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Old News Matters, Part 2

In my first “Old News Matters” article -- I described discovering a

collection of SJWT newsletters in the church balcony that dated from

1976 to 1991. I emphasized how they provide a wealth of information

essential to documenting the history of the church. I’ve subsequently

found some earlier and later SJWT newsletters, including a significant

collection in my own email archive. Of particular interest is a series

of weekly SJWT newsletters from 15 years ago and what they capture about

the St. John’s community inside and outside of 288 Humberside, and how

the progress made and challenges experienced at that time resonate today.

You can browse through the newsletters archive here,


I wanted to highlight three issues: Dec. 12, 2007, Jan. 16, and March

14, 2008. Most striking in the Dec. 12th issue is the top image which

shows a SJWT advertisement in the High Park subway station. There was

also one in the Runnymede station. This was a successful initiative to

increase St. John’s visibility with catchy taglines: “Looking for a

Church where you can be you,” and “For your children; Also for you.”

There was a subsequent increase in visitors who mentioned they had seen

a poster in the subway stations. Perhaps something similar could be

tried again today.

The Jan. 16 newsletter focuses on the Annual Parish Planning Day to

assess progress in 2007 and to brainstorm goals for 2008 in:

  1. Building meaningful relationships in the congregation;

  2. Offering our worship with reverence and care;

  3. Strengthened music leadership;

  4. Learning and formation for all stages of life;

  5. Building effective communications;

  6. Being compassionate, inclusive and just;

  7. Growing the congregation and numbers and commitment;

  8. Offering the building as a community space;

  9. Improving our church home; and

  10. Improving financial stability.

A spreadsheet capturing the planning day

discussions was attached to the Jan. 23 newsletter and is available here.

Today, as we look forward in our own parish discernment and planning,

there are many useful ideas and inspiration to be found when one takes

some time to review our past experience.

The March 9th newsletter initially caught my eye with the photo it

included of a younger Alie Rutty along with Zach Cardwell. It also

focused on St. John’s Vestry Report covering 2007. In the context of our

recent Vestry, it’s timely and useful to look back at what was happening

and what was on our minds 15 years ago. In particular, Rev. Gary van der

Meer’s Incumbent’s Report focus on the importance of friendships and

community within and outside St. John’s seems to resonate with our

post-pandemic reticence today to gather and socialize as a congregation

as much as we once did. Perhaps it’s time to revisit our “social club”

traditions. Also of note in the 2007 Vestry Report, Bob Shantz

officially became the first Lutheran pastor to serve as Honorary

Assistant in the Diocese of Toronto, and our average Sunday morning

attendance was 72 (up from 70 in 2006).


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