Compass Team analyzing survey data, preparing formal reports

Stylized compass

The St. Mark’s Compass Team, tasked with developing a strategic plan for the church, has a lot of information in hand now, thanks to the 69 people who completed the recent congregational survey by the deadline. A total of 130 surveys were distributed. If you did not receive a survey, please call the church office at (302) 764-7488 to request one. We want everyone’s ideas on how to shape a great future for St. Mark’s.

As those of you who responded to the survey know, there is much to review and a careful analysis is underway.

Nancy Wilkerson, convener of the team, invested many hours assembling the responses, sorting them by relevant categories, attaching numeric scores to priorities and perceptions within the congregation and typing out individual comments.

“We’ll be working on this for a number of weeks,” she said.

Respondents’ statements about the church are divided into seven themes including: fellowship, faith, faith formation and education, outreach, flexibility, leadership, and overall satisfaction.

“We’re evaluating responses in a respectful, positive way,” said Mike Patterson, another Compass Team member. “They’re valuable and we appreciate everyone doing it.”

Surveys of area community groups and leaders are continuing and smaller focus groups will be convened for further discussion to help us clarify our mission.

“How do our greatest gifts help to meet the greatest needs?” Pastor Scott Maxwell said.

Here are a few bits of information about those who responded to the report:

    * 62 percent of respondents have attended St. Mark’s for more than 20 years, 16 percent for 11-20 years, 12 percent for 6-10 years, 10 percent for 1-5 years.
    * 68 percent of respondents are married.
    * 36 percent are between 65-75 years old, 28 percent between 41-64, 26 percent over 75.
    * 52 percent of respondents attend the 9 a.m. service, 23 percent the 11 a.m., 22 percent attend both.

Next steps:

    * Results of the congregational survey will be distributed when the reports and analysis are complete.
    * After release of the results, discussion sessions will be scheduled to address questions, seek more information and further explain the goals of this process.
    * Congregational leaders (Council members, committee chairs, ministry leaders) will gather at a retreat in April to review the reports, discuss priorities and begin to shape the St. Mark’s strategy.

Please continue to pray for this team as this work continues, asking God for wisdom, discernment and strength for the task.

In addition to Pastor Scott, Nancy and Mike, team members include Nichole Bishop, Peg Bradley, Beth Miller and Dwight Novotny.

Jewish-Christian Understanding

Peter Pettit

Peter Pettit, director of the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa., will visit to talk with us about efforts to build bridges of understanding between the Jewish and Christian faith traditions.

Dr. Pettit has been active in Christian-Jewish dialogue for more than 25 years, giving leadership in local, national and international settings.

He earned his Ph.D. and master’s degrees at Claremont (Calif.) Graduate University and a master of divinity degree from Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.

Mardi Gras Potluck Festival

Mardi Gras items

Put on a Mardi Gras mask and come join the fun at St. Mark’s Mardi Gras Potluck Festival!

We’ll have a potluck dinner, so bring a dish or dessert to share.

And get a team together (five people on each team) for the Family Feud Tournament! We’re all one big family so ANYONE can be on your team.

Bring the kids! Bring family! Bring friends!

St. Mark’s Strong: Annual meeting points to change, partnerships and great potential

Council President Kitty Dombroski

Change is in the air at St. Mark’s, Kitty Dombroski said in her opening remarks at the congregation’s annual business meeting, held Jan. 27.

That can be great. And that can be dicey.

“Most of us don’t like change,” she said. “And let’s face it, change is really hard. It’s disruptive and unsettling.”

It is inevitable, though, and also essential for growth. Because of all of that, Kitty chose the “Love Chapter” — the 13th chapter of First Corinthians — as the focus of her devotional.

While it’s always nice to receive love, she said, it’s not always easy to be the person giving love. That’s why the Apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth, which had many different opinions and challenges.

Love is the force that holds people together through all kinds of challenge – including periods of change. To punctuate this message, she wore a unique garment, a dress with a hem that bore the word “LOVE” all the way around it. It was a present from a special friend, she said, and she chose to wear it to St. Mark’s, “because St. Mark’s is where the love is.”Kitty Dombroski's 'Love' dress

“God is love,” she said. “Let’s remember that today, tomorrow, next week, throughout this year, working together in ministry to serve God. God is love. We should be, too.”

The unexpected loss of longtime, beloved music director Liz Lauber, who died in March 2018, has prompted some of the coming change as St. Mark’s seeks seek new leadership in that essential ministry. Gratitude was expressed to Nicole Matos and John Lasher, who stepped up to lead the entire music ministry after Liz’s death.

