On your mark, get set!

A group of walkers during the 2018 event.

Save the date! This year’s LCS Walk Run will be held Saturday, September 21, 2019.
The event, which is a fundraiser for Lutheran Community Services, will be at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 1530 Foulk Rd., this year.

A team enjoying the after-walk picnic.
After the walk/run, we get together for a picnic!

It’s not too early to start getting sponsorships!
More information will be announced soon. I hope to see another great St. Mark’s turnout for this great event.
~Kyle Schuldt
A trophy with three St. Mark's team members.
Yes, there are prizes! And St. Mark’s often walks away with some hardware!

Worship and a picnic!

The grillmaster at work during the 2018 picnic.

You could call it our kind of block party! Once a year we join our neighbors at Presbyterian Church of the Covenant to worship our God and enjoy each other’s company.

We start with worship at 10 a.m. — just one service that Sunday — and then gather under the shady trees on PCOC’s lawn for a big ol’ picnic.

Expert grillmasters deliver sizzling burgers and hot dogs and everyone brings a dish or dessert to share.

Dwight Novotny, coordinator for St. Mark’s, says there will be Irish music this year, by the two-man band known as the King Brothers. Does it get any better?

Hope to see you there!

Shot of 2018 picnic
There is always great food at the annual St. Mark’s-PCOC picnic, but the best part is getting together and getting to know each other!

Welcome to St. Mark’s, Pastor David Mueller!

The Rev. David and Gigi Mueller

We are thrilled to welcome the Rev. David Mueller to St. Mark’s as our interim pastor.

Pastor Mueller was pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church for 30 years and has conducted eight interim assignments in the Southeastern Pennsylvania and Delaware-Maryland Synods.

He and his wife, Estrellita “Gigi,” were remarried here at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church by Pastor Carl Sachtleben on December 14, 1984. They are happy to be back among the people of St. Mark’s.

And we are overjoyed to have them with us!

Pastor Mueller’s official start date is August 1.

ROAR: The Mane Event!

Vacation Bible School lion logo

ROAR is an epic African adventure that engages the whole herd!

At ROAR, kids explore God’s goodness and celebrate a ferocious faith that powers them through this wild life.

All children, ages 4 through 11, are welcome. They must be registered by an adult.

The five-evening event goes from 5:15 to 8:30 p.m. from Sunday, July 21 through Thursday, July 25. Our host is Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, 503 Duncan Road, our next-door neighbor.

Teens and adults are needed to make this year’s Vacation Bible School another success!

Please contact Elaine Murphy (semurphy@comcast.net) if you can help in any way.

John Lasher: Director of Music and Worship Arts

St. Mark's music director John Lasher

St. Mark’s has a new director of music and worship arts — and he has a familiar face! We congratulate John Lasher, who has been our interim director for several months, on his recent appointment to this position.

Thanks, too, to the Search Committee and Leadership Council for helping us to navigate this challenging process.

We thought you’d like to know more about John and we sent him some questions.

First, a short bio:

John grew up in Newark, Delaware, where he was active in church music from the age of 7. He plays piano, organ and keyboard, and has played timpani and other percussion. He holds a Bachelors of Music Composition from Cairn University, where he also studied Bible and Theology. John is an accomplished actor, having appeared locally with the Brandywiners, Wilmington Drama League, OperaDelaware and at Delaware Children’s Theatre. He played “Watson” in a critically acclaimed performance of “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure” in Philadelphia. He enjoys building computers, cooking and occasionally drives for Uber.

• What is it about music that appeals to you?

I don’t really know. Reportedly one of my first sentences was “Want Beethoven,” so I guess it’s in my DNA or something.

• What drew you to be a church musician?

Many of my earliest musical experiences were in churches. Music is an incredibly effective means of spreading the Gospel, and we are commanded several times in both the Old and New Testaments to praise the Lord with singing and other music.

• What drew you to St. Mark’s?

My dad happened to see an ad seeking a keyboard player for “Souls on Fire.” I responded, and the rest is history.

• What is your favorite kind of music and why?

If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be what I’ve heard called “dad rock” (I’m not a dad, but…) — Toto, Steely Dan, Chicago, that crowd. Jazz and Classical are definitely up there, too.

• What do you find most challenging about music?

Finding enough time to practice.

• Is there a musician that has especially inspired you?

If I had to pick one, probably Dave Brubeck. He was the first concert I ever attended (at 18 mos. old).

• How did you come to faith?

I can’t remember a time when I did not know the Lord. For as long as I have understood the basic concepts of sin and salvation, I have trusted in Christ as my Savior.

• How are music and faith connected?

Our God has commanded us to make music for His glory, and as previously stated, it is a very effective means of spreading the Gospel. You might not remember what was preached last Sunday, but you’ll probably remember the music.

• What is your favorite instrument?

The organ, for the range of expression it offers. But right up there with it is the human voices. I’ve heard it said that every instrument made with hands is, in some way, an attempt to mimic some aspect of the human voice. That’s the reason violinists play with vibrato.

• What are a few of your hopes for music at St. Mark’s?

I hope to grow the church and thereby grow and improve our ensembles. I want to continue our musical outreach to the local community. I also hope, through music, to continue to build bridges to other churches in northern Delaware and the surrounding area.

• Do you make music elsewhere, too?

Yes. I participate in community theater, both as a performer and as a music director. I also have at least one album on Amazon/Spotify (search the full name John Percy Lasher) and I might make another one in a year or three.

