To the Members and Friends of St. John’s, Irmo: As I look back over this year, I can say that there were quite a few noteworthy events. Some good, some not so good. Some of us have lost loved ones, but we can be assured that they are now at the Great Banquet, free of pain with their Lord and Savior. On a personal note, I entered the hospital on October 17 for a back operation to relieve pain in my legs. Little did anyone expect I would be there for seventeen days as a result of pneumonia. Although I now feel much better and can perform most of my duties, it will be a little while longer before I gain full strength to fully perform the duties and responsibilities God has called me to do here at St. John’s. But onto better things. Attendance has made a significant improvement over the past few months due to the work you have begun. Not only has attendance improved, but I, for one, feel a new energy and enthusiasm among the membership. Physically, we have changed the front entrance so that it is more convenient for those for those who may have ambulatory problems. Church council has recently accepted a $15,000 gift to replace the yellowing Plexiglas covering the stained-glass windows. Hopefully, we can also pressure wash the siding and have the black mold cleaned from the shingles. As winter turns to spring, we hope to have some of our shrubbery replaced and some more grass planted in the bare areas in the front. Thanks our vision and planning sessions, we now have a “Children’s Church” that starts after the Children’s Time at the beginning of the Service and return during the time of Offering. We could use one or two additional people to volunteer for this program. We could also use some additional Sunday School teachers to separate the readers from the non-readers. This would greatly enhance their learning experience. In addition, I have a number of baptisms to perform as soon as the doctor permits me to lift the weight of some of our smaller children. We also have a number of people who have desired to make their commitment to St. John’s in a more formal way by becoming members and/or renewing their commitment. All of this is due to your growth in faith, fellowship, and willingness to reach out. I continue to be amazed at the generosity and the faithfulness of the St. John’s family. Your caring for me through cards, phone calls, visits, and prayers certainly carried me through some dark times during my illness. Without them my recovery would have been a lot longer if at all! This is why I encourage you to let me know of your ailments so that I can pray for you, that I can lift you up to our good and gracious God. I also want to thank you for the wonderful gift you bestowed on me at the Children’s Christmas Pageant. You are indeed a most generous people!
You and I have traveled a long way this year, and I pray we can all think of it as a journey together A journey that has brought us closer together as a family, and a journey that has reached out to an ever-growing family—one that includes all our neighbors. We will have challenges this next year—the challenges that go along with growth in faith and discipleship. We should want all the folks in the Shady Grove community to know what’s happening; what’s going on in that little white church on the hill. We all know that the gospel is preached, and the Sacraments are properly administered, and because we feel the joy of being a Christian, we reach out in fellowship to our neighbors. We reach out in our own individual ways. At times we feel limited, or we feel that what we do doesn’t really amount to anything, but believe me it does. It matters to other people — to the people we touch—to the ones we sometimes don’t know we are affecting — to those we may never see again. But we go about planting seeds. I write this with joy and appreciation. For it is God who provides this joy through people like you—God’s people, salt of the earth people whose faith is deep as deep as the waters of Baptism and easily shared! I pray I see each and every one of you in church Sunday as we receive forgiveness for our sins and partake of Holy Communion.
God bless you all! See you in church on Sunday! In His Service, John Derrick, Pastor