You are on page 1of 21


St. John’s United Church of Christ

The following snapshot is an abbreviated version of the
congregation’s full profile, which will be made available to
candidates being considered by the Search Committee.

Local Church
Statement of Consent

The covenantal relationship between a church and those called by that church to serve as pastors
and teachers and in other ministerial positions is strengthened when vital information is openly
shared by covenantal partners. To that end, we attest that, to the best of our abilities, we have
provided information in this profile that accurately represents our church. We have not
knowingly withheld any information that would be helpful to candidates. As the committee
charged with the responsibility for identifying and recommending a suitable new minister for our
church, we have been authorized to share the information herein with potential candidates.

We understand that a candidate may wish to secure further knowledge, information, and opinion
about our church. We encourage a candidate to do so, recognizing that an open exchange of
relevant information builds the foundation for continuing and healthy relationships between
calling bodies and persons seeking a ministry position.


St. John’s United Church of Christ
503 Stuart Circle
Richmond, Virginia 23220

The History of Our Congregation

Our church was organized in 1843 by German immigrants as an independent
congregation with no denominational affiliation. We had fifty charter members. The
name chosen for our church was St. John’s German Evangelical Lutheran Church of
Richmond, Virginia. Even though Lutheran was in our name, we have never been part
of the Lutheran denomination. The key word in our name was “Evangelical,” which
signified to the founders a broadminded spirit that allowed for differing opinions on
certain points of faith. This spirit remains alive in our Church today.

A church council was selected and given the task of finding a place of worship and a
minister. The first church service was held in a rented house on East Marshall Street on
October 8, 1843. The first pastor was Mr. Strater, a German preacher trained in the
Evangelical Church of Germany. Our first church building was erected on North Fifth
Street at Jackson, and the first service was held on Christmas Day, 1847. All church
services at that time were conducted in German.


The first thirty years of operation as an independent congregation were very difficult for
St. John’s. Financial resources were scarce and the Church suffered through the Civil
War and the Reconstruction period. There were five pastors during this period and, at
times, no pastor at all. In 1873 we joined the German Evangelical Synod of North
America and became the first congregation in the East to represent this denomination,
which was primarily located in the Midwest.

Being a part of a well-established denomination helped St. John’s flourish, and we soon
outgrew our existing church building. A new building was erected at Eighth and
Marshall Streets, and the new sanctuary was dedicated on October 8, 1881. This
location was at the center of the German community in Richmond. As the end of the
nineteenth century approached, language was becoming a problem. A German-speaking
Church found that to attract young people, some services had to be conducted in English.
This process was begun in the 1890’s, but the German language was not completely
removed from Church services until 1964, when our last German-speaking pastor moved
on to a new Church.

The beginning of a new century brought new challenges for St. John’s. The city was
growing and our congregation began to disperse. It became obvious that, as our people
moved away, it would be difficult to continue at the Marshall Street location, even though
the church building was relatively new. Because of this issue, a lot was purchased in
1913 at the corner of Franklin and Lombardy Streets. This address is now known as 503
Stuart Circle and is our current location.

When WWI broke out, 57 of our men were called into military service. Because of our
German heritage, the fact that some of our membership were not citizens, and the
continued use of German in some services, the Richmond community viewed us with
suspicion and hostility. This suspicion was also present during WWII, but to a lesser
extent than in WWI.

After the end of WWI we faced the task of building a new church at the Stuart Circle
location. The parish house was built first and completed in September, 1921. This
building served both as a Sunday school and as a temporary sanctuary. The Church
flourished at the new location and ignited efforts to build a new sanctuary. That
sanctuary was completed and dedicated on February 19, 1928. Most of the large stained
glass windows installed in the new sanctuary came from the Marshall Street Church.


In 1943 we celebrated our 100
anniversary and changed our name to St. John’s
Evangelical and Reformed Church. This name change reflected the merger of the
Evangelical and Reformed Churches, which had actually occurred in 1932. In 1962, we
changed our name again, to St. John’s United Church of Christ, to reflect the merger with
the Congregational Christian Church that had occurred in 1957. In 1958 we established
our St. John’s Endowment Fund, which has provided resources for mission work,
community services, and some Church operating expenses.


