All-Parish Meeting In June of 2015, over 80 members of the St. John’s congregation gathered in the parish hall to establish a clear and shared understanding of who we are as a faith community and what our future holds. The lively and enthusiastic discussion uncovered the reasons we live in Southampton and worship at St. John’s. We also identified the attributes and abilities that a successful St. John’s Rector will have and, perhaps most importantly, reflected on our own self-expectations: what we need to do to welcome a new minister. The results of the discussion — the answers to 6 important, leading questions — was turned into a survey that was administered to over 150 parishioners by team leaders from the Vestry and Search Committee. All member of our congregation were welcome and encouraged to complete the survey and return it to the church office. We received over 117 completed surveys from which our Parish Profile was created.
Christmas Each year on the week before Christmas, St. John’s holds a Lessons & Carols service modeled after the one first held at King’s College, Cambridge in 1918. Nine traditional lessons are read by congregants and each is accompanied by a hymn or Christmas carol, sung by the congregation or the St. John’s Choir. A Christmas Eve service of Holy Eucharist is also held where the community once again gathers at the manger of the Savior. We gather to be renewed, strengthened and encouraged. We gather to sing the ancient hymns of the faith and to see and understand the story they tell. We gather to share a common table to which all are welcome. We gather to bring gifts and to support not only this faith community but those who need our assistance. Our offering on Christmas Eve is always designated by the Vestry to go to community outreach efforts, including Human Resources, Southampton’s local food pantry. A children’s Christmas Pageant, held in the afternoon on Christmas Eve, rounds out the St. John’s Christmas celebration. Over 30 children participated in this beloved tradition this year.
Harvest Supper Each autumn parishioners and guests gather in our undercroft for the every-popular potluck supper. In 2016, Harvest Supper was celebrated on November 17th and 90 church members and their friends attended. Delicious supper dishes provided by attendees ranged from Chicken Marbella to Spaghetti Bolognese. Special dessert treats capped off a lovely evening!
Annual Summer Fair St. John’s Country Fair is typically held on the last Saturday of June and raises almost $10,000 for our community outreach program. The Fair features activities for all ages: games, pony rides, hot dogs, ice cream and soda, plus a luncheon served under a festive tent on the front lawn of the church. Adults and children shop for flowers, plants, books, baked goods, home and kitchen items, toys, furniture and clothing plus collectibles and antiques. The church fair will not be held this summer in 2015 as we are in transition between Rectors. The Vestry and congregation of the church felt that our collective efforts would be best be spent preparing the way for our new minister.
Study Group A book group meets on Tuesday mornings during Lent and Advent. In the past, ladies have studied and discussed such works as The Gospel of Mary Magdelene and essays by Madeline L’Engle.
Christmas Gift Tree Over a hundred paper stars decorate a tree in the entry of St. John’s on the first Sunday of December. Each star lists gifts for a specific, but unnamed child and parishioners adopt stars, returning bags of gifts two weeks later. All gifts are distributed through the local ecumenical Human Resources Program.
Blessing of the Animals A tradition at St. John’s since 1996, the annual Blessing of the Animals is held on the front lawn of the church at noon on the first Sunday in October. A roster of pets that have passed away is solemnly read by the Rector, prayers are said and a traditional hymn is sung. The Rector then blesses each animal in turn and a dated and signed certificate is presented to each pet. This year almost 50 pets were brought to the blessing.
Art Show St. John’s has been holding an Art Exhibition and Sale of Paintings, Sculpture, Photography & Crafts for 40 years. During our transition to a new minister, we have not had the Art Show but hope to resurrect the show under the patronage of our new Rector. Traditionally, the opening of the show is a gala Preview Cocktail Reception and is typically held on the last Saturday in July. Local artists, their patrons and members of the St. John’s congregation and the Southampton community at large enjoy one of the best displays of locally created art in the area. All money raised from the Art Show is used to support St. John’s outreach programs.