Go Where I Send Thee - September 2021 Newsletter
A Voice in the WIlderness Newsletter of the Church of St. John in the Wilderness September 2021


Go Where I Send Thee

     St John in the wilderness“Go where I send thee,” a great theme of this edition of The Voice - thanks to Jim and Patricia Wann. As I think about our recent goodbyes to longtime pillars of St. John in the Wilderness Kent & Marilyn Kay and Fr. Walt & Mibs Zelley, I remember some of my journey – some of the ways I’ve been called and sent. 
     I want to share in particular my call to both the Episcopal Church and ordained ministry - which involved multiple sendings, e.g. to seminary, internship, Clinical Pastoral Education (in a hospital) and to congregations. In the late 90s I had been doing social work/social service work for many years. And I considered this work to be ministry as I was genuinely trying to help people - people with mental health issues, people with developmental disabilities, people with addiction problems, families with children with behavioral issues. 
     However in the mid-90s I began to feel there was something else for me to do, but I didn’t know what it was - it was interesting and frustrating. Finally I intentionally arranged to receive prayer for vocational discernment from a couple of trained prayer ministers. I had a beginning openness to the Episcopal Church but was not Episcopal at this time (I was R. Catholic). As I was praying with the two prayer ministers (neither of whom were Episcopal or R. Catholic - I think one was Methodist and the other Presbyterian), I had a spiritual experience. One or two months prior I had a passing thought about checking out the Episcopal Church, but had not done so. And I had mentioned none of this to the two prayer ministers. But suddenly one of them, who seemed as startled as I was, said - I just had a vision of you being ordained an Episcopal priest! This was unexpected by any of the three of us. But immediately my heart opened up and I felt peace, joy and excitement that this seemed real.
     I soon began regularly attending a progressive little Episcopal church and it felt right from the start. I knew this socially conscious denomination which shared traditions both Protestant and Catholic was my new home. Then I/we (the church) began to discern ordained ministry. There were layers of committees and interviews and approvals etc. But the initial vision seemed to prove true as the doors kept opening. Four years later I began seminary and three years after that I was ordained.
     It wasn’t always easy going from the vision to ordination. But it was easy in some ways in that I felt sustained by the vision and encouraged by the Spirit along the way. Certainly seminary and the work of being an Episcopal priest are hard work. But I believe it’s what I’m called to do and have been sent to do. And it’s the most fulfilling and joyful work I’ve experienced. And it’s quite something that St. John in the Wilderness found me in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and we connected and felt called together. We’ve been together for 13 years. 
     I’ll add that this vision is not typical of my spiritual life. It wasn’t even my vision. But to me it was very real and inspiring and has borne fruit for which I am very grateful. 

— In peace, John+

Church Calendar • September-December 2021

Father Walt & Mibs’ Journey to Copake Falls

The Zelleys        In early August, 1977, Father Walt, Mibs and their two kids, Laura and Ed (ages 10 & 11) were traveling to Vermont to camp. Mibs said camping was the only way a Priest & family could afford to take a vacation & they camped for many years. The kids were getting cranky right about the time the family made it to Copake Falls, so they decided to stop for the night. The family fell in love with the campground & all the activities offered for kids. They went on to Vermont but came back to Copake Falls and spent the rest of August. The campground cost $4 per night!      
   They kept returning to Copake Falls and found a small house for sale for $26,000. That house became their home in Copake Falls after Father Walt retired in 1998 after 28 years as the Rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Metuchen, New Jersey.    
   The Zelleys’ connection to St John’s in the Wilderness began when Father John Byers was the Priest. The Zelley family would arrive each August for their monthly vacation.    
   One day, Father Walt walked up to the Church and heard an organ being played. He spoke with the Organist and she told him that there was only Morning Prayer in August as the Priest was away. Father Walt offered a deal. He would be willing to take on the services in August without pay. The deal was quickly accepted and thus Father Walt became a part of St John’s in the Wilderness. Mibs also took on many leadership roles at the Church and in the Community.    
   The Zelleys are a beloved and integral part of St John’s in the Wilderness and Copake Falls. They will be deeply missed and welcomed back with open arms when they return next spring!