Today, as we enter another new century, we face the same problem that we solved over
100 years ago. That is, how can we attract members to a Church that is located far from
where the congregation lives while continuing to serve those who live in our immediate
area? This time, relocation is not the answer, because a single location convenient to a
large number of our members does not exist. We are now a regional UCC Church with a
long, rich history and a formally-adopted Open and Affirming declaration. We will take
advantage of these attributes and God’s help as we look forward to our next 100 years.



1. Church:

St. John’s United Church of Christ

2. Address:

503 Stuart Circle
Richmond, Virginia 23220

3. Contact Person:

T. Donald Stiegler
8700 Brown Summit Road
North Chesterfield, Virginia 23235

4. Conference Staff Person Assisting Our Church:

Rev. Dr. Kwame Osei Reed
916 South Rolling Road
Baltimore, Maryland 21228-5318

Telephone: 410-788-4190



Membership Information

5. Member Participation Data:

Last Year 5 Years Ago 10 Years Ago
2013 2009 2004

a. Church Members 236 237 205
b. Average Attendance at worship 76 108 104
c. Average weekly CE participation:
Children and youth 10 15 19
Adults 19 29 53
d. Members who are ordained clergy 9 3+ 1+

6. Profile of Congregation (developed via congregational survey)

a. Age
0-5: 3%
6-18: 10%
19-34: 11%
35-49: 13%
50-64: 37%
65-74: 13%
75+: 13%

b. Educational level of adults
Less than high school: 0%
High school graduates: 4%
Some college/vocational: 17%
College graduate: 53%
Graduate school: 26%

c. Family units
Couples with children at home: 13%
Couples without children at home: 39%
Single: 26%
Single parent with children at home: 3%
Widow/widower: 10%
Couples/partners without children: 6%
Couples with adult children at home: 3%

d. Occupation of adults
Business 32%


Clerical: 3%
Laborer/manufacturing: 3%
Professional: 54%
Student: 3%
Tradesperson: 5%

e. Employment
Employed: 56%
Not employed: 5%
Retired: 39%

Community Characteristics

7. Population

Our church is located in the city of Richmond, but the area where our congregation
members live includes the city and at least the three surrounding counties: Henrico,
Chesterfield, and Hanover. The 2010 census data for this Richmond Metro Area is:

Richmond Metro Area

Total Population 927,248

Population by Sex/Age
Male 442,957
Female 484,921
Under 18 219,894
18 & over 707,354
20 -24 67,717
25 -34 125,797
35 -49 198,848
50 -64 179,691
65 & over 106,525

Population by Ethnicity
Hispanic or Latino 52,784
Non-Hispanic or Latino 874,464

Population by Race
White 567,511
African American 272,727
Asian 36,447
American Indian or Alaska Native 3,295
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander 525
Other 24,041


Identified by two or more 21,702

8. Economic Factors

The top ten sources of private sector employment in the Richmond Metro Area and their
numbers of local employees are:

Capital One Financial Corporation 10,918
Virginia Commonwealth University Health System 8,226
Hospital Corp. of America Virginia Health System 6,904
Bon Secours Richmond Health System 5,892
Walmart 5,331
Dominion Resources Inc. 5,328
SunTrust Banks Inc. 4,400
Altria Group Inc. 3,900
Food Lion 3,830
Wells Fargo & Co. 3,010
(Source: Richmond Times Dispatch “Top 50 for 2013”)

In addition, Richmond as the state capital has a significant number of state employees.

9. General Description

a. Community Attributes (developed via congregational group discussions)

Geographically, the community within which St. John’s resides is a rather wide-spread
area encompassing the more urban City of Richmond and its surrounding counties. Other
definitions of the Richmond community include a mix of racial (in the City of Richmond
a simple majority is African-American; in the surrounding counties, the populations are
predominantly white), socioeconomic (wealthy, working-class and impoverished
neighborhoods) and generational (colleges, adult professionals and elderly) communities.

