Spotlight On: Sharlene Cochrane

Spotlight: Parishioners Living Out Their Faith

When I was invited to write a piece for our newsletter, I happily said, “Yes, I could do that.”  And then I faced a huge question:  how do I introduce myself and my experience of faith and social justice in a short piece—when that topic is part of what has guided, challenged, and sustained me over most of my life!   


So first, the introductory numbers:

Four years ago I retired from 28 years teaching at Lesley University.  Since 2001 I have been a Courage and Renewal facilitator, a program of retreats that invite reflection about the relationship between who we are and the work we do.  My husband Will and I have four children, now between the ages of 31-51, and four grandchildren, and have lived in our JP home for 41 years.


Will and I returned to St. John’s after several years away, about the time the church raised the Black Lives Matter banner.  We walked up the hill to St. John’s in gratitude for his recovery from a rare brain infection, and found a warm welcome from both old friends and new.  We knew we were in the right place.


St. John’s has a long history of concern for social and cultural justice--We even had a Sunday School Ecology Club when our kids were young (1990!) The current Social Justice Working Group builds on this long-held commitment and promises to support and deepen the actions we take.


Acting for social justice means being a learner, open to new understanding about the diverse experiences and strengths of those different from myself.  It means developing deep connection with others.  Such efforts take courage and a willingness to risk my mostly safe and secure every-day life. I have been fortunate to have family, friends, and colleagues who support and challenge my efforts.  My faith helps me realize when I get in my own way, and don’t always have the courage it takes to get beyond my comfort zone.  Creating socially just and equitable communities is Holy work and needs to be constantly grounded in prayer and humility.  I imagine this process as holding space for the Holy Spirit to work through me and through each of us.  I’m grateful to be part of that movement at St. John’s.