Welcome to the St. John's Blog!

St. John's Episcopal Church is located on the northwest side of Chicago, in the Old Irving Park neighborhood. You can learn more about us at our official web site. We hope you'll join us!

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Baptism in the Garden

I may be wrong, but I think Sunday was a first for St. John's. Services were held outdoors in the garden; nothing new about that, but Hideo, the latest addition to the St. John's family, was baptised during the second service. And if an outdoor baptism is not unusual enough for Episcopalians, the second service music, provided by a great combo comprised of parishioners and their friends, took us "down in the river to pray."

The weather was beautiful, if a little windy. Here are some scenes from the service. In her sermon, Kara talked about how adding a movie to the family's Netflix queue eventually led to an evening of introspection about what it means to be a Christian. An appropriate subject when welcoming a new Episcopalian!

Then, the baptism!

Throughout the service, music was supplied by folks the bulletin identified as the Gospel on the Green Folk Band.

My guess is Kara had more to do with that name than the group. Just a guess.

Parishioners Rawl, Dawn, Alex, Tim, his wife Catherine, and their friend Scott provided some beautiful music for us. It's hard to record unamplified music from 50 feet away on a windy day, with planes flying overhead and the collection being taken, but here's what it was like from the top of a ladder:

If you click on the video after it starts, it will reopen in a larger format.

By the time we got to "I'll Fly Away," we had discovered our inner Baptist, and were singing our hearts out. I had to post it despite the 30 seconds of camera shake as I moved up and down the ladder. Just close your eyes and listen.

Now wasn't that nice? I'm kicking myself for only catching a minute of it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Matsiko Children's Choir

Excuse me if this post sounds a little disjointed, but I've just returned from the performance by Matsiko at St. John's, and I'm exhausted. Matsiko is a children's choir from Uganda which is touring the United States for the International Children's Network (ICN).

Matsiko means "hope", but for anyone who attended the 10:30 service today, it will always mean "full of youthful energy like I don't remember ever having." Wow, what an experience!

This little video will give you a flavor:

The beautiful children of Matsiko are from villages in Uganda, which we learned is the size of Oregon but has a population of 32 million (compared to Oregon's 3.8 million). The children have been in the United States for only five weeks of a year-long tour, and appeared to be having a wonderful time. Every child I spoke with seemed thrilled to be a part of Matsiko.

Uganda does not have a free education system, and many families cannot afford to send their children to school. The ICN provides educational sponsorships for orphaned or "at risk" children, to help them attend and stay in school all the way through the vocational or university level. The children of Matsiko are selected from sponsored children based on academic strength, musical talent, and "an innate passion to be change agents in their own country." An unusual feature of ICN is that it encourages and helps sponsors to meet their sponsored child face-to-face in their own culture.

This lovely young lady is Rhoda, who told me she is from the "lowest" village in Uganda, by which she meant the lowest elevation above sea level.

Rhoda encouraged me to sponsor an ICN child. When I said I consulted my wife before making financial commitments, she looked at me with surprise and disbelief. Recovering quickly, though, she looked around and demanded, "Where is she?"

The choir participated in the 10:30 service, singing the Prelude, during the Litany of Healing (Above All and Your Majesty), an Offertory anthem (Faithful One), and a Communion anthem (Yampalula).

After the service, they performed an extended Postlude, which included Wata Wote, How Much?, a very poignant I am Not Forgotten, and Tusinze.

Rather than babble on, here are some pictures of their performance:

One indication of the group's magnetism is that by the end of the Postlude, the stairs between the Nave and the front doors were clogged with passersby who couldn't resist stepping in to see where the unusual, beautiful music was coming from.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Bishop Lee Reports from General Convention

Chicago Bishop Jeffrey Lee prepared three video reports from the General Convention in California. Here is the last of them, summarizing developments there.

His first two video reports are available here and here. Bishop Lee has also issued a letter on the General Convention, available here.