Out with the old in with the new

Dear blog followers,

We have upgraded to a real website (with a blog) and will not longer be posting on jesusinoldnorth.com.

The new site is aptly http://www.deaconessannehouse.org. It is currently under construction, but it should be all neat and tidy shortly.


We’re Official!

Greetings everyone,

I am pleased to announce that Deaconess Anne House is now a bona fide member of the Episcopal Service Corps. What does this mean? For starters, it means that we are listed on the national website. Check us out at http://www.episcopalservicecorps.org/program2.php?id=34.

But more important than being listed on the website, we will start getting applications for potential interns starting …. a week ago! So, if you know a bright, passionate, young adult (21-30 yrs of age) interested in a year of service and spiritual formation, send him or her our way. Applications are being reviewed now, but the acceptance process does not begin until February.

That’s all for now.


We have a name…Deaconess Anne House in Old North

Deaconess Anne House in Old North St. Louis

Deaconess Anne

Deaconess Anne (middle back) surrounded by Settlement House children.

I am pleased to announce that the “Old North Project/Initiative/Ministry/etc,etc,etc” now has an official name. The Deaconess Anne House in Old North St. Louis (Deaconess Anne House or Deaconess Anne’s for short). And of course, a story lies behind the name.

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews wrote, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…” This “cloud of witnesses” not only surrounds us in the present moment (I’m sure we can all think of a faithful man or woman whose life witnesses to the love of Christ), but extends into our past, a past filled with men and women of faith who ran with endurance the holy race of Christian discipleship. Deaconess Anne Pew was one such witness.

As many of you may know, our church has historical ties to the Old North neighborhood.  Old North was once home to Grace Hill Church, and the Diocese of Missouri also planted a settlement house (Holy Cross Mission) in the neighborhood that eventually morphed into what is now Grace Hill House. The settlement house ministered to the area’s poor through education programs, health initiatives, and community services.

Here is where Deaconess Anne comes in. Deaconess Anne was charged with running the settlement house for six years (1906-1912). A diocesan article from 1912 stated,

“During the six years that Deaconess Anne was in charge of Holy Cross House she was everything to the people except their Bishop. Not only Deaconess, which I suppose means the feminine of ‘servant,’ but also their pastor, which must mean their shepherdess, for she watched over needs spiritual as carefully as ay commissioned paster could do …she filled all the functions of a minister if not of a priest.”

This is a pretty profound statement, especially about a woman in ministry working for the church in 1912!

On top of her duties as spiritual leader and charge of Holy Cross House, Deaconess Anne raised the money needed to provide much needed social services. The diocesan article went on to write, “For outside her (Deaconess Anne’s) salary, guaranteed to her by the Church Woman’s Club, she had not money to run the Mission which she herself did not raise.” Apparently, Deaconess Anne funded Holy Cross by setting up an early 20th century version of a boutique one might find on Cherokee Street in St. Louis.

“The store was a weekly affair. Its less successful kindred are called rummage sales. But they are sporadic and of questionable benefit to purchasers, while these (Deaconess Anne’s) were regular sales and of undoubted good to those who were fortunate enough to get excellent things at the small price at which the Deaconess, Caesar-like in her authority, sold them.”

Deaconess Anne worked tirelessly for the church and for the neighborhood which she loved, but her work took a toll on her health. In 1912, Deaconess Anne underwent an operation (the type unknown) and “her health would not permit her to live in St. Louis and be ‘our Deaconess’ any longer.” Parishioners, neighbors, and even State workers lamented the Deaconess’ resignation. One city official wrote, “ I didn’t know Deaconess Anne well, but I believed in her.” In ill health, Anne moved to California to recover. She never returned to the Gateway City.

Deaconess Anne left an invaluable mark on the church. After Anne’s departure, a member of Holy Cross wrote, “We at Holy Cross would like to see her friends and admirers erect a memorial here to her. I doubt not but one will come. When we are fitting up quarters for her successor perhaps the rooms will be furnished and called ‘The Deaconess Anne Rooms.’ Whether or not this is done, her memory will abide in our hearts.” This memorial never came to fruition.

In many respects, we (the Episcopal Service Corps in Old North) are Deaconess Anne’s successors. The word “deacon” means ministry or service, and we hope to follow Deaconess Anne’s example of ministry, service, and dedication to Jesus Christ. It might have came 100 years late, but Deaconess Anne has finally received a memorial on earth that reflects, ever so dimly, the crown she undoubtedly received in God’s eternal kingdom.

I leave you with a few words written about Deaconess Anne shortly after her move to California. “It is good to think that all the martyrs are not dead, nor all those who are ready to lose health and home for the Faith. Not that we wish others to fare ill in serving the Church. But we are apt to think ‘that there were giants in those days,’ whereas here in our midst we have had one of the great ones of the earth.”


A Tour with Ascension and St. Barnabas

A few weeks ago, I was privileged to take a few youths from Ascension and St. Barnabas on a tour of the Old North neighborhood. We viewed the potential properties, we spoke with neighbors, we walked the streets, and of course, we feasted on ginormous sandwiches and malts from Crown Candy (I think I still might be burning off the calories)! A great time was had by all.

The purpose of our tour was at least two-fold. First, we wanted to give the youths a chance to brainstorm about ways they might get involved in the Old North Project. But more importantly, we wanted to give these youths an opportunity to experience the sense of newness and life erupting from Old North.

