We are a community of faith, each figuring out our journey in unique and personal ways. There are many words that people have used to describe us – authentic, sincere in our worship, serious about “walking the walk and talking the talk” of our faith – but the best way to get to know us – short of visiting us on Julian Avenue – is to listen to our stories. In this space we will share excerpts from those stories from time to time.
"The prayerfulness and witness of the members of St. John’s and the many friendships I’ve developed with so many members enriches my life immeasurably. Also, I was captivated by the music that Charles Rus, our former parish musician, and others make for us. The music continues to be a source of inspiration."
Neil Penick, member since 2001
"I came to St. John’s and stayed because it was not pretentious, affected, artificial, highfalutin' or pseudo." Ed Specht, member since 1976
"Why was I attracted to St. John's? A holy space, liturgy that felt like the people meant it, whole-hearted singing, responses, and Peace-passing. Something very alive about the worship that we’d been looking for and hadn’t found. . . . We love the people who are St John’s. We’ve put down our roots in the community of faith named St John’s in a way which would hurt if we had to be up-rooted. This is as close to family as you can get, and sometimes even closer."
Liz Specht, member since 1976
“I joined St Johns to celebrate God’s blessings in my life and out of a desire to raise my daughter, Sophia, in a church encouraging an authentic, vital spiritual relationship. In St John’s I've found open hearts and inquiring minds, within a beautiful, traditional, musical service.”
Georgianne Fastaia (with her family on the occasion of daughter Sophia’s baptism), member since 2007
"St. John’s was the first parish in my sober life and the first community in which I felt completely accepted as a gay man. . . . As I had never really had a very joyful childhood or youth, my experience of St. John's was close to ecstatic. The long years of the AIDS epidemic interrupted this idyll and I lost many, many friends. However, grace was also present here in the midst of this crisis and sacrificial love was demonstrated over and over again."
Michael Haines, member since 1976, with former member Elizabeth Skelton
“I was drawn to St. John’s for several reasons - the warm and welcoming congregation, excellent preaching, fantastic music - but I decided to join because of something less tangible: I believe this is a community that actually strives to embody Christ's ministry in the world. It is a rare and beautiful thing to encounter people who are so passionate about what they do and how they do it. As a young woman new to San Francisco I sought a place that would nurture my spirituality, connect me to other seekers, and afford me the opportunity to become an active participant in the life and work of the Episcopal church. I feel blessed to have found all this and more at St. John's.”
Claire Dietrich (left), member since 2007
“What blew me away on my first visit to St. John's, and what inspires, uplifts and deepens my spirituality every week, is the prayers of the people. Our congregation really prays - you can feel it. People are well informed about what's happening locally and worldwide, so listening to and speaking the prayers is an informative meditation on reality. It is beautiful to pray with others who find hope in God’s grace, truly celebrate God’s blessings, and live compassionate lives guided by holy spirit.”
Lauren Dietrich (right, with sister Claire), member since 2007, and co-founder of the Julian Pantry
"I always have the same question: what does God ask of me now? I know if I’ll just keep on keeping on and listen, She’ll push me into my right path -- but this takes patience and discipline. Our corporate worship and opportunities to talk with others about our experience of God help a lot."
Jan Adams, member since 2000
"John and I have stayed at St. John's because we can worship together as a couple and be warmly loved by a core group of people."
Dwight Ginn, member since 1996
Although they moved to Sacramento in recent years, John and Dwight still belong to St. John’s and drive down to San Francisco to attend services whenever they can.
"I grew up Roman Catholic, but stopped going to church when I went away to college. . . . Over the years, as the far right high-jacked Christianity, I felt myself farther and farther away from the church. I didn’t see how I could find a peaceful and authentic home there. But nevertheless what I thought I had learned to be the essential teachings of Jesus – a message of love – had stuck with me, and from time to time I felt a longing to return. So, somehow I was receptive when a friend invited me to an Episcopal church. The service felt familiar, but the sense of welcome and inclusion I experienced was very different. I felt at home for the first time in my life. And no one seemed in a hurry to leave. Everyone was very deliberately present, by choice. That made a very deep impression. I felt the same way when I first came to St. John's. . . . I love that St. John’s is something of a haven in our neighborhood, but also immersed in it, host to AA and NA meetings, and anyone who walks in off the street. Life at St. John’s is a daily lesson in ‘welcoming the stranger.’ I have begun finally to understand what it means to live in community, because above all, that is what St. John's is – a community, connected by love."
Kathy Veit, member since 2005
Photos: M. Macor, courtesy SF Chronicle; B. Pethoud; K. Leibenath; M. Cousins