St. Mark’s Update: Welcome back!

Choir and praise band musicians leading worship in the sanctuary

Have you seen the restaurant commercial using the theme song for Welcome Back, Kotter? It’s a great song and used really well. If you don’t remember the show, you are young enough to look it up on the internet. It’s a sitcom from the 1970’s.

Welcome back, St. Mark’s! At our last last meeting on May 23, Council approved re-opening St. Mark’s following State of Delaware guidance. We have been worshiping in person since the fall, but with many restrictions. What this broader re-opening means, specifically, is this:

  • Open doorsIf you are vaccinated you are no longer required to wear a mask or social distance at worship if you choose not to do so.
  • If you prefer to continue masking up and socially distancing — that’s OK, too! It takes awhile to adjust to the new normal.
  • If you are not vaccinated, please consider getting the shots. You will be required to wear a mask at St. Mark’s and maintain physical distance.

The re-opening also means our choir and contemporary praise band can sing in the sanctuary again, instead of pre-recording all of the music every week. It was amazing to hear live voices again in our sanctuary. As is our normal tradition, live music will take a break for the summer and start again for our Homecoming/Rally Sunday. We’ll be sending more information on that when we are closer to September.

In other news, the roofers are waiting for supplies and I hope they are able to start very soon. The construction industry has taken a big supply hit and prices for materials are extremely high.

Have a wonderful summer! Church Leadership is working hard to get St. Mark’s “back to normal.” I welcome feedback and would love to hear from you with concerns and suggestions.

Kitty Dombroski

St. Mark’s Council President

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!

Join us for an outdoor St. Mark’s hymn sing!

John Lasher's portable keyboard and a hymn book. Photo by John Lasher

UPDATE: Because of rain this morning, John Lasher has postponed this. We will try again on Sunday, April 18.

Music will always be a big part of life at St. Mark’s. We love the time-honored hymns of our faith, we love the choruses and the new music our worship band brings. We love our choirs, our special vocalists and our concerts. We just love to worship our Lord with song!

The pandemic punched a hole in a lot of our singing over the past year, but all was not lost. John Lasher, director of music and worship arts, and the Worship & Music Committee have worked hard to provide music each week that was both meaningful and accessible. Our faithful “virtual choir” and other musicians led us in worship and many of us sang along with gusto at home as we participated by way of YouTube.

Sunday we get to sing together again as St. Mark’s hosts an outdoor hymn sing, starting at 1 p.m. in the parking lot.

This will be good medicine for all of us and you’ll be part of something that has been part of our Christian tradition for centuries.

“There are hundreds of Bible verses about singing,” said John Lasher, who has a degree in music composition from Cairn University. “We are commanded in Psalm 98, ‘Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!'”

God loves the praises of his people! And he deserves to hear them!

“One thing the Protestant Reformation accomplished was the re-establishment of congregational singing as a central part of Christian worship, after it had been banned in the Catholic church,” John said. “Our denomination’s namesake, Martin Luther, wrote many hymns himself. We are even told in Matthew’s Gospel that Jesus and his disciples sang a hymn at the Last Supper. So, outside and socially distanced, we will once again engage in this vital form of worship.”

John has prepared a booklet with the songs we will sing. Almost 40 hymns were requested — too many to fit into this one event — so John says there may be a sequel! All hymns requested by more than one person have been included in the booklet.

You’re welcome to sing in your car or sit outside (bring a chair, if you want one).

If the weather gets cranky, we’ll move it back a week.

We hope you’ll join in! We think you’ll be glad you did!

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.

Easter-season hymn sing!

Outdoor Hymn Sing with sheet music illustration

We have missed singing together during these days of pandemic. But take heart! John Lasher, director of music and worship arts, has a plan for a new and wonderful way to rejoice this Easter season!

At 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 11 (the week after Easter Sunday), St. Mark’s will host an outdoor hymn sing in our parking lot.

All are invited to submit their requests for hymns or contemporary worship songs to John via email, phone call or text message. He will make the selections and assemble a music packet for distribution.

