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St. John's Episcopal
Tuesday, March 23 2021

Build for the Lord a New Roof! Submitted by Michael Clifthorne

“Get thee behind me, Leaky Roof!” Matthew 16:23, Humorously Amended Version

As a thirty-one-year parishioner of St. John’s | San Juan, I can say without a doubt that I am ready to be done with The Leaky Roof. Like the Great Adversary, The Leaky
Roof has acquired a legion of names: Peeler of Paint, Corroder of Ceilings, Worry of Weddings, Seeper on Sermons, Terror of Tarping, Dripper on Deacons, Wrecker of Walls, Bain of Buckets, and more. The Scriptural comparison to Satan may be a little over the top, but you get the idea! And while we are all aware of the obvious damage to the interior esthetics of the sanctuary, and most of us have some sense of how The Secret Life of Water has seriously damaged and threatened aspects of the sanctuary structure itself, the impact of The Leaky Roof reaches far into our community life.

One, it has served as a powerful barrier to needed upgrades and renovation to the interior of the sanctuary for years. How can we direct time, energy, and money to
projects that could be ruined by a heavy rain? Two, The Leaky Roof has been a source of distraction and discord nearly since its construction. Everyone is frustrated with it, but it has been challenging to reach agreement on what to do about it. Three, it has been a drain (no pun intended) on resources needed for other goals of St. John’s | San Juan. The time, talent, and treasure spent on temporary fixes, band aids, bucket brigades, tarps, as well as risk to life and limb of those brave parishioners who have ascended the roof for repairs, is considerable. Finally, we can only ponder how many newcomers couldn’t get past the visual degradation they witnessed in the sanctuary, prompting them to look to other area churches. It’s even rumored that one prospective priest withdrew interest in St. John’s | San Juan on the basis of not wanting to face eventual repairs!

“So give me something new, where ceiling tiles don’t hang askew!” Poet, Renee Oelschlaeger

I recently came across a very short poem by Gary Snyder, haiku-ish in its brevity: “After weeks of watching the roof leak/I fixed it tonight/by moving a single board.” My first thought was, “Gee, we REALLY need to get Gary Snyder to attend St. John’s | San Juan because he’s got a delicate sense of just exactly how to shift things around.” It’s certainly a lesson in how even a slight change in our actions can have an important effect. Unfortunately, we are well beyond “weeks” of leaks, even decades of leaks. Are we aiming for a century? And we know that we are also beyond “moving a single board”, and that Gary Snyder’s efforts would probably pale in comparison to what our own Ric Weatherman and others have dedicated to the effort. Thank you, Ric et al!

So what makes the “something new” different this time? Personally, I am deeply impressed with the incredible preparation, assessments, and planning that lie at the foundation of this capital campaign. There have been a couple of forays into such campaigns in the past, but nothing compares to the careful, thorough, professional preparations that have characterized this campaign since discussion began three years ago. This project will rely on a team of professionals who’ve done extensive assessments of our building and put forth an expert plan for remediation and repair. I feel a confidence in this undertaking that is refreshing and inspiring, one that allows me to envision a truly leak-free roof, necessary safety-orientated seismic repairs, and the ensuing, uplifting remodel of our sanctuary space. In a nutshell, this capital campaign is something that my wife Lucy and I can step up to in a way that goes beyond the usual limits of giving. While it is a gift to ourselves and our church home, it is also a gift to those in our faith community who will follow us, long after we depart. St. John’s | San Juan’s sanctuary is a unique expression of our love for and faith in the Lord. That sanctuary needs our help in a significant way at this time. Lucy and I hope that you, too, will consider boldly stepping up to getting that darn Leaky Roof and its attendant problems behind us - once and for all. Let’s claim a new beginning! Please join us as we “Sing to the Lord a New Song, and Build for the Lord a New Roof.”

As you can tell by now, I’m prone to poetry, which I believe helps us capture essences of life. I leave you with this final excerpt from Joyce Kilmer’s poem about the wandering and homeless entitled “Roofs”. It spoke to me; it may you as well.

"They say that life is a highway and its milestones are the years,
And now and then there's a toll-gate where you buy your way with tears.
It's a rough road and a steep road and it stretches broad and far,
But at last it leads to a golden Town where golden Houses are.”

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