— The Editors

Heading South

        The ShannonsOver the years, I’ve been blessed to live and work in so many special places, starting with the place I grew up -- Des Moines, Iowa. From there, after marriage, the birth of my son in Camp Hill, PA, and then my subsequent divorce, I landed in the Philadelphia suburbs of Lansdale and North Wales. I worked in the suburbs as well as in Center City -- what a great beginning to my career.    

Pictured to the right: The Shannon Family in Atlanta in June 2021 (L to R): Nolan, attending Kennesaw State U.; Dempsey, at U. of Missouri in Kansas City; my son Lindsay, his wife Joanne, and me.

   From there, my son and I moved to Portland, OR, where I worked as a freelance writer, and we explored the beautiful Pacific Northwest. After a couple of years, I was recommended for a job at Citibank in NYC, and I interviewed. By the end of the day, I wanted the job so much, yet I was a bit scared about moving to the city with a nine-year-old. As life turns out sometimes, I got the job, we moved, and he adjusted faster than I did to the city. I did, however, really love my job.    
   We had a great apartment on Roosevelt Island that combined bedrooms and bathrooms on the 14th floor, and our living/dining/kitchen area on the 15th floor, where we entered the apartment. Our views included the Manhattan skyline, a vast area of Queens, and an especially gorgeous view when sunrise reflected off the city.    
   Our next door neighbors were Paul and Madeleine Israel and their children Erik and Nancy. Initially, our mutual love of basketball led us to join households to watch Portland beat the 76ers in the NBA championship. Our family friendship blossomed, including later shared season tickets to the Knicks games, as well as a well-remembered sabbatical for their family/vacation for ours in Spain, and many shared holidays, celebrations, and times together.    
   Madeleine’s parents owned a home in Ancramdale, which she later inherited, and it’s where she lives now, and it’s one road away from where I live. This is how I made my way “upstate.” I’ve been visiting this area since 1977, and in 1991, I purchased a summer cottage where my home now stands. It was originally all of 700 square feet, built in the 1950s (and added onto twice since before I bought it). It’s part of a camping association formed initially by NYC school teachers as well as local residents, with lake rights to Lower Rhoda Lake.    
   In 1996/1997, I renovated the summer cottage into a year-round home, and I moved in full-time in November 1997. There was an two-year period afterward where I commuted to Boston for a four-day workweek, complete with a parlor apartment in a brownstone that was close enough that I could achieve one of my life-long dreams of being able to walk to work. Hooray!    
   As some of you know, I’ve been talking about moving closer to my family in Kansas City for many years. Well, in 2019, my family moved from KC to Atlanta, so I’m now glad I was so slow to move. In June 2021, I began to look for a place to live near them.    
   As luck would have it, Mibs and Walt Zelley found a perfect apartment complex in Alpharetta, GA, which also looks perfect for me, too, and I hope we’ll be neighbors before long.    
   When I visited my family in Atlanta in June, after not seeing them since October 2019, I was so happy to see where Mibs and Walt were moving that I didn’t look at any other apartment complexes. I love how our connections through our lives lead to new beginnings and continuing friendships wherever we live.    
   I’ve enjoyed being a part of the St. John in the Wilderness community, and I hope to come back to visit “you all” each year in August, when I anticipate that Georgia will be simply too hot for me!  

— Jane Shannon

Winds in the Wilderness

Winds in the Wilderness

   Music is reputed to be the most abstract of arts because it exists only in time but Winds in the Wilderness Concerts has an added a dimension: Place!      
   As expressed in an announcement of our concert on August 25th: We are lucky. From the start, Winds in the Wilderness Concerts has performed in a historic landmark church whose exquisite architecture and acoustics embrace us the moment we step inside.    
   Now step outside! You find yourself enveloped in the enchanting setting of Taconic State Park. There, in music, the beauty and diversity of American landscapes, physical and cultural, will be brought to light (and shined upon!) by the 20th century composers in this program. Complementing these works will be music by Quantz, Telemann and Haydn.    
   Winds in the Wilderness Concerts started in 2009 with the loving support of our founding Board of Directors that included church members Mibs Zelley, Lucy Eldridge and Elen Freeston. Our 37th concert on August 25th was dedicated to Mibs Zelley. 

