Welcome to the Rev. Dn. Johanna Young

Bp. Hirschfeld has appointed Rev. Dn. Johanna H. Young to serve at St John’s. She will participate in the Eucharist with the usual deacon assignments. She will also bring to St John’s the traditional focus of deacons, service as a sign or sacrament of Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve.

How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?
Psalm 137:4

Johanna lives with her husband, Lindley Rankine, and their 11 year old cat, Benita by a pond, they call Beatitude Pond, in Washington, NH.

Born in Concord, NH, she moved with her family to Bolton, Connecticut when she was a toddler and grew up there. Her father once worked as a weather observer on Mt. Washington and would often delight the family with his stories of the wild winters up there! The family kept their ties to NH after they moved, enjoying hiking in the White mountains in the summer, and skiing on the slopes in the winter. Her mother, who predeceased her father, was a reporter for the local paper, an English professor, and a published poet. Her almost 94 year old dad now lives with her sister and her family live in Albany, NH.

She and her husband also have ties to Jamaica, and make yearly trips to the island country to visit family in Mandeville and Kingston.

She is an avid naturalist and nature poet and enjoys mucking around the swamp, exploring the diversity of life in and around the pond and observing the beavers otter and muskrats with her husband. She also enjoys singing, painting and photography, and occasionally baking gluten free treats!

Since moving to NH in 2005, Johanna has worked as an ESOL teacher of adult refugees for Ascentria Care Alliance, Service for New Americans. She was called to servant ministry after spending many an ESOL class listening to the harrowing stories of her refugee students flights from their native countries, due to fear and persecution, and is a passionate advocate for strangers in our midst. She hopes to inspire the members of St. John’s to take up the cross with her and welcome and serve vulnerable strangers in need beyond church walls.

She was ordained as a permanent deacon in 20016 by Bishop Hirschfeld, after successfully completing deacon formation with fellow deacons from Province I in Arlington, MA at Bethany House of Prayer.

Johanna loves to do open water swimming and occasionally does triathlons, ministering to all those in the back of the pack!

She is a graduate of East Catholic High School, Manchester, Ct, Georgetown University, B.S., Central Connecticut State University, M.S. And Union Theological, M.Div. and serves on the Diocesan Diversity Committee, as the liaison between Episcopal Migration Ministries and the Diocese and has served on the Diocesan Disaster and Preparedness Committee and as the volunteer coordinator of Episcopal Relief & Development.

She is looking forward to this new placement, after having gotten her feet wet as a new deacon in the small churches of Holy Cross, Weare and St. John’s, Dunbarton.


An Overview of the Role of Diaconal Ministry
as posted on the diocesan website–nhepiscopal.org:

The deacon’s service is a sign or sacrament of Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve. The diaconate is one of three distinct orders of ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church—there are deacons, priests and bishops—and an individual becomes a deacon by being ordained by a bishop after completing a course of study and formation

The charge at the ordination of a deacon
(The Book of Common Prayer, page 543):

“In the name of Jesus Christ, you are to serve all people, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick and the lonely. As a deacon in the Church, you are to study the Holy Scriptures, to seek nourishment from them and to model your life upon them. You are to make Christ and his redemptive love known, by word and example, to those among whom you live, and work and worship. You are to interpret to the Church the needs, concerns and hopes of the world. You are to assist the bishop and priests in public worship and in the ministration of God’s Word and Sacraments, and you are to carry out other duties assigned to you from time to time. At all times, your life and teaching are to show Christ’s people that in serving the helpless they are serving Christ himself.”

Brief history

The word “deacon” comes from the Greek language and the biblical concept of diakonia. Diakonos is commonly defined as servant ministry, particularly to the poor, the sick and the oppressed.

Jesus is the model for the servant leadership, and a deacon is called to exercise servant leadership in a variety of ways, including encouraging and enabling others to serve. A deacon has one foot in the world and one foot in the church.

The church has had deacons since New Testament days. Deacons are referred to in 1 Timothy 3, and familiar deacons from history include Stephen, Vincent, Laurence, Alcuin, Francis of Assisi and Nicholas Ferrar of Little Gidding.

The Episcopal Church of New Hampshire collaborates with other Dioceses in Province I to offer a three year program for the formation of Deacons.

Diaconal ministry is:
• servant leadership
• serving in the name of Jesus
• serving under the direction of the bishop
• serving those in need
• being a student of Scripture
• interpreting the Gospel to the world
• telling and interpreting the needs of the world to the church
• encouraging and enabling others to serve
• a ministry of social care

The Book of Common Prayer provides roles for deacons within liturgies and defines the responsibility of deacons in serving others in the name of Christ and in leading and training lay people in such service. Many deacons define their true ministry as being outside the four walls of the church itself, often at the ragged edges of society and our comfort zones.

Lent & Easter 2016

We had a wonderful Messy Church Lent season here at St. John’s Church, with activities for all ages. Each week we added to our Lenten gardens, which later became Easter gardens with the addition of wheatgrass seeds, butterflies, and flowers. And, we made lots of beautiful butterflies to display on Easter morning. Here’s a little video showing our works in progress throughout the season.

Lent and Easter from Kelli Ann Wilson on Vimeo.

