john in front of church croppedOn Sunday, April 12, our Rector, the Rev. Canon John Kitagawa, shared with us his plans to retire this summer (his statement is available here). Since then, we have been giving thanks for the ministry of both John and Kathy among us.

A party was held on Friday, June 12, in the Music Center. Beer and wine donations benefitted Habitat for Humanity. It was a truly festive and heart-warming occasion, with lots of touching and inspiring words and an entertaining “thank you” skit from the Chalice Players.

Sunday, June 21, was our liturgical celebration of John and Kathy’s ministry with us. The morning services included special instrumental music (harp at 7:45 and brass and timpani at 9 and 11:15), including a fanfare written for John by Woosug Kang, Director of Music; a hymn tune entitled “Kitagawa” composed by Calvin Hampton; and a choral benediction by John Rutter. We used a special Prayer of Preparation for Communion that John wrote a few years ago at a Credo retreat and the Eucharistic Prayer from Enriching Our Worship that was used at his installation service in 2001. The Collect of the Day was chosen to reinforce John’s philosophy of ministry and his legacy at St. Philip’s, which is that all baptized are called to servant ministry, not just the ordained. We also prayed a Litany of Leave-Taking, led by former Wardens who served during John’s tenure, renewed our Baptismal Covenant, and were sprinkled with holy water during the Asperges (you may see a copy of the bulletin here). John preached his final sermon at St. Philip’s (you may read it here). A special letter from the Bishop was read (you may read it here).

At 10:15 a.m., a festive Coffee Hour provided a cool, comfortable opportunity for conversation and cake, not to mention a chocolate fountain. Gifts and letters were presented to John and Kathy. jeksundayparty

After the services, John left for Salt Lake City, where he is representing the Diocese of Arizona as a member of the House of Deputies at General Convention.

A slideshow of memories of the Kitagawa family is available here. We are grateful for the time we shared with them, and look forward to our future as we continue to strive to be a “strong and loving community that welcomes, encourages, and empowers all to grow in Christ and to do God’s work in the world.”

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