Welcome to St. John’s in the Mountains Episcopal Church
We are a community of faith located at the crossroads of the Mountain Road and Luce Hill Road in Stowe, Vermont
Clergy & Staff
|The Reverend Rick Swanson
|“The Rev. Deacon Zarina Suárez O’Hagen
Music Director and Organist
The Vestry is the legal representative of the parish with regard to all matters pertaining to its corporate property. The basic responsibilities of the Vestry are to help define and articulate the mission of the parish, to support the church’s mission by word and deed, to select the rector, to ensure effective organization and planning, and to manage resources and finances.
Vestry members are elected at the annual parish meeting held in January and serve three-year terms. The Vestry consists of seven members and includes two wardens. The senior warden leads the parish between rectors and is a support person for the rector. The junior warden, also known as “the people’s warden,” has responsibility for church property and buildings.
The Vestry meets at 7pm on the second Tuesday of each month and, unless otherwise noted, all meetings are open to members of the parish. The minutes of the July Vestry meeting can be found by clicking here
There is little known about the first Episcopal service held in Stowe back in 1901. We do know that St. John’s Mission was formed in 1922. Before that, services were held when the Bishop or a seminary student visited local homes. Seven women and girls were confirmed in 1922 and the mission began with approximately 25 people. The people gathered for Morning Prayer, with or without clergy, and looked forward to the visits of the Bishop and Missioners. It was common to meet in homes, the Spruce Pond Inn, the Green Mountain Inn or the Stowe town office building.
The Altar Guild began in 1940.
In 1954, the Diocese purchased the West Branch Schoolhouse to be used as a church building for St. John’s. The members were not in their home a year when the name was changed from St. John’s to St. John’s in the Mountains to differentiate this parish from St. John’s in Hardwick.
Hospitality has always been an important part of parish life. Potluck suppers and Sunday school picnics were held long before there was an undercroft or a kitchen.
The first Sunday morning prayer was led by Daniel Goldsmith, Lay Vicar in Charge of St. John’s Hardwick and St. John’s Stowe, in January of 1955. The first annual meeting was held on January 17 that year and the first marriage was conducted on January 23, 1955.
In 1958, the St. Mary’s Guild, the women of St. John’s, held the first Barn Sale. This hugely successful event was held in many places and forms for many years. Profits went to outreach and supporting St. John’s ministries.
St. John’s held its first Shrove Tuesday pancake supper in 1959. We continue this tradition today.
In 1965, the Stowe Ecumenical Council was formed in Stowe. This led to monthly clergy meetings, Lenten Study groups, Vacation Bible School, and Sunday evening prayer with supper.
Our first full-time resident vicar was The Rev. Marcus Hall. He served from 1965 until his retirement in 1980. Rev. Hall, along with the pastor of the Stowe Community Church, Rabbi Max Wall of Burlington, and the president of the Mount Mansfield Co., spearheaded the building of the Mountain Chapel atop Mount Mansfield for ecumenical services.
The Rev. James Raines was called to become our vicar in 1980 and moved into a farmhouse on River Road in Stowe, purchased by the parish as a vicarage. In 1985, St. John’s in the Mountains officially became a Parish and he became our first rector.
The Rev. Dr. Daniel Riddick became our first “called” rector in 1985. Because Rev. Riddick was a teaching medical doctor at University of Vermont and literally a shepherd, lay participation became critical. We formed “ministry groups” and served as lay leaders. Parishioners chose the hymns, provided the daily administration and the parish grew.
We hired our first female rector, The Rev. Joade Dauer Cardasis, in 1993. Rev. Cardasis had four children in the Stowe schools and church attendance soared. She introduced the St. Nicholas Teas, home Eucharist for family groups, and the Spirituality Reading group, which continues today.
Rev. Mary Robb Mansfield became our priest-in-charge in 1999 and then named our rector in 2002. She left in June of 2008 after a successful tenure, which included overseeing the building of our new church building. Talk of building a larger, more modern church was ongoing for more than 30 years as the parish began to outgrow the old schoolhouse. After several years of looking for a better location, the Vestry contacted the owner of the adjacent property to see if he would be willing to sell it to us. In 2004, St. John’s purchased this property with some of our endowment funds and the process of design and fundraising began. We raised more than $775,000 in our fundraising campaign and borrowed additional money from our endowment fund to meet a shortfall.
We held our final service in the schoolhouse on the last Sunday of June 2006. Bishop Thomas Ely deconsecrated the building on July 6, 2006 and the parish moved services to the Jewish Community of Greater Stowe (JCOGS) while our new building was being constructed. We held Christmas, Easter and any services during the Jewish High Holy Days at the Stoweflake Resort. Bishop Ely confirmed a class of eight during our time at JCOGS.
We held the first service in our new church home on Saturday, June 23, 2007. This was a memorial service for Ann Orlov Rubinow. She was a member and generous contributor to St. John’s. Rev. Mary Mansfield celebrated the first Eucharist on June 24, 2007.
The Rev. Jackie Arbuckle joined us as deacon while we were at JCOGS and served until her retirement in October of 2009.
We welcomed the Rev. Linda Calkins of Silver Spring, Maryland on October 12, 2008 to be our interim rector as we moved toward calling a new rector. Rev. Calkins and her loyal companion and cairn terrier, Molly, were with us until the end of November 2009. During that time, Rev. Calkins worked with the parish to create a number of new programs, including a contemporary service on Saturday evenings, an Order of Noonday Prayer on Tuesdays, and a monthly healing service as part of the Sunday worship program.
After a long season of transition, and the guidance and nurturing of interim priests the Rev. Al Stefanik and the Rev. Lisa Ransom, we welcomed our new rector, the Rev. Rick Swanson (aka “Father Rick”), to St. Johns in the Mountains on Sunday, September 19, 2010. A new beginning and new chapter in our history is underway.