A new chapter for St. Mark’s

Council President Kitty Dombroski and former Pastor Scott Maxwell

St. Mark’s is in a time of transition as we begin the process of finding a new pastor. As was announced in May, Pastor Scott Maxwell accepted a call to ministry in the Baltimore area and his last day was Sunday, June 16.
We had a wonderful turnout for our farewell to Pastor Scott and Candy that day and this wonderful congregation gave them a generous farewell gift.
Our Leadership Council, presided over by Kitty Dombroski, now is working to provide St Mark’s with an Interim Pastor.
The Rev. Bettye Wolinski, assistant to our Synod Bishop William Gohl, attended the Council’s meeting June 9 to review the interim process with us.
“It is Council’s goal to have the right Interim Pastor in place as quickly as possible,” Kitty said. “… I am confident that with the Holy Spirit leading us St Mark’s will be on the right track.”
A Transition Team will be formed to assist the Interim Pastor.
Sunday worship services will continue as scheduled (9 a.m. and 11 a.m.).
In addition, our congregational picnic is coming soon – Sunday, July 28 – as we join with our neighbors at Presbyterian Church of the Covenant for a combined worship service.
As Kitty says: “Lots of good stuff ahead!”

Community VBS planning meeting

Vacation Bible School lion logo

It’s time to ROAR about our love for God and plan for another exciting summer Community Vacation Bible School.

An organizational meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 1 at Presbyterian Church of the Covenant at 503 Duncan Road, right across the street from St. Mark’s.

We need many volunteers to help share God’s love with children of our community. Please plan to attend and learn more about ROAR!

Retirement celebration!

Gail Rodger, director of faith formation

Join us between services on Sunday, April 28 to celebrate the ministry of Gail Rodger, who will retire as director of faith formation effective April 30.

We’ll have light refreshments in the Great Room (downstairs) starting at 10 a.m. and all are welcome to enjoy this time of thanksgiving and well-wishing.

And just to be clear — Gail is retiring from the staff, not the church! She’ll still be part of our St. Mark’s family.

Hope to see you there!

St. Mark’s strategic plan in focus at leadership retreat, adult forum

Jim LaDoux of Vibrant Faith

More than two dozen people in leadership roles at St. Mark’s attended a half-day retreat on Saturday, April 13 to discuss the congregation’s strategic plan, now under construction. The plan also was the focus of the Adult Forum gathering on Palm Sunday, April 14.

Leading both meetings was Jim LaDoux, who works with congregations around the nation as a coach/consultant for Minneapolis-based Vibrant Faith. LaDoux has counseled the new St. Mark’s Compass Team, tasked with developing the plan, which will then be presented to the St. Mark’s Leadership Council for review and consideration.

Three congregational forums also are planned in May (see schedule at the end of the article), during which all are welcome to ask questions and share ideas with the Compass Team.

Participants at the Saturday retreat included Council members, committee chairs and ministry leaders. They heard more details from the congregational survey that was done earlier this year. Nancy Wilkerson, convener of the Compass Team, sketched out demographic data and summarized perceptions and priorities listed by the 70 people who responded to the survey. And they heard key insights from LaDoux about what makes for an effective plan.

Nichole Bishop
Compass Team member Nichole Bishop discusses a map showing where members of the St. Mark’s family live.

LaDoux said the strategic plan aims to help the congregation “create a culture of spiritual vitality” in a way that honors our calling and mission and helps us to bring our best to one another and to our community. That requires inspection and reflection, he said, and an embrace of adaptive change. What should we hold onto? What has been meaningful? We don’t want to lose that. What should we reconsider—perhaps celebrate its value in the past and let it go as something that accomplished its mission? Adaptive change can help to make room for new growth.

“If you want a deeper connection to the community, what does that look like?” LaDoux asked. “Maybe it is three signature programs. You can’t manage 15. To do your best might mean you do less.”

LaDoux said he sees great strengths at St. Mark’s—especially its caring and service-oriented atmosphere. He agreed with all who expressed desire for better communication and said he also sees an immediate need to better define and sharpen the church governance structure. He sees that as necessary before any expansion or new programs or ministries might be considered. He is collating material gathered in the discussion groups, will summarize that information and work with the Compass Team to bring further clarity to near- and longer-term goals.

“There’s a lot to celebrate here,” he said. “Every church has challenges. Sometimes we get so caught up in the challenges that we don’t see the strengths.”

Telling the stories of God’s work in our lives is a powerful way to develop the faith community, he said.

Coming soon:

• Three discussion sessions have been scheduled to give opportunity for all in the congregation to meet with members of the Compass Team, ask questions and share ideas. The schedule is as follows:
Sunday, May 5, 10 a.m. in the Seminary Room
Wednesday, May 15, 7 p.m. in the Seminary Room
Sunday, May 19, noon in the Seminary Room

The Compass Team includes Pastor Scott Maxwell, Nancy Wilkerson (convener), Nichole Bishop, Peg Bradley, Beth Miller, Dwight Novotny and Mike Patterson.

Pancakes with Zero Gravity!

Siblings serving at a pancake breakfast

As if Easter morning wasn’t special enough! Join us this Easter for an extra special breakfast — hot, fresh pancakes served up by the St. Mark’s Youth Group known as Zero Gravity.

We’ll gather between services in the Great Room (downstairs), starting at 9:45 a.m., and enjoy a great breakfast and the company of our wonderful kids!

A freewill offering will be collected, with all proceeds going to support Zero Gravity’s planned trip to Mar-Lu-Ridge Camp. Any extra proceeds will be squirreled away to help send youth delegates to the 2020 ELCA Youth Conference in Minnesota.

Come celebrate Easter, get to know our kids and have a great breakfast! Hope to see you there!