I’m Nicole Sheets, and I teach in the English department at Whitworth University.
What is your history at St. John’s Cathedral, and the Episcopal Church at large?
I joke that I’m a common law Episcopalian because I’ve attended an Episcopal church off and on for the last 18 years, but I haven’t been confirmed. I moved to Spokane in 2010 and started attending St. John’s regularly the year after.
What ministries at St. John’s are you most passionate about?
I’ve heard choirs described as a church within the church, and that’s certainly been true for me at St. John’s. Janet Ahrend and Tim Westerhaus have taught me a lot about music, and what it means to sing as part of an ensemble. I love that there are professional musicians as well as amateurs like me in the choir. And it’s really an intergenerational ministry, which isn’t all that common.
The Cathedral Choir has been my home at St. John’s, and the center of my spiritual practice. I feel more deeply connected to the church calendar, as the music in our rehearsal folder reflects the more introspective seasons of Advent and Lent, and the exuberance of Eastertide. Maybe it’s just the fancy robe, but when I process with the choir on a Sunday morning, I have a heightened attention to what’s happening in the service. Certainly, working on my singing has made me a better listener. My son, Henry, was born last September, and I’ve taken a break from the choir. I miss it very much, and you can hear me belting out hymns in the children’s area in the South Transept.
What is one thing you’d like to know more about at St. John’s?
Now that I’m experiencing St. John’s with two young children, I’d like to learn more about St. John’s youth ministries. I grew up in a different tradition, so I really don’t know what it’s like to be an Episcopal kid. This is maybe exceeding my “one thing” I’d like to know, but I wonder if St. John’s will one day have an outdoor play structure. I was on Chapter when the short-lived Playground Exploratory Committee presented its report. The dream still lives!