If the weather goes south, the event will move to Sunday, April 18.

Get ready to sing your heart out!

Icy forecast closes St. Mark’s Sunday Feb. 14

Interim Pastor David Mueller

Because of a predicted ice storm, St Mark’s building will not be open Sunday February 14.

Instead, the 10 a.m. worship service was recorded Saturday and that recording will be available on our YouTube channel. You can also access the service by clicking the link below. Many thanks to Interim Pastor David Mueller, John Lasher, director of music and worship arts, and Greg Landrey, liturgist, for their quick response.

Don’t forget: The Annual Meeting is scheduled for Sunday, February 21, immediately following the 10 a.m. service.

Ash Wednesday observance

Sketched cross

We plan in-person and livestream worship on Ash Wednesday, February 17, starting at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

If you plan to join us in the sanctuary, remember that reservations are required. Please call the church office at (302) 764-7488. Ashes will be provided at the service and will be self-imposed in a safe manner. Those wishing to impose ashes at home can obtain them from the church office prior to the service or use whatever ashes they may have at home. Please remember office hours are weekdays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Snow forecast moves Feb. 7 worship online, postpones annual meeting (again)

Coffee mug in the snow

Because of a predicted snowstorm, St Mark’s building will not be open Sunday February 7.

Instead, the 10 a.m. worship service was recorded Saturday. That recording will be available at 10 a.m. Sunday and you can join us by clicking the image below to reach our YouTube channel. Many thanks to Interim Pastor David Mueller and to John Lasher, director of music and worship arts, for their quick response.

In addition, the Annual Meeting has been postponed to Sunday February 21, immediately following the 10 a.m. service.

Join us on YouTube this week and stay safe everyone!

UPDATE: Christmas at St. Mark’s

Peace on Earth

Yes, Virginia, there is a Christmas Day coming — even in the year 2020! We don’t want you to miss any of the opportunities St. Mark’s has as we commemorate the birth of our Lord in that humble stable setting in Bethlehem.

Of course, 2020’s indelible mark comes with these holidays. Most of us will not be gathering in person, because of the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to ravage our world. But we can still gather in both real and virtual ways, thanks to the faithful, multifaceted efforts of our St. Mark’s family, led by Interim Pastor David Mueller and John Lasher, our director of music and worship arts.

Here’s what’s coming:

  • Christmas Eve. We will have ONE in-person service at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 24, with a chime choir and violinist Maria Rusu. Attendance is limited to 45 people in order to maintain social distance requirements. Those with reservations should arrive 15-30 minutes early to allow for registration and seating. The service will also be available by livestream on our YouTube channel. The link is embedded below..

  • Join us for worship at 10 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 27 for a service of  Lessons & Carols. Join us in person or enjoy our livestream broadcast on our YouTube channel at the link below:

  • At noon on Sunday, December 27, we will rebroadcast the Delaware-Maryland Synod’s service of Lessons & Carols, featuring musical offerings and readings from churches throughout the Synod. Two selections from our Virtual Choir will be included. Join in at the link below. If you’d like  a copy of the Synod’s bulletin, you may view and download it by clicking here.

  • Catch up on our pre-recorded Advent Devotions if you missed any of them. They also are available on our YouTube channel.

 

Bishop William Gohl to visit St. Mark’s

Bishop William Gohl

St. Mark’s welcomes Bishop William “Bill” Gohl Jr. to our worship service on Sunday, December 13!

The 10 a.m. Sunday service will be livestreamed on our YouTube channel. The link is below. (Have you subscribed yet?) And Bishop Gohl also will be featured on Interim Pastor David Mueller’s “Midweek Extra” later this week.

Here’s a bit about him, according to his profile on the website of our synod, the Delaware-Maryland Synod of the ELCA:

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.

Join us for worship in the sanctuary or by way of our YouTube channel, where the service will be livestreamed and available for viewing later, too. Here’s the link: