Count your blessings — and share them!

Let our lives be full of both thanks and giving

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.

Gear up for the 2022 LCS Walk/Run!

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

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 otheLori Weniger and daughterr 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 register as a walker or runner, look for the forms in the church lobby or fill out the online form at this web address: https://secure.qgiv.com/event/20walkru/register/form/classification

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.

Hope to see you there!

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.

 

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.

Sharing God’s blessings with all

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

When we share the blessings God has given us, powerful things happen! We honor Him and share in His work of provision and reconciliation.

St. Mark’s supports and partners with many other groups in service to our Lord and our community. Your gifts are important to these efforts and greatly appreciated. We offer below a list of such opportunities, including the monthly focus approved by St. Mark’s Council and a special 24-hour appeal for EDGE for Tomorrow that starts March 4.

St. Mark’s monthly giving targets include:

January – Family Promise
February – EDGE for Tomorrow (more details below)
April – Lutheran Volunteer Corp & Bowlathon
May – Kairos (prison ministry)
June – Sojourners’ Place/LCS Gimme Shelter Golf
July – LIFE (Lutherans Involved in Food Emergencies)
August – Youth Group
September – Lutheran Community Services & Walkathon
October – ELCA World Hunger
November – Hilltop Lutheran Neighborhood Center

To make a designated gift, you may:

  • Note the designation on your weekly church envelope in the “Special Appeal For:” section
  • Indicate your distribution in the memo on your check or include a note with your check.
  • If you give electronically, you may include a memo or notation to specify the designation.

In addition to these ministries, the Delaware-Maryland Synod, of which St. Mark’s is a part, is in the midst of its 2021 Lenten Appeal, which continues through April 5. Every dollar given will be matched during this time, up to $40,000. These gifts support the synod’s Ministry Fund, helping to build local ministries for the future.

About EDGE for Tomorrow and the DoMore24 campaign March 4-5

EDGE for Tomorrow is thrilled to participate in the monumental DoMore24 statewide campaign, 24 hours during which your gift has extra impact. The period runs from 6 p.m. March 4 to 6 p.m. March 5. This can have a great impact on EDGE’s ability to remain nimble and continue to meet the needs of the low-income children and families we serve in Edgemoor Gardens, Bellevue and Bellefonte during the most tumultuous year of our organization’s history.

Check out our campaign page by clicking here and set up a reminder to donate. Please help us all do more together. Thank you for your support!

EDGE for Tomorrow was founded in 2011 as an outreach ministry of
our neighbor, Presbyterian Church of the Covenant (PCOC). Primary funding comes from private foundations and government grants, along with individual donations and fund-raising events. EDGE provides after-school care, addresses food insecurity, and advocates and supports the marginalized in our community.EDGE for Tomorrow logo
Located in PCOC’s building at 503 Duncan Rd, EDGE After-School is for children in grades K through 5 who attend Mount Pleasant Elementary School, offering:
  • Virtues-based programming and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) that teaches good citizenship, social skills, empathy and kindness,
  • Tutoring and enrichment activities with specialized reading and math help,
  • Homework help, healthy snacks and physical activities, and
  • STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning to enrich skills needed for reading, math, geography, science and the arts.

COVID-19 forced us to be creative and adaptive when our schools went all virtual in September, stepping up and opening an in-person Remote Access Learning Hub; a safe place to provide students’ academic support with much-needed emotional and social enrichment.

The Hub helps up to 18 at-risk students access school Monday thru Friday. EDGE offers students technical support and encouragement during the online school day, two nutritional meals and a snack from Brandywine School District, recreational activities in the fresh air, and emotional support through activities such as yoga, team building, and arts programming.

When the school day ends, students stay for three hours of after-care, where The Music School of Delaware’s MELODY program provides an outlet for kindergarten through grade 2 students to experience the art of music through Rhythm, a Bucket Band percussion group, and the violin. Grades 3 through 5 participate in Bucket Band and gain enrichment through art, creative writing, yoga, storytelling, and STEM using learning tools that build self-esteem, confidence, resilience and coping mechanisms that are so necessary in addressing the effects of childhood trauma and stress.

Keep holding on! A message from our Council President

Photo of Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, taken by Liza Agsalud. Used under CC2.0

Hold on! That was the sage advice from cool rocker Brittany Howard that I shared back in March when the impact of the pandemic was just getting started. I never thought it would last this long. I’m still listening to the music, changing it up sometimes but the theme remains the same.

St Mark’s has accomplished a lot in the past nine months, despite the difficulties we’ve encountered.

  • I can’t say enough good things about our Worship and Music Team. With music led by John Lasher, they have provided a weekly service for us, seemingly without major effort — and I know it’s harder and more time consuming than it looks. Pre-recorded, onsite and online — they have switched it up as needed and done a tremendous job.
  • Our Interim Pastor David Mueller has gone above and beyond, providing pastoral care, calling  congregation members and talking to anyone that answers their phone. He has been chatting weekly on YouTube with local experts and friends. They are all online so if you missed any you can still watch them. He has led our Transition Team to sharing our St Mark’s Covenant Journey and asked the Council to form a Call Committee.
  • The Congregation met and approved the Call Committee members who have now started meeting. They recently sent out a survey to the congregation asking for feedback. The survey is a mandatory step in the Call Process so please get your response to the office ASAP. Yes, I know we’ve filled out multiple surveys over the past couple years.  It’s frustrating, but part of the Call Process and they can’t move forward without it. To steal a phrase from Nike — Just Do It. We want the Call Process to move forward smoothly.
  • Cheryl in the office has kept us moving along as if nothing has changed. She keeps me on task 😊.
  • We’ve started working on the Annual Meeting (scheduled for Sunday, January 31). The business of the Church is moving forward.
  • Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the Hilltop Thanksgiving Baskets and Children’s Christmas gifts. I am amazed at your continued generosity. We have an awesome congregation!
  • The pandemic is moving into what may be a scary phase of community spread. We’ve cancelled the Bazaar. That was a difficult decision. Many of St Mark’s members have worked hard all year on the Bazaar and the crafts are available. Please contact Ann Boeker-Wilson to schedule an appointment.

