Category Archives: Uncategorized


Good evening, friends!

Due to the impending blizzard, all youth programs will be canceled tomorrow, Sunday, January 20. This includes Church School, Youth Groups/Service Sunday, Nursery, and Cherub & Junior Theater Rehearsals for Willy Wonka.

Willy Wonka rehearsals will not be made up, but will resume as usual on Wednesday. This coming Wednesday is a Cooking For Crossroads Day, beginning at 3PM!! (For the Wonker-ers: Rehearsal will begin at 4, and we will end a bit early to enjoy a meal together at 5:30. Please pick up your students at 6PM per usual.)

Our FAMILY NIGHT is still on for any stir-crazy families that feel ready to venture out into the wilderness by 4PM.

Enjoy the divine “pause button,”



Service Sunday and Acolyte Training

Service Sunday at Gather

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.

Junior Music & Theater Kickoff

Junior singers and actors of St. John’s – we begin this Wednesday, September 12th!


  • 4:00 Gather & Settle
  • 4:15 Rehearsal Begins
  • 5:15 Rehearsal Ends
  • 5:15-5:30 Clean Up & Announcements

Anyone in grade 3-12 is invited to join this group. Lots of opportunity for leadership and influence of the course of our year!

We will meet in the Choir Room located on the lower level of Thaxter Hall (101 Chapel St., Portsmouth NH). Parking in the lot during our programs is open to all.

choir school 2

If you have questions or concerns about transportation, etc, please reach out to me at If you are a new member, please be sure you have completed the Church Family Registration before tomorrow (one time registration).



Mark your calendars!!!!  Pool Party on Cutts Avenue.

When: Sunday, July 15th

Where: 470 Cutts Avenue Portsmouth, NH  @ The Youngs (Rhonda, Dave & Lauren’s house)

Time: 11am-3pm

We will grill hamburgers, hotdogs and veggie burgers around 1pm, bring a side dish to share. SIGN UP – CLICK HERE

Kids drinks will be provided as well.

Be sure to bring your bathing suits, towels and floaties if your kids need them.

Sunday June 3rd

A couple of updates for this Sunday, June 3rd:

This Sunday, June 3rd, Shaylei and Sammie will open the nursery to care for young children from 9-11AM. (Easa and Amos will be there!) Church starts at 9:30. All other children’s and youth programming is off for the summer months. Kids are ALWAYS welcome in church. Let me know if you want me to stock up on some crafts or toys that would help your young ones make it through the hour.

Also this Sunday at 2:00PM, there will be an exciting culmination concert presented by the Portsmouth High School choirs, directed by Olin Johannessen. Admission is free, and donations are gladly accepted to benefit HAVEN NH, a local non-profit which is dedicated to addressing public health through violence prevention and improving the well-being of children and families.

Children’s Chapel May 6

Hello families! This is just a friendly reminder that tomorrow morning at 9:30 in the Sanctuary, we will host our final Children’s Chapel of the program year!

Rev. Anne Williamson has a special message to deliver to our children and their adults. Please come right to church for Children’s Chapel (PreK through 5th grade only) at 9:30. Children will be escorted to their classrooms afterward.

You can find a schedule of our children/youth programs here.

No Programs 4/22 and Family Night 4/28

Hello families!


A friendly reminder that this Sunday, April 22nd, there are NO children’s programs at church. I wonder what you do when you stay home on Sunday mornings? We do “home church” which consists of blasting gospel music, singing, dancing, and eating a special family breakfast, usually including pancakes and maple syrup. Home Church is something we always cherish… I encourage you to take advantage of staying in PJs and setting aside precious family time this Sunday morning! Share with us your own version of HOME CHURCH in the comments below! 🙂


Our next Family Night is Saturday, April 28, 3:30-6:30 at the Philbrook’s home in Portsmouth. You and yours are invited to this family cook-out… Family nights have been so fun and we would love to see some new faces and families! If you’ve never been, we hope you’ll consider joining us. Read more about this special family night (and combined birthday party!!) and sign up with your favorite side dish!! 

Why Volunteer

Why volunteer at St. John’s (or anywhere else)?

The following is a testimonial written by Elaine Wilson, active volunteer and community member at St. John’s. Her words come in response to a request for a quote for the Choir School at St. John’s:

The poet asks: “Tell me what it is that you want to do with your one wild and precious life?”

After I retired for the 2nd time and searched for ways to continue a precious life, I heard about a new Choir School organizing at St. Johns—my two favorite things: music and children. They needed volunteers! I offered to go one Tuesday, every other week for two hours. After continuing almost three years, I am there two days a week for about three hours to prepare snacks (anything with cheese or chocolate seems a favorite).

I have learned that the quiet child coming in hesitant to talk, let alone sing, can become giggly and bubbly as she finds a friend to run by her side.
I have learned that rowdy children become leaders at chess or dominoes helping others as they wait for voice, piano, or choir time.
I have learned much more about Stephen Hawking, various islands, Pi Day, young girls fashions, that young boys do not claim fashion but have heard about it, favorite books, movies, and screen time games… but not what they are called.
I have learned and developed deeper old friendships and new fresh friendships with the various volunteers.
I have learned and developed even greater respect for the amazing talents of the choir school leaders, Meg Harper and Ashley Wade and of their teaching ability primed with patience and love.
I’ve learned how to make my heart sing; what to do to continue a wild and precious life; and that VOLUNTEERING is as simple as reaching out to accept a gift given to you………

Jocelyn Philbrook on Faith and Community

This Sunday, March 18th, we will be gathering at Jocelyn & Randy Philbrook’s home for a fun family night. RSVP HERE! Jocelyn has offered a beautiful testimonial about her experience with faith and community at St. John’s. Please read, enjoy, and join us for family night!

