The Episcopal Church of St. JohnBaptist
200 Main Street, Thomaston, Maine 04861
ANNUAL REPORT for the year 2020
Proposed Halsey Adams Distribution for 2021
Operating Budget 80% Scholarship Fund 5% Equipment Fund 5%
Rector’s Discretionary Fund 5% Outreach 5%
Halsey Adams Distribution for 2020
Operating Budget 80% Scholarship Fund 5% Equipment Fund 5%
Discretionary Fund 5% Outreach 5%
Sr. Warden - Brian Perkins
Jr Warden – Chris Rector
Treasurer – Ben Griffin
Clerk – Emily Jenks
Vestry - Eliza Bailey and Gayle Elfast
Delegates: Jan & Christy Gaudio and Maria Protheroe
Where to begin. 2020 was most certainly a monumental year. The arrival of a pandemic has had a profound effect upon our common life during this last year. Even with the pall of the pandemic, 2020 was a year to remember for our parish. It was the year we finished a renovation that took several years to plan, fundraise and make happen. And when we were ready to open again, we had to close. It will be grand for all of us to return, and for everyone to see the new kitchen and parish hall, etc.
Over the course of this last year we lost some very dear brothers and sisters: Cappi Darrell, Ann McKendry, Eileen Neal, Homer Schoen, Roberta Dawson, Fred Rector, and Douglas Vigneron. The hardest part has been the inability to gather and grieve together. The loss of such a common experience is great. This is compounded by the loss of our ability to sing together and pray together in person. We were able to find ways to do this with social distancing and technology, but it is not the same. I hope that when we return to common in-person worship we will have a renewed and deepened appreciation for such activities.
In March, as we entered the Lenten season, we began the great shut down. What was first thought to be a few months turned into a much longer event. We are now being told that we are in the worst part of the pandemic, only now. We adapted quickly to putting together worship services on the Zoom program for Sundays, and then developed ways to videotape music and worship each week.
We were able to get a grant from the diocese and from the Sprague foundation to help us in getting equipment to live stream events at St. John’s with much better quality. This will be especially important for weddings, funerals, special events, etc. But after watching the political conventions, our diocesan convention and the worship service for the inauguration, it has become evident to me that the use of video technology is now a part of our common life. It will be expected by people as they look for a church, or visit, or want to check out what we are doing.
When I took my ordination exams in 1985, I used a word processor for the first time. And since then have seen how computers have become part of the everyday life of ministry, now I am seeing how technology is only advancing and we are learning to adapt. The effects of this are profound, and I hope we can not only adapt and use these new techniques, but also reflect upon their effect and adapt also in embracing and holding onto important things that might get lost in such change.
The challenges of 2020 have caused us to be apart and more isolated, the challenge for 2021 will be how we can re-connect with each other again.
As we move into 2021, we are looking ahead to a time when we will gather again. It will also mark the 30th anniversary of Dr. Antolini serving as our music director, and I hope to mark this anniversary sometime this summer. Along with everything else, we have been able to make it through 2020 financially sound, though in a very tight and precarious path ahead. It is going to be a challenge, one that we have met before, and will prayerfully continue to faithfully embrace again. It has been a long and tiring year that has ended, but I have felt extraordinarily blessed to be where I am and with whom I serve here at St. John’s.
In Christ, The Rev. Peter Jenks
Deacon’s 2020 Annual Report
It is with a humble and grateful heart that I respectfully submit the Deacon’s Annual Report for 2020.
“Sometimes in our lives we all have pain, we all have sorrow.
But if we are wise, we know there’s always tomorrow.
Lean on me when you’re not strong and I’ll be your friend,
I’ll help you carry on. For it won’t be long ‘til I need somebody to lean on.
If there is a load you have to bear, that you can’t carry, I’m right up the road.
I’ll share your load if you just call me.”
(Bill Withers lyrics-“Lean on Me”)
I must confess that reflecting on our journey over this past year has evoked an emotional response for me that I was not prepared for nor expected. Our way of life is forever changed as a result of this dreaded Pandemic. But, despite these tragic events the spirit, love and resolve at St. John’s has remained strong and true.
I love proclaiming the Gospel. It is a thrill to stride down the aisle hearing, feeling people turn as I walk by. I feel great joy when I start to read the passage. The best part is making eye contact with the congregation. The passage will often evoke an emotional response. So as I read, I feel, then try to share with others hoping for a similar reaction in them. To connect.
