St. John’s in Aptos CA kills Board of Helpful Shop

helpful-shop-buildingNo more Helpful Shop Board.

For  many years,  the women of the church via the ECW  and then the   Helpful Shop’s Board  have operated the Helpful Shop as their outreach to the Santa Cruz County  community.

For the last ten years,  the Helpful Shop has operated under its bylaws and  has elected officers each year.  Six of the seven current members of the Helpful Shop Board are listed in St. John’s  church directory.

Andy Pudan  is the current president of the Helpful Shop Board. Other Board members are:  Floyd Bishop; Margy Cottle; Eileen Fernald;   Esther Meister;  Joanne Peterson and Nancy Shepard.

One effect:   there’s no more specific   participation by community  members in  decisions as  to the distribution of monies. The Helpful Shop’s  bylaws require two (2)  community members.  A  current  community member is the former secretary of the church who resigned   without warning during 2016.

Each year, the Helpful Shop Board distributes substantial money to many  local charities:  $19,400  was  distributed in 2016.  In 2015,  $28,000. was distributed.   In 2014 $32,000. was distributed.   Decisions are made by a Grant Committee.

 History:  Many years ago, the  Episcopal Church Women (ECW)  decided at a  High Tea held  that   December  that all money that could be distributed   would be decided by the members present for  High Tea that day. Women present that day  suggested  various charities and a vote taken.    It was an amicable and  memorable High Tea.   Delicious food and everyone got along.

 Subsequently,  a more formal Helpful Shop Board evolved  and   a more formal process put  in place how to choose charities. A couple years later the first manager of the Helpful Shop was hired.

There are numerous  scenarios as to what’s currently  going on.  Wanting control of the money — which organizations receive how much —  may  be  an  issue underlying the decision to disband the Helpful Shop Board.

The Helpful Shop  Board and its cadre of  faithful volunteers are largely  women.

This probably is  one of the last major acts Rev. Merritt Greenwood will do.

At the Feb. 2017 vestry  meeting,   the Rev. Merritt  Greenwood  in conjunction with Bill Kell (Sr Warden), Andrea Seitz (Jr. Warden) Jon Showalter and others voted to take all legal authority to operate from the Helpful Shop Board.

Information:  In an episcopal church such as this, the Junior Warden is the  ‘voice for the People’;  the Senior Warden typically assists and promotes  the Rector’s agenda.  Each vestry member has one vote.

Disagreeing with the majority, one-third of the Vestry   voted “no”  to killing the Board.

Why take such action at this time?  There was no immediate crises and a new Rector will be coming soon.

One wonders whether  this action involves gender issues?     Several men were instrumental  implementing this decision  to dismantle this  outreach activity,   long the principal outreach of women in the church.

Over the last year, there have been allegations of  disturbed/  distressed volunteer work relationships related to the  rector’s  and/ or partner’s volunteer activities.  One would think these issues would resolve naturally  with the coming of a new Rector.

The  Helpful Shop board puts on various events during the year and reaches out seeking volunteers.

  Through outreach by the Board,  numerous persons have chosen to help out at the Helpful Shop.

Who will do the substantial  work which Board members  have done? Who will find the volunteers?  Who will put  on the events?

The church vestry dismantled  i.e. killed  the Helpful Shop Board.  So, let the  St. John’s vestry do the work necessary to find volunteers and put on events?    

Rev. Merritt Greenwood — who has been at St. John’s somewhat over a year  as temporary Rector —  will leave St. John’s  with the coming of a new Rector.

From the newsletter of St. John’s:

“The shop has not been without controversy over the years. The level of autonomy of the advisory board has become an issue from time to time in its history. Most recently this has caused division and conflict within the parish, which the Vestry recognized as impeding the church’s mission and presenting a major difficulty for our new Rector …” written by A. Seitz

Checking out what St. John’s mission  is:

“Our mission statement goal is to equip all of our members for life and service to others.”


 Monterey Bay Forum:   My, my.  What to do when there’s conflict in a church?  

Does the vestry think it can dismantle the Board that has run the Helpful Shop and expect those who have done it  for years to just keep on chugging along?

 Is this the way a pastor ‘tends his sheep’?

There was no crises which required immediate action.  

The issue of  management of the Helpful Shop should have been left to the incoming Rector — coming soon —  to address and seek healing for all. 

Why hurt fellow church members?

Church boards, one hopes,  will reach out to heal — not hurt.

 There are resources which can help heal. Use them!   

stack the deck? ‘Members’ pay? St. John’s, Aptos


Deck stacked who is a member & who can serve on church board?
Deck stacked who is a church  member & who can serve on the  church board?

What’s in the national news? Power.

Winners and losers.

