Introducing … St. Mark’s new pastor!

St. Mark's Pastor Kelley Ketcham

St. Mark’s is thrilled to introduce the Rev. Kelley Ketcham, who will soon join us as our new pastor. After unanimous agreement by the St. Mark’s Council and Call Committee, the congregation voted to call Rev. Ketcham to St. Mark’s and she has accepted this call. She will join us in June.

​”Reverend Kelley will not only be a fabulous pastor, she is a fabulous person!” said Francine Passerini, who chaired St. Mark’s Call Committee.

Rev. Ketcham was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. She earned a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. After working in the retail industry for a few years, she attended the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, graduating in 2009 with a Master of Divinity degree.

Her first pastoral call was to a church in Pine Grove Mills, Pennsylvania, where she served for four years before moving to Ohio in 2013 in advance of her marriage to Robbie, who is also a pastor. She and Robbie welcomed their daughter, Abby, in 2015.

The Rev. Kelley Ketcham at a meet and greet at St. Mark's
The Rev. Kelley Ketcham visited St. Mark’s during a weekend in February.

During this period, she served as an interim pastor in Continental, Ohio, then was called to the pastorate of Augsburg Lutheran Church in Toledo, Ohio, in 2015.

When she is not serving the church, she enjoys performing with community theater groups, leading her daughter’s Girl Scout troop and watching the latest Marvel and Star Wars content on Disney+.

We are grateful to God for his guidance and provision and ask for your prayers as Rev. Ketcham and her family make this significant transition.

St. Mark’s is also grateful for the work of the Call Committee — including Chair Francine Passerini, Amy Lane, Vicki McDowell, Elise Mitchell, Michael Patterson, Cheryl Powell, Jerry Schrack and Wayne Smiley. We are also grateful to the Rev. Robin Litton, assistant to the bishop of the Delaware-Maryland Synod, who helped to guide us through the process, and to the wonderful interim pastors — the Rev. David Mueller and the Rev. Dr. Barbara Melosh — who served our congregation during this three-year transition.

As we anticipate this wonderful new chapter in St. Mark’s history, Council President Kitty Dombroski has some observations and suggestions:

“Approximately three years ago St. Mark’s was left without a pastor. It was a difficult time for our congregation. Between then and now we have learned a lot. We were blessed to have an interim pastor who understood our situation and the pain we were going through.

“We now have a new pastor and are about to embark on a new chapter in our journey. I don’t have to tell you this is an exciting time with lots of possibilities. We are not the same congregation we were three years ago. The world has changed and we have changed. Together with Rev. Kelley we will move forward in ministry.

“I just finished watching a movie called “tick, tick … BOOM!” There’s a song stuck in my head again — “Louder than Words.” It reminds me of all the possibilities ahead of us. ‘Cages or wings — which do you prefer?’

“Let’s not get stuck in the old ways of doing things. Yes, traditions are important. So are possibilities and potential.

“Let’s lean into this next chapter, welcoming and supporting Pastor Kelley and each other. There are so many possibilities for Jesus’ ministry at St Mark’s.”

Call Committee Chair Francine Passerini embraces the Rev. Kelley Ketcham, new pastor of St. Mark's.
Francine Passerini, who chaired St. Mark’s Call Committee, embraces the Rev. Kelley Ketcham after the congregation confirmed her call.

 

 

 

 

Lutheran Disaster Response provides humanitarian aid in Eastern Europe

A dove and the flag of Ukraine

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine on Feb. 24, millions of people have fled the country and are seeking refuge in neighboring countries including Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. There are major humanitarian concerns for both internally displaced people and refugees. Many of these Ukrainians fleeing their homes need shelter and such basic necessities as food, water and toiletries. Care for people also includes pastoral and psychological support to address the trauma they’ve endured.

Lutheran Disaster Response is accompanying our companions in Ukraine, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, as well as such ecumenical partners as Lutheran World Federation and Church World Service, in their humanitarian responses to the crisis. These partners provide refugees with immediate support and supplies such as food, blankets, water and hygiene kits. Your gifts will support people impacted by this crisis. Gifts designated to “Eastern Europe Crisis Response” will be used in full (100%) for direct response to assist those affected.

There are many ways to give:

  • You may write a check to St. Mark’s — including “Eastern Europe Crisis Response” in the memo line — and place it into the yellow pew envelopes
  • You may send checks or money orders by mail to Lutheran Disaster Response, P.O. Box 1809, Merrifield VA 22116-8009
  • Give by phone, by calling (800) 638-3522 (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST)
  • Give online at https://community.elca.org/eastern-europe-crisis-response

Be sure to write “Eastern Europe Crisis Response” in the memo line of your check.

Together, we pray for our siblings in Ukraine and Eastern Europe. May God be with them in their time of need.

A prayer for peace:

Merciful God, we pray for peace as war rages in Ukraine. Shelter all living in fear; protect those seeking refuge in neighboring countries; sustain families separated by the horrors of war; tend to those who are injured; comfort all who mourn their dead. Direct your people into the way of peace. In your mercy, receive our prayer.