Bishop Hirschfeld’s Visit

The Bishop of the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire, the Rt Rev A. Robert Hirschfeld, visited St John’s Church yesterday. It was a glorious day–Kelli and Julia were confirmed, the Bishop preached an inspiring sermon on the implications of transfiguration for this faith community, and we gathered at the Table and gave thanks for the risen Christ’s presence among us. Thank you, Bishop +Rob, for helping us see God at work in our midst and in our neighborhood!
Congratulations, Kelli and Julia, on your confirmations! We are so happy for you and honored to walk with you on your faith journeys!


Candlemas: Celebrating the Light of the World
by Kelli Ann Wilson

Candlemas is the common name for a Christian holy day that commemorates the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple and the purification of the Virgin Mary.[i]  At the time of Jesus’ birth, Jewish tradition dictated that on the fortieth day after giving birth a woman would go to the temple to present her child to the Lord.[ii] Forty days from Christmas day brings us to February 2nd, the day on which Christians celebrate the occasion of the Holy Family’s visit to the temple in Jerusalem for the presentation of the Christ Child.[iii]

There is no consensus among historians regarding the exact origins of this feast day, though there are a few theories. It’s possible that the Roman Catholic Church instituted the celebration of Candlemas sometime between the fourth and sixth centuries; others believe that Candlemas is the result of the Church’s efforts to Christianize various pagan celebrations that took place during the month of February.[iv] Regardless of its murky origins, one can imagine why the first public presentation of Jesus, who is called The Light of the World, might come to be associated with the lighting of candles.[v]

In earlier times, Candlemas was seen as the official end of the Christmas season, which lasted much longer than it does today. Even as recently as the late 19th Century it was common not to remove the Christmas greenery until Candlemas, at which time it was traditionally burned in the family fireplace.[vi]

Other Candlemas traditions naturally arose over the centuries, perhaps the most well-known being the “blessing of the candles.”  We can take a closer look at this tradition by becoming acquainted with a branch from my very own family tree.  My mother’s family traces its roots to the French colony of Acadie, located in Atlantic Canada and comprising such places as New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.[vii]  In fact, my maternal line (my mother’s mother’s mother…etc.) recedes back through time to a woman named Catherine LeJeune who lived in Port Royal, Acadie (now Annapolis, Nova Scotia) in the mid-17th Century.[viii]

Like her fellow Acadiens, my ancestor Catherine LeJeune was a Roman Catholic from France and she would, no doubt, have been quite familiar with Candlemas.  Historical documents show that the annual blessing of the candles in Acadie, during which time families would bring their year’s supply of candles to be blessed by their parish priest, goes back several hundred years.  For example, in 1693 Joseph Robineau de Villebon, a commanding officer in the Acadien colony, delivered sixty candles to Beaubassin (in Nova Scotia) on behalf of the inhabits of the parish to be blessed by their priest on Candlemas morning.[ix]

In Acadie, the blessed candles were used for many purposes throughout the year—to protect the house, to use when the priest came to a home to bring communion to the sick, or to burn while the family kept vigil over the body of a loved one who had died.  Some midwives would light a blessed candle during a difficult birth, and Acadien fishermen sometimes kept a blessed candle on their boat to light during stormy weather.[x]  The blessing of the candles was preserved in Acadien parishes until very recently.[xi]

Another Acadien tradition that took place on Candlemas was the door-to-door collection of food to be used for a community meal later in the day. Anyone with a large enough house could host the party.  This activity was not only entertaining for all involved, but it was also an act of charity—any food that was left over after the party was given to the poor.  In some villages the collection of food was done almost exclusively for the purpose of providing for the sick, the widows, and the poor.[xii]

Below is a little video of St. John’s parishioners making hand-rolled beeswax candles for Candlemas—a great activity for all ages. We invite you to celebrate Candlemas with your family on February 2nd—perhaps by making a donation to the Fall Mountain Food Shelf, in the spirit of the Acadien Candlemas collections of long ago.

Celebrating Candlemas with St. John's Church, Walpole, NH (31 Jan 2016) from Kelli Ann Wilson on Vimeo.


[i] Arsenault, George, Acadian Traditions on Candlemas Day, Charlottetown, PEI, Canada: Acorn Press, 2012, 15.
[ii] Breathnach, Sarah, Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990, 61.
[iii] Ibid.
[iv] Arsenault, 15.
[v] Powers, Mala, Follow the Year, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985, 58.
[vi] Breathnach, 61.
[vii] Arsenault, 8.
[viii] Roostan, Wendy Pitre, “Family of Francois Savoie & Catherine Lejeune,” http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pitretrail/myline/paternal/fsavoie.htm, 01 Mar 2014.
[ix] Arsenault, 15.
[x] Arsenault, 19.
[xi] Arsenault, 16.
[xii] Arsenault, 45-46.

All Saints Day 2015

St. John’s was the scene of a fun craft for All Saints Day on November 1st. Inspired by the wealth of saintly peg dolls that can be found all over the web these days, as well as a plethora of lovely books to use as references, some of our crafty parishioners created masterpieces of paint, felt, embroidery floss, and glue, turning ordinary wooden clothespins into beautiful and unique representations of their favorite saints. They are now on display in the Parish Hall, and we hope to add more peg dolls to our “Communion of Saints” next year!

From left to right: Frederick Douglass, St. Brigid of Kildare, St. Hildegard of Bingen, St. Patrick, and the twin saints Benedict and Scholastica.