The reality of power. Will the powerful have their own way? What agenda will be followed?

And there’s similiar  news at St. John’s Episcopal church in Aptos, CA.  

Power.  Winners and losers. Will the powerful have their own way? What agenda will be followed?

Read below and you decide.

To discuss and accept revisions to  the church Bylaws and nominations for the board,  the church Vestry held a meeting Nov. 22, 2016 at 6:45.

Very short   ‘notice’ of the November Vestry meeting:    An email was sent  the afternoon   of 11/22 which stated   that a Vestry meeting was happening at 6:45 pm that day.   No prior  notice of the Nov. Vestry meeting put on the church website or in the 11/20/2016  church bulletin.

At the beginning of the meeting C. Jackson asked that two handouts be given and discussed. One is a Letter from a member which states that she regularly sees the monies given weekly  by an applicant for Vestry.  The other  is a Statement  by C. Jackson detailing reasons why an  applicant meets criteria for nomination ‘from the floor’.

Both handouts were passed out to  all of the Vestry members present at the beginning of the meeting.  [The Treasurer came later —  and did not  hear what C.  Jackson said nor  did she  receive the two handouts.]

Early on in the meeting  the Vestry  discussed  the criteria persons who self-nominate  must meet to  run for election to the corporate board of the Parish.

The  current  Bylaws  rules  state that any contributing member who gets X number of persons to support  them can  stand for elections from the floor.

The existing Bylaws are ambiguous. They   do not  define  a ‘Member’ as someone who has  donated money via a specified manner , i.e., via a Pledge or  putting in the collection basket an envelope  containing money with one’s name on it.

C. Jackson was given the opportunity to speak and stated that overall communications need to improve.  In the past, there have been allegations of  possible spiritual abuse and not taking care of staff and volunteers. No discussion of these allegations or how they were being addressed had been discussed at the last 2 Vestry meetings stated Jackson.

One way to improve communication during  church meetings was suggested by Jackson:   Simple changes in communication:   Use  a format of

“I feel  [        ] when [    |    ] happens”   reduces finger pointing and encourages individuals to take responsibility for their feelings.

Notice and Agendas:   C. Jackson noted that providing better  Notice of meetings,  and providing  Agendas ahead of time will improve communication.

C. Jackson asked:  Does this church want to tell the world that you gotta pay money via a Pledge  to be considered a Member and  ‘be one of us’?   

Stacking the deck:   Controlling who can stand for election is one way to ‘stack the deck’.  At the national level many people are aware that the Democrat National Party ‘stacked the deck’ in favor of Hilary.  The system is rigged claimed Bernie Sanders.

Will the current Vestry   successfully  stack the deck — shape in advance —  the church elections on Dec. 4, 2016?   Who can stand for election and who cannot is one way to ‘stack the deck’.  


   wafer-aaDid you know?   Under the new, revised Bylaws to be a ‘member’  you must take communion 3 times ….  Who will count the wafers eaten?

Of course proof of Communion will be on the honor system.  What about proof of giving/ donating also on the honor system?   

See pg. 20 of the Dec. 20, 2016 church bulletin:  No Notice is in the bulletin concerning upcoming Vestry meeting in two days.  The next Vestry meeting is listed as Dec. 14, 2016.

To summarize:  Very short notice was  given to the congregation  that  who is a church  “Member”  becomes  ….  You have to Pay  to Pray as a   ‘Member’ of the Corporation.   

good-housekeepingIf the Vestry makes these changes then   — after the fact —  the church gives itself a Good Housekeeping stamp of approval for current nominations and proposed changes to the Bylaws.

National politics:  Remember how Donna Brazile  during one of the debates  fed questions ahead of time to Hilary?  Donna later got fired.

During the election cycle,  the Democrat  operatives  –called journalists  — shaped what the general public got in the way of news.  Similarly, their are  ‘church operatives’  which shape the “news” that the church attendees get.

‘Don’t publicize this stuff’  a few people said to C. Jackson.   ‘It makes the church  look bad’ they said.   Oh?  My response:  Then read and re-read the Book of Acts.   The apostle Paul had a lot to say  about  the early Saint/ Sinners and their antics:  including dishonesty,  laziness and mis-guided actions.

So — who will be the winners and losers  at St. John’s Episcopal church in Aptos, CA?  

**** The Vestry decides  at the Tuesday, Nov. 22 meeting  at  6:45 pm (in the Cafe)   whether to change the rules  — or stay  with the existing rules.   Come if you are able. What do you think?  Here’s the names to contact:    

Billl Kell –  Senior Warden (appointed by Merritt)

Andy Pudan – Junior Warden (elected by Vestry)

Jane Dawson – Adult Education

Diane Scofield – Outreach

Suzanne Krakover-Nickel  – Stewardship

Jon Showalter – Building & Grounds

Vicky Wilson – Hospitality

Andrea Seitz – Newcomers

Debra Spencer – Worship

Anne Baker – Treasurer

Eileen Fernald – Finance

Peter Goodman – Children & Youth

Nancy Shephard – Clerk


Back to basics:  Who is a ‘member’ of an Episcopalian church?