— Sharon Powers, Artistic Director and Flutist

Capital Campaign Update

As of this update, the total funds from grants, bequests, gifts, and pledges to the Capital Campaign are $257,454, representing 78 percent of the Campaign’s goal of $332,000. We very much appreciate those many individuals and organizations that have already supported this important initiative to sustain Church of St. John in the Wilderness in Copake Falls into the future.    
   Capital CampaignThe latest donation to the Capital Campaign was just communicated to us this week by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, which we had approached last month about a project to repair and renovate the Church of St. John in the Wilderness’ graveyard fencing and stabilization work on the adjacent embankment. This significant preservation project is at the heart of St. John’s history, as the graveyard honors the founder of the church and founder of the Copake Iron Works, Lemuel Pomeroy, and his descendants. The Pomeroy Foundation is graciously providing a grant in the amount of $15,000 to complete this effort.    
   More on the project funded by the Pomeroy Foundation’s grant will be covered in subsequent issues of this newsletter, but in this issue we are delighted to announce that previously reported donated funds are being actively used to accomplish the Campaign’s goals through two projects being launched this month. For one project, Marjorie Hoog, Chair of St. John’s Building Committee, reports that Herrington Fuels’ proposal was accepted to replace the furnaces and hot water heaters in the Church and Rectory and the air conditioning units in Burke Hall and the Church’s office. Left to right: Lucy Eldridge, Marjorie Hoog, Dale Peterson, and Rev. John Thompson meet at St. John’s to watch Herrington Fuels install new energy-saving propane-fired boiler heating systems in the basements of the Church and Burke Hall in the Rectory.    
Left to right: Lucy Eldridge, Marjorie Hoog, Dale Peterson, and Rev. John Thompson meet at St. John’s to watch Herrington Fuels install new energy-saving propane-fired boiler heating systems in the basements of the Church and Burke Hall in the Rectory.
  In the Church, Herrington Fuels is removing the old, existing oil-fueled boiler and associated equipment, and installing a new propane-fired combination boiler, controls, programmable thermostats, a concentric vent boiler up the existing chimney, a new 1,000 gallon underground propane tank, all gas piping, and a new exhaust fan in the undercroft’s toilet. In the Rectory, the work includes removals, a new propane-fired boiler, an indirect water heater, controls, pumps, programmable thermostats, a concentric side wall vent boiler, a new heat pump and air-handler for Burke Hall, a new wall unit in small office with condenser, gas piping, and two new toilet exhausts.

Marjorie Hoog and Rev. John Thompson survey the new propane fuel lines to the Church and Burke Hall from atop the 1,000 gallon propane tank buried underground behind the Church office of the Rectory.

   For the other project, renovation of the Sacristy, Marjorie reports that Sean Fagan, a Hillsdale-based contractor, was awarded the contract. The design for this project, prepared by architect Jack Alvarez in March 2021, was shown in A Voice in the Wilderness, Easter Hope 2021, in which Mr. Alvarez summarized the work to be performed: “The proposed Sacristy project includes removals of selected finishes and modern millwork, installation of new lighting, selective electrical upgrades, counter surfaces, millwork, plumbing and associated fixtures, heating, accessories and floor reinforcing with upgraded floor finishes.” Mr. Fagan began this work just after Labor Day, and hopes to complete this project by the end of October 2021.    
   We deeply appreciate the people and organizations that were motivated to give funds that are enabling these in-progress projects. Particularly, we want to thank the Rheinstrom Hill Community Foundation for a $5,000 grant in support of the Sacristy renovation. We also thank the Sacred Sites program of The New York Landmarks Conservancy for a $3,500 grant in support of the architectural and engineering fees for the first phase of the Capital Campaign’s implementation; because this was a 1:1 matching grant, we also want to thank the individuals who provided the donations to enable the awarding of The New York Landmarks Conservancy’s grant to St. John’s.
   If you would like to learn more about St. John’s Capital Campaign, please let one of us know and we will be happy to describe the Campaign’s remaining needs and ways to contribute to help meeting those needs, or you can learn of the projects directly online from a Summary Brochure, Capital Campaign for St. John in the Wilderness: Sustaining People, Place, and Peace, 2019 – 2022.
- Brian Boom and Lucy Eldridge, co-chairs

