Dear St. John School Families,
As we look toward enjoying the Labor Day holiday weekend, we have been underway with laying a solid foundation for a truly great year of school. With more than two weeks of routine already established, students and teachers are creating collaborative classroom communities; the joy of learning permeates this place!
The teaching staff arrived back on campus ahead of your kiddos and spent two weeks preparing our hearts, minds, curricula and classrooms. We worshipped with staff from all of St. John’s ministry areas. On the morning of August, 14, we stood together holding hands with heads bowed in reverence for God as we thanked Him for the privilege of leadership and the opportunity to be in relationship with so many young ones as they journey closer to Jesus. Our in-service training centered on habits of mind and included the following topics: digital citizenship, health and wellness, brain integration, de-escalation strategies and the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Thanks to all of you for your cooperation as we reinforce positive habits that keep everyone safe. It can take a few days to figure out the flow of traffic that yields the smoothest drop off and dismissal, but by now everyone seems to know how and when to come and go. It is critical that you do not enter using the East drive until after 8:15 each morning, as the one-way traffic out of the drive prevents any mishaps in a place where visibility is somewhat limited. We so appreciate parents reporting to either of the two fully-staffed dismissal zones to claim their child in person. This has greatly contributed to the teachers’ peace of mind, as they are responsible for the safe transfer of students to the appropriate adult each afternoon. Those dropping off and picking up on the west side have learned that they can easily route back out onto Manchester using the west drive rather than having to navigate all the way around the campus, leaving just those folks with younger students to traverse the full car line. Many have also discovered that arriving at 3:25pm means that the bulk of the traffic has already cleared.
The Parent Teacher League [PTL] has also been busy preparing for another year of fellowship and fundraising. We are grateful for the dedicated leadership of Kristin Richie, PTL President, and Angie Birk, PTL Vice President. They each bring considerable energy and commitment to this amazing volunteer organization that coordinates room parents, prayer warriors, social events, fundraisers and many other activities throughout the year. Over summer, PTL adopted a new logo that depicts the connections between faith, family and school. Look for it on event announcements. You will soon be able to order spirit gear, as PTL is working with a vendor to supply us with some new Cougar wear items. The student fundraiser will be different than it has been for the past several years. Instead of selling Entertainment
books, students will take orders for TJ’s pizza, cookie dough and other goodies. Order forms and details will be sent home with students on September 6. K-4 families will have the opportunity to taste test samples as they attend our Elementary Curriculum Night on the evening of September 12. Students will complete sales by September 20. Orders will be filled and prizes distributed by early to mid October. Thanks in advance for all you will do as parents to ensure a robust student fundraiser. Also happening in the month of September, PTL will host the Annual Golf Scramble, a tournament that has a goal of netting $25,000 to support the school. Every successful event, large or small, takes lots of talented people. Please lend a hand and share your God-given gifts in ways that will bless your child and many others.
Pastor Stephen Hower is the St. John Strategic Leader now with oversight of the School as a vital entity of the larger St. John ministry. This month he attended a few of our in-service workshops, led the all-staff worship service and brought a profound message forward for our opening day Chapel. As an avid golfer, I expect we will see him as part of a foursome at this year’s Golf Scramble.
The Bible is filled with references to light. In 1 Thessalonians 5, our guiding scripture for the year, the Apostle Paul cautions us to be spiritually awake, in mindful anticipation of “the day of the Lord” when Christ shall come again. As we are all children of light, our theme for this school year is Living in the Light. Each day of each week of each month of this school year, we will encourage each other, as people living in the light of Christ, to reflect that light in all we say and do.
May Christ’s light shine especially bright through you.
Principal, St. John School
Dear St. John School Families,
I read about two disturbing trends in the American culture recently. More and more Americans are describing themselves as “non-believers” … not just non-Christian but complete denial of any belief in God. And secondly, in the last decade there has been a dramatic rise in death by suicide. I see a connection.
After reviewing literally thousands of suicide notes and interviewing those who survived failed-suicide attempts, sociologists discovered the single greatest factor among those who made that decision was LOSS OF HOPE.
- From 2000 to 2010 the suicide rate among Americans ages 35 to 64 rose by nearly 30%.
