Pastor Vance's Mid-Year Reflection 2023

Pastor Vance Haywood

Greetings in the many names of our Creator!

On a recent Sunday, as we wrapped up services and I stood by the door to speak with folx as they left, two young people came up. It was their first time at SJMCC. They shared with me a story that is all too familiar to many of us, “I was done with church and never thought I would go back to one.” Then the “BUT” came in!

“We’ve seen you at pride events in the past, BUT this year, your church was holding banners to protect people from the protestors.” They continued, “then we saw y’all on the news, providing shelters and cooling stations; and we said, this is what church is supposed to be.”

This melted my heart because I too once felt that way. Many of you have too.

As I take a moment to reflect on our year so far, I continue to be amazed at the work that God is doing through St. John’s MCC and each one of you. After all, it is YOU who makes St. John’s MCC, embracing your call to BE CHURCH, not to just do church!

I would like to share with you a few of our accomplishments and plans. Please feel free to reach out with any questions and I would also like to invite you to attend one of the monthly Coffee with the Pastor sessions held on the 4th Saturday of each month. In August, we will begin opening these with brief updates on our various ministries and opportunities.

Our youth program for the summer has focused on Sunday programming and our summer service projects. As a part of our 5th Sunday Youth Worship, this month the youth will be leading us on a journey as we explore communion.

This summer has been productive as we have had youth from various states across the East Coast associated with the Raleigh Youth Mission volunteering. The partnership with RYM was intentional as they set out to provide diverse experiences for their youth as they serve in various organizations that are giving back to the community.

We also had a generous outpouring of support from many of you to help create space for our youth programming. We will be sending out some updates on that soon!

I have met with Katie who serves as the Director for our youth programming. She and I are excited to start meeting with the families and other key leadership of the church as we develop plans for our Youth Ministry.

We are currently offering several opportunities for you to get engaged.

• Looking for ways to grow deeper in your spirituality or understanding of God, join one of our study groups

• Want to get more involved in serving, join one of our serving groups,

• Need to exercise your gifts in Worship? Join our worship team,

• Have a desire to expand your social connections, join for one of our many fellowship opportunities.

Pick a place to start and get involved! Don’t know where to start? Set a time to meet with Pastor Vance to discuss how you might get started! Schedule a Meeting with Pastor Vance

Our ministries are vital not only to those we serve but also to those who are serving. We often talk about what we are doing within the community and that is great; we also must realize the impact that this act of service has on each one of us that are engaged in that work; the impact it has on those who call St. John’s MCC home.

Through our acts of service our spirit is renewed; through our serving we are invited to sit face to face with God. Embracing this simple truth, we set out to embrace a guide that we’ve had at St. John’s MCC for a long time now - Transforming our World as we Transform Ourselves.

We are growing, learning, and being transformed daily. We were put here to do this together.

Over the past three winter seasons, over 16,000 bed nights have been provided to people who needed a safe place to shelter from freezing/near freezing temperatures or inclement weather. More than 800 unique people have been served each year.

Wake County Commissioner Vicky Adamson recently stated, “If it had not been for St. John’s MCC, I don’t know what we would have done.” Those sentiments have been echoed by the county manager and other city, county, and partner organizations.

Again, y’all simply amaze me.

Whether you have been directly involved with the shelter or a part of SJMCC in other ways, YOU have helped make this possible.

St. John’s MCC has been asked to lead the White Flag Shelter effort again for this coming winter season and have been engaged with the county and city in regard to planning for the future of our White Flag Shelter system.


Kampala Uganda-Kids Gear School and OrphanageUGANDA/KIDS GEAR
For several years now, SJMCC has provided food/nutrition support for Kids Gear Infant School in Kampala. In addition to this, we also support one student with tuition each year.

Earlier this year the government of Uganda passed hate laws that make it illegal to be LGBTQ. Simply admitting homosexuality can land you in prison for life and acting on it is now punishable by death. In talking to Charles who runs the school, the staff and kids were scared. We worked with the school, our local MCC in Kampala, and our denominational international outreach program to find ways to provide support.

We are now supporting this school with security that helps provide protection and a safer environment for the kids and the staff. This solution was put in place on a temporary basis while we tried to assess the situation and work with them to find longer term solutions.

Charles and the kids join us each week for Sunday worship and communion is a highlight of their day!

Each week, Monday thru Thursday we offer services to our community through the Community Engagement Center. People can drop in for a cup of coffee, conversation, join one of our programs, or to receive services.

Services offered include:

• Mail Service (for people who need a place to receive mail)

• Food Pantry

• Resource Assistance

• HIV/STI Testing

• Care Coordination

Additionally on Monday’s we host a BP Clinic and have various providers onsite to assist with Case Management, Health Care, Insurance, and other vital services.

We have a dedicated volunteer team who makes all of this possible and we could not do it without each one of them!

St. John’s MCC, founded in 1976 by three people simply trying to provide safe space for people to explore their spirituality while embracing ALL of who they are, continues to do just that nearly 50 years later.

What started at 900 W Morgan St with just 3 people is now having an international impact, providing safe space for countless people, and allowing folx to reconnect with church the way God intended - through Love and in communion with one another.

Please consider supporting the ongoing ministry locally and abroad to help more people come to realize that they are Loved and that they are Divine.

Blessings to you as we go forward in God’s grace and mercy,
Pastor Vance

Rev. Vance E. Haywood (he/him)
Senior Pastor
St. John's MCC
Office: 919-834-2611 ext 402