To become an Episcopalian — what does a person have to do?  The following is from Forward Movement which is a general resource for Episcopalians.


“How Can I become a Member of the Episcopal Church? How can you become a member? First of all, we would love to have you join Grace and Holy Trinity Church! Please contact the Rev. Bo Millner or Carolyn Chilton and they will be happy to help you.

“Here is some general information about membership in the Church. Baptism makes us members of the Church. And, we can then live into the meaning of our baptism within specific congregations and Christian denominations. The five sections below will spell this out more fully.

1. “Most importantly, the sacrament of Holy Baptism, makes you a member of the Universal Christian Church. The Episcopal Church recognizes as Christian all persons who have been baptized with water and in the name of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit).

2. “If you were baptized into the Universal Church in an Episcopal congregation then, in addition to becoming a member of the Universal Church, you were enrolled as a member of that particular congregation and also became an “Episcopalian.” You are member at the church where you were baptized until death or until you transfer to another congregation. So, if you were baptized at Grace and Holy Trinity Church, you are a baptized member here. If you have asked that the record of your baptism be transferred here, then you are a member here as well.

3. “If you were baptized with water and in the name of the Trinity in another Christian communion or denomination, you can become a member of Grace and Holy Trinity Church by asking that your letter of baptism be transferred so that you can be enrolled on the books of this parish. This makes you a baptized member of the Episcopal Church in general and a member of Grace and Holy Trinity Church specifically.

4. “All baptized members are encouraged to receive the sacrament of confirmation, either when they reach maturity or in connection with baptism if they are baptized as adults. In confirmation ‘we express a mature commitment to Christ and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop.’ After confirmation, a person is a confirmed member.

5. “If you were baptized and confirmed in another church you may be received (rather than reconfirmed) by a bishop of The Episcopal Church. This makes you a confirmed member of The Episcopal Church.

Adult (16 years of age and older), confirmed, communicants in good standing (you have been faithful in attending corporate worship and in praying, working, and giving for the spread of the Kingdom of God) may vote for Vestry (the ruling body of the congregation), run for the Vestry and represent the congregation in the diocese.

“We hope this answers some of your questions. And we encourage you to be in touch. You are most welcome at Grace and Holy Trinity Church! (Much of the information above was taken from the Forward Movement brochure on “Membership in the Episcopal Church”. Forward Movement is an official, non-profit agency of The Episcopal Church and is sustained through sales of tracts and through tax-free contributions. They can be reached at 300 West Fourth Street, Cinicinnati, OH 45202-2666, 800-543-1813;

written by Cameron Jackson, Ph.D., J.D.


Any questions about the above?  Happy to chat!  

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Pokemon Go:Good for spiritual, mental and physical maladies in Aptos, CA? Start at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church


Yes, Pokemon Go  may be good for spiritual maladies. And some  physical maladies.  And many  mental maladies. 

And you don’t have to play it the way you are told to play it.

 You can play Pokemon Go just for fun and skip all the stuff about going to ‘gyms’  or doing battle.  Just play Pokemon for fun.   Gather the funny little  critters and walk around your community.    See your community with fresh eyes.

This post focuses on playing Pokemon Go in Aptos, CA.     Places to find  — gather  —  Pokemon Balls in Aptos, CA  are  listed  farther down in this post.    To play the game you need a cell phone with a GPS on it and you have to download a free app.

So– are you someone experiencing some spiritual malaise?  Some mild depression?    Not doing the things you like to and  feel down  in ‘the dumps’?  What to do?   Remember the daily routine that  you had when you felt fine?    Write those things down  and start doing them again. Best you can.

Very important to reduce symptoms of depression:    add something new each day — something  that you have not done before.  If you are over  age 40 probably you have not played Pokemon Go.  That can be ‘something new’ that you include in your daily routine.   How about some mild anxiety symptoms?  Not sleeping as well as you typically do?  Pokemon just might help you feel mentally better.

What about some spiritual maladies?  Are you spiritually wondering what’s going on in your  life, or the life of your church? 

Here in Aptos, CA there is a plethora of Christian churches.  Near the entrance to Seacliff  Beach there is  Coastlands   Foursquare church, an Episcopal church and a Catholic church.  

Let’s compare how two of them — the Catholic one and the Episcopal one  — currently handle transition  in leadership of their  church.

