Pastoral Letter – June 2022
Dear Saints of Ascension,
Greetings of the Season of Pentecost,
We live in a period of uncanny challenges around us and beyond us. I am sure many of us are tired out and wanting to return to normalcy. Nevertheless, God has made us to walk our journey for collective safety to combat the virus and continue to help us in our hybrid forms of study and worship to enhance our spirituality. I am thanking God for your prayerful walk with an unbounding passion to stand and gather as a faith community in the pandemic which has posted many changes in the very wheels of life, hitting the hard roads of health. Secondly, the war at the global arena is witnessing a heavy burden for the poor and needy at the socio and economic horizons; life is taking discursive turns, making it more difficult. We do pray for peace in Ukraine and overtly condemn any form of violence against people induced by greed and selfish intentions. The recent incidents of violence in many parts of the nation, especially on the innocent children and black community, prods us to take time under the divine umbrella for a time of retrospection to discern the will of the divine and to realize the salvation of God. In such a context, we wrestle with faith to identify the genuine agenda of God and the true purpose of collective living. Today’s context is an invitation for us to regenerate our faith and action to live the good news of Jesus, our Savior. Despite these challenges the Holy Spirit envisages our hearts and minds for a creative engagement to witness the Reign of God/Divine which is grounded in the New Way of Life, which is creative, redemptive and transformative.
The Season of Pentecost is one of the longest seasons in the calendar of the church, and it calls us to edify our faith faculties to be a living witness of God in realizing the very rule of God. God’s rule is measured by the quality of love. This rule can’t be measured by any human parameters, but it can be experienced subjectively with an objectified living, a beloved community. Love is both private and public. Private love is more emotional and limited; however, public love witnesses the ubiquity of divine justice in every domain of life. Despite our segmentary lenses over life, life, per se, is a numerous lot with unnumbered pores, intersecting many domains of life with its rainbow design. However, to add more meaning to life in our context, we need to address it in the way of Jesus. We are the covenantal people in Christ submitting to the will of God which offers life for all with equal dignity and respect to affirm life in total with Love. “Let your love be genuine,” was a powerful call from St. Paul to the Church of Romans, and it is an invitation for the whole church to address the crippled world because of its ostentatious attitudes towards each other. Romans 12:9 cites, “Let love be genuine, hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good, love one another with mutual affection, outdo one another in showing honor, do not lack in zeal, be ardent in sprit, serve the Lord, rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, extend hospitality to strangers.”
I would like to appreciate the ministry we carry as a team in various fields with genuine love and as a team of God. The Altar Guild, Acolyte Ministries, Ascension Youth/Adult Choir, Bell Ringing Ministries, Care Closet, Lectionary Readers’ Team, Media Team, New American Ministries, MEEK ministries, Ushers’ Team, Prison Ministries, Study and Prayer Groups, Finance Team, Building and Grounds, Greater Rochester Council of Churches, Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are the signature of God’s hand in our campus, radiating and serving God effectively with a holistic ‘diakonia’. I need to thank Dyson Gay for his voluntary help in the matters of finances of our church. Especially, I am grateful for Paul Schwartz and Nicole Hercules for their help during the Lenten Zoom Bible Studies. I appreciate Kathy Kohler and Team, Don Kohler, Kathy O’Leary, Paul Schwartz, Nancy Turchetti, Patty Frasca, Ryan McDermott, Chris Haller, Jerry Welcher and Kate Stella for their work among the Afghan Community as well as Angeline who continues to volunteer at the Rochester Refugee Resettlement Services to enhance our services in the city among New Americans. I also register all the donors towards the ministries. I am happy to team with all the groups for our growth and witness in making our beloved community a possible one. I thank everyone who helped with International Women’s Day and the Pride Month celebration. I also thank Helen and Chris Haller, Don Kohler, Bob Crystal, Manipaw, John and Alfina for reading the texts from different languages on the Day of Pentecost. I praise God for the remarkable Acolyte Recognition Sunday, and Kathy Kohler needs our appreciation. I thank Paul Schwartz for heading up Fix-up Day and all of the volunteers, Jerry Welcher, Don Kohler, Aaron Furley, Steve Fries and Linda VanAllen. I thank our Bishop, Stephen Lane for his first visit to Ascension on April 3rd, and I thank him also for sending Nicole to Ascension in her path of diakonial ministries. I am proud to say that Nicole, being the President of the Rochester City Soccer League and in her many other responsibilities, brings lots of gifts to work with our youth.
I am grateful to God for connecting me with our family of Saints, The Church of Ascension. I need to thank the entire vestry for their discernment over my call to be your rector; it gives me more joy and doubled my commitment to serve you with my fullest ability with the help of God in Christ. I am grateful to our Bishop Stephen Lane and Rev. Virginia, for their support. I would like to thank Wardens, Don Kohler and Chris Haller for their leadership and support to enhance the vision of our ministry. The Vestry needs our sincere appreciation for their prayerful engagement in the affairs of the church and mission. Thanks to Jerry Welcher, Kate Stella, Kathy Kohler, Linda VanAllen, Mary Bickel (Treasurer), Nancy Turchetti, Patricia Frasca, Paul Schwartz, Ryan McDermott (Clerk) and Steve Fries for all their committed services in the life and witness of the church. I want to appreciate all the volunteers of our church, Dave Pomeroy and Kevin Gall, and especially the staff, Cindy, Angel, and Sarah for their good work. I need to register my thanks to Moo Leah, Sun Mostar and Eh Tha Taw for their help in decorating the church during the Pentecostal Festival. I solicit your prayers for my wife Angeline, my children John and Alfina, who continue their sincere commitment to support my ministry in all ways possible.
I would encourage you to read the entire newsletter to understand our ministries, and Cindy needs our appreciation for compiling the newsletter. I am also happy to bring to your notice that one of our members Norm Juffa will hit 100 years on July 22nd, 2022, and I thank God for his health and service to church and community. I also request your prayers for Midge Crittenden, Elaine Riess, Ann Pomeroy, John Johnston and Ruth Johns for their well-being. We also thank God for the life and witness of our members, Fay Bird and Liz Furley and we urge you to keep their families in your prayers. Please be assured of my prayers and blessings to all of you. God is with us!
I wish you all a wonderful vacation and travel during this season. I would appreciate if all our families could attend the annual Parish Picnic on August 7th, 2022 to refresh ourselves with fellowship, food, and fun. As God’s family, let us be assured of Christ who gives us strength; Amen. God’s name be praised.
With you always,
Abi John, Rector