Now, today, we proclaim and preach to the “one-eyed monster”! It took a little adjusting for me to proclaim the Gospel to an empty church. I make the “red eye” contact with Sony, Panasonic and JVC. But, the live streaming has allowed us to connect with a much wider congregation. (I caught myself, I almost said audience…) Peter and I wear masks unless we are preaching and proclaiming, no physical contact and six foot social distance for the most part. Zooming has been the order of the day in our goal of staying connected with one another as well as live streaming through You Tube and Face Book.
The biggest challenge for me, in the beginning, has been the social isolation. Most of the tools we have available to connect with others were not easily available to me. My hearing had progressed to a point where it was necessary for others I was trying to communicate with to write down questions and information for me. The hearing aids no longer worked. I am not a great one for asking for help. So this deepened the challenge. I had to learn to let go and “lean on” people for help.
We could no longer shake hands, hug or demonstrate any form of “physical” connection. Maintaining a physical distance of six feet and attempt communication was nearly impossible. This had severely limited my efforts of trying to be a competent pastoral caregiver. But I had Faith, Bella, Peter and the rest of you to help me survive. We had started the practice towards the end of March to ring the Bell at 8:00 every night. This was to publicly show our support for those on the front lines. Ringing every night, without fail. Neither rain, sleet, snow, nor dark of night prevented us from this nightly ritual. It was a daily connection that kept me out of the abyss. I am deeply grateful for all of this.
During mid-August I experienced what I refer to as my “Pandemic Miracle”.
By the Grace of God I was able to receive a Cochlear Implant. This truly was a “life changing event”. I was stunned when the implant was finally activated. In the beginning people’s voices sounded like Mickey and Minnie mouse. But, I could hear! Praise Jesus, Glory Hallelujah!! Pen Williamson drove me down the day of my surgery as well as the day of activation of the implant. He got to see a different side of his Deacon. I think he is still recovering!
I can even hear people talk with masks and hear much better over the phone as it connects with the implant. I continue to go through the hearing therapy learning new ways and hearing new sounds through the process. One unintended benefit, if I get irritated with any conversation, I can remove the receiver to blessed temporary silence.
The timing was right as we were able to start up EFM in September. I was able to hear remarkably well compared to being nearly deaf. We started out on Zoom then went to in person class with masks, social distancing and hand washings. We have since returned to Zoom due to rise in virus cases. Both Emily Roach and Emily Jenks are remarkable mentors with a talent of challenging and inspiring. I would strongly encourage people to consider the possibility of attending the next class.
The building remains “closed” for services. There is a sign-in sheet at the Green Street entrance as well as masks and hand sanitizer for limited in-house visit. I continue to monitor the building and grounds being the unofficial “house mother”. Sadly, my beloved companion, Bella, is no longer with us. She fell victim to a neurological disorder typical in Labs that affected her hips, which in turn affected her mobility. She was put to sleep in mid-October. That in turn has been a major adjustment as I continue to heal from my surgery and a broken heart. But I still take great joy in the many happy memories I was able to share with her over the twelve years that she was with me.
I am also thrilled be able to take part in live-streaming the 8:00 am service, 9:00 am check-in and 10:00 am service. This has been an important connection for as well as for others. I look forward to the new year as I will be able to return to some of my pastoral duties that I have done in the past.
There will always be a tomorrow that will be and is possible with Faith, Hope and Love. Please don’t hesitate to “lean on” your pastoral team as we move forward. There will be times when we will need to lean you as well. My family at St. John’s continues to amaze and inspire me. I am deeply grateful for the love and encouragement you have shared with me over the past year.
Blessings on you. May God’s love and protection be with you all in the New Year.
Rev. Robert E. Laite Jr.
Senior Warden’s Annual Report – 2020
These are tough times as we continue to meet on Zoom and worship through that medium and Facebook. Our plate offerings and fair earnings have been hurt, and the national backdrop of polarized rhetoric and behavior has magnified our feelings of isolation during this shut-in year. But, Our Lord is constant and your devotion has been very evident. Make no mistake, despite a year when many parishes and churches have come under great stress and some even closed, yours is strong. Many of you not only increased your pledges, you have (as I write this) donated $25k into our Drive to 35K! campaign, and the thermometer at the Green Street door is rising to close the final $10k gap. And, you did this despite just finishing a critical capital campaign to upgrade our physical plant. This means that you have covered the shortages. The Vestry is presenting a budget, against all odds, that can retain our staff and music program, and do it without drawing on our endowments. St John’s will be healthy and ready if we can safely open our doors in about July. There will be group worship, singing, and a renewed coffee hour (with deviled eggs, I hope) in our future when we get the “All Clear.” We will follow all State guidelines right up to the finish line, but some of us are beginning to see it finally. From the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of the whole parish, thank you.