Faith and Community

Here’s my truth: my faith is a journey and I didn’t always know that. I thought the words said every Sunday about being welcome at God’s table no matter where you are on your journey of faith was something said to make visitors feel welcome. It didn’t apply to me. After all, I was married at St. John’s in 2002. This was my church, and I had a routine of attending service on what seemed like the “right” dates. It fit nicely on my 20-something and then 30-something schedule. My faith wasn’t a journey. I was secure with its position in my life.

My older wiser self looks back and smiles. For many years, St. John’s has been a foundation for my faith. Nurturing and giving me strength without judgement. I was always welcomed with the same warm response regardless of if I had been to service last week or six weeks ago. Rob always answered my calls or emails with the same interest and optimism. On September 11th, it gave me peace. When Randy and I struggled to have children, it offered me hope. I even felt comfortable asking Rob for guidance on big issues of faith – like Christian guilt over Jewish persecution. (Yes… I really did.) For me, then and now, I walk in the doors at St. John’s and I can feel God’s love. It is my refuge from the world.

When I was blessed with my daughter not only was I secure in my faith, but also with my place in the greater community of Portsmouth. Looking back, I was really much more like a tourist than a resident of either. I knew the best spots for coffee, but I probably didn’t know anyone inside the shop. I traveled a lot for work. My business was primarily in Virginia and Ohio. My family lives in Maine and my friends lived all over. I didn’t appreciate why being a participant in community matters.

If I fast-forward to today, I can honestly say motherhood has taught me that everything I thought I understood about faith and community was naïve, to be kind. My three little ones are the biggest blessings of my life, but they have also challenged me in unexpected ways. Yes, there are all those normal parent worries about development milestones, tantrums and potty training, but there is also something else: judgement and self-doubt. God entrusted these three precious souls to me to nurture and love. It is the most important thing I’ll ever do and I pray that I don’t mess it up.

If self-doubt isn’t enough, there are plenty of parents (and non-parents) that have helpful suggestions about what you could do better. “Really the only way Connor is ever going to attend college is if he is fully potty-trained by three. Amelia should actually have an after-school activity every night to reach her full potential. Henley will never sleep through the night if I don’t sleep train him now. I really should spend more time in the office. My kids are only little once, I should spend less time in the office. My favorite … my marriage will most definitely dissolve if we don’t leave the kids and vacation away without them.

While I certainly appreciate all parenting advice, it can be quite unnerving. The judgements have a way of setting my mind on a continuous cycle of noise. What parent wouldn’t do anything possible to offer their children the best possible outcome? With all that noise, it can be difficult to listen for God, but this is where community and St. John’s becomes so important for me.

St. John’s has offered me the ability to meet and connect with families similar to ours … without judgement. Dealing with a two-year old strong-willed moment? Internally struggling with leaving your baby in the nursery or bringing them to into the service? Arrive an hour late to a family function because who knows what happened? You’ll find someone that’s been in those shoes and will confirm that you’re not alone.

The culture is refreshing and something that shines such a positive light on our week. My children love the family events to a point that Amelia starts reminding us what time we need to leave several hours before. My husband grew up in a different branch of Christianity and is constantly amazed because he came from a background where the church was generally the first to judge.

It is great that this incredible community is together, but it does something else … it gives me the space to listen for God. When the noise of the outside world disappears, that is when I can listen to, and focus on what matters most. The world today can be confusing and harsh. Having a community that rejoices in God’s love and supports everyone regardless of where they are on their journey tops the list of offerings I could give to my children.

Now more than ever, I want my children to know how they fit into our community. I want them to understand God’s love and their ability to improve the world. St. John’s provides the space for all of us to grow and be connected in ways that seem to continually expand.

Some of St. John’s youngest taking over the Haight’s home at a recent Family Night.

9AM Service and Family Night

REMINDER!! Tomorrow, Sunday 3/11, there will be ONE service at 9:00, followed by a parish meeting in Thaxter Hall to discuss plans for renovations of our buildings. We hope that all parents and volunteers will be able to attend this meeting, so children/youth programs have been adjusted to fit the morning.

KIDS CHURCH & YOUTH GROUP will begin at 9:00AM. Kids will join their families in church during the Peace per usual. Immediately following the service, kids are invited downstairs to hang out! We will have some crafts and games, food, and space for kids of all ages. Nursery will be open at 8:45AM and our lovely attendants, Shaylei and Sammie, will remain with us through the morning. Our expectation is to be done with everything around 11:00, so although we’re packing a lot in, you’ll hopefully be home earlier than usual!

Lastly, I’m excited to announce our next Family Night will be at the Philbrook’s home next Sunday, March 18th!! Its short notice, but if you can make it, we will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day together… 4:00-6:30… more to come, but mark your calendars! Sign up with your favorite side dish!!

childrens chapel march 2018
Nathan led a fun Children’s Chapel last Sunday. The next one will be Sunday May 6th!