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Sunday Worship

August 8, 10:00 a.m.
Holy Eucharist every Sunday, indoors. 

Live-streaming will continue via the church's FaceBook page



Parish News


Dear Fellow Parishioners:


We hope this email finds you well, and that you are enjoying a summer of good health and relaxation. 


Since it's been so long since we've gathered regularly as a parish, we are sending this email to update you on recent events in the life of our church family as well as our plans for the immediate and longer-term future.


As you know, after 6+ wonderful years, Reverend Jennifer has retired as our rector.  Many of you joined us on June 19 for a joyous outdoor celebration of her ministry and her retirement.  


In the Episcopal church (unlike most non-church places!), it is considered appropriate and respectful to not begin the search for a new rector until the prior rector has left the parish.  Therefore, we are just staring the process to select Reverend Jennifer's successor. 


During this period of transition, effective immediately, the Vestry has made arrangements for supply priests to serve @ Sunday services. Services will be at 10:00am and depending on the weather will be either inside the Church our outside on the back lawn.  This summer, Paula Massarelli will continue to perform administrative duties. 


The Vestry is in discussions with the Diocese about our Interim Rector and we hope to have an announcement soon.  The Vestry has signed a rental lease for the Rectory and the tenants, the Quatrocelli family, will move in this week.  The rental income is a welcome addition to our finances.  


The Vestry has named a Rector Search Committee, to represent St. John’s in the hiring of our next full-time rector.  The members of this committee are:  Tom Viti (chair); Mary Anne Carty; Alex Goodwin; Jamie Harper; Kathy Kelleher; Ellen Kelley; Lynne Kozlowski; Erin Sibley; Lisa Spollen.


The process of hiring a new Rector is guided by formal Diocesan processes and procedures, which, on average, takes twelve to sixteen months to complete.  The Search Committee will be assisted by a Diocesan Consultant.  The Rector Search Committee is committed to including parishioner input as part of this process, and will be reaching out to the parish in the fall.


Please consider joining us for summer services if you are in town and feel comfortable doing so.  We'd love to see you.  


Otherwise, we look forward to seeing everyone back in September.   


Bob Murphy, Senior Warden



St. John’s and Sacred Ground

A group of St. John’s parishioners recently completed the Sacred Ground program series, which is part of Becoming Beloved Community, the Episcopal Church’s long-term commitment to racial healing, reconciliation, and justice. We were joined in the discussion series by members of the Church of the Advent, Medfield and Epiphany Church, Walpole.


Beginning in October 2020, we met for ten months and used films and readings as the basis for our discussions. Race, racism and whiteness were the primary focus. We looked at family history/ identity, socioeconomic class, political views and regional identity. Sacred Ground is primarily intended for white people to address these themes in our lives and our country – all while grounded in our call to faith, hope and love.

Sacred Ground was developed by Katrina Browne, Producer and Director of the documentary film Traces of the Trade. Browne is a life-long Episcopalian who is dedicated to racial justice and healing. The series is built around a powerful online curriculum of documentary films and readings that focus on Indigenous, Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific American histories as they intersect with European American histories.

To conclude the series, parishioners from all three Churches met (for the first time in person) at St. John’s for a meal and liturgy service. Participants from 
St. John’s were: Chris Beukman, MaryAnne Carty, Jackie Collier, Leslie Davie, Sanne Dinkel, Karen Fraioli, Jamie Harper, Lynne Kozlowski, Emily Sugg, Tom Viti and MaryAnn Wattendorf. 

If you are interested in Sacred Ground please speak with any of us. Here’s the link for Sacred Ground https://episcopalchurch.org/sacred-ground

This series was especially designed to help white people talk with other white people. Participants are invited to peel away the layers that have contributed to the challenges and divides of the present day – all while grounded in our call to faith, hope and love.

The Long-term Commitment


Becoming Beloved Community represents not so much a set of programs as a journey, a set of interrelated commitments around which Episcopalians may organize our many efforts to respond to racial injustice and grow a community of reconcilers, justice-makers, and healers.

Sacred Ground is a film- and readings-based dialogue series on race, grounded in faith. Small groups are invited to walk through chapters of America’s history of race and racism, while weaving in threads of family story, economic class, and political and regional identity.

