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:
Building meaningful relationships in the congregation;
Offering our worship with reverence and care;
Strengthened music leadership;
Learning and formation for all stages of life;
Building effective communications;
Being compassionate, inclusive and just;
Growing the congregation and numbers and commitment;
Offering the building as a community space;
Improving our church home; and
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).