St. John’s Episcopal Church will be hosting six Sunday evening programs during Lent. “The Stories We Tell” will feature a different presentation each evening, followed by discussion, dinner and compline in the church sung by the Compline Choir. The series will begin Sunday, March 1 at 5pm with “Why Our Stories Matter” with Rev. Nathaniel Bourne.
In November 2019, the Episcopal Church in New Hampshire passed a resolution to encourage all congregations to commit themselves to programs of truth-telling about their history and the ways that race, power, and privilege factor into them. The resolution calls on communities to learn about the history of race, slavery, segregation, and their legacies of ongoing discrimination and racial inequities in their church and local communities. It also encourages the consideration of how best to respond to that history in order to build a more inclusive and just community today.
“At St. John’s we like to focus on our prominent members and visitors, iconic architecture, and connections to Portsmouth’s history, but we also need to reckon with our church’s complicity in slavery, segregation, and the mistreatment of indigenous people,” reflects Rev. Nathaniel Bourne, Associate Rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church. “This year, our Lent program, ‘The Stories We Tell,’ is our opportunity to explore our collective history and to begin the work of shaping a new historical narrative that honors those who have traditionally been marginalized.”
Subsequent programs in the series include the NH Humanities program “That the People May Live: The Life and Legacy of Nicholas Black Elk, Holy Man of the Lakota,” by Damien Costello on March 8; “Speaking from Experience,” with Deborah Opramolla, Organizer for the New Hampshire Poor People’s Campaign on March 15; “The Stories We’ve Forgotten,” by JerriAnne Boggis, Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire (BHTNH) Executive Director and Angela Matthews, BHTNH board member on March 22; “A World-Wide Communion,” with Rev. Gail Avery, Canon for Transition and Community Engagement for the Episcopal Church in New Hampshire on March 29; and finally “Beyond the Church on the Hill,” with Rev. Nathaniel Bourne on April 5.
Following each presentation and discussion, dinner will be provided in Thaxter Hall followed by compline, or evening prayers, in the church sung by the Compline Choir.
John Stromgren, Director of the men’s Compline Choir, studied music as an undergraduate in Minnesota, and received his master of music degree in Texas. A singer, conductor, and workshop leader, he has also led church music programs, most recently in Washington state. Since coming to Portsmouth in 2000 he has participated in music and worship at St. John’s, and now leads the Lenten men’s Compline Choir.
The series is free and open to the public and will be held in Thaxter Hall at St. John’s Episcopal Church, which is located at 101 Chapel Street in Portsmouth, NH. Visit www.stjohnsnh.org for information about the church’s events and programs.