The Richmond Metro Area includes five major universities and seminaries: Virginia
Commonwealth University, Virginia Union University, University of Richmond, Union
Presbyterian Seminary, Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond and Samuel Proctor
School of Theology at Virginia Union. It has a major investment in arts infrastructure,
including facilities for theatre, music and the visual arts. It has both a tragic and an
inspirational history related to the American Civil War. The focal point of the city is the
James River, which affords numerous opportunities for recreational and social activities
within the city. Richmond also harbors centers for medical technology, engineering and


b. Our Mission Activities

1. St. John’s mission activities as a part of its outreach to the community include:
 Congregations Around Richmond Involved to Assure Shelter (CARITAS);
 William Byrd House, to provide child and family local after-school support;
 ACTS (Area Congregations Together in Service), to prevent homelessness;
 One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS);
 CROP-Walk, to prevent world hunger and to support projects locally,
nationally, and internationally;
 Our Christian World Mission (OCWM), to support programs and missions
locally and abroad;
 Neighbors in Need, to support United Church of Christ-sponsored projects
nationally and internationally;
 Veterans of the Cross, to support pastors in their retirement;
 Circle Center Adult Day Care, a local program that provides day-support to
the elderly;
 Angel Tree, to provide gifts to underprivileged families at Christmas;
 Koinonia Fund, to help individuals and families within the congregation who
are in need;
 Pastor’s Fund, a discretionary resource that the pastor is able to access to help
people in the community; and
 Global Ministries, which supports interdenominational missions in Haiti and
the Dominican Republic.

2. The Senior Pastor’s desired participation in our mission activities
(developed via congregational survey)

St. John’s expects the pastor to support all and participate in most of the
congregation’s mission activities and lead those with which he or she has a
passion, encouraging the congregation to be involved with mission activities
locally, nationally and globally. Local missions include CARITAS, Circle
Center, ACTS, Crop Walk, issues that directly involve the Richmond Metro


community, and outreach to the student and the homeless populations. Social
justice issues within the Richmond Metro area and nationally are also important.

c. Our church building is being used by the community in the following manner:

 We are a CARITAS intake location which is used as a client collection point
prior to transport to overnight lodging facilities;
 The Indian Orthodox Church meets monthly in our chapel;
 We provide meeting space for substance abuse groups;
 Our sanctuary and other facilities are used by non-church members for
weddings and concerts; and
 Our congregation supports a performing musical group known as “St. John’s
Community Players” that provides entertainment for the community and our

d. Members of our Church come from at least four public school districts.

Congregational Life


10. Major Trends Expected to Develop During the Next Five Years
(developed via congregational group discussions)

St. John’s is losing its familial multi-generational composition and is moving toward a
more heterogeneous congregation made up of a diverse group of singles, married couples,
families and LGBT adults who tend to be professionals and academics. The congregation
is tending to be fairly progressive in its spiritual outlook while its style of worship tends
to be more traditional. The congregation identifies more now with the United Church of
Christ than in previous years, which provides a unique and critical appeal to newcomers
due to the Church’s UCC affiliation. The Church’s leadership is described as being more
lay-led in concert with the pastor. Although its attendance has been in a slow decline,
there are new efforts to build more connected and supportive relationships within the

11. Planning

a. Church planning procedure

The committees and boards of St. John’s conduct planning during their scheduled
meetings. Typically that is monthly for committees and as needed for boards and small
groups. In July we begin planning for our annual budget. Our budget cycle runs from
January to December.

b. Pastor’s role in the planning process

St. John’s would expect our called pastor to provide vision and leadership in the planning
efforts of each committee and board.

c. Intentional discernment and long range planning.


Long-range planning is a growing edge for St. John’s. It has been more than 7 years
since St. John’s has undergone a period of discernment and long-range planning in an
intentional way. The last time we did so was when we conducted our Appreciative
Inquiry process, which resulted in the creation of a limited long-range plan.

d. Outcomes of intentional long range planning

In 2008 the church’s Council identified a steering committee to oversee and implement a
process of discernment and visioning for the church utilizing an approach known as
Appreciative Inquiry (AI). A delegation of eighteen team members was selected from the
congregation to interview and record other members’ responses to questions designed to
identify the membership’s core beliefs and visions for the church. Utilizing a model of
appreciative inquiry recommended by the Alban Institute, the AI Committee was able to
derive and capture ten themes that were representative of the church’s values.