Autumn is Upon Us       

   This has always been my favorite time of year but it seems so bittersweet I’m not sure why. Must be childhood back to school and the fact that though it is often brief it is always spectacularly beautiful here in the northeast. Well, Happy Autumn!    
   Things here at St. John’s are moving rapidly along. The sacristy is gutted and work on the restoration will soon begin. We had hoped to get the ramp project in gear as well but finding contractors these days is becoming nigh on impossible. We’ll keep you posted.    
   The Zelleys have left for their new home in South Carolina and will be sorely missed. I have just spoken with Marilyn Kay and they are doing well. Kent is in separate living quarters but is adjusting and has new friends in his section of the facility. Marilyn has made friends and has developed a routine that seems to be working for her. She has a walking group that goes out every morning and walks along natural paths and the facility has a minibus that goes on shopping runs and takes residents to various outings. She has been spending quality time with her son and daughter-in-law. I believe she finally has the ability to Zoom so our Zoom Coffee Hour on the fourth Thursday at 7 PM will be happening. Mibs and I were the only participants but I’m hoping we can grow this operation and check in with those of us who have wandered far and wide.    
   We had a world renowned musician record in the church in August. He was very pleased with the result and has assured me that he will give credit to the recording venue. I hope that we may be able to offer this space for the purpose and earn some income for the church. I’ll keep you posted.    
   Until our next issue, stay well and God Bless.           
- Elen J Freeston, Senior Warden

Let’s Talk About Recruitment    

   This a time of gratitude as we wish godspeed to the Zelleys, the Kays and Jane Shannon, each one an important member of the St John in the Wilderness community.    
   It’s also a poignant time as we see our church numbers declining. It’s not surprising. The population of the Roe Jan area has gone down over 5% just in the last ten years. We live in a very secular part of the county. We see church attendance continuing to decline across the country.    
   If we were a business seeking new customers, we would do a marketing study to understand what people want. Do they care about physical surroundings (the church building), music, good sermons, a tradition of community service, or something else?  We need to know.    
   At the same time, we should honestly identify our strengths and our weaknesses.    
   Once we understand the needs in our community and identify what we can best offer it will be time to plan a recruitment strategy. It’s time to get started.
- Dale Peterson

Father’s Day Plant & Bake Sale    

Many thanks to all who helped on the June 20, 2021 Father’s Day Plant and Bake Sale. We had lots of community and parish members attend the outdoor event held at the base of the church driveway; the plants (including colorful hanging baskets, annuals, perennials, ferns, herbs) and baked goods (including yummy pies, breads, etc.) were nearly all sold out. Bob Callahan donated a handsome potting bench for the silent auction and it now graces a lovely garden. The total amount raised was $1735.   We look forward to another similar event next year.    
- Lucy Eldridge

2020 Stewardship Pledge Drive

“All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above. So thank the Lord, Oh, thank the Lord, for all His love.”                        