Come and meet our pastoral candidate Sunday, Feb. 20

Welcome sign

St. Mark’s Council is pleased to announce a special congregational meeting Sunday, February 20, to approve a new pastor. The candidate has been unanimously approved by both the Call Committee and the Church Council — the culmination of a process that began in 2019.

Thank you, Congregation, for your prayers and support! Thank you especially to our Transition Team and Call Committee!

This is an exciting time for St. Mark’s and we are planning a special weekend. Check the email that was sent to all members last week for more details on a “Meet and Greet.”

Then join us Sunday, February 20. There will be no 8:45 service that day. Instead, we will gather at 11:15 a.m. for a Unity Service. Our candidate will preach and our special congregational meeting will follow at noon.

I strongly encourage all members of St. Mark’s to be present Sunday, February 20, to vote and show our support.

Thank you!

Kitty Dombroski

President, St Mark’s Church Council

St. Mark’s schedule updates for Sunday, February 6

Open doors

With no big storm in the forecast, we will be open on Sunday, February 6, with a few schedule changes.

There will be no 8:45 a.m. traditional service. Instead, we will start with the Adult Forum at 10 a.m. in the Great Room. This week’s guest is Allison David, CEO of the Claymont Community Center.

At 11:15 a.m., we’ll gather in the sanctuary for a Unity Service, led by Interim Pastor Barbara Melosh. Immediately after the service, we will hold our annual business meeting, which was postponed by last weekend’s snowstorm. Please review the packet mailed to all voting members for more information and instructions on how to vote if you are joining us remotely.

Our services are also available online on our YouTube channel.

Hope to see you soon!

Snowstorm update: Sunday worship canceled, annual meeting postponed

An illustration showing a line of colorful snow shovels

Because of snow, ice and frigid temperatures, St Mark’s has canceled our worship service for Sunday, January 30, and postponed the annual meeting which was to follow. The annual meeting now is scheduled for Sunday, February 6. The time and other details will be announced shortly.

Many previous services are available online at our YouTube channel. If you missed one, this may be a great time to catch up!

Alternatively, you may want to take a virtual visit to another congregation of the Delaware-Maryland Synod. Our Synod’s website has a directory of congregations that offer online services.

Please stay warm and safe!

New Pettit Scholarship to benefit Hilltop youth

Helen and Clarence Pettit

We thank God for a new scholarship designed to provide support for students affiliated with one of St. Mark’s ministry partners, Hilltop Lutheran Neighborhood Center.

The scholarship, created in honor of the Rev. Clarence and Helen Pettit by philanthropists Gordon and Fran Fisher, will help multiple students with the cost of private secondary schooling and/or post-secondary schooling.

The Pettits have served the community for many years and Clarence Pettit will also be familiar to those who have seen St. Mark’s Midweek Extra videos, where he was featured in several conversations with our former Interim Pastor David Mueller.

The scholarship offers successful applicants up to $2,000 for tuition and up to $500 for textbooks.

All are invited to support Hilltop students and honor the Pettits through this fund. To learn more about the scholarship and how to give, visit Hilltop’s website.

 

Update from Council: Shifting protocols for in-person worship

Open doors

St Mark’s Council met on Tuesday, January 4, to discuss the surge in Covid cases in Delaware and our safety response at St Mark’s.

After a lively discussion we decided to continue having in-person Sunday worship as well as the 10 a.m. Winter Forum for Sunday January 9, 16 and 23rd — with the following restrictions:

  • There will be no live music. John Lasher, director of music and worship arts, has pre-recorded music that we will use during our services. We are also asking worshippers not to sing.
  • We are requiring that everyone sit 6 feet away from other worshipping family groups.
  • We are asking that everyone wear a medical-grade paper mask. We will have them at the church for all those who do not have one. If you prefer a cloth mask, we ask that you wear the paper mask under your cloth mask. These restrictions are for the safety of the people around you.
  • We will use Communion Kits only. For now, we will not go to the altar for communion.
  • The Winter Forum will continue as scheduled as long as our presenters are comfortable with our restrictions. Chairs will be socially distanced in the Great Room.

I know this is not how we want to participate in our Church Life at St Mark’s, but the Council believes that for the next few weeks, until this surge is over, these restrictions will enable us to be together, in person.

Admittedly, there is still risk and I can’t guarantee you will not be infected. If you have been exposed to Covid or exposed to people who are unvaccinated please stay home. If you do not feel safe; please stay home. We will continue to have worship services online. We will also have  recorded Winter Forum sessions on St Mark’s YouTube site.

There will be information in the coming weeks concerning the Annual Meeting currently scheduled for Sunday, January 30.

Thank you,

Kitty Dombroski

President, St Mark’s Council

Joining together to support Afghan refugees

An illustration showing people holding hands in a circle

By Jan Sullivan

On November 14, more than two dozen St. Mark’s members and guests joined Rosi Crosby, chief strategy officer at Jewish Family Services of Delaware, to learn of the status of Afghan refugees arriving in Delaware. Those present included members of Good Shepherd, St. Stephen’s and St. Philip’s Lutheran Churches.