Sacred Ground is part of Becoming Beloved Community, The Episcopal Church’s long-term in our personal lives, our ministries, and our society.

Sermon 08/01/21 St. John’s Westwood

 

Good Morning St. John’s!!  

 

The age of pandemic has presented us with a whole new level of moral ambiguity. When do we mask? How and when do we vaccinate? What is the balance between individual rights and the needs of the community? How do we provide care that is equitable for vulnerable and underserved communities?  

 

These kind of moral questions -how do we do the right thing? What distinguishes right from wrong? -  have occupied philosophers for many centuries. Plato opened the discussion in his Dialogue called ‘The Republic’ some 2300 years ago with the question ‘This is no small matter, but how we ought to live? ‘ 

 

Plato felt our moral compass stems from an inner voice called the daemon- not the demon- that corrects us when we do something wrong. I am sure you have heard that inner voice warning you when you were about to do something that could not pass ethical muster. 

 

If King David ever possessed that inner daemon, that inner voice, he certainly had stopped listening to it by the time we find him interacting with the prophet Nathan in today’s Old Testament reading.  

 

If you have followed closely the narratives from  the first and second books of Samuel which we have read over the last few weeks here at Church, you have heard of the spectacular rise of David, from a ruddy and handsome youth  , the youngest son of Jesse, called away from behind the herd to become king of Israel, to his problems with his father in law King Saul, his intense friendship with Saul’s son Jonathan, his rise to kingship and his building of the Temple. You have also noticed that in the course of his life’s story David slowly lost his own moral compass. 

 

In the last few weeks, we have heard the scandalous story of David’s falling in lust with Bathsheba, a woman married to one of his army commanders. David cleverly but perversely invites Uriah to come home to his wife, hoping that people will think if Bathsheba becomes pregnant, Uriah likely will be the father. 

This is something that Uriah, an honorable and dedicated soldier refuses to do in a time of war.  David then asks that Uriah be placed at the front of the battle with the Philistines, and for other soldiers to suddenly retreat from him causing him to be killed in battle.  

 

In today’s reading, David’s moral authority comes to him as a gift from God in the form of the prophet Nathan, the prophet’s name meaning ‘He has given’ or ‘God has given.’ 

 

Prophet Nathan knows how to speak truth to power. He runs what seems to be a hypothetical ethical situation by David in the form of the story of the rich and the poor man with the little lamb, and when David upon hearing this story bursts out with moral indignation, Nathan tactfully points out that David himself has dome similar or even worse in his dealings with Bathsheba and Uriah saying, ‘You are the man!’. 

 

Tradition has it that at this point David speaks the words of the 51st Psalm ‘Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving-kindness ‘that play such an important role in our Ash Wednesday liturgy.  

 

Nathan’s ‘You are the man! ‘reverberates through the centuries as the voice of the person who with shock and dismay realized his own loss of moral compass.  

 

In our days, we would be hard pressed to find places of moral guidance that help us make difficult decisions. Rather than turning to the writings of Plato or Aristotle, we are more likely to turn to Google of even Siri or Alexa for answers to our deepest questions. I am not sure how much we realize that today the details of our lives and our decisions are run by Artificial Intelligence programs. If you have driven a car, especially an electric car, googled something or use a cellphone you have interacted with Artificial Intelligence programs. 

 

I am not technical and sometime rely on my very technical son in law to explain things to me, but I imagine Artificial Intelligence programs as very smart algorithms who have the ability to find patterns in huge amount of raw data using brute computing force. 

 

The question could be asked: where do those data come from? And how do biases and prejudices in the person who inputs those data reflect in the answers Artificial Intelligence gives us? 

 

I had never for one minute pondered the ethical and spiritual implications of the use of Artificial Intelligence which has become so pervasive in our lives until I came across a very provocative article in the New York Times a few weeks ago by Linda Kinstler, who is a Ph.D. candidate in rhetoric at UC Berkeley. I have already shared this very insightful article with some members of St. John’s and after today will put a link on the church website. 

 

Kinstler begins with an amusing joke. A computer is asked the question: Is there a God? ‘And the response is ‘No sufficient memory to compute’ so technicians add more and more memory, but the answer always remains the same. For years the technicians work on adding more memory and storage to the system, until one day the answer finally changes ‘Is there a god? ‘‘There is now!!’. 

