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

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

Delaware Legislative Night

State Representative Debra Heffernan and State Senator Sarah McBride

Please join us at 7 p.m. Monday, December 20 for a 40-minute Zoom session with the two state legislators who represent our area.

State Senator Sarah McBride and State Representative Debra Heffernan will discuss the upcoming legislative session and take your questions. This is a valuable session even if you don’t live in the same Senatorial District or Representative District which serves our church home.  Don’t miss this opportunity to share your thoughts and learn about the work these lawmakers are doing in Dover.

If you have questions about this event or need the Zoom link, please contact Jan Sullivan.

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!

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.

Join us for LCS’ 30th Hunger Walk/Run

The start of the 2019 LCS Walk Run for Hunger

The Lutheran Community Services Hunger Walk/Run is back and all of us — runners, walkers, volunteers and givers — are invited to participate in this event, which supports the ministries of LCS in our community.

The funds raised and food collected from this 5-kilometer event go directly to LCS’ food pantries.

This year’s event marks the 30th anniversary of the Hunger Walk/Run. Though the 2020 event was “virtual,” allowing everyone to choose the place and time of their participation because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year we return to an in-person event on Saturday, September 18 at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church at 1530 Foulk Rd., Wilmington, Delaware 19803. Registration starts at 9 a.m. The run/walk starts at 10.

Afterward, stick around for the Family Fun Fair. Games, rides, music and food all are on the agenda.

You can contribute to the success of this day without lacing up any sneakers by supporting those who hit the streets . Register and/or contribute to the individual or team of your choice by visiting LCS’ website here.

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.

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.

Holy Week at St. Mark’s

Image of palm frond by Gini George from Pixabay

There are many opportunities to prepare our hearts as we approach Easter and the commemoration of our Lord’s death and resurrection. We hope you’ll join us this week. All in-person worship requires a reservation. All livestream services may be found on our YouTube channel.