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 multi-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.

                                                            St. John’s Staff October 2016
Back Row – Director of Music, Dr. Chris Shepard, Rector, The Rev. Dr. James R. Wheeler, Pastoral Care Assistant, Colin Williams, Sexton, Dante Ibanez.
Front Row – Parish Administrator, Sandie DeFilippis, Communications Director, Mike Russo, Director of Children and Youth Ministry, Linda Clapp.

The Rev. Dr. James R. Wheeler- Rector

Father Jim Easter Sunday 4Fr. 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 three grandchildren: Emanuel, Madelyn, and Charlie. 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.

Dr. Chris Shepard – Music Director

ChrisShepardcxChris Shepard has been Director of Music at St John’s since the fall of 2011. He has long experience as a choral conductor, church musician and keyboard player, with a special emphasis on the choral music of Johann Sebastian Bach. He founded the Sydneian Bach Choir and Orchestra in Sydney, Australia, and was music director of BACH 2010, a project to perform all of Bach’s choral cantatas. Under his direction, the ensemble performed over eighty cantatas, as well as the two Passions, the B Minor Mass, and the Christmas Oratorio. A Sydney reviewer wrote of the cantata series that “these well-attended events, using a fine choir and perceptive soloists, are high points in our musical terrain.”
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.

Linda Clapp – Director of Children and Youth Ministry

Linda ClappRejoining the staff of St. John’s after seven years of retirement has caused me to look back at my life in the church. In my growing up years in Arlington, Massachusetts, my Dad, a businessman, was also a lay Baptist minister who helped struggling churches to grow until they could afford a full time pastor. I helped my Mom prepare for the Sunday School, and make costumes for Biblical drama presentations. We encouraged the families, sharing dinner at their farms, playing with their children and animals. As we moved from church to church we were helping The Church to stay strong.

In my teen years I attended Christian High School in Cambridge, MA, now Lexington Christian Academy… and again I found myself being guided through the truths of our faith, as we learned to link Biblical beliefs with our history, math, art, languages… Later, in my life with my late husband, violinist Stephen Clapp, and our four children, we moved from music school to music school, and from church to church…Bible Church, Presbyterian, and finally… all the way to Canterbury! The Episcopal Church felt like home. And I found myself still “helping the Church to stay strong” through leading Bible Studies, encouraging families and children, making connections, building community… walking in the Story.

Joining the staff of St. John’s in 1996 as lay assistant to the rector, I discovered a great gift: Godly Play. Godly Play is a Montessori based way of discovering God in the stories of the Bible, designed for children, but loved by all. It fit me perfectly. In time I became a teacher trainer for Godly Play and have been able to assist many churches in developing that way of walking in the Scriptures. It is a joy to me to be able to serve St. John’s families once again as we journey with Our Lord, through the stories of our faith, in Godly Play… and beyond.

Colin Williams – Pastoral Care Assistant

Colin Williams File Photo
Our Pastoral Assistant, Colin A. Williams, was raised in Jamaica, West Indies. Following his call to the ministry of the Church, he entered the United Theological College of the West Indies where he graduated with a degree in Ministerial Studies in 2013. In that same year, he graduated from the University of the West Indies with a B.A in Theology.
After leaving the seminary, he came to the United States to continue his formation for ordained ministry.
Currently, Colin is completing his Masters of Theological Studies at Church Divinity School of the Pacific.
He brings to his position as Pastoral Care Assistant for the St. John’s Parish a wide range of pastoral experiences.