’Dell (rector, 1994-2000) hired me on a handshake in May of 2000 that today we would be... Read More
at Monday, February 11, 2019

The Epiphany of Epiphany

A reflection by the Reverend Eric Long, first published in the February 2019 edition of The Record The Epiphany of our Lord is an ancient Christian feast which dates from at least 361 A.D. and falls on January 6 every year. With it, we move beyond the twelve days of Christmas into the startling discovery of just exactly what the hubbub surrounding this baby’s birth is about. The Greek meaning of the word Epiphany is “appearance” or “manifestation.” In common... Read More
at Friday, February 1, 2019

Putting Theology into Practice

Christine Mortlock, minister to children  and families, writes about her experience  as a first-year student in Education for Ministry. E very Tuesday evening at six o’clock, a group of people gather in the fourth-floor conference room at St. John’s for Education for Ministry (EfM), a four-year certificate program started at Sewanee in 1975. We share a snack and fellowship; we wrestle with our readings and challenging theological questions. Our literacy... Read More
at Monday, January 14, 2019

Finding Home... Not a Moment Too Soon

An Epiphany reflection by the Reverend Mary Mackin In T. S. Eliot’s “The Journey of the Magi,” one of the wise men recalls a journey to a far country that he made in his younger days. “'A cold coming we had of it, Just the worst time of year for a journey, and such a long journey: the ways deep and the weather sharp, the very dead of winter.’” It was “a hard time,” he says, but they arrived “not a moment too soon.” I... Read More
at Monday, January 14, 2019

Christmas is Coming!

As Advent draws to a close and we approach the celebration of Christ's nativity, be with us for our special services starting this Sunday! Children’s Christmas Pageant Sunday, December 23 at 5 p.m. followed by a hot-chocolate-and-cookies reception hosted by the youth! Christmas Eve ~ Monday, December 24   4 p.m. Family Holy Eucharist, Rite II * 5:40 p.m. Festival Music for Christmas Eve 6 p.m. Festival Holy Eucharist, Rite II * 9:40 p.m. Festival Music... Read More
at Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Youth@Convention, 2019

My first Youth at Council (called Convention since the diocese has changed the name of the annual meeting) was January of 2002. I was in eighth grade and had no idea what to expect. Born and raised in Lynchburg, I was aware of Roanoke and had come down for family reunions in some of my earliest years, but was generally unfamiliar with the city. I never anticipated after my first experience with a diocesan youth event that some 15 years later I would be the minister to youth at the hosting site,... Read More
at Friday, December 7, 2018

Worth the Wait

As we continue our journey through the season of Advent, the Reverend Whitney Burton reflects on the joys that come with anticipating. On a Saturday in July, my boyfriend Steven talked me into going on a work errand with him. I didn’t want to, I had better things to do, but he guilted me into it. So we headed to Lexington for the Hot Air Balloon Festival, to tag along with Steven for work; or so I thought. When we got there, it became clear that we were actually going up in one... Read More
at Thursday, December 6, 2018

Outreach Challenge 2018: Help Us Meet a $20,000 Matching Grant

We’ve nearly reached the end of our 126th year of ministry from our corner of downtown Roanoke. For the last 12 of those years, a generous and anonymous parishioner has promised to match all contributions to the St. John’s outreach fund up to $20,000. So we extend that invitation to you! Whatever you give - $1 to $1,000, and anywhere in between or above – will be doubled. That means your gift has a little more power to change lives here and away. Here’s a look at... Read More
at Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Fine Wines Supports Blood Drives at St. John's

In addition to providing wonderful fellowship for seniors at St. John’s, the Fine Wines are also committed to serving God and our neighbor. Thus, as a group, we will begin a new service project - helping with the bimonthly American Red Cross blood drive held at St. John’s every eight weeks on Wednesdays from 12 noon until 6 p.m. Coordinator Harriet Robison needs people to provide food and to serve as greeters and hosts to the donors. Those who can provide food are asked to make... Read More
at Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Snow Days...

Winter seems to have arrived a little sooner than expected this year, and so we're publishing this reminder of our winter weather policies. If Roanoke City Schools are canceled, our offices will automatically be closed until 10 a.m. Prior to 10:00, we will make the decision whether to open for the remainder of the day, and will send that information out via social media and Constant Contact. As always, stay safe! Good sites for checking closures: The Roanoke Times WSLS Channel... Read More
at Tuesday, December 4, 2018

It's Poinsettia Time!

Remember or honor a loved one with a poinsettia this Christmas! Make your check payable to St. John’s Episcopal Church for $20, and send to the church, attention Lisa Cayse. Order form can be found online at under “Upcoming Events” (click on the link here ). Print and mail to PO Box 257, Roanoke VA 24002. Read More
at Tuesday, December 4, 2018