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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
A message from the Association of Asians and Pacific Islanders — ELCA, affirmed by the ELCA Conference of Bishops
“If one member suffers, all suffer together….” 1 Corinthians 12:26
The COVID-related surge in anti-Asian violence is physically and spiritually assaulting Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. This violence re-emerged from America’s historical and pervasive sin of racism. Asian American and Pacific Islander children and adults are facing assaults with racial slurs, bullying, spitting, physical injury and even death. These are not new in communities where Peoples of Color live. These violent acts of racism have and are happening in cities and towns across the United States. The virus of racism cannot be allowed to run rampant.
We, the Association of Asians and Pacific Islanders — ELCA, call on our church to once again unequivocally denounce racism by taking immediate actions to defend, protect, and uphold the safety and lives of Asian Americans. 1 Corinthians 12 tells us that we are one body with many members. This member of the body is suffering. Let us bear this suffering together as one body.
We call on our church:
to model the example of Jesus, whose compassion was made visible by acts of love, culminating in embracing bodily harm to save us;
to undergird and measurably advance its fight against racism and apathy, in all expressions of the church;
to model how to tap into Jesus’s deep empathy as our collective power to stand against violence and promote the way of Jesus instead;
to urge, facilitate and invite all people in the ELCA’s sphere of influence, both within the church and beyond it, to unite in this crucial battle;
to declare a Sunday during this Lenten season to lament in order to express solidarity, help in healing, and support the victims of violence against Asian Americans;
to show how the ELCA will oppose racism, its death-dealing manifestations and proclaim ways to move forward as a church and society where all God’s people of color can be free to build a world of true peace, equality, justice, and kindness with others.
After the service, Bishop Gohl sat down with Interim Pastor David Mueller to tape a conversation for the Midweek Extra, which is produced by John Lasher, St. Mark’s director of music and worship arts, and then posted on our YouTube channel.
Bishop Gohl and Pastor Mueller discussed the role of a bishop in our denomination — the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — and how it compares to a bishop in the Episcopal or Roman Catholic church.
They also discussed the “call” process, which St. Mark’s is pursuing now as we look for a new pastor, and how the church can grow and minister into the future.
Bishop Gohl was elected bishop at the 2016 Synod Assembly. At the time of his election, he was pastor of Epiphany Lutheran Church and intern supervisor/vice pastor of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, both in Baltimore. Before that, he served at Peace Lutheran Church in Glen Burnie, Maryland, in vice pastorates at Our Saviour, Lansdowne, Maryland; Zion, City Hall Plaza; Faith, North Avenue and assisted at All Saints, Loch Raven, and Peoples Community in Baltimore.
He attended Gettysburg College, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1996, and earned his master’s at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2000. He is now between a master of sacred theology (STM) and doctor of ministry (DMin) at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.
Bill is married to the Rev. Arwyn Pierce Gohl and they have four children, Saliese, David, Andrew and Joyanne.
The Gohls make their home in the northeast corner of Baltimore City and enjoy time with their families; the Gohl side in Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania (by way of Long Island, where the bishop grew up) and the Pierce side in Fairhaven, Massachusetts.
Here’s a link to the Midweek Extra on our YouTube channel:
Other videos related to this conversation (as provided by John Lasher) are listed below:
He called for questions — and you are sending them!
This week’s “St. Mark’s Midweek Extra” — an informal, half-hour video hosted by Interim Pastor David Mueller and produced by John Lasher — focuses on the social statements of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the denomination St. Mark’s is part of, and what it means to be a congregation in the ELCA.
Pastor also talks about Christian sexuality in an increasingly permissive society.
If you have questions of your own, feel free to send an email to the church office.
I’ve been listening to music over the past few months while stuck in the house. I always feel better when I listen to songs I love and I tend to get them stuck in my head. YouTube is nice, it’s free and a bit of a time waster. Perfect.
I started with Bonnie Raitt singing “Angel from Montgomery,” but then John Prine died of COVID-19 and I was bummed. The world lost a beautiful writer. I don’t care how old he was.
The April “Lion” arrived and after reading Rev Mueller’s Musings I had Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young wailing “Ohio” for days. The distrust resonated with me.
Bob Marley and the Wailers’ “Exodus” came next. Not exactly Lutheran theology, but I like being one of Jah people — even if just for a few minutes.
And now — Alabama Shakes. “Hold On.” I can’t get it out of my head. If you haven’t heard it (and you like loud, rock, Janis Joplin-type music) find it on YouTube. It’s addictive. Brittany Howard mentions somebody up above a few times in the lyrics so God’s in there too. At least I believe he is. It’s my kind of prayer — especially when she wails “I don’t wanna wait.” It feels like a cry from one of the Psalms.