Brian D. Perkins
Report of the Junior Warden 2019
I am happy to report that the many projects laid out in our capital campaign have been completed and that the church is in a stable state. We still need to install a railing at the steps to the Bell Tower which will be completed when the weather allows. The Capital Campaign was sufficient to cover the costs of the repairs and improvements that were undertaken and we are confident that when all pledges are received, we will have met our goals. This is a major accomplishment in assuring the long-term stability of our structure. It is also demonstrating a major financial commitment by our congregation and friends for which we are all grateful.
A stalwart group of volunteers (with special thanks to our Deacon Rob Laite who did substantial preparation work) were able to join together on a fall Saturday to paint the Bell Tower from the cross-bar down, providing protection from the elements that was sorely needed going into winter. Additional volunteers that day helped to clean gardens and prepare our property for winter. A major grounds cleanup, socially distanced and masked, will occur in the spring.
In the longer term, there are still some areas of the church that will require attention. This is the natural progression of a building of this age. We will be exploring some grant monies to possibly help with the preservation of the primary stained glass window installation in the sanctuary which needs attention on the outside. With the help of an engineer, we are developing a long-term checklist of maintenance items to be addressed annually to keep our building secure, intact, and ready for congregations for the generations to come.
St. John’s Music Program 2020-2021
Like everything else, the music program at St. John’s was upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. Until Palm Sunday in 2020, everything was running normally – our small, devoted choir sang from the back of the church, the congregation sang with enthusiasm. Then everything changed. And we were not prepared. We tried the first Sunday of the shut-down to have music using Zoom, little knowing that Zoom cannot handle sounds produced in different places simultaneously. Zoom also couldn’t capture the sound of the organ in my living room.
A series of experiments ensued. Fr. Peter and I began offering virtual evening prayer and Sunday liturgies. I became cantor, organist and pianist all in one. It became clear that the pandemic would prohibit group singing indoors for the foreseeable future, so, for a while we continued with this solo music arrangement, but the singers were left out and they missed offering the sound of singing together.
In the meantime, a member of Down East Singers began nagging me about trying to have people sing outdoors at approved distances from one another. At first I resisted this idea, dismissing it as artistically too limited and unappealing to singers. But as time moved on and choral groups around the world realized that it would be a long time before they could return to group singing, I revisited that singer’s idea and asked our choir members if they’d consider singing outdoors for a recorded service. Fr. Peter was willing to be cameraman and director of the recorded material. To my surprise, many of our choir members jumped at the chance to sing together. The Churchyard Choir was born.
Soon, word spread that St. John’s had a Churchyard Choir and singers from other congregations and members of Down East Singers joined up. The music for the upcoming Sunday was recorded on the lawn on the Green Street side of the church on Sunday afternoons. More and more singers became involved. The sound of traffic on Main Street posed a constant problem with background noise so we decided to move the group to my property in Cushing, which is situated on a peninsula at the end of the road. The only traffic noise is from an occasional aircraft. The Outdoor Choir was born.
In the meantime, Down East Singers (which I direct) was faced with the dilemma of what to do with fall semester. We knew that returning to Nativity Lutheran Church for our indoor rehearsals was out of the question. At first, I offered the singers the chance to try out a virtual choir recording system in which each singer records their voice at the computer and the recordings are mixed together by an audio-video engineer. This was deemed too intimidating and was widely rejected.
It finally occurred to me that the Outdoor Choir model was the answer. I proposed to the singers that we emulate the outdoor model, but move the group to a hayfield where a larger choir could be accommodated. Again, to my surprise, most of the singers gladly agreed to the plan. The Lemonade Choir was born. (This nickname has not been used in publicity. It came up because we needed to christen an outdoor group that ended up with not only members of Down East Singers, but Midcoast Community Chorus, Bowdoin Chorus, various church choirs and others. It is called Lemonade Choir because we got lemons and had to make lemonade).