 

An important part of Kinstler’s argument is that bias enters Artificial Intelligence systems by means of the persons who enters the data in the system. This is not only true for the very clear secular bias in AI systems, but also for racial and cultural bias.  

 

As data gets entered that is maybe a little dated and reflects our thinking perhaps some decades ago when we not as attuned to issues of racial justice as we are today, the output that AI gives can come across as prejudiced. 

 

This is an important point in Kinstler’s argument, that comes from her interactions with the members of an online group called Faith, Ethics and Artificial Intelligence.  The bias that those who input the data shows in the output, and that output turns out to be very impoverished in the areas of ethics and spirituality.  

 

When interacting with a Siri or Alexa- like device, Kinstler,  asks the question of the device ‘Are we special as humans?’ and the device simply answers’ ‘Sorry, I don’t know’ before having to be re-programmed to access more data. 

 

Kinstler's  article left me wondering what an ethically informed and spiritually sophisticated Artificial Intelligence program would look like. What would happen if somehow we can input data from the ethical discussions that philosophers have conducted over some 23 centuries, beginning with Plato’s question’ This is no small matter, but how we ought to live?’ and continuing through Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill and Peter Singer -what if we could input all that and make that part of AI systems? Or, to go further than Kinstler,  does in her article, what if we could share the data of wisdom of the Torah, the Good News of the Gospels, the majesty of the Holy Quran and the mysticism of the Bhagavad -Ghita- what kind of answers would be get then? 

 

Like King David, our moral compass wobbles, and wanders. We are always looking for answers. 

 

Perhaps one day technology could be a help rather than a biased hindrance in the search of what is right. 

 

Amen   


CONTACT INFORMATION
 95 Deerfield Ave
 Westwood, MA 02090
 781-329-2442
 stjohnswwchurch@gmail.com

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Sunday Worship: 10:00 a.m. 
                  

This is St. John's Episcopal Church... please click on photo below to see more photos of church life!

This is St. John's Episcopal Church, Westwood MA


Want to check on the readings for a particular Sunday or other day?  Click below to go to the Lectionary page...  all readings available for 2021:


Sunday, August 8, 10:00 a.m.: Holy Eucharist every Sunday, indoors. Live-streaming will continue.

Above you can see some of the groceries that were gathered by our 3 churches!

Looking Ahead
Tuesday, September 7, 7:00 p.m.
Our last book group was so successful, we decided to do another one. Join us IN PERSON in the narthex on Tuesday, September 7 at 7 PM to discuss
Mariette in Ecstasy by Rob Hansen. The book is available in Kindle, paperback, or in the public library. 

Questions? Contact Lynne Kozlowski at lynne.kozlowski@gmail.com

Happy reading!


We are accepting pledge payments online:

Please - keep your pledge payments current if you are able. The expenses of the church continue in this time of crisis as does our outreach and mission (with necessary modifications). We rely on our members contributions to keep doing Christ’s work at St. John’s! And if you are in a financial crisis - let the rector know. If you need to modify your pledge, let Alan Macdonald, our Treasurer, know. 

Thank you!
Please click the link below.

Oasis Ministries –we provide a monthly hot dinner to about 60 homeless neighbors at Old West Church in Boston on 2nd Mondays. Right now Jen Whitmore is cooking our meal for us, which is an extraordinary gift. We continue to support Oasis financially, and hope to return in the fall to cooking and serving our monthly chicken dinner.

Ecclesia outreach – This summer we are continuing to provide sandwiches and fresh fruit approximately every two weeks, with the help of Epiphany, Walpole. Thanks to all who have been involved! Our next delivery dates are Monday, August 9 and August 23.

Pantry support – for the Westwood Food Pantry:  The pantry is accepting food donations Monday - Friday, 9:00 - Noon. Please make any deliveries to the Council on Aging, 60 Nahatan St., Westwood.  Many thanks!  

Prayer Shawls – knitting group prayerfully makes shawls for people facing illness or crisis.

Eucharistic Visiting – members are trained and take the Sacrament, offer healing prayer, and make friendly visits to people who are homebound, in hospital, or other institutional settings. This will resume when it's safe to do so.


When online shopping with Amazon, please consider supporting St. John's Protestant Episcopal Church by using amazonsmile.  For more information, click the link below.
Subpages (1): Outreach during Covid19