Second Youth Wednesday coming right up!! One Wednesday a month all middle and high schoolers are invited to serve the Portsmouth community by cooking dinner for Cross Roads together with the St. John’s Youth Choirs. We’ll gather at 3:00pm to begin preparing the meal, the Youth Choirs will begin practicing at 4:00pm while the rest of us keep cooking, then we’ll all join together for a meal together at 5:00pm. We’ll wrap up by 6:00pm. We hope that this new schedule will allow all of us to offer our time and service to St. John’s and the wider community in a few different ways.
Our second youth night of the fall will be this Wednesday, October 10th.
We hope to see a great turnout of young folks at 3:00pm on Wednesday!
This Sunday at 9:30am will be our first Service Sunday of the program year. We’ll be heading to the house of Todd Hansen, a local architect who uses a wheelchair to help him with some yard work. He is a strong advocate for creating a more accessible world and will share his story with us. We’ll meet in Thaxter Hall at 9:30am and be back by 11:15 for coffee hour and Joanne Ferguson’s retirement party. Wear clothes you can do yard work in!
After the service, there’ll be a training for anybody interested in becoming an acolyte. Any young person in third grade or older can be an acolyte. The commitment is flexible. We hope to schedule each of our acolytes to serve one Sunday a month. If you want to know more about what acolytes do, come to the training and see! The training will be about 20 minutes going. We should be done by 11:45am.
We had a great afternoon yesterday at St. John’s. Twelve of our middle and high schoolers came to prepare a meal for Cross Roads house (meatball subs and a broccoli salad) to feed up to eighty residents. The youth choir learned a few new songs. We ended our time together with pizza. Our next Youth Wednesday is October 10th.
We’re trying a new thing this year. One Wednesday a month all middle and high schoolers are invited to serve the Portsmouth community by cooking dinner for Cross Roads together with the St. John’s Youth Choirs. We’ll gather at 3:00pm to begin preparing the meal, the Youth Choirs will begin practicing at 4:00pm while the rest of us keep cooking, then we’ll all join together for a meal together at 5:00pm. We’ll wrap up by 6:00pm. We hope that this new schedule will allow all of us to offer our time and service to St. John’s and the wider community in a few different ways.
Our first youth night of the fall will be this Wednesday, September 19th.
We hope to see a great turnout of young folks at 3:00pm on Wednesday!
On Sunday, February 18, Portsmouth and the Seacoast woke up to six inches of freshly fallen snow. That didn’t stop a team of 12 middle and high schoolers and a small group of adult volunteers from showing up for our most recent Service Sunday. We met at Gather (formerly the Seacoast Family Food Pantry) where we were met by Deb Anthony, their director, who told us about the organization and how they are serving the Seacoast Community.
“Gather (formerly Seacoast Family Food Pantry) serves those in our community experiencing hunger. We provide nutritious food through innovative distribution programs and our Pantry Market. We offer nutrition education and recipes for healthy living. In addition, we collaborate with community partners to address the root causes of hunger.” – from the Gather website
Gather serves thousands of people in the Seacoast area, from Kittery to Seabrook, with a commitment to fresh and nutritious food. Their programs include a food pantry open every day during the week, Meals4Kids that provides meals to children during school breaks, Farm Shares 4 Families that offers access to fresh local produce from a local farm, and Meals 4 Seniors that delivers prepared meals to local seniors.
St. John’s youth group spent church sorting food, cleaning the walk in refrigerator, and helping to organize the space. It was incredible to see how much the kids were able to get done. In the end, we sorted hundreds of pounds of food, checking expiration dates and putting food donations into the proper categories.
Some of our intrepid boys even braved the smell of something left untended in the fridge for a bit too long and did some much needed mopping.
This Service Sunday is a part of a growing connection between St. John’s and Gather. Gather will soon begin to use the kitchen at St. John’s on Mondays to prepare meals for their Meals 4 Seniors program. The crew at Common Table is going to assist that effort by sending extra meals from the Thursday lunch to Gather. We’re going to find other ways to enrich this partnership in the coming months.
In the meantime, you can help contribute to Gather by volunteering or donating food. You can find more info about getting involved right here. If you’re interested in donating food, these are the items they need:
We’ll be holding another acolyte training this Sunday, December 10th, immediately following the 10:00am service (and after Service Sunday). This training is open to everyone 4th grade and older (younger kids are also welcome to attend, if interested). It’s an opportunity to learn more about this ancient and important ministry. There’s no commitment required for showing up–we’re encouraging our young folks to come and learn more to decide if acolyting is for them. The training should last about 20 minutes.
