St. John’s at a glance
- A city-center sanctuary and a regional destination church in a vibrant, growing commercial center
- A diverse, well-educated and mufti-generational congregation
- A 265-year tradition of outreach to the community
- A historic building of striking exterior and interior beauty
- An impressive music program with a magnificent organ
- A nationally regarded and popular Sunday School program
- An endowed parish with a million dollar annual budget
- A parish where differing points of view are accepted and encouraged
- A strong support staff and dedicated lay leadership
- A history of long-term relationships with rectors
- A congregation ready to move from being a “good parish” to becoming a great one.
Goals for St. John’s Parish:
1. Encourage spiritual growth for all members. We want to broaden our hearts and minds through education (bible studies, seminars, forums, etc.) and move beyond being “Sunday worshipers”. Through increased knowledge, along with prayer and our high quality of worship and music, we can experience the true power of God and be able to share the Good News.
2. Recognize, develop and support leaders. We have a diverse multi-talented group of parishioners who need to be identified and encouraged to share their abilities. We need to be taught how to lead and to develop this leadership to be able to train others. Support in these efforts needs to be endless.
3. Share our gifts, knowing they are from God. We need to develop the awareness that all that we are and all that we have belongs to God. A serious effort to teach and practice stewardship, including tithing, is necessary for the growth of St. John’s. We must realize that the gifts and resources God has given us are to be shared with others as a means to be given back to God.
4. Reach out to help others beyond our doors. By becoming more visible through improved communication, we will seek and attract new members, inspire involvement, and create more opportunities for outreach. We would like to share ourselves and what we have to offer, with a cross-section of the community, from those neighbors nearby who are less fortunate, as well as the corporate world growing up around us.
The Rev. Dr. James R. Wheeler
Fr. Jim has been an ordained minister in the Episcopal Church since 1979. He served Church of the Messiah, Baltimore, MD as Assistant to the Rector, 1979-1981, St. Peter’s, Eggertsville, NY (a suburb of Buffalo) as Rector, 1981-1987 and St. Paul’s, Woodbury as Rector, 1987-2008, before coming to serve as the 11th Rector of St. John’s Church, Stamford in January, 2008. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from The College of Wooster, Ohio (where he also met his wife Carol) in 1976, with a Master of Divinity from Colgate Rochester Divinity School, Bexley Hall in 1979 and earned a Doctor of Ministry Degree from Virginia Theological Seminary in 2004. He and his wife Carol have three grown daughters – Lucy, Kate and Susan and one grandson, Emanuel. I think I’m proudest of having helped the parishes I served to grow both in membership and ministry. In our fast paced individual-centered world people need the kind of community the Church provides. We need to be in the presence of something bigger, older, deeper, richer and wiser than we are. The Church both embodies the presence of Christ and represents the rich tradition of 2000 years of worship. We need a community that welcomes us just as we are and calls us to grow in goodness and love. I love proclaiming the life of that community and assisting people discover new life within it. One of the joys of ministry is being able to get to know and work with such a rich diversity of people. Whether serving on a board of movers and shakers, talking with dozens of folks during coffee hour, visiting a parish family and playing on the floor with their toddler and golden retriever, or any of myriad pastoral contacts it is through the personal and pastoral connections that ministry takes place. I love those personal connections that I am blessed to share through leading a parish community. I have a special love for Christian art, particularly Eastern Orthodox icons, which function as windows into the divine. I am an avid reader, a student of history; I love to cook and enjoy a number of outside activities: running, fishing, kayaking, and tennis.
The Rev. Kathleen Hawkins Berkowe
“How did you go from the law to seminary? is a question I’m often asked,” she told parishoners at a recent Family Grille Night. “The answer is the story of my spiritual journey.” Mother Kathleen likes to point out that all of us have a spiritual journey, a relationship with God. She likes to help people pay attention to their relationship with God. At the recent adult education, she offered participants questions and vocabulary that prompted their thinking about their spiritual journeys.
Raised in the Church, and confirmed on a military base in Germany, Mother Kathleen had a sense of God’s presence as a constant throughout her childhood as her family moved frequently in the U.S. and Europe. At the National Cathedral School for Girls in Washington, D.C., she studied Church History and Church Music, and fell in love with the Daily Office and Liturgy. In Latin class she read Cicero, who, together with Thurgood Marshall and the great civil rights lawyers, were her role models for choosing a career in law. Mother Kathleen was an active layperson, at times serving on vestry, directing church school, and starting adult and youth education programs. .During seminary, Mother Kathleen organized the speaker series, Identity, Community and the World with inaugural speaker, The Rev. Canon Harold Lewis. In 2009, she received a grant from the Seminary Commission on Mission to work for the summer with children in the Episcopal School in Blantyre, Malawi, Southern Africa. She was ordained transitional Deacon at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in the Diocese of New York on March 13, 2010. Mother Kathleen holds an M. Div. from The General Theological Seminary, New York, J. D from Boston University School of Law and A.B., cum laude, from Harvard University. She has two daughters and two granddaughters. At St. John’s, Mother Kathleen will focus on Adult Spiritual Formation. She is asking for ideas, questions that you would like to know more about, and input about spiritual formation from everyone in the parish. She is accessible through her office phone at 203-348-2619 x 18. She invites members of the parish to come in to her office during the week as well Monday through Thursday (Friday is her day off.)
Dr. Chris Shepard
In addition to the music of J.S. Bach, Chris has conducted many staples of the choral-orchestral repertoire, and he has commissioned and premiered a number of new choral works in both Australia and America. In addition to his work at St John’s, Chris serves as Music Director of the Dessoff Choirs in New York City and the Worcester Chorus in Worcester, Massachusetts, the third-oldest community choir in America. He has been a guest conductor and continuo keyboard player throughout the world, including recent appearances in Australia, Mexico and Israel.
A committed music educator, Chris was guest choral director at the College of the Holy Cross from 2011 to 2013. From 1996 to 2008, he served as Director of Music at Sydney Grammar School, one of Australia’s most prominent high schools, and before moving to Sydney, he led the choral program at the Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut. Since 2004, Chris has been Music Director of the Hotchkiss Summer Portals Chamber Music Program, an intensive chamber music program for advanced young players and singers.
Chris holds a Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of Sydney, where his dissertation focused on the performance history of Bach’s B Minor Mass in 20th-century America. He also holds degrees from the Hartt School and the Yale School of Music, where he studied choral conducting with Marguerite Brooks. Chris was awarded the 2012 Julius Herford prize for outstanding dissertation in choral music by the American Choral Directors Association.