- More Americans now die of suicide (38,364) than by car accidents (33,687). That’s 3,026 more people who die from suicide each year than in car crashes.
- The most pronounced increases were seen among men in their 50’s… their numbers jumped nearly 50% in the last decade.
- The number of men who attempted suicide was three times greater than the number of women. (The Leadership Journal)
While this disturbing increase in death by suicide is on the rise, there has also been a dramatic increase in the number of those who have given up belief in God. The researchers noticed that almost all of those who declared lack of belief did so on the basis of rational, intellectual reasons. But when probed deeper, there was almost always a personal experience that led to their rejection of God. The data shows:
- Almost all had belonged to a church at one time.
- They described the mission and purpose of their church as vague.
- They felt the church offered trite and superficial answers to life’s most difficult questions.
- They demonstrated respect for those teachers that took the Bible seriously.
- The internet played an important role in their decision.
- They first experienced a disconnect at ages 14-17; before college.
- They were described as idealist who longed for authenticity but didn’t see much of that in churches that embraced the status quo. (The Atlantic Journal)
Solomon described his search for truth and authenticity in a similar “subjective ” way in book of Ecclesiastes. He wrote:
“I said to myself, “Come now, test yourself with pleasure and find out what is best.” But that all proved to be meaningless. I denied myself nothing that my eyes desired and I refused myself no pleasure… yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and all I had experienced; everything was meaningless and a chasing after the wind. Nothing was gained under the sun.”
Solomon found the answer to his search not in the acquisition of things, power or accomplishment. The secret to contentment was found in serving God by serving others. As another prophet said, “Be rich in good deeds, generous and ready to share. Store up for yourself a treasure of service which will build a solid foundation for your life and help you take hold of that which is life indeed.” Or, to put it another way, “Purpose leads to pleasure, but pleasure is not your purpose.”
It should surprise no one that the answer to life’s greatest question: “How do I find true happiness and satisfaction in life?” is found in the life of our Savior, Jesus. He was perfect and lived His life with perfect priorities. The Bible describes His life by saying, “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for others.”
Those who look for satisfaction as something they can own, achieve or accomplish apart from God will undoubtedly experience frustration and disappointment. God makes no apologies for asking us to take up our cross and follow Christ. Sacrifice for the sake of God and to the betterment of others is not only God-pleasing; it is also the key to our own sense of value and a life well-lived. Of course, belief in God and in God’s values are a prerequisite for such a life. No one can force us to believe but the correlation between unbelief and utter unhappiness should be considered.
“The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.”
“The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true. The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.” Ecclesiastes 12:10-13
- What does he mean when he warns us about the many books that have been written?
- What’s the key to a well-lived life according to these words of Solomon?
- Why don’t more (most) people believe that?
On a happiness scale, where would you fall at this moment in time?
A. As happy as a sinner can expect to be in a sinful world.
B. I need a course correction.
C. Happier than most less happy than some.
Click here to take the survey and take a moment to leave a thought or opinion.
If you were unable to attend services last weekend and would like to listen to the message, visit our homepage at www.stjstl.net and click on Media at the top right of the web page. Growing Deeper, a Bible study, written to accompany the message series is also available to download.
St. John Church is now live streaming Sunday service at 9:15am and 11:00am. Join us!
Gracious Lord, help me to get out of my own way! As the song says, “Have your own way. Have your own way. You are the Potter; I am the clay. Mold me and shape me after your will; while I am waiting, yielded and still.” Amen.
In need of prayer? E-mail your prayer request to and our staff, our prayer partners, and the people of St. John will pray for you. Or consider joining our Prayer Ministry by either being on a team that meets once a month, or by receiving prayer requests through our email prayer chain.
Click on the links below to learn more about what's going on at St. John!
- Always wanted to learn an instrument? Looking for a place for your children to learn an instrument and be surrounded by strong Christian teachers? Register with School of the Arts.
- Register for our September Getting Started orientation. A great way to find out how you can go further faster on your LIFEjourney.
Stephen Hower, Pastor
Challenging the status quo to awaken an appreciation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:13,14
(and to lower my golf score)
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