Catholic church in Aptos, CA

The Catholic church in Aptos, CA  got one month  transition time between the leaving of Fr. Ron  and the coming of Fa. Romeo.   People in the congregation were  told way ahead of  time what was coming down the pike.  The bishop called the plays.  The priest of 14 years must retire.  A new priest who was selected by the bishop will start on a particular date.   The new priest at the catholic church  is called a Parish  Administrator.  Later on, if the bishop chooses he will become  the Pastor.  Do people in the catholic congregation miss who used to be there? Of course.

 In contrast, the Episcopal church in Aptos, CA  said ‘good-by’  to their Rector,  Fa. Steve,  last summer.    That church has had an interim priest/ rector for more than a year.  No concrete  information  has come down the pike.  The Episcopal  bishop has not weighed in on  local decisions.   And the Board of Directors    holds closed,  i.e. secret meetings. Nobody in the pews  knows anything as to who might become the next priest/ rector.

Episcopal church
Episcopal church in Aptos, CA

 Recently, allegations of spiritual abuse have surfaced   at the Episcopal church in Aptos, CA concerning the interim priest/ rector.    So yes, more than likely quite a few attendees at that church  currently  feel some spiritual malaise.  Probably some are ‘down in the dumps’.

“We just  need a new CEO for this church and get things re-started”  one parishioner from the Episcopal church said  that  he told Bishop Mary when he met with her recently.

There are applicants for the job as Rector for the Episcopal church in Aptos, CA.   However, no information has been provided back to the  congregation as to who they are.  Recently there have been allegations of spiritual abuse circulating via email and Facebook.  The Board of Directors  does not  follow their by-laws which  require  that 10 days ahead of time that they publicly post concerning Date, Time and Location for meetings.

 Big issues causing spiritual malaise: Will this church face the allegations of spiritual abuse — or will they push it all under the rug and keep muddling on?  Who are the applicants for  the job?  What is the contract that the interim priest signed?

Here we have two very different churches handling transition is quite different ways.  And probably some people in both churches currently feel ‘down in the dumps’ about the changes that are happening around them.

So — how can Pokemon Go help people in general to simply feel better? Whether  you go to a church or you don’t attend a church?

 Well, daily exercise is not just good for the body  — it’s  also good for the soul and spirit.  We know that kids laugh and run around and play all sorts of games and learn from playing games.  So can adults.  It’s good for adults at times  to laugh and be playful and learn from playing new games.  Especially a game that gets you moving around.

Think of Pokemon Go as something that gets you walking around your community and ‘seeing’ things differently.  Take walking.  How many times have you told yourself   — or your doctor told you — that you  should walk more?  You don’t have to buy an expensive $100 thing for your wrist to measure how far you walk.  Just download the Pokemon Go app for free and you will know how much you walk.

Good news where to get Pokemon Balls in Aptos, CA.  There are lots of  what are called PokeStops where you can get more Pokemon Balls which you need to play the game.

 Here’s how to find Pokemon Balls in Aptos,  CA.


Start by going to St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church located near the entrance to Seacliff Beach in Aptos, CA.

 Come any time.  Just so you know,  church services are at 8 and 10 am every Sunday at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Aptos, CA

Tonight, Tuesday Sept.  27, 2016 there is a Vestry meeting in the Cafe. Probably at 7 pm.

1)  Drive or walk to   St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church  and go stand in front of the large bell.   Look at your cell phone with the Pokemon app open .  You will see   a blue circular thing  appear on your cell phone. Swipe it  — it will rotate. As it rotates around you will receive typically a couple Pokemon Balls.  Swipe them and they are now yours to continue playing the game.   That’s  how you get free Pokemon Balls.

Want more Pokemon balls close by in Aptos, CA?

2)  Now walk  or drive across the street  from the Episcopal church  to  Coastlands Four Square church islocated.   Walk or drive up  to where you see the large Cross.  

Foursquare church
Foursquare church in Aptos, CA

 You have to be right in front of the large Cross.   Again, you can  gather  couple Pokemon balls there, typically.  

3)  Now walk or drive down the street  just past the Stop sign.  You willsee a  large  Seacliff   sign  entrance to Seacliff Beach.   Open the Pokemon app and point  your phone  at the sign.   You can gather a couple more Pokemon  Balls.

 4)  Another spot near by to  gather apps:    At the mural on the wall around the corner from Manual’s Restaurant and across the street from The Word Shop for gently used books.  Ah, you can gather more Pokemon Balls.

So what’s good for spiritual malaise?  Pokemon Go can’t cure spiritual  malaise. It can get you moving around more and looking at your community from a different perspective.  So — go  have fun!   Catch those critters.

written by Aptos Psychologist,  Cameron Jackson