St. Mark’s helps LCS set fundraising record

The start of the Lutheran Community Services Walk/Run for Hunger

Whether you laced up your sneakers, recruited donors, wrote a check or cheered on those who walked the walk and ran the run, thank you for helping Lutheran Community Services exceed its fundraising goal at the annual Walk/Run, held Saturday, September 18.

LCS reported a record-setting total of $71,983.42, which was more than $10,000 beyond its $60,000 goal.

Mim Stunkard of St. Mark's holding her T-shirtThe money supports LCS’ food program.

St. Mark’s was listed as the top fundraiser, thanks largely to its link to the No. 1 fundraising individual, the intrepid Pastor Fred Melton, who raised $19,935. Pastor Melton retired as pastor of St. Mark’s several years ago and continues to inspire service and generosity in those who come within his force field.

Why does he do that? We asked, he answered.

“Every day before eating a meal, I remain rather humbled by the fact that I have never had to worry about a meal, about where the food will come from,” Fred said. “it’s a good fortune beyond calculation that is so easy to take for granted. So, as people of faith, sincere ‘giving thanks’ (that’s the table prayer) virtually begs us to do something to help others who are not so fortunate.

Pastor Fred Melton

“I really cannot say a prayer without being reminded that helping others is both a response to God’s blessings to us and a virtual requirement for having such easy access to food. I recall a powerful quote from the speaker at my oldest son’s college graduation (from the University of Michigan), which was: “Service is the rent we pay for being alive.”

 

Souls On Fire, the praise band that leads St. Mark’s contemporary services, provided music before the event, which was hosted by Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd.

A group shot of some members of the St. Mark's Praise Band "Souls On Fire."

Returning to two services, 8:45 and 11:15 a.m.

St. Mark's sanctuary

St. Mark’s returns to two services on Sunday, September 12, with two important changes. Our traditional liturgical service now begins at 8:45 a.m. and our contemporary service starts at 11:15 a.m. We will continue to share communion using the kits through September. All are welcome.

In the absence of Interim Pastor David Mueller, the Rev. Barbara Melosh will lead us on Sunday, September 12. The Rev. Wes Hamlin will lead us on Sunday, September 19.

Join us, too, for our Unity Homecoming Service on Sunday, October 3. On this Sunday, we will all gather at 10 a.m. for this joyous homecoming. We hope to return to celebrating communion together at the front of the church on this day, too.

Immediately following the Unity Homecoming Service, we will celebrate with our church picnic! Bring your own chair and a side dish or dessert. Hot dogs, hamburgers, rolls, condiments, iced tea and water will be provided. Please sign up for this on the kiosk in the church narthex or by calling the church office at (302) 764-7488.

Helping the people of Haiti and Afghanistan

Military zone image

The past two weeks have brought devastating news concerning the people of Haiti and Afghanistan.  I am overwhelmed with the enormity and desperation of the people involved.  If you would like to respond as a faithful member of the ELCA, please consider these two opportunities sent from the Delaware-Maryland Synod.

Thank you!

Kitty Dombroski

President, St. Mark’s Leadership Council

Haiti Earthquake Relief

A devastating 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck southwest Haiti on Aug. 14. Hundreds of people were killed and relief efforts continue for the survivors and the thousands who were injured. Damaged roads have delayed the delivery of vital supplies to hospitals, which are overwhelmed. Thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed.
A child standing in rubble in Haiti

To learn more about this crisis, what the ELCA is doing to assist in recovery efforts and how you can offer support, visit the Lutheran World Relief website here.

You can assist this work by donating to the Disaster Relief Fund web page here.

Afghanistan Crisis Relief

In the midst of the ongoing political unrest and humanitarian crises in Afghanistan, you are invited to support the work of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services.

Through its Neighbors in Need: Afghan Allies Fund, LIRS will provide food, housing assistance, clothing and other basic needs for our Afghan friends as they await official services available to them. To learn more and support this fund, visit the website here.

St. Mark’s Update: Welcome back!

Choir and praise band musicians leading worship in the sanctuary

Have you seen the restaurant commercial using the theme song for Welcome Back, Kotter? It’s a great song and used really well. If you don’t remember the show, you are young enough to look it up on the internet. It’s a sitcom from the 1970’s.

Welcome back, St. Mark’s! At our last last meeting on May 23, Council approved re-opening St. Mark’s following State of Delaware guidance. We have been worshiping in person since the fall, but with many restrictions. What this broader re-opening means, specifically, is this:

  • Open doorsIf you are vaccinated you are no longer required to wear a mask or social distance at worship if you choose not to do so.
  • If you prefer to continue masking up and socially distancing — that’s OK, too! It takes awhile to adjust to the new normal.
  • If you are not vaccinated, please consider getting the shots. You will be required to wear a mask at St. Mark’s and maintain physical distance.

The re-opening also means our choir and contemporary praise band can sing in the sanctuary again, instead of pre-recording all of the music every week. It was amazing to hear live voices again in our sanctuary. As is our normal tradition, live music will take a break for the summer and start again for our Homecoming/Rally Sunday. We’ll be sending more information on that when we are closer to September.