From these themes, four audacious proposals were put forth by the AI Committee: A)
St. John’s is a community of faith that creates many paths for everyone to share their
interests, talents, and passions; B) St. John’s puts faith into action by being responsive to
our global and local community needs; C) St. John’s is a diverse congregation reflecting
God’s realm; and D) St. John’s is a healing community that nurtures wholeness of spirit.

e. Future plans for intentional long range planning

Currently there are no such plans, although it would be our desire to do so once our called
pastor has joined us. A copy of the Visionary Plan is available upon request.


12. Worship

a. The weekly worship service.

One service is held each Sunday morning at 11:00 AM during the school year and at
10:00 AM during the summer. The Worship Service is opened by the Acolyte bringing
the Light of the World into the Sanctuary. Worship is somewhat formal with a robed
minister and a robed adult choir. Traditional liturgical elements and litanies are used.
Laity takes the lead in Calls to Worship, Scripture Readings and other responsibilities.
There is usually a Children’s Message. The children leave for church school following
their message, returning in time for Communion on the Sundays when that is celebrated.
Adult sermons can last from 15-20 minutes.


Sermons are usually developed from the lectionary, but diverting from the lectionary
readings for a specific season or topic also happens. There are special occasion services
such as Christmas Eve, Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Easter, and others. Some
have expressed interest in healing services and various other types of services. To honor
the church’s German heritage, German is included in the Christmas Eve service.
Communion is open to all and is usually served the first Sunday of every month, as well
as at other special services. Communion is led by clergy and served in a variety of modes,
with lay members assisting in serving the congregation.

b. The style and content of preaching

We want our new pastor to be someone who is deeply rooted in Biblical understanding
that incorporates and relates scripture to modern living. Attributes that many members of
the congregation find important in a pastor are the ability to be a story teller and to
convey warmth, compassion and understanding.

c. The role of worship

Worship is the central element of the life of St. John’s. While there are varied and
assorted activities and events during the week, worship is the time that we gather together
as a body and as a church to incarnate and to celebrate that which is most central to us.
The worship service is a corporate time that includes an expression of St. John’s
commitment to extravagant welcome as an Open and Affirming Church. “No matter who
you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here” is not merely a slogan,
but an ethos that is celebrated and affirmed each Sunday. In addition to the usual
components found in most worship services, an open time of sharing praises, concerns
and prayer needs is a critical part of every Sunday service.


It is expected that as a congregational leader, the pastor will be present for all activities of
corporate worship.

d. The use of inclusive language

Many would say that the use of inclusive language is essential and an ongoing element of
life at St. John’s. In preparation for worship, the various elements of the worship service
are prepared in an intentional and sensitive manner to include all. The “New Century
Hymnal” is our standard hymnal, but the “Rejoice in the Lord” hymnal is also available
in the pews. Some might hold that it is not that important to have inclusive language as
long as the language used shows no prejudice to others.

e. What were some of the most memorable and meaningful worship services that the
church has held? What made them memorable?

Members have reported many moving memories and transformational experiences as a
result of St. John’s worship services. Some have identified Advent and Lenten services
that have led to poignant memories of Christmas and Easter celebrations, at which time
the church’s choir and others have lent their talents to facilitating meaningful services.
Others recall weddings, funerals and the special memorial service following the 9/11
tragedies. St. John’s has, by tradition, conducted “Launch Sunday” worship services in
early September to kick off the Christian Formation and Mission activities for the year.

As in all of these experiences, it is clear that there is an underlying relationship between
church members’ need for a spiritual connection and the congregations’ and its clergy’s
capacity for meeting that need. The need for celebration in times of joy as well as the
need for solace during times of crisis have set the stage for transformational experiences
that facilitate the congregation’s spiritual growth.

f. What qualities, in style and message, do you appreciate most in a pastor? What should
the pastor’s role be in worship?

