St. Mark's March Neighborhood Dinner is set to take place tomorrow - Wednesday, March 25 - from 5-6pm at St. Mark Lutheran Church. However, this month's time of food & fellowship will look different to meet the CDC & Ohio Health Department's guidelines regarding the Coronavirus outbreak.
In order to protect our guests and volunteers, this month we will ONLY be distributing pre-packaged bags of pantry items to each household. Children will also receive a bagged lunch. A line will be established & food will be distributed outside of the building. All guests & volunteers will be asked to stand 6 feet apart at all times per the CDC. The household goods & clothing pantry will be closed, and no meal will be served.
Thank you for your understanding as we aim to responsibly & faithfully serve our community!
If you have any questions, please call out church office at 419-691-3597.
Looking for ways to seek Jesus together as a family while you #stayhome? Use the Faith 5 roadmap each night to check in with your family and stay present to one another during this time of social distancing.
STEP 1: SHARE Highs and Lows
What was the best part of your day? What was the worst? Share it with those who love you. Daily sharing of the highs and lows of life helps people of all ages to be more self-aware, while strengthening communication and connection with others. One important rule for Step 1- no judging highs and lows! If we judge, we quickly teach those we love that sharing is not safe. If your child's low is "school" each day, so be it. Someday they may surprise you!
STEP 2: READ the Bible
Open God’s word together! Try one of these options:
The point is this - you cannot go wrong with God’s word. Open it. Read it. Let it come alive among you.
STEP 3: TALK about how the Bible reading relates to your life
Unpack the verse a bit. What does it mean in your own words? Wonder together about how it might relate to where you are today in your highs and lows. Go deep, asking what God might be trying to teach you through this particular Scripture passage on this particular day. Tip: Don’t be afraid to tell the truth. If you have no idea what God is saying to you through this particular verse, go ahead and say so. It’s okay, because God’s action doesn’t depend on our comprehension. Thank God!
STEP 4: PRAY for one another's highs and lows
Offer your hearts and minds in prayer. Simply talk to God, thank Jesus for the good, and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance in specific problems.
STEP 5: BLESS one another
Trace the sign of the cross on one another's forehead or palm as a reminder that you belong to God and to one another. Make eye and heart contact as you share words of blessing such as “Jesus loves you and so do I” or “The Lord bless and keep you” or “You are a beloved child of God”.
God bless you and keep you as you continue to seek His light in your lives & in your homes!
(c) Faith Inkubators. Visit https://faithink.com/faith5 for more information.
Want to give your weekly offering while social distancing? Check out these easy options for online giving!
GIVE+ MOBILE APP:
Give easily and securely on your smartphone using the Give + App! Search "give plus church" in the App Store or on Google Play. Click here for an easy tutorial on app giving.
DONATE ON THE WEBSITE:
Head to the stmarktoledo.com menu and click "Donate". Plug in your information to send your offering - create a profile to make giving easy and automatic!
Have questions? Contact the church office at 419-691-3597 or email@example.com.
Dear Friends in Christ:
I’ll begin with a good word from Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” In these times of transition and uncertainty, God is faithful to His people, and our prayer is that we would always remember that.
At the Church Council meeting last night, Council voted to follow the recommendations of the CDC and our Northwestern Ohio Synod Bishop and suspend in-person worship through and including April 5, Palm Sunday. We plan to resume regular in-person worship activities during Holy Week, IF the virus situation has cleared.
All outside groups and activities that use the building are suspended as well, with the exception of one Twelve-Step recovery group and the monthly neighborhood dinner on March 25. That evening, we will be distributing bags of staples and maintaining appropriate distances, and our guests will not be in the building.
Communication with the congregation has been a bit challenging as things have changed quickly. We have the options of the mail, email, the church Facebook page and website, and phone calls. PLEASE share your email with the church office if you are a user of email by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Communications may come through email, and you may need to check your spam filters.
On Sunday, March 15, we ventured into the brave new world of live-streaming a worship service. We are going to continue to do that (and yes, we know there were glitches!) and improve the experience each time. Plans are to stream Sunday service via Facebook Live or YouTube, and to create a worship service that has both traditional and contemporary elements. On Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m., Pastor Tom James of Eastminster Presbyterian Church is going to stream the study of Dietrich Bonhoeffer using the Eastminster United Presbyterian Church Facebook Live feature.
