» Basics Classes

In light of the best guidance from healthcare professionals and experts, and the belief that we can do the most good by practicing social distancing, we have decided, effective immediately, to suspend or cancel all in-person group activities, worship, events, or functions at Saint John’s until on or after April 1st, including Basics classes.

For more info, please contact Jered Weber-Johnson at jered.weberjohnson@stjohnsstpaul.org or Jayan Nair at getconnected@stjohnsstpaul.org.

Basics Classes are offered several times a year from 11:30am-12:45pm in the Fireside Room. For more info, please contact Jayan Nair at getconnected@stjohnsstpaul.org.

This series of five discussion sessions is designed for people interested in becoming a member of the Saint John the Evangelist Episcopal Church community or for those preparing for the Sacrament of Baptism, Confirmation, or Marriage*. It offers a brief introduction to the fundamental teachings and shape of the Christian faith, a basic introduction to the Episcopal Church and Anglicanism, and lastly it provides an overview of life at Saint John’s. In the end, all we do as Christians, Anglicans, Episcopalians, and members of St John’s, is geared toward helping us be better disciples and followers of Jesus, and to equip us to serve God’s mission in the world.

*Note: While those preparing for new membership or preparing for a Sacrament at Saint John’s are strongly encouraged to attend all five sessions and read the chapters as assigned in preparation for each session, all five of the Spring 2020 Basics sessions are open to everyone at Saint John’s. Any Saint John’s member may attend one or all five sessions.


  • Learn who we are as Episcopalians
  • Provide an overview of Saint John the Evangelist Episcopal Church
  • Meet and connect with new and existing members of the Saint John’s community
  • Provide the practices, learning, and connections necessary to follow on the way of Jesus as members of this faith community


  • People preparing for a Sacrament such as Wedding, Baptism for self or child, and Confirmation
  • People new to Christianity. Example: those from faith traditions other than Christianity or from no faith tradition
  • People new to Episcopal Church. Example: those with past/recent experience with another Christian faith
  • “Experienced” Episcopalians. Example: transferring from another Episcopal church; former Episcopalians seeking to rejoin the Episcopal Church; those who are considering a return to the church after a long absence
  • Long-time or new members of Saint John’s seeking to refresh or renew their understanding of the Episcopal faith. 
  • People who are just curious and perhaps unsure about joining or not yet ready to make a commitment 

Primary Resources

  • A People Called Episcopalians: A Brief Introduction to Our Way of Life; John H. Westerhoff; 2014
  • Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer; Rowan Williams; 2014
    • Note: both titles will be available at St John’s for borrowing or for purchase ($6 each)
  • The Book of Common Prayer (available at all sessions for reference as needed)
  • The Bible (available at all sessions for reference as needed)

Session 1: The Episcopal Identity

  • Where and when the Episcopal Church founded; The relationship with the Anglican Communion, The Church of England, The Roman Catholic Church, and other Protestant churches; The Book of Common Prayer; The Via Media
  • Reading Assignment: A People Called Episcopalians: Chapters 1 and 2

Session 2: Episcopal Authority

  • The Bible; Understanding authority within the Episcopal Church; The Three-Legged Stool: Scripture, Tradition, and Reason; Authority and Community; Clergy and Lay Persons
  • Reading Assignment 1: Being Christian; Chapter 2
  • Reading Assignment 2: A People Called Episcopalians; Chapter 3

Session 3: Spirituality and the Episcopalians

  • A closer look at the Book of Common Prayer; Prayer; Sacraments; Rites; View of Incarnation; Mysticism
  • Reading Assignment 1: Being Christian; Chapters 1 and 3 
  • Reading Assignment 2: A People Called Episcopalians; Chapter 4

Session 4: The Episcopal Temperament

  • Prayer; Sacred and Secular; Ambiguity; Open-Mindedness; Intuition; Aesthetics; Moderation; Nature; History; Politics
  • Reading Assignment 1: Being Christian; Chapter 4
  • Reading Assignment 2: A People Called Episcopalians; Chapter 5

Session 5: Episcopal Polity and Wrap-Up

  • Sarah: Membership and stewardship
  • Margaret: Role of the deacon in the Episcopal church (waiting for confirmation from Margaret)
  • (Vestry member TBA): SJE Vestry and Warden
  • Jered: Church structure and organization; preparing for a Sacrament; final Q & A
  • Reading Assignment: A People Called Episcopalians; Chapters 6 and 7

Basic Christianity tells the whole story of our faith from the beginning of time until the end. It aims to give participants the narrative framework we all need for a lifetime of growing in faith.

Part 1 — link to PDF

Part 2 — link to PDF

Basic Anglicanism is like a citizenship class. We learn where we came from, how we make decisions and how we worship. We get to know St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church, the particular church community in which we are planted.

Part 1 — link to PDF

Part 2 — link to PDF

Basic Bible teaches the skills for reading the Bible intelligently and prayerfully. It combines contemporary scholarship with the traditional four senses of scripture so that we can make the ancient practice of lectio divina our own.

Part 1 — resources are this video and this video

Part 2 — link to PDF

Basic Discipleship teaches the essential Christian practices of prayer, financial stewardship and of telling our own story. It encourages students to adopt the Rhythm of Life.

link to PDF