Over the course of its history, St. John’s has been fortunate to have had the benefit of
devout and visionary pastors who have been patient with and supportive of the Church’s
spiritual journey. The qualities that have been appreciated most have been the pastor’s
capacity to engage and relate to people, within and outside the church; to be an effective
teacher and preacher; to be able to relate contemporary issues to the liturgy and to
biblical teachings; to be able to tell stories that illustrate the application of Christian
belief; to have the ability to share responsibilities for conducting worship collaboratively
with members of the congregation while, at the same time, providing guidance and
direction; the ability to integrate traditional and contemporary components of worship; to
be a good planner and collaborator; and to value the role of the arts in worship and in
church life.


Wider Church Connections

13. United Church of Christ

Our members have regularly participated in association, conference and denominational
programs. Members have also served as delegates to a General Synod.

Our senior pastor is expected to participate in activities conducted by the Potomac
Association and the Central Atlantic Conference.

The question of how our church lay leaders identify with the UCC was determined by a
survey of the congregation. Of the 37 replies received, 70% said that our lay leaders
identified closely or moderately with the UCC.

14. Ecumenical and Interfaith Activities

a. St. John’s has participated in activities with the following groups:

 Stuart Circle Parish, a group of five churches in our immediate neighborhood,
which sponsors an annual Palm Sunday parade and associated activities);
 Interfaith Council (Richmond);
 Area Churches Together in Service (A.C.T.S.) - the executive director is a
member of St. John’s;
 Thanksgiving services; and
 Crop Walk

b. Pastor’s expected participation in ecumenical and interfaith activities
(developed via congregational survey)

Our survey replies to this issue ranged from the view that our new pastor’s main job is to
concentrate on building and strengthening St. John’s congregation, to the view that
participating in ecumenical and interfaith activities in the Richmond area is very
important. When considering all of the replies, it appears that our congregation feels that
caring for St. John’s should be the pastor’s main focus. The pastor’s participation in
ecumenical and interfaith activities that excite the congregation’s sense of mission and
ministry is equally important. These activities and organizations are listed in 28a above.


15. The following graph depicts the top twelve leadership qualities
desired by the congregation.



16. Open and Affirming Status

St. John’s is an “Open and Affirming” Church. In 2008 the following statement was

Open and Affirming Statement
“…..that they all may be one.” John 17:21

As a community of faith led by God’s love, Christ’s example and the Holy Spirit’s
presence, we the congregation of St. John’s United Church of Christ of Richmond,
Virginia declare ourselves to be Open and Affirming.

Recognizing that people desire to bring their whole selves to the church, this
congregation offers extravagant welcome and hospitality to everyone as we strive to
embrace, without limits, differences in age; education; faith journey; family structure;
gender; marital status; mental and physical health and ability; racial and cultural identity
and background; sexual orientation; gender identity; gender expression; and
socioeconomic circumstance.

With God’s grace, we invite all into the full life and ministry of the church including
worship, sacraments, rites, responsibilities, and leadership, as we celebrate the blessings,
joys and challenges of a life in Christ.

17. The Senior Pastor’s Position Description

St. John’s has an established policy of maintaining a position description for every
exempt and non-exempt position in the church including the Senior Pastor. The duties
and responsibilities of the Senior Pastor are listed in our Church constitution in articles 4
and 6. During our current interim period, we have undertaken the process of
reviewing and revising our Constitution and By-Laws.

The Senior Pastor shall:
 be the leader and chief executive officer of the Church;
 proclaim the Gospel through preaching, teaching, working with Church groups
and committees, and through personal conversation;
 supervise all services of worship, administer the Sacraments, show ministerial
concern particularly for the sick and troubled, provide counseling, and share with
the people of the parish in a growing understanding of the Christian faith and its
relevance to life situations;
 look to Church Council for advice and support in fulfilling these duties;
 be a resource person for all Church groups in making the Church an effective
servant in fulfilling the Church’s mission;


 make an annual report to the Church membership as well as monthly reports to
Church Council; and
 be a non-voting member of Church Council and all committees.