Rehearsals and recording sessions for the Lemonade Choir began in September and finished in late October. The project could not have been so successful without the brilliant work of a young videographer and musician named Luke Fatora. Luke not only recorded the singers in the field but added a new dimension to our concerts by filming part of our performance from a drone overhead that permitted sweeping views of the St. George River and Hyler Cove.
In the meantime, the Outdoor Choir continued to record music for the upcoming Sunday in my yard. We have made use of a lovely Dutch electronic organ that was donated to Down East Singers by Chester W. Cooke (the same donor who gave St. John’s our beautiful Yamaha Clavinova baby grand piano). It has been possible to connect the organ (which is in my living room) to a music amplifier outside so that the singers can have organ accompaniment. The amplifier was provided by the Bowdoin College Department of Music. We have continued to use this arrangement up until Christmas, when it became too wintry to continue singing outdoors. With Fr. Peter as director of videography and a group of devoted assistants including Dylan Winslow, Deacon Rob, Maria and Sophia Protheroe, the Outdoor Choir has produced not only Sunday music but a service of Advent Lessons and Carols and a service of Christmas Lessons and Carols that have provided choral music to our area at a time when churches have had to remain closed. The size of the Outdoor Choir increased when the Lemonade Choir merged with it after the Lemonade Choir completed its video concert recording for fall semester.
Looking ahead at the coming months, Down East Singers has been so pleased with the results of its video concert that the group has decided to continue the Lemonade Choir operation for spring semester. For Memorial Day 2021 the group will record an all-Rachmaninoff concert in the same hayfield in Cushing. If you haven’t seen the December concert it’s not too late. You can find it by going to Bay Chamber Concerts’ website and from there to their YouTube Channel where the performance is still available for viewing.
For the winter months of 2021 the music program has returned to a one-man show again. As your music director I am offering organ or piano preludes and postludes and have started a Hymn of the Week recording project in which Fr. Peter and I live stream a recording session every Thursday at 5:15 PM and use that music for the following Sunday’s morning prayer recorded video at 10 AM.
The Outdoor Choir will undoubtedly continue its music making in my yard again when the weather permits. Easter comes this year on 4 April. If we’re lucky, you’ll hear beloved Easter carols recorded by our hearty choir members and we’ll continue this ministry until it’s safe to sing inside the church once again.
2020 TREASURER’S REPORT
2020 was a challenging year to say the least. Despite the pandemic related issues and other headwinds, however, we ended the year on an operating income/expense basis about where we projected at the beginning of the year. Although our 2020 operating deficit of $17,847 is sizable, it will be offset by the St. John’s portion of the CARES Act loan that was received by the Episcopal Diocese of Maine and distributed among the churches in Maine and other Diocesan operations. The Diocese has applied for forgiveness of the loan in accordance with the CARES Act program. It has met the criteria for loan forgiveness, and once approved by the government, the portion of the loan received by St. John’s ($30,382) will be converted into a one-time grant from the Diocese.
The 2020 operating results and the proposed budget for 2021 are attached. As you will see, our 2021 operating budget is looking much more favorable than 2020’s. Due to the outstanding response of our members and friends to the “Drive to 35” Campaign spearheaded by Brian Perkins, our projected income for 2021 is substantially higher than we achieved in 2020. In addition, we are trying to hold the line on expenses and we should see some reductions simply because we are unlikely to be open for services and using the building for the first half of the year. As a result, we are projecting a modest operating surplus of about $2,400 for this year.
We experienced a few other positive financial developments in 2020.
First, we finished the building renovations and paid all of the contractor invoices. Although we ended up a little over budget due to some late-discovered wood rot that required attention, it was not a significant amount. You may recall that we had borrowed $30,000 from the Memorial Endowment fund to cover cash flow payments to the contractor pending receipt of the balance of the capital campaign pledges. As of the end of 2020, we had repaid $20,000 of that loan. We still have a few multi-year pledges outstanding, and once those come in, we should be in a position to repay most of the loan balance.
Second, Peter and Emily sold their house on Knox Street and retired the mortgage that the Church held on that property. As a result, we were able to return $30,000 to the McCabe Endowment fund.
Finally, we received two generous grants to help us purchase video equipment that will improve our ability to video stream services and other events taking place in the Church. The Sprague Foundation (which typically supports our annual Messiah Sing event) gave us a generous grant of $9.000. Tony Antolini took the lead on that very successful effort. In addition, Peter was instrumental in securing a grant of $1,942 from the Diocese. Peter has assembled a team to help determine what equipment will best serve our needs in this new era of live streaming.
