Betty Finney and Dave & Sue Martin
Just after the sacred celebration of Christmas is another day that we here at St. John’s have allowed to slip by in the past. December 27 is the day on the church calendar devoted to St. John the Evangelist. When we hear the words “St. John’s”, we envision the warmth and beauty of our building, or the caring collection of parishioners who share worship life with us here. We rarely think of our namesake John, the life he led and his importance to us in our journey as Christians.
John was the disciple most associated with the word love. He was, among the twelve, known especially as the disciple who Jesus loved. John was present at the empty tomb and the first to recognize Jesus on the shore of the lake after the resurrection. His perceptivity and ability to translate what he knew into vision for others earned him the symbol of the soaring eagle. John founded countless churches in Asia, yet was known to be humble, kind and loving to all the diverse humanity he met. Eventually, when he became too frail from old age to travel or to preach, he would be carried into the temple where his only words each day were, “My little children, love one another.” When asked why that was all he had to say, he replied, “Because it’s the precept of the Lord, and if you comply with it, you do enough.” Present at the Transfiguration, John learned from Jesus himself how to take a clear vision down from the mountain and translate it into action in the practical world.
This year, and every year from now on, the Vestry resolves to commemorate our patron saint’s day by honoring members of our parish who best exemplify the love for others and right action that was St. John’s trademark. These are individuals who, in John’s words, “do enough.”
All of our honorees today are not only an inspiration to us in this parish, but have positively impacted the world around them throughout their entire lives.
Our first recipient has a special gift for understanding the workings of the human mind and spirit. For decades she has used her counseling skills to teach, to listen, and to heal.
She has been especially effective in recent years in helping first responders among emergency personnel in police, ambulance and fire departments recover from the pain of what they have seen and heard. Her involvement in post traumatic counseling has brought her in close contact with the rescue personnel from the Amish school tragedy.
She has worked closely with the Safety Council trying to address safety and security issues in our neighborhood and adjacent streets in collaboration with Franklin and Marshall College.
In our midst, she has led this congregation in reaching out in effective and practical ways to the victims of the AIDS epidemic . She has spearheaded efforts to teach us how to be inclusive to those with mental and emotional challenges.
For years, she has quietly worked behind the scenes to insure that our services run smoothly by training and scheduling all of our servers, acolytes, readers and Eucharistic ministers. She herself has served as Eucharistic Minister. During that time, she washed and repaired the robes our servers wore.
The Vestry presents Betty Finney as a perfect example of the spirit of St. John’s Day in both love and practical service.
Our second recipient has led countless young people in our community to discovering the joy of reading by teaching and providing leadership in the area of literacy.
She has continued this commitment in our midst by teaching Sunday School and by her key role in running the Eagles Nest program for Fulton School children. Her caring for children extended also to our parish’s many refugee resettlement projects.
Her efforts toward the well-being of the entire community has found her cooking and serving at all our community breakfast and dinner responsibilities. She knows the St. John’s kitchen better than almost anyone.
As a member and leader of the Episcopal Church Women, she has provided support for countless luncheons, dinners, and has organized the yearly book sale and supervised the work behind the yearly Christmas tree donations.
If something needs to be planned, taught, cooked, or organized Sue Martin is, and has always been, on first call. We resolve to name Sue as our second St. John’s Day honoree.
Our final recipient, like the two before him, has spent his life teaching and caring for the needs of young people. He has led countless trips into natural preserves to give a real world context to the concepts that he teaches.
His energy has seemed limitless at times. He has been the master chef in the kitchen during lessons to teach Eagles’ Nest children how to prepare their own meals.
He works closely with the North Museum to provide lessons in nature and bring the creepy, crawly world of insects and reptiles to our amazed kids.
He too has been the chief organizer and contact person for refugee resettlement at St. John’s. He too has planned and worked on countless community breakfasts and dinners.
In his role as leader of the Jubilee Ministries, there is little in the way of outreach that he has not been involved in.
Like his wife, if something needs to be taught, done, cooked, painted, repaired or planned, Dave Martin has been the first to bring a helping hand to the project. We, the Vestry, resolve to name him the third and final recipient of the St. John’s Day award.
Our profound respect and thanks go to all three recipients for their service among us and in the community.