All SJC Middle Schoolers are invited to Denise Croteau’s house (241 Walker Bungalow rd., Portsmouth) for a Christmas Party on Saturday, December 9th, from 6:00pm-8:00pm. We’ll gather for dinner, a Yankee Swap, and other holiday activities. Please bring a gift (don’t spend more than $10!). Let Denise know if there are any food allergies (JeffDenise111@comcast.net).
I hope you’re all excited for the Parish Dinner on Wednesday! It should be a great celebration of this community and all the exciting things going on here at St. John’s. Just as a reminder, the dinner starts at 6pm. Any interested high schoolers and middle schoolers should show up by 4:30pm (4pm would be ideal) to help make apple crisp and serve at the dinner.
In preparation for Wednesday, I’m collecting pictures for a slideshow to display at the dinner. It would be great to have a lot of pictures of kids and families at different St. John’s events. If you have any pictures of St. John’s activities and events, even if they’re a year or two old, please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to be able to show everyone the exciting programs and events we’ve been able to offer our younger members.
I wanted to let you know about four opportunities coming up to serve the church and the wider community:
Acolyte Training– We’ll be holding an acolyte training session this Sunday, November 12, after the 10am service (11:15am-11:35am). The training shouldn’t last longer than 20 minutes. Whether you’re sure that acolyting is for you, or you’re still skeptical, this is a great way to learn more. Any young person in 4th grade or older can sign up to be an acolyte! We also want you to go ahead and sign up to serve during the next few Sundays. You can SIGN UP ON THIS SCHEDULE. For more information on acolyting, see this earlier post and this guide.
Parish Dinner – There will be an all parish dinner on November 15th at 6:00pm in Thaxter Hall in connection with this year’s stewardship campaign. All of the Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers are invited to make dessert together and help serve at the dinner. We’ll meet in the kitchen of Thaxter Hall at 4:00pm. This is a great opportunity to help make this dinner happen and give back to the community!
Service Sunday– All High School and Middle School youth are invited to join together on Sunday, November 19th, at 9:30am to go to Operation Blessing to help prepare Thanksgiving baskets for families who need them. This is a great way to give to the community, to express our gratitude for the gifts we have by giving our time to others. We’ll leave as a group from the St. John’s parking lot, so try to be on time!
Crossroads “Welcome-Home” Kits– We’re still collecting items to donate to families housed by Crossroads. All donations can be placed in Thaxter Hall, on or by the white bench. Here’s the list of what we still need:
Kitchen size trash can
Pots and Pans: frying pan, small and large saucepan
Shower curtain and rings
Towels (bath, hand and washcloths)
Queen Sized Bedding (pillow, sheet set, blankets)
Small vacuum cleaner/carpet sweeper
First aid kit
Expandable file folder or small portable file box and folders for paperwork
If you have any questions about any of this, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me (email@example.com).
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.” – John 15:1-2
The story of scripture, Old and New Testament, is the story of people and their relationship with God. It’s also the story of people and their relationship with the earth. God promised the Land of Israel to Abraham, Moses and their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey – an abundance of the earth’s gifts.
One of those gifts that comes up time and time again is “the fruit of the vine” – grapes. Grapes are at the center of Jesus’ first miracle when he turned water into wine. The prophet Isaiah compares Israel to a vineyard. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, tended by God the vinegrower to bear good fruit. At the heart of our life together as a Christian community is the Eucharist – Holy Communion – the feast we share together to remember the feast Jesus shared with his disciples. The bread we eat and the wine we drink becomes for us the body and blood of Christ.
Last week the middle and high school youth groups had the opportunity to bring those Biblical images to life. At the back of the upper parking lot of St. John’s, there is a row of grapevines. They’ve been growing there for 75-100 years and were planted when the parking lot was a yard.
We harvested nearly 20 gallons of delicious (I had to test a few for a “quality check”) Concord grapes. We’ll use those grapes to make wine. The goal is to have wine ready by Easter so that we can use it at Communion on Easter Sunday.
The process of winemaking is an ancient art. It takes a lot of time and know-how to turn buckets of grapes into bottles of wine. Parishioner Ric Miller owns a vineyard in Eliot, and is guiding us in the process. After harvesting the grapes, he showed us how to run them through a crusher, a device that removes stems and leaves behind crushed grapes and their juice.
This Sunday we’ll put the mixture of juice, skins, seeds, and stems through a winepress. It will filter out the skins and leave behind the juice that has already begun to ferment. Next week we’ll skim off some of the leftover sediments–and then its time to let the yeast do its work. In the spring, once the juice has turned to wine, we’ll bottle it up to use in church!
The process of making wine is a beautiful example of transformation. Our youth groups will get to see the whole process, from vine to chalice. I hope that in that process we’ll all come to appreciate more deeply the words of Jesus that remind us to care for all parts of creation.
If you have any other pictures of the event, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, so I can put them on the blog!