So, although 2020 was a stressful year in many ways, we ended up quite well financially, and our outlook for 2021 is very positive. Thank you all for your amazing support and generosity during this time! If you have questions about any of this, or anything else within the realm of my brief, I would be happy to address them.
Ben Griffin, Treasurer
The Proposed Budget will be emailed as an excel attachment
Altar Guild Report
Our last service inside our beautiful sanctuary was March 15, 2020, just two weeks before Palm Sunday, 3 weeks before Easter. The Altar Guild has continued faithfully with our schedule throughout the pandemic to arrange flowers, polish silver and brass, take care of the altar and replace the sanctuary candle every week even though we are not meeting in the church.
For Palm Sunday we arranged the palms inside and outside we had a basket of palms for people to take as they pass by the church. During the summer we were able to use garden flowers as is our long-standing custom.
We had a service on the Thomaston green in August and large bouquets were made in tall buckets so that they could be seen from far away, as we, of course, were socially distanced by at least 6 feet from one another.
When we began having outdoor services on the side lawn of the church, the Altar Guild continued to have flowers on the Altar. We moved these arrangements to the table outside and then back to the retable after the service.
We had a lovely offering to the Glory of God at Thanksgiving and stately greens for the season of Advent. The paperwhites emerging in the sanctuary windows could been seen in Father Peter’s Advent messages, which can be seen on the St. John’s website and St. John’s You Tube channel. The beautiful Christmas Altar arrangement of paper whites, amaryllis, poinsettias and the Holy Family was simply stunning! All could be seen during the 8:00am Sunday live-stream service and Father Peter’s video messages at the altar, and again, the website and You Tube. Check it out if you’ve not seen it yet!
At the same time the pandemic was closing the churches, the Altar Guild was in the midst of installing the new candle poles for the ends of the pews along the aisle of the sanctuary, which were made by local artist Noah Bly of Tenants Harbor. This new addition to our sanctuary was able to be seen in various videos of worship, especially the Christmas Lessons and Carols.
Now, in the season of Epiphany, the Christmas flowers will be rearranged as long as they continue to be beautiful, and we will supplement as necessary for these 6 weeks. For Lent, we will have a sparse Altar again – where we began a year ago.
PEOPLE AND PLACES TO KNOW OR CONTACT:
The Diocesan Office
Loring House, 143 State Street, Portland, ME 04101
Telephones: Portland, Maine(207) 772-1953
Toll Free within Maine: 1-800-244-6062
Web Address: www.episcopalmaine.org
The Bishop of Maine The Cathedral Church of St. Luke
The Rev. Thomas J. Brown, Bishop 143 State Street, Portland, Maine
The Diocesan Camp
Camp Bishopswood, Michael Douglas, Director
In The Parish: The Episcopal Church of St. John Baptist
200 Main St., Thomaston, ME 04861
Office phone: 354-8734 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
OUR INTERNET WEB ADDRESS: www.stjohnsinthomaston.org
2020 Vestry: Parish Staff:
Mark Ranney/Brian Perkins, Sr. Warden Rector: The Rev. Peter Jenks
Chris Rector, Jr. Warden Deacon: The Rev. Robert Laite, Jr.
Ben Griffin, Treasurer Music Director: Dr. Anthony Antolini
Emily Jenks, Clerk Cleaning: Tracy Emery
Christy Gaudio (21) Sally Merrick (21)
Sandra Hoekstra (22) Katherine Winslow (22)
Brian Perkins/Mark Ranney (23) Don Protheroe (23)
Altar Guild - Directress: Emily Jenks Asst. Dir: Kathy Cuthbertson
Secretary: Bev Williamson Treasurer: Bonnie Percival
Flowers: Bonnie Percival and Emily Jenks
Finance Committee – Ben Griffin, David Percival, Carolyn Garratt-Reed
Hospitality – Kathy Cuthbertson
Knitting Group –
Liturgy Committee – Emily Rotch
EfM mentors – Emily Rotch & Emily Jenks
Outreach Committee –
Prayer Chain Committee –
Rota Scheduling – Christy Gaudio
Copyright © 2021 Episcopal Church of St. John Baptist - All Rights Reserved. 200 Main St. Thomaston, ME 04861