One serious concern at this time (in the midst of all the other serious concerns!) is the financial situation we face. Experience shows that many people do not choose to support the ministry of their church if they are not attending actual, physical worship. This means that we could quickly be $30,000-40,000 in the red without the regular and faithful support of our members. Yet the work of our church is continuing within the new parameters we face. Please consider making your contribution electronically at this link, or mail your contributions to the church office. Extra contributions are always needed and appreciated.
We are all in new territory. But God is always faithful, and we can rely on his care for all of us.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Beth Giller and the Church Council of St. Mark Lutheran Church
Dear friends at St. Mark Lutheran Church:
These are uncertain times! In the book of Philippians, the writer says, “Do not be anxious
about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” How do we, as a church family, respond to the general shutdown of our society in a way that reflects our faith and at the same time, protects those in our church and community who are most vulnerable?
Church Council has had multiple conversations about how to best respond, and just sent out a letter yesterday which indicated that we will be conducting “business as usual” with some precautions. The closure of the schools and virtually every other public institution has made us rethink that decision. So, beginning with this Sunday, March 15, Sunday & Wednesday worship and Sunday school will NOT be held at church. We do not know how long this suspension will last, but suspect it will be at least a few weeks. Other activities at church will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
This decision was made prayerfully and carefully. Sure, many of us are healthy and active, but we have a larger responsibility than to think just about ourselves. We have to consider the implications of carrying the virus into public spaces without even being aware of it; of our young ones who touch virtually every surface in the church; of our elders who come to church faithfully and who are vulnerable.
There are two proactive responses that we are initiating. First, there will be an abbreviated
service live-streamed at 10 a.m. on Sunday. It will be available on the St. Mark Facebook Page (St. Mark Lutheran Church – ELCA) and through YouTube. There will be worship songs, a sermon, and a children’s time. And we hope to be active in reaching out to our community as we are able, perhaps providing drive-through/walk-through lunches for our neighbors. In general, details will be available on the website, on the church Facebook page and sent to those for whom we have email addresses.
Please be prayerful for the situation, as we all navigate uncharted territory. As you are able, please be faithful with your offerings as well. They can be mailed to the church office, or you can contribute electronically here.
Thank you for your understanding, prayers, and compassion.
Pastor Beth Giller and the Council of St. Mark Lutheran Church
Dear friends in Christ:
As I am sure you are aware, concern about the possibility of a coronavirus outbreak in our community has required many changes and adjustments in public gatherings. The leadership of St. Mark has met to discuss an appropriate response. At present, worship services on Wednesdays and Sundays will continue, as will the children’s Sunday School. Please be aware of the good health practices and observe them. In worship, we will be observing a few basic changes like suspending handshakes and using individual cups for Holy Communion. You can find other information about the response of faith communities at this link from the Center for Disease Control.
Should we need to discontinue public gatherings for a short time, that information will be shared on the St. Mark Facebook page, with the Spire email list, and recorded on the church answering machine. We are working on the option of Live Streaming worship on our Facebook page and on our St. Mark YouTube channel. There will be some changes to this month’s neighborhood dinner on March 25th, so look for more information on that.
In a related concern, please continue to be faithful with your offerings. The business of the church keeps on even when we are not able to gather, or if that gathering is hampered by outside forces. You can mail your offering to the church office or use the online automated contribution feature.
God is faithful and will sustain all of his children through this situation. We do not want to be afraid, but we also want to be wise and prudent.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Beth Giller and the St. Mark Church Council
On Sunday, Apr. 24, voting concluded in the special congregational meeting which began on April 17. After voting concluded, three persons unaffiliated with St. Mark counted the ballots to determine the outcome. They were directed to share only the outcome of the voting with Pastor Giller, who would then communicate the outcome to the congregation on the website and through a congregational letter. The church council decided that, since a majority vote would determine policy, it would be better to simply know the outcome without the numerical values. The congregation voted to approve the following option
(A) St. Mark Lutheran Church states that any couple who is able to obtain a legal marriage license in the State of Ohio is permitted to wed in the sanctuary or offsite using the pastor or staff member called/employed by the congregation. The pastor/staff member will provide appropriate pre-marital conversation, addressing the couple's understanding of a Christ-centered marriage, their commitment to caring for one another, and their ongoing willingness to grow as a couple. Each marriage performed at St. Mark Lutheran Church shall be consistent with the policies and practices of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) and with the laws of the State of Ohio.
Throughout this process, congregation members have been kind, intentional in prayer and discernment, and aware of our complete reliance on grace. Please continue to care for one another with love and compassion, even if this Option was not your personal choice. Our identity as children of God relies not on policies, but on the grace and love of God which sustains us all.