Tentative reopening date: Sunday, Sept. 6

St. Mark's altar

Here’s the date we’ve all been waiting for: Sunday, September 6! That’s our tentative reopening date, as outlined by St. Mark’s leadership.

Details were included in a letter sent to members and friends by the Worship Committee last week.

As part of the planning process, the Worship Committee distributed a survey, asking respondents their preferences about returning to in-person worship. St. Mark’s building has been closed since mid-March in an effort to slow the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Seventeen people are ready to return as soon as possible. Sixty prefer to wait until Delaware enters “Phase Three” status — or later.

The plan now is to re-open St. Mark’s for a single 10 a.m. service. The plan is tentative and will follow state guidelines, with proper safety measures and volunteers in place in our worship area.

The following recommendations were made by the Worship Committee:

  • Greeters will ensure that names are gathered, temperatures taken and will distribute homemade face masks, if needed
  • Ushers will distribute communion items from a table prior to entering the sanctuary and provide guidance as people move to pews and leave the service.
  • The congregation will not sing or speak during the service.
  • Communion will be consumed in the pews
  • The offering will be collected in a basket at the rear of the church

Several volunteer roles are essential for us to re-open. If you are planning to attend when the building is first opened, we ask you to prayerfully consider filling one of these roles during this time of transition:

  • Greeters – take temperatures, gather names, hand out face masks, if needed
  • Ushers – monitor communion table elements, guide worshippers to their pew, count the number of worshippers in attendance, dismiss worshippers at the end of service, take offering to the church office.
  • Liturgist/worship leader – Read the prayers and scripture
  • Sound board – operate sound board and livestreaming equipment

In order to familiarize you with these recommendations and roles, a video will be produced to illustrate the manner in which worshippers enter, attend and exit the church.

We hope that you prayerfully consider volunteering for one of these roles and that you will attend church at St. Mark’s when you feel it is safe for you to do so according to your personal needs. Services will be livestreamed for those continuing to worship from home.

Our prayer is that you be blessed by our worship service wherever it finds you!

Please indicate your willingness to serve by filling out this form by August 14 so that we may prepare for returning to Sunday worship on September 6.

Returning to worship services at St. Mark's
Help us plan for reopening St. Mark's building by telling us if you plan to return and, if so, whether you are willing to serve in one of the volunteer roles.

Hold On: A message from our Council President

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

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.

Hold On.

Jesus is Coming Soon (it’s on YouTube, too).

 

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