Join us Sunday, November 27, as we start the Advent season with a new study called “Hallelujah! The Bible and Handel’s Messiah,” led by Margie Dodson.
We’ll meet at 10 a.m. in the Great Room for this four-week study.
“Messiah” is a wonderful way into the Bible. We will listen to the voice of God through the prophet Isaiah and the genius of George Frideric Handel’s most-beloved oratorio as we study, discuss and celebrate the birth of Jesus.
These are the portions in focus throughout Advent:
Sunday, Nov. 27: “Comfort, comfort my people.”
Sunday, Dec. 4: “Who may abide the day of his coming?”
Thanksgiving week is here — can you believe it? — and we hope you will make time to reflect on the many reasons you have to be grateful. It’s an important practice — best done daily or perhaps multiple times a day!
We face many challenges in our lives and in our world, it is true, but gratitude does not deny that or turn away from it. Rather, gratitude helps us put things into proper perspective, reminds us of the goodness of our faithful Shepherd and calls us to put our thanks into action.
In the words of the old hymn by Johnson Oatman Jr.:
“When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost
Count your many blessings, name them one by one
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done!”
God has done so much — and way more than we ever notice or realize.
Here are just five brief examples of things God has done at St. Mark’s in the past year:
God guided our Call Committee and brought us a wonderful new pastor, the Rev. Kelley Ketcham, and her delightful family!
God has given wisdom and strength to our Leadership Council, with each member serving in specific areas of our life together — from facilities to financial stewardship to updating our constitution and responding to needs as they arise.
God has sustained our Worship and Music Committee, whose members have worked to plan and expand our worship opportunities, including the online options that have helped those who cannot attend in person.
God has led many to service in prayer, “Caring Hearts” ministry, congregational life, flowers, meals and care for our property and other resources.
God has provided multiple opportunities for study and faith formation, with several small groups meeting regularly — in-person and online — to discuss God’s Word, pray for our congregation and world, and strengthen our connections with each other. He has also raised up teachers, who prepare and deliver excellent learning opportunities for children and adults.
God has enabled us to provide support for Lutheran World Relief, Lutheran Community Services, Lutheran Volunteer Corps, Sojourners’ Place, Family Promise, Hilltop Lutheran Neighborhood Center, Jewish Family Services’ refugee settlement efforts, Lutheran Disaster Response, Lutheran Campus Ministry and other agencies that provide relief to those in need locally and around the world.
You could add many more examples, we know! Write them down and bring them up when we’re talking together! Problems are real and stressful and may seem insurmountable at times. But God’s faithfulness is new every morning and it’s a healthy, essential practice to stop and recognize the goodness, beauty and joy God pours into our lives and our world.
It is important, too, to remember God’s words to Abram, when He called him to leave his native country and go to a new land:
“I will bless you … and you will be a blessing to others.” (Genesis 12: 2)
We are blessed not only for our own good, but also to be a blessing to others.
And this is where gratitude goes into action!
Please remember the blessings God has poured into our lives and make a fresh commitment to share those blessings and resources with St. Mark’s, with our community and with those in need around the world.
We are thankful for you and we pray for God’s blessing on you and all of yours, that we may all be a blessing to our world.
We have a great family day planned for Sunday, September 18 — Rally Day! It’s the day we kick off a new year of worship, study, service and life together!
We’ll start with worship — a Unity Service — starting at 10 a.m.
Then we’ll move outside to enjoy the company of our St. Mark’s family and friends and share a picnic lunch.
Among the special events is an outdoor concert, featuring our own Arden Shindel and friends. Arden is the daughter of Rob and Rebecca Shindel and is a student at Cab Calloway School of the Arts. She has been delighting audiences in the region with recent performances in “James and the Giant Peach” and “Into The Woods.”
Also planned are games for the kids, a candy buffet and other fun stuff.
Bring a dessert, a comfy lawn chair and your sense of humor!
It’s almost time for the 2022 Lutheran Community Services (LCS) Walk/Run — one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for LCS, which provides emergency and essential assistance to thousands of people in our community. St. Mark’s has been a strong supporter of this event for many years, so lace up those sneakers, get your cheering squad ready and pull out your checkbook or credit card to help us provide resources for this outstanding service agency.
This year’s Walk/Run will be held Saturday, Sept. 17 at a new site — Concordia Lutheran Church, 3003 Silverside Road, Wilmington, DE 19810. Registration starts at 9 a.m. and the Walk/Run starts at 10. Read more for details on how to support this event!
The day includes raffles, door prizes and a friendly, non-competitive walk for adults and kids alike. Those who fundraise for the event engage with their friends, family and other personal contacts to support LCS and its mission to help provide essential needs. The funds raised and food collected from this event go directly to LCS’ food pantries.
Pastor Fred Melton (former pastor of St. Mark’s) has been a longtime supporter of this event and returns this year with a dedicated team. St. Mark’s also has a new team — “Pastor Kelley’s Krew” — named for our new pastor, Kelley Ketcham.
To donate to a specific team or participant, you can give a check (made out to LCS) directly to the participant or donate to a specific team or participant at this website: https://secure.qgiv.com/event/20walkru/
A recent addition to the Walk/Run is a Family Fun Fair, immediately following the event. We love to interact with old and new friends with games, rides, music and food.
The Walk/Run & Fun Day is traditionally held on the third Saturday of September, rain or shine, and is hosted by one of our church partners.
Please join us Sunday afternoon, August 21, for a very special event in the life of St. Mark’s as we gather for the rite of installation of our new pastor, the Rev. Kelley Ketcham. The service, which begins at 3 p.m. in the sanctuary, is the culmination of three years of prayerful work and a day of great celebration for all.
Special guests include the Rev. Robin Simpson Litton, assistant to the bishop for leadership, who will preside over the service, and Bishop William Gohl Jr., leader of the Delaware-Maryland Synod, who will bring the sermon.
The St. Mark’s choir and “Souls on Fire” band will participate, along with guest musicians Maria Rusu (violin) and Genevieve Hahn (flute), led by John Lasher, director of music and worship arts.
Pastor Kelley wrote a wonderful description of the significance of this gathering for our newsletter, The Lion. We include that here for your benefit:
“During the rite of installation, I will make promises: To commit myself to this responsibility; to preach and teach in accordance with the confessions of the church and the constitution of the ELCA; to be diligent in my study of scriptures and the use of the means of grace; to love, serve and pray for you; to nourish you with the word and sacraments; to lead you by my own example; and give faithful witness to the world.
“This is a pretty daunting task and it is one that I’m sure I will fail more often than I uphold. And so my response to each of these questions will be: ‘I will, and I ask God to help me’ because it will only be with God’s help that I can faithfully carry out these promises.
“But I am not the only one that will make promises in this service. You, the people of St. Mark’s, will also be asked to receive me into this community, to pray for me and my family, to help and honor me for my work’s sake, and in all things strive to live together with me in the peace and unity of Christ.
“I know that there also will be days when this is easier said than done for you. And so, your response will also be: ‘We will, and we ask God to help us’ because it will only be with God’s help that you will be able to faithfully carry out these promises.
“It is also important to remember that my installation as your pastor is not the end of the journey; it is the beginning of the next part. The past will not miraculously disappear now that you have called me to be your pastor, nor do I bring with myself a magic wand to wipe away all the struggles ahead of us. But what will happen is that we will work together as pastor and people to better share the Gospel with our community and our world.
“As we go forth in this journey as pastor and people together, may we remember the promises we will make to one another, and that it is only through God’s guidance, love and mercy that we will be able to uphold them.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.