A commitment to social justice: From the very beginnings of the parish, a consistent theme in its mission, programming and ministry has been to be a witness and change agent to the issues most affecting its membership. Our history records early support of soldiers during times of war, a committee for the unemployed, and support of Episcopal City Mission. Our Black Madonna stained glass window was dedicated in 1885 in memory of Sara Otis Ernst, a staunch abolitionist, and in 2002 our basement served as the office location for the production of a documentary on a prominent Rhode Island slave trading family. More recently we have hosted support groups for young mothers with newborns ("JP Moms") and gay & lesbian parents with small children.. We have participated in and contributed to diocesan trainings on urban partnerships for justice and anti-racism. The parish attempts to affect public policy through Bread for the World, the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization and most recently the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry.
A commitment to music and the arts: Evident by the beautiful artwork in our Gothic Revival building ~ including Tiffany, MacDonald and LaFarge stained glass and two George Willoughby Maynard murals ~ early parish committees related to the arts, and an endowment to preserve and maintain our historic Hook organ. The sanctuary also has superb acoustics and provides a marvelous space for musical performance. St. John's opens its doors to a wide range of musicians, both for rehearsals and concerts. JP Concerts offers a regular performance series at St. John's, with concerts most Thursday evenings as well as many Saturdays. A Far Cry, the acclaimed conductor-less chamber orchestra based in Jamaica Plain, calls St. John's its musical home. In addition, the Mighty St. John's Choir has been a vital and accomplished ministry from the parish's beginnings through to the present day.
A commitment to providing a place of refuge in times of need: Throughout its history, St. John’s has offered respite and healing, whether following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln or the tragedy of September 11, 2001. Recently St. John’s has welcomed many members from different faiths and traditions who were searching for a place of worship that was welcoming and accepting. We host regular AA meetings and a yoga class as offerings to the wider community.
A commitment to feeding the hungry: St. John's has been involved with Angel Food Ministries for over two years now, providing food boxes that can feed a family of four for a week at a fraction of the usual cost. During recent tough economic times, this ministry has proved popular with lower-income and even middle class families trying to do more with less. Now over 200 boxes of food are distributed each month. This effort has brought us into partnership with other churches and groups interested in making sure that working families have access to affordable and healthy meals. One of our partners is St. Patrick's Church in Roxbury.
A commitment to the growth of the larger Episcopal Church: St. Johns' history reflects a tradition of members who are called to ordained ministry and an environment where the process of discernment flourishes. In recent years St. John's has served as a teaching parish providing valuable experience to seminarians and has regularly sponsored candidates for Holy Orders. The parish has long raised up women in positions of lay and ordained leadership, and we do the same now with our gay and lesbian members, both within our walls and in the wider church.
A commitment to a rich and welcoming liturgy: St John’s carries on the robust sacramental tradition of the Anglican Church, ordered and dignified by history. As well, we offer a spiritual home to those who value tradition but who also seek progressive theology and social ethics.
These common interests and activities all provide opportunities for people in the community to enter into St. John’s – whether for a single event or for years as a committed parish member. These "points of entry" serve the local community and the building up of the body of Christ in Jamaica Plan.