- 1982 Hymnal    

   With Fall just around the corner, we’re starting to get some of that Fall-like weather lately. I’m always sorry to see the warm Summer weather slip away. This transition in the weather also signals the start of our Stewardship Pledge Drive. The monies pledged help us set up a church budget for the coming year. The income we receive from you, friends and fellow parishioners, is what keeps us going; it is so important, and so appreciated. We have set our pledge goal this year at $90,000.    
   For those who can pledge, we ask that you give as generously as you comfortably can. We ask you to pledge whatever amount works for you.    
   Our church is our “spiritual home,” and just like our home, it needs a healthy income so that it can pay the usual bills – the electric, the telephone, the insurance, the fuel, and repairs, etc. It also goes towards the payroll for the variety of professional people it takes to keep the church running. We are so thankful for these folks. The Stewardship Committee will be sending a formal letter and pledge card to you very soon. We ask that you review the pledge card, complete it and return it in the envelope provided or put it in the collection plate on Sunday. We can provide special weekly pledge envelopes.    
   Over the past year and a half, Covid-19 has caused a great deal of pain both physically and financially to many individuals and their families. Father John Thompson and the Vestry want you to know you are in our prayers and we are here to help in any way we can. Your well-being will always be the number one priority for us. We are a family.    
   We were so fortunate to be able to gather for worship both virtually via Zoom and finally in person. We have been celebrating Sunday Service inside now, and it was great hearing our choir sing with Edee at the church organ again! We are even live-streaming our Sunday Services now (thank you Jay Corcoran). Throughout the pandemic, our parish has continued to minister to both parishioners and the community. We’ve done our best to continue our Covid-Safe programs throughout the past year. In 2020 Lucy Eldridge created a Holiday Wreath and Bake Sale on the front porch of the Rectory. It was very well received. We’ve had outdoor Winds in the Wilderness concerts. The weekly Wednesday Centering Prayer Group continues to meet both in-person outdoors and on Zoom. We’ve delivered meals to parishioners and friends. Father John Thompson has sent a steady stream of emails updating us with Columbia County Covid-19 information and also updates on Parish Life in general. We’ve all felt very “connected.” Going forward I’m excited to see how we will use our new “virtual/tech skill-set” to develop new ministries and programs in the coming year.    
   We are asked to be good stewards of the gifts God has given to us. St. Peter said, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied Grace.” As we’ve received these gifts joyfully, we can experience, as well, the same joy in the giving of gifts. St. John in the Wilderness is made up of some of the most giving people I know. Maybe that’s why our Sunday coffee hours are so joyful!    
   Keep our church in your prayers as your Vestry and Stewardship Committee plan for the coming year - God’s peace to you and make every day the very best day ever.
- With Love and Appreciation,
Elen Freeston, Senior Warden
Wendy Langlois, Chair of Pledge Drive


Our Cup Runneth Over!

It has been very exciting to have so many people contributing to this issue of The Voice. In the spirit of “Go Where I Send Thee,” these reports, essays, questions and photos are a testament to the wonderful people and activities that are part of the St. John in the Wilderness ministry. Fall is in the air, and kindness too. We ask that you pass along the Newsletter to one or more friends as a way of sharing what St. John’s has to offer our friends, our neighbors and our community.                  
- Peace, Patricia & Jim

St. John in the Wilderness

The Rev. John Thompson, Rector

Elen Freeston (1/22) Warden
Brian Boom (1/23) Warden

Lucy Eldridge (1/22)
Jane Peck (1/22)
Virginia Johnson (1/23)
Milbrey Zelley (1/23)
Jay Corcoran (1/24)
Charley Musselman (1/24)
Jane Peck, Interim Clerk of the Vestry
Karen Flynn, Treasurer

Church Organization and Functions
Music -- Edith Hedrick, Choir Director and Organist
Church School -- Wendy Langlois, Director
Buildings and Grounds Committee -- Marjorie Hoog, Chair
Voice -- Jim and Patricia Wann, Editors and Publishers
Website -- Charley Musselman, Editor
Altar Guild -- Elen Freeston, Director
Acolytes -- David Chittick, Director
EMS -- Peggy Anderson, Harry Koeppel, Brian Boom, Pauline Royal

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Church of St John in the Wilderness, Copake Falls NY
PO Box 180
261 State Route 344
Copake Falls, New York 12517-0180

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