We may be moving back to pre-recorded online worship in the coming weeks. We’ll be communicating with you as quickly as possible.

Please stay safe and be good to each other and the world.

HOLD ON — we will get through this!

Kitty Dombroski

President, St. Mark’s Leadership Council

Photo of Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard by Liza Agsalud of Los Angeles, Calif. / CC BY 2.0

Get your 2021 envelopes!

Offering envelopes

The 2021 St. Mark’s offering envelopes are here and we want to be sure you get yours —  especially if you’re not attending services in person. To make it as easy as possible, Financial Secretary Karen Hansell is offering a drive-through-type envelope pickup opportunity from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, December 5. She will be in St. Mark’s parking lot with the envelopes during that time. If you come by to pick yours up, you’ll save us a LOT of shipping expense! Wear your mask and come get your envelopes!

For such a time as this: A message from Kitty Dombroski

A laptop with a virtual meeting

“For such a time as this.”

Six words from the book of Esther I can’t get out of my head. As a country, as a church, as a congregation we have never seen anything like the time we are living. My emotions have been all over the place. Concern, worry, irritation and fear are just some of those. And yet, in the middle of all of it — always when least expected — a lot of good. For such a time as this. Our congregation amazes me as we continue to be there for each other.

St Mark’s Council met on Sunday April 19 — not the way we always have, in a room, facing each other — but in a new way, on the phone and on our computers. For such a time as this. I am grateful for technology. Technology has brought us connectivity and using it is keeping us together. Without skipping a beat our worship services continue — not the way we always have in the sanctuary, with each other, but in a new way – on the phone and on our computers.  For some, in the mail. For such a time as this. I am grateful for our Interim Pastor Council President Kitty Dombroskiand staff. I am grateful for our members and the use of the gifts we have been given. The gift of technology and knowledge and persistence and a willingness and desire to continue.

While most of us have been waiting and praying at home, for some in our church this has been a very busy time. Our Worship committee, Communication Team and Staff have worked many hours putting together worship services that seem almost effortless. For such a time as this.

Good News.

During this quiet time in our Church life members of our congregation have been busy painting the Great Room — floor to ceiling. The floors have been cleaned and waxed. A lot of hard work went in to that. I am grateful.

Over the past weeks, while we’ve been social distancing at home, our Mission Endowment Fund approved and funded purchasing equipment to record our weekly and Holy Week Services. Worship services were recorded, blended and edited. A lot of hard work. I am grateful.

Our website and specifically, the Worship service viewership has increased weekly. March 15, our first Sunday online, was visited 133 times. Easter Sunday, we had 437 visits. A lot of hard work. I am grateful.

Our Council and Transition Team continue to meet. Our staff continues to work. Our members are doing everything they can. Leadership is making difficult decisions. I encourage you to continue to reach out to one another. The church is the people – not the building. But you know that already. Speaking of the building – back to the practical. I strongly encourage you to continue giving financially to St Mark’s. Our bills still need to be paid. Giving is down.

St Mark’s is still here. Call the office or Pastor. Continue to pray. We will be together soon. For such a time as this.

Kitty Dombroski

President, Leadership Council

A legacy gift blesses St. Mark’s and its music ministry

Robe dedication

Music and worship were a big part of Angeline Myers’ life, a life that stretched for almost 100 years. Her love of lyric and harmony lives on at St. Mark’s, where our choir now has 25 new sapphire blue robes because of her gift.

Sandy Pierson and Nancy Myers, daughters of Angie, directed the gift to St. Mark’s music program. Sandy has been a soprano in St. Mark’s choir for about 30 years. Nancy serves as one of our liturgists.

Angie learned to play piano as a child and her four children all played instruments, too, Sandy said. Angie was a member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Wilmington, playing the piano for its Sunday School and a small singing group called “Christian Endeavor,” which met in her home. When Holy Trinity closed, Angie joined St. Mark’s.

Choir in the loft“Angie left her family a legacy of music appreciation,” Sandy said. “I feel music is extremely important to the enrichment of our worship at St. Mark’s. I love being a member of this dedicated group that feels like family. We are worshiping together when we sing. Singing fills me up with joy.”

The new robes are lighter in weight, washable and wrinkle-resistant, according to Nancy Wilkerson, Council member and choir member, who coordinated the project. They replace a well-worn collection that has served the choir for more than 40 years. The legacy robes were laundered and donated to the Mount Pleasant High School drama department.

Robes carry a significant message in the church, according to John Lasher, Director of Music and Worship Arts.

“Robes are meant to serve as an equalizer,” he said. “Whatever we may wear beneath the choir robe, whatever our worldly “status” (so to speak), we are equal in God’s eyes. By removing the distraction of what each choir member might be wearing (that is, by covering it up), robes also help to take the focus off of the messengers, that it might be directed to the message.”

Is compassion on your gift list?

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!

To learn more, watch the ELCA video.

Here are other great options:

    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.