Jewish Family Services is the refugee resettlement agency in Delaware. Rosi reported that a few Afghan refugees have already arrived in Delaware and more are coming, possibly more than 30 by the end of the year.  She explained volunteer “circles of care,” which are meant to support the refugees, including transportation and advice/support on settling in to the community.

St. Mark’s members donated more than a wagonload of towels, washcloths and bath products for refugees and their families and Rosi reported that all items were promptly distributed within a few days.

What can we do going forward? A lot! Consider one or more of these:

— Anyone who wishes to volunteer and/or join a “circle of care” could contact Jewish Family Services of Delaware at www.jfsdelaware.org/volunteer to complete a form, or e-mail volunteers@jfsdelaware.org. Learn more about JFS’ Refugee Integration Support Effort (RISE) and reach Rosi at rcrosby@jfsdelaware.org.

— If you wish to donate gently used furniture or household items, they cannot go directly to Jewish Family Services. Instead, take them to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, 3312 Seminole Avenue, Wilmington, DE 19808. Habitat’s phone number is (302) 652-5181. Call ahead and let them know you are bringing these items for Jewish Family Services or the Refugee Integration Support Effort (RISE).

— Used clothing in good condition can be taken to Friendship House Clothing Bank, 1603 Jessup Street, Suite 3, Wilmington, DE 19802 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The phone number there is (302) 654-1390. JFS will refer refugees there as needed. Monetary donations specifically for refugees can be forwarded to Jewish Family Services, earmarked RISE, and sent to 99 Passmore Road, Wilmington, DE 19803. Donations can also be made online at www.jfsdelaware.org.

— Additionally, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services encourages us to support the Afghan refugees by contacting our U.S. Congressional Delegation through a convenient form here:  https://www.votervoice.net/LIRS/campaigns/89654/respond? Most of our Afghan neighbors are arriving with humanitarian parole, which only temporarily allows people fleeing danger to remain in the U.S. These Afghans will need to find another pathway to safety once their parole expires. To ensure that Afghans find real, lasting safety in the U.S., Congress must pass the Afghan Adjustment Act, which would allow Afghan humanitarian parolees to seek legal permanent residence in the United States.

An update on interim leadership

Pastor David Mueller and Pastor Barbara Melosh

Dear St. Mark’s,

A few years ago, when St. Mark’s had lost our pastor, the Rev. David Mueller reached out to me offering his services for St. Mark’s. He had been in discussion with members of St. Mark’s who had a relationship with him and he felt called to be our interim pastor. Since that time, we have been in his capable hands. Originally, his intent was to stay until we found our new pastor.

Over the past few months, Pastor Mueller has found that his knee has given him increasing pain and lacks stability. Those of us attending services at St. Mark’s and via Zoom have seen him struggling to maneuver at the altar. He is scheduled for knee replacement surgery in early January.

Pastor Mueller reached out to the Council at our last meeting on November 16, letting us know that he will not be able to continue as our pastor in his current capacity. In the days following, he and I reached out to Bishop William Gohl to let him know the situation and ask for assistance. The Synod has found a pastor to assist over the coming weeks. While not a full-time role, this seems to be the best solution in the short term.

The Rev. Barbara Melosh has been at St. Mark’s before and was introduced last month to assist in our transition. Pastor Mueller will continue to be present in a part-time capacity through January 9.

Please join me in welcoming Pastor Melosh to our St. Mark’s family. She will be serving during worship and with Pastor Mueller, providing pastoral care through the end of the year. After the new year we will have a combination of Pastor Melosh and supply pastors for our Sunday Worship.

Please let me know if you have any questions and continue to contact the office for any pastoral needs. Also, please continue to pray for our Call Committee!

Thank you,

Kitty Dombroski

President, St. Mark’s Congregational Council

A glorious Homecoming Sunday!

Wide view of church picnic

Just like a good old-fashioned, high school homecoming weekend, the St. Mark’s Homecoming Sunday on October 3rd was a glorious, festive and truly enjoyable time. The day started with a beautiful, spiritual Unity Service, with inspiring music and singing voices. Everyone then brought their delectable dishes outside for a picnic, where they were met with the aroma of grilling hamburgers and hot dogs. What a great gift to the smell senses. And God blessed us with great weather!

Grillmasters Dwight Novotny and Kevin Carr
Grillmasters Dwight Novotny (left) and Kevin Carr

Sitting down and spending time with our spiritual and loving church family was the highlight of the picnic. Grillmasters Kevin Carr and Dwight Novotny enjoyed the pleasure of chatting with everyone as they came to get their hamburgers and hot dogs.

Dwight said he didn’t mind being at the grill most of the time, “because I had the opportunity to share a little time with everyone, most of whom I haven’t seen in quite a while.”

The festivities included a visit by two special guests, London and Ava, who are members of Girl Scout Troop 1391, the troop that put in a gorgeous flower bed and donated the new picnic table to the church. Interim Pastor David Mueller blessed and dedicated the flower bed, the new picnic table as well as St. Mark’s new roof in a brief ceremony. A big thank you to these Girl Scouts!

Thank you, too, to St. Mark’s Worship & Music Committee and the Congregational Life and Outreach Committee for organizing this wonderful day!