Better Know a Parishioner: James Rosenzweig

Your name and what you do in Spokane (whether that be work or volunteer or hobbies or activities or…)

My name is James Rosenzweig—the primary thing I do, locally, is serve on the library faculty at Eastern Washington University, where I’m currently an Assistant Professor and the Education Librarian.  I’m also a part-time employee of the YMCA of the Inland Northwest, as I serve as an advisor and mentor to a group of teenagers who participate in the Y’s Youth & Government program for civic engagement.  Those two commitments, plus being the husband of a cathedral chapter member and the father of an energetic 4 year old, don’t leave me a lot of time for hobbies or activities.  But when I find time, I do enjoy reading (especially science fiction), playing board games, and spending a little time under the stars as an amateur backyard astronomer.

What is your history at St. John’s Cathedral, and the Episcopal Church at large?

My family started attending St. John’s in January of 2015, just a week or two after we moved to the area from Chicago, and we’ve been here ever since.  We’re naturally a bit introverted (except for the 4 year old), so it’s taken us a while to settle in and learn about all the things the parish does in the community, but we’ve been really glad we chose to be a part of the congregation, and are invested in seeing St. John’s thrive.  I’m active as a lector and as one of the people who offers the prayers on Sunday mornings, and last year I was licensed as a lay preacher (as I had been previously), which has allowed me the rewarding opportunity to preach on occasion.

As far as the Episcopal Church goes, neither my wife nor I were raised in it.  My story starts out in a Swedish Baptist Church, which I attended very faithfully throughout my childhood and young adult years, and in which I was baptized.  For reasons, I don’t really recall, when I went off to a graduate program in history, I chose as my subject the religious history of the English Reformation, and I fell in love with the church I was studying.  I like to say (half-jokingly) that my first prayer book was the 1549 version.  My wife and I became Episcopalians in 2005, when we started attending St. Margaret’s in Bellevue, Washington, and we were very active in that parish for a number of years, prior to our move to Chicago in 2011.  In Chicago, we had a harder time finding a church home, but we settled for long stretches of time at St. Paul and the Redeemer on Chicago’s south side and at St. Luke’s in Evanston, which is the church we were attending right before moving here to the Spokane area.

What ministries at St. John’s are you most passionate about?

I think it’s fair to say I’m pretty passionate about lectoring/praying, which is a ministry I’ve been involved in at every church I’ve attended for many years now – I love our liturgy and I delight in the opportunity to participate in the liturgy in that way.  I’m also pretty passionate about ministries to children and teens—both as a parent of a kid I expect will engage with those ministries for many years to come, and as someone who’s long worked with young people both in the church and outside of it (at the YMCA and as a public school teacher, which I was for a number of years).  And I’m very glad that our church is involved in supporting the homeless and the underemployed through ministries like the West Central Episcopal Mission, which I’ve been able to participate in a little, helping with meal preparation.

What is one thing you’d like St. John’s to know more about you?

Probably the best thing is something I alluded to earlier: I’m a bit introverted naturally (which people don’t often expect, since I don’t mind reading or speaking in public … it’s the social setting of something like a coffee hour that I find a little more challenging), so I may be a little quieter in some settings at church.  But I have enjoyed getting to know people at St. John’s, and if you cross paths with me, I hope you’ll say hello.  I’d be glad to talk about all these things I’ve mentioned (my kid and my job and my hobbies, and all the rest), and maybe get the chance to know you a little better, too.

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