Other changes include:

* A new team at St. Mark’s — the Compass Team — which is working to develop a new strategic plan for the church
* A major new Mission Endowment, established by a gift of the late Ginny Franta, which will support new initiatives at the church
* Continuing renovations to the church building
* A new partnership with Family Promise of Northern New Castle County, which provides shelter to families in need of housing

Sixty-eight people attended the meeting, authorizing the endowment and its committee members, approving a 2019 budget of $336,000, and electing three members to the Leadership Council.

Kitty Dombroski is the new president of Council. The three newly elected members include Peg Bradley (for a second term), Faith Patterson and Nancy Wilkerson. All terms are three years.

The church also expressed gratitude to Lois Broeker, who has served the church on Council as president for the past six years and many years before that as a member of Council.Lois Broeker

Pastor Scott Maxwell reported on St. Mark’s extensive reach into the community — to include his own extensive outreach — and noted that he and Candy have had more than 150 dinners at their home since their arrival about two years ago. The St. Mark’s “Caring Hearts” team has been extremely helpful in assisting those with various needs in the congregation and more than 50 people have participated already in the new partnership with Family Promise of Northern New Castle County.

“I believe in the church,” he said, “and I believe that as we partner with others we will become stronger.”

St. Mark’s has teamed up with many area congregations during the past year, he said, including joint services and an annual picnic with our neighbors at Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, with whom we also partner for Vacation Bible School. Church members also are active in service to Edgemoor Gardens and more than 130 people throughout the community have participated in the St. Mark’s-led Covenant Bible Study and Discipleship Fast Track studies in 2018.

Pastor Scott Maxwell
Pastor Scott Maxwell
“I have great hope for the church,” he said. “I’m excited about the church. It has so much promise. We can seek out relationships first and how to build those with integrity, honesty and authenticity. If we can move and live into this type of partnership the church’s future is bright and beautiful. And that web of God’s love will spread over not only Wilmington, but Delaware and the country and the world and we’ll be stronger and stronger for that.”

Reports also were received from Karen Hansell, financial secretary; Tim Bishop, treasurer; and Allen Kirk, for the audit committee. St. Mark’s is in good financial stead, they said, ending 2018 with a small surplus.

Annual meetingJanice Smith reported on efforts of the Music Ministry Discovery Team, which has spent months working to discern next steps for St. Mark’s in its music ministry. Congregants were surveyed, individual interviews and conversations also produced important input for the committee. A search team has been formed to develop a job description and begin the process of finding a new director of Worship & Music Arts Ministries. That team is co-chaired by Janice and Kitty Dombroski.

Karen Hansell reported on renovations to the building and said we are close to meeting our $63,000 goal. If more money is received, more work can be done! Already, significant upgrades have been made to the kitchen, to the Great Room (new windows) and to the parking lot.

The $350,000 Mission Endowment Fund was introduced and established with a five-member oversight committee. The committee will accept grant applications and recommend to Council which applications should be approved. An annual distribution of 4 percent of the fund balance will be available for grants. In determining distributions, the committee will consider the mission imprint in the community, long-term sustainability of the congregation and the vibrancy of ministries within the congregation.

Finally, Karen Hansell reported on the Christmas Bazaar, which was held for the last time in December. The bazaar has had a 16-year run, supported by scores of hard-working volunteers, who helped to build relationships in and through the church and community. Their work also raised significant support for St. Mark’s. More than $18,000 was raised through the 2018 bazaar, bringing its 16-year total to more than $215,000.

Zero Gravity Spaghetti Dinner

Spaghetti and meatballs

Here’s an evening you definitely don’t want to miss — Zero Gravity’s luscious spaghetti dinner fundraiser!

The kitchen lineup includes: Chef Leonard McClane, sous chef Jerry Schrack and coordinator Cecilia Schrack.

On the front lines will be servers Holly Schrack, Solomon Schrack and Matthew Bradley. These youth enjoy serving and they do a great job. Get to know them!

Bring your family and your friends. You can expect great food and a chance to hang around with your St. Mark’s family.

Tickets are on sale now at $12 each. The money raised will support Zero Gravity’s trips to Mar-Lu-Ridge Summer Christian Camp as well as a trip to the 2021 National ELCA Youth Conference.

Come out, enjoy a good time and help this awesome team get some traction this year!