St Mark’s Council met on May 17. It was a long meeting — three hours. We had a lot to discuss. Fortunately, before I wrote this letter, the Governor sent guidelines for opening churches. And then we heard from the ELCA and then the Synod. We are getting a lot of advice. But, to be clear, no one is sure. We have a lot of information and common sense to sift through. Members of the congregation have had some great ideas too.
And now we have to buy stuff that may take awhile to get here. We need to be clean and safe. We are still working on a tentative date and we’ll get those specifics out when we have them. We have to be safe. But I want you to know we are working on a plan.
Council formed a Building Safety Committee to come up with suggestions for opening the building for a service. The Worship and Music Committee is working on how to have a safe service. We may not know exactly when we will be together but we will do our best to be safe. Council will meet again on May 31 via Zoom for more discussion.
A few other things:
We applied and were approved for a PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loan. The money has been deposited in our account.
The Great Room is finished – waiting for us to return.
We have changed the locks on the outside doors. Inside door locks remain the same. We are going to be careful about distributing keys. There were way too many keys out there and this was a good time to get that under control. Let me know if you need to get in the church and I will arrange for you to get in. Council will decide on May 31 how many and who to give keys to. The church building remains closed at least through May 31.
Many of our neighbors in the United States and around the world are facing disasters and you can provide real help. Donations to Lutheran Disaster Response’s general fund enable us to react quickly whenever and wherever disaster strikes, including at times such as these, when the need is great. With multiple disasters threatening the lives of people around the world, will you consider making a gift?
* In Australia, intense wildfires have been raging across the country. In New South Wales, more than 1,200 homes have been destroyed and nearly 9 million acres have burned. In Victoria, over 4,000 people were trapped by the bushfires, which forced them to take refuge along the beachfronts and in boats. The wildfire season is expected to get only worse due to the severe drought experienced throughout the country. Lutheran Disaster Response is sending a grant to the Lutheran Church in Australia so it can continue to respond immediately, providing food and other necessities.
* In Indonesia, heavy rain caused severe flooding and landslides in the greater Jakarta area. More than 60 lives were lost and close to 100,000 people lost their homes. The government opened 255 evacuation centers as temporary shelters for displaced families. Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (HKBP, the Batak Christian Protestant Church), a companion of the ELCA, opened a tent in Jakarta to provide free medical checkups to families affected by the flooding. HKBP also supplied cleaning materials to help communities remove debris and clean water-damaged homes. Lutheran Disaster Response is providing support to HKBP to continue the relief and recovery activities.
* In Puerto Rico, a series of earthquakes up to a 6.4 magnitude have killed at least one person and caused power outages and widespread damage. The earthquakes come as many residents of the U.S. territory are still recovering from the 2017 hurricanes, painstakingly repairing or rebuilding their damaged homes. Lutheran Disaster Response is communicating with the Caribbean Synod and Lutheran Social Services of Puerto Rico about the best way to support the recovery effort.
With your support, we are able to respond with Christ’s love, hope and healing — and practical support for disaster survivors.
The Rev. Daniel Rift, director, ELCA World Hunger and Lutheran Disaster Response Funding
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The ELCA has put together a fantastic Good Gifts catalog, chock full of unique ideas that can make a real difference in people’s lives and support almost 80 ELCA ministries around the world. And none requires fighting with mall traffic!
Lutheran World Relief: This global effort works for sustainable development, helping families rise out of poverty and hunger. You can contribute a herd of animals or one or two. Families also receive training. The herds help them to earn income and find stability.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service: Your gift helps vulnerable families who are fleeing unspeakable violence in search of a safe home. LIRS helps reunite families and provides real help and hope that can change the lives of those who need it most.
Lutheran Community Services: LCS of Delaware helps individuals and families address food, housing and other essential needs with dignity and respect.
Delaware-Maryland Synod: The Syndod’s “Strong Roots–Wide Branches” fund supports the ministry of Christ in the Delaware and Maryland regions.
Please join us for Delaware Legislative Night at St. Mark’s at 7 p.m. Sunday, November 17, when our guest will be State Representative Debra Heffernan, who represents the district in which our church resides.
You are welcome to ask Rep. Heffernan questions about the church’s neighborhood and the wellbeing of its residents and especially about issues and pending legislation that will come before the Legislature when it returns to Dover in January. The Delaware Lutheran Office on Public Policy will be focusing on issues related to Education and Environment next year. Rep. Heffernan has expertise in both of these critical areas, so please be thinking of questions for her about these two topics especially.
Rep. Heffernan is the former President of the Brandywine School Board and an environmental toxicologist with more than 30 years of experience. She has served on the state’s Brownfields Advisory Committee, which is working to protect Delawareans from pollutants while making the state greener and more economically viable. She graduated from Caesar Rodney High School, earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Delaware and a master’s in environmental toxicology from Duke University.
Rep. Heffernan volunteers with the Girl Scouts of Chesapeake Bay, the Mary Campbell Center, and Special Olympics of Delaware. She and her husband, Pat, live in Edgewood Hills with their three children.