In other news, the roofers are waiting for supplies and I hope they are able to start very soon. The construction industry has taken a big supply hit and prices for materials are extremely high.

Have a wonderful summer! Church Leadership is working hard to get St. Mark’s “back to normal.” I welcome feedback and would love to hear from you with concerns and suggestions.

Kitty Dombroski

St. Mark’s Council President

In his own words: Interim Pastor David Mueller reflects on 50 years in ministry

Interim Pastor David Mueller

If you were with us for the special worship service and 50th anniversary celebration of Interim Pastor David Mueller’s ordination on Sunday, June 13, you know how special it was to hear about God’s work in and through him. If you missed that event, the livestream is archived on our YouTube channel.

Friends and family from far-flung places have thanked God for Pastor Mueller’s ministry and the way God has used him over this half century. The St. Mark’s family has special gratitude for the way he and his wife, Gigi, so willingly answered God’s call to serve as interim pastor here for the past two years.

We thought it would be great to sit down with Pastor Mueller, giving him opportunity to share insights from this extended period of service to our Lord. He agreed to this and John Lasher made it possible. The interview now is available on our YouTube channel, which you can reach by clicking on the image below. We hope you’ll listen in!

 

Love drama, art, music? Volunteer with Creative Arts Camp!

Summer Arts Camp graphic

Our next-door neighbor, Presbyterian Church of the Covenant (503 Duncan Road), is hosting a Creative Arts Camp on weekday mornings through July 30.

More than 60 children have signed up for the camp, which started Monday, June 21. The camp runs from 8:15 a.m. through noon each weekday. Drama, art and music are all on the agenda.

Sound wonderful? Volunteers are needed! You can join in by filling out the form at this link: https://forms.gle/otvNehPHeZ44miKi9

Songs, hymns and spiritual songs — together again!

Outdoor hymn sing

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God.” — Colossians 3:16

It has been more than a year since St. Mark’s worship has included in-person singing. Instead, because of the COVID-19 virus and the need to slow the spread of the pandemic, prerecorded music has been part of our worship. Those worshipping at home by way of St. Mark’s YouTube channel could sing along with gusto, but we haven’t sung together in the sanctuary since March of 2020.

John Lasher, director of music and worship arts, had an idea that resonated with many: He would organize an outdoor hymn sing.

Rain washed away the first date, but gorgeous sunshine smiled on Sunday, April 18 and almost two dozen people turned out to St. Mark’s parking lot for the event. Most everyone sat in camp-style chairs. Some sat on a nearby curb or in their car.

John set up his keyboard just outside the main entrance and placed several large speakers nearby.

He had prepared a booklet with 16 hymns, most of which were requested in advance by the congregation. It took almost an hour to sing through all of them, but the time flew by. It was good medicine to worship together, to see each other and to sing the songs we love so much.

“Many of those hymns bring emotion welling up in me that is so strong,” said Cheryl Powell, who attended with her brother, David McClure. “I can’t get through them without choking up.”

Among the hymns she noted: “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” and “There Is a Balm in Gilead,” the Navy Hymn “Eternal Father, Strong to Save,” the timeless “Jesus Loves Me” and, of course, “Amazing Grace.”

Other beloved hymns included “Blessed Assurance,” “Beautiful Savior,” “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and “I Love to Tell The Story.”

Click on the image below for a quick sample:

Music is a treasure to many at St. Mark’s, which has had an active choir for generations and also — in pre-pandemic times — has had a less formal second service that includes a worship band.

“What sealed my membership in the Lutheran Church was the consistent use of music throughout the service,” Cheryl said, “and the story I heard about Martin Luther himself, urging another priest/churchman to ‘sing to the glory of God!’ as he played what is known as ‘the Lutheran hymn,’ [A Mighty Fortress].”

Thanks to John and all who came out to make a joyful noise!

Stay tuned. We hear there may be a sequel!

Midweek: The Rev. Jason Churchill

The Rev. Jason Churchill

This week’s Midweek guest is the Rev. Jason Churchill, pastor of St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in downtown Wilmington. He and Interim Pastor David Mueller discuss the challenges (and opportunities) presented to a church in a city (with no off-street parking!). He also briefly discusses his experiences as a gay Christian and pastor. Click on the image below to watch the conversation on our YouTube channel.

Midweek Extra: The Rev. Clarence Pettit

The Rev. Clarence Pettit of Unity Church in Wilmington

Clarence Pettit, senior pastor of Unity Church in Wilmington, joins us for a third conversation with Interim Pastor David Mueller in this week’s Midweek Extra. In previous conversations, these pastors have discussed race and pastoral issues anecdotally. This week, they pursue a more theological discussion of these matters.

Click on the image below to listen in.

Previous conversations are available at these links:


Midweek Extra: The Rev. Gordon Simmons

The Rev. Gordon Simmons. Photo by John Lasher

Interim Pastor David Mueller is joined in this Midweek Extra by the Rev. Gordon Simmons, director of the Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Delaware.

The office serves as a state public policy office of the ELCA and represents its strategic commitment to “step forward as a public church that witnesses boldly to God’s love for all that God has created.” This office works with congregations and individuals in Delaware to become better advocates for justice. You can connect by email.

Listen to the conversation by clicking on the YouTube link below: