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1980 to 1989

Anna Aubry

1980 to 1989

The early 1980s saw profound changes in downtown Kirkland. The Marina Park area was transformed from a gravel parking lot into a very attractive waterfront park; the JCPenney Store and Richardson’s Ben Franklin on Lake Street closed; the two downtown drug stores closed; the previous shopping area started a transition to more specialty shops, restaurants, and galleries.


 Another change to downtown had a more direct effect on St. John’s. After 26 years of faithfully serving the community, the Saints Alive Thrift Shop closed. Unfortunately, the landlord planned to remodel the building, a number of other thrift shops had popped up in the Kirkland area, and the available pool of volunteer workers was diminishing. Audrey Chatelain, the founder and manager of Saints Alive, and her volunteer workers were honored at an Advent Concert for their service to the people in the community and the funds they had generated for community outreach needs.


On May 18, 1980, Mt. St. Helens erupted. The whole top of the mountain blew off, pyroclastic mud flowed down rivers, and volcanic ash was scattered by the wind for hundreds of miles to the east.


 Meanwhile, back at St. John’s, a new adult education venture, “Through the Bible in One Year,” began. It actually took 1-½ years of Sunday evening classes to complete and was well attended with 30 to 60 people.


Other special programs providing fun and educational getaways were introduced in the early 1980s. These included Couples’ Weekends (usually at Camp Huston), Parish Family Eucharists and Picnics at Marymoor Park, Family Camp at Camp Coleman, and “Faith Alive Weekend” chaired by Dr. Gary Smith. During this period a very talented group of folks created needlepoint altar cushions using patterns designed by Father Bob Dunn.


1982 saw the installation and dedication of “The Sacraments,” the lovely, large stained-glass window in the sanctuary. This art treasure was designed by Father Dunn and given by the Backus family.


In 1983, our parish celebrated its 60th year and recorded a communicant count of 540. A former classroom in the Sunday School wing was furnished and put into service as a chapel. This became the home of both the Children’s Service of the Word on Sundays and the Wednesday morning Communion Service. The Kerygma Bible Study program, led by Father Dunn and Nancy Swanson, began this year. And, St. John’s hosted the Diocesan Convention, a large undertaking chaired by Jonie Pritchard and involving many parishioners.


Also during this time, a fine new altar was constructed and presented to the parish by members of the Property Committee: Andy Andrew, Jeff Brown, Kirk Callahan, Bill Morris, and Earl Tarble. This new altar, which was given in the memory of Louis and Rebecca Carlson, replaced the “temporary” plywood altar installed in 1954 when the church was built.


After the study of various Pastoral Care programs, Stephen Ministry was chosen, and, in July 1984, the six selected leaders, Debbie Brown, Margie Dominoski, Jeanne Ederer, Merle Shafer, and Janine Tarble attended leadership training in San Jose, California along with Father Dunn. These leaders, in turn, trained 24 more parishioners. After that, new Stephen Ministers went through the 50-hour course every year or two and were able to reach out and help those experiencing difficult times in their lives.


1985 marked a big technology step for St. John’s – an IBM desktop PC and amazing copy machines were installed in the office. This was a big step toward streamlining many office processes!


1986 saw the beginning of Kairos Weekends, an opportunity to minister to those in prisons. The ministry was an outgrowth of Cursillo, adapting the three-day course in Christianity to the prison environment and causing many lives to be redirected to a life in Christ. The St. John’s Kairos team, led by Earl Payne, visited the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe on an ongoing basis, taking with them hundreds of dozens of home-made cookies baked by parish members to be enjoyed by prisoners and prison guards alike.


In June, 1987, Holy Family Catholic, Holy Spirit Lutheran, Kirkland Congregational, Lake Washington Christian, Lake Washington United Methodist, St. John’s Episcopal, and Trinity Lutheran churches, along with their bishops and regional officers, choirs and members of their congregations gathered to celebrate the signing of an Ecumenical Covenant. The congregations agreed to work and worship together while respecting individual denominational differences. Joint ventures of the Ecumenical Covenant churches have included participation in the Kirkland Interfaith Network to help the poor, Good Friday Stations of the Cross Walk, joint Vacation Bible School, and Cropwalk to raise funds for world hunger. These events have continued through the years.


A second Project Reaffirmation began in 1987. Phase I projects included painting both the exterior and interior of the church and installing new carpeting. While the carpeting in the sanctuary was installed, the pews were removed and refinished. Phase II developed into a capital campaign with approximately $250,000 raised for remodeling of the entry to the church, enlarging the narthex by enclosing the former breezeway, and purchasing the corner office building at 127 State Street (now the church office).


In 1988 Father Bob Dunn accepted a call to St. Francis, Palos Verdes Estates, California and submitted his resignation to St. John’s. He and his wife, Gaye, were honored at a farewell dinner and reception and the Rev. Wallace Bristol accepted the position of Interim Priest.


Again, the strong leadership within our parish was preparing for the future.

The Project Reaffirmation Committee and members of the parish, St. John’s continued pressing on toward the goals, and a Search Committee was formed to find a new rector.

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