St. Louis is a divided and often parochial place. We divide ourselves based on economics, color, race, and status. And its easy to make assumptions and judgements about places we’ve never been and people we’ve never met. North St. Louis has some pretty ugly stereotypes. In fact, in many minds North St. Louis is synonymous with gangs, violence, drugs, and crime. But that’s not all North City has to offer, particularly Old North. This neighborhood is a vibrant community where people live, work, play, and pray. It’s a neighborhood with a strong sense of togetherness, history, and beauty. It’s a place were we can meet Jesus on a tour with a group of teenagers on a Sunday afternoon.

On the 14th Street Mall discussing a newly painted mural.


Prayers from Cee Cee

From the beginning of this project, I have been encouraging people to pray. Pray for the Old North neighborhood. Pray for the community members coming in September 2013. Pray for me. Etc, Etc.

Cee Cee finishing up her prayers after a tour of the Old North neighborhood. She is also finishing up a Mango Smoothie from local coffee shop La Mancha in Old North.

Cee Cee Sarber (parishioner of Ascension) took the time to write a few prayers that I would like to share with the diocesan community.

Heavenly Father, precious Jesus, Holy Spirit Heavenly Dove, we come to you today praying for the entire community of Old North St. Louis. As these young adults come together to build a new community and grow in your love, we ask them to be unified. We also ask for Rev’d Jon Stratton to be a strong leader. Let these young adult interns have a positive experience. Let these individuals be a team and draw close to you and to each other. Bring the men and women in harmony with each other. Please let the community spread Jesus’ love all abroad. We ask this in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
God, thank you for your creation of our world, and especially for the restoration of Old North St. Louis. Help the Episcopal Service Corps be a light to their neighbors. Let the ESC in the Old North community reach out to their neighbors. Lord grand us discernment in choosing suitable property to house our young adults. We ask you this in Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen

Thank you Cee Cee for writing these heartfelt prayers. If you have a prayer you would like to add, please do so in the comment section below.

The Mission of the Seventy

St Joseph (Patron St. of Real Estate) and Petition for Special Use Permit.

“You need a special use permit.” That’s what the good folks at St. Louis City Hall told me a few weeks ago. As it turns out, you cannot legally have more than three unrelated people living in a single-family unit house. It’s a good thing Noah was related to everyone in the ark, because otherwise, he would have had to get a special use permit! As you know, we plan on housing more than three young adults (probably 5-10) in the community house in Old North St. Louis, and that means, special use permit.

This means a little bit of extra work, but that’s OK. Part of the process of obtaining a special use permit is gathering signatures from neighbors living in a 500 foot radius of the proposed property. We have to get 51% of those living in the area to sign. Carrying a petition door to door has been a great way to get to know the people in the neighborhood, explain the mission of the project, and practice my dog bark discernment skills (so far, I have discerned that rapid-fire growls and snarls mean that the animal is perturbed, and for the most part I get rapid-fire growls and snarls. No dogs have signed my petition as of yet).

Remember how Jesus commissioned the 70 to go to the towns and villages, preach the gospel, and stay in the house of whoever would welcome them? Well, I bet the 70 had to knock on a few doors, they might have even encountered a few scary dogs. But in the end, the disciples reported back the wonderful things that were happening as they went door to door, house to house, angry dog to angry dog. So far, I too have wonderful things to report. Only two people have refused to sign the petition so far, and most everyone else is excited about the positive impact our community will have in Old North. Indeed, wonderful things are happening, and more are yet to come.

If you remember, I have mentioned several times that there would be opportunities for you to get involved in the work our church is doing in Old North. Well, here’s an opportunity. I am hitting the streets of Old North on October 2nd (Tuesday), October 3rd (Wednesday), October 8th (Monday), October 9th (Tuesday), October 12 (Friday), and October 13th (Saturday). And I am inviting you to join me, to walk the streets, to meet the people, and, of course, to get some signatures.

If you want to take part in this ministry opportunity (I’m calling it the mission of the 70), you can walk the streets for an hour, two hours, or all day. I will be hitting the streets on the above dates at various times, but I do not necessarily need to be there for you to help. To give of your time, please call or email me, and I will be sure to give you the training, petitions, and pens you need to get help the church obtain the needed permit.

Grab a friend (the disciples did go by twos), put on your comfortable shoes, fill your pocket with doggy treats, and let’s go knock on some doors!

314 619 4216

Welcome Kelsey Waggaman, Eden Seminiarian

Greetings friends,

I am pleased to introduce you to Kelsey Waggaman, a first year seminarian from Eden Theological Seminary in Webster Groves.

Eden Seminary has an excellent contextual education (or field education) program, and so, we have decided to partner with Eden and invite a first year student to work with me for 10 hours a week on the Old North Project.

Kelsey will be doing a variety of tasks, but her main focus will include

1) researching options for an ongoing youth summer mission trip component for the Old North Project

2) assisting in the development of the spiritual formation program for next year’s interns

3) assisting in the property management process

Below is a short bio provided by Kelsey.

Kelsy Waggaman is a first year Masters in Divinity student at Eden Theological Seminary. She is a member of Silver City United Church of Christ in Silver City, New Mexico. As a VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) Cadre Corps member with the New Mexico Forum for Youth In Community, she helped design and implement capacity building projects for rural youth programming in the four southwest counties of New Mexico. The Episcopal Service Corps of Old North St. Louis combines her understanding of the Corps model with the mission to love and serve God.

I am excited about partnering with Eden Seminary and welcoming Kelsey on board for the 2012-2013 academic year.