18. Church Staff Positions

The following paid staff positions are supervised by the Senior Pastor in conjunction with
the church’s Administration Committee:
 Pastoral Associate for Congregational Life and Christian Formation – full time
 Director of Music and Organist – part time position
 Administrative Assistant – part time position
 Nursery Care Giver – part time position
 Sexton – part time contract position

Statement on Leadership in Ministry

St. John’s is led primarily by its members, with the desire to work as partners in God’s love for
the church. The church leadership consists of 17 Boards, Committees and groups. The main
leadership body is the Church Council which consists of 12 members elected by the
congregation. They each serve 2 year staggered terms so that 6 members are elected each year.
The Church Council President is limited to two terms before serving again. The President, Vice-
President and Secretary are elected by council during the May meeting each year annually. The
Treasurer of the church is a council-elected official with no term limits and the current Treasurer
has been in office over 25 years.

The Senior Pastor at St. John’s is expected to be an effective preacher, worship leader and
speaker. We expect that the Senior Pastor will provide compassionate pastoral care and visit
members in hospitals and nursing homes, as such members are very much in need of a pastor’s
presence. We will expect the Senior Pastor to lead by example, to be a non-voting member of the
Church Council and be involved with all pertinent meetings, actions and decisions as needed.
Should the leadership of any committee encounter difficulties, the Senior Pastor will work with
the Church Council leadership to resolve the problem. The Senior Pastor should work closely
with the Trustees, the Endowment Board and any ad hoc committees/groups on pressing issues.
The Senior Pastor will use a participatory management style and encourage collaboration and
community, using best practices guided by the Holy Spirit. The Senior Pastor will bring his/her
experience, resources, knowledge, innovation, and UCC resources to complement the work done
by Council and other committees. The Senior Pastor is the leader of the church from a religious
and organizational standpoint. We expect the Senior Pastor to have managerial, financial,
administrative, and organizational skills as well as the spiritual skills to lead the church
theologically. The Senior Pastor complements the Council, the Congregation and committees
and is not dictatorial. We expect our pastor to have a love of God and be ready to lead a
Congregation steeped in a 175-year tradition to a new and uplifting future.


Conference/Association Descriptive Reference

Church Name: St. John’s United Church of Christ

Location: 503 Stuart Circle, Richmond, Virginia 23220

Conference: Central Atlantic

Association: Potomac

Staff member Assisting in Search: Rev. Dr. Kwame Osei Reed

Staff Comments:

St. John's United Church of Christ (UCC) has long presented a witness for the Good News of
Jesus Christ. That witness reflects the unique story of St. John's, while at the same illuminating
the commitments of the entire UCC. The suspicion and bias toward this church, during World
War I and, to a lesser degree, during the Second World War, is John's story. It has always
affirmed its strong German heritage and a diverse membership. It exemplifies the journey of our
wider church in the struggle to affirm all persons and achieve justice.

More recently, the dedicated commitment to studying and discussing the General Synod's
declarations on being Open and Affirming as well as standing for Marriage Equality showed that
this church is fully open to justice for all, while not "jumping on board" before examining what
they and the UCC are trying to achieve. Like the Bereans of scripture they received the actions of
wider church. Then they considered those actions with care. The result has been one of the
strongest and most carefully considered commitments to these calls for justice. This Central
Atlantic Conference celebrates both the strength and clarity of St. John's declaring that it is Open
and Affirming.

It has been said that in some ways St. John's Church seems to stand alone in Richmond as a
witness for the UCC faith understanding. It is the only UCC Church in the city. The church is a
powerful symbol there on (Jeb) Stuart Circle off Monument Avenue. But their reaching out to
the Richmond community and our two UCC Churches in nearby Chesterfield, Virginia has
resulted in the Potomac Association and the Central Atlantic Conference's having a rallying
center and a "go to" church in our efforts to have unity in serving this region, even where
geography presents some challenges. Personally, I always breathe a sigh of relief at a certain
moment when St. John's representatives arrive over often long distances to Association and
Conference meetings. They always come. But we cannot not take for granted any church's being
present. I am not the only person who shouts the words, "St. John's is in the house." Having been
present at worship services at St. John's and wonderful meals (often German tradition), I can
testify with thankfulness to the care and attention that this congregation gives to its life of faith
and life of its people in the church. Then we are thankful for its outreach to both its community
and our wider church family.
The next pastor will come into a church where committed, talented and thinking Christians
thrive. That pastor will also have to be capable of serving with intelligent, capable people who
can both lead and follow. A praying secure pastor can have a wonderful ministry there.