Dear friends in Christ –
Thank you so much for supporting the first in-person worship service on Sunday, June 21, and for continuing to be present to the streaming services on Sunday morning. This season of adapting worship so that best safety practices are in place has been a challenging one. We changed the structure for these first in-person worship services in an attempt to make the service worshipful for those in attendance, while also adhering to our safety guidelines. We know that many of you, especially those who are attending virtual worship, missed the music and singing you’ve gotten accustomed to in the last few months. While we welcome your feedback, please give us grace as we explore the best ways to serve the congregation and continue our ministry.
On Sunday, June 28, we will have only our virtual service at 9 a.m. In the month of July, we will resume in-person worship for those who wish to gather, using our live-streaming style at 9 a.m. We hope this will offer the best of both worlds, meeting the spiritual needs of our church family and extended congregation. On July 12, we will have Holy Communion at this 9 a.m. worship, both in the sanctuary and at home.
If you choose to physically attend worship, you won’t be able to sing along with the musical offerings just yet, but you will be able to be present in the sanctuary and reflect and enjoy the music. As you enter the church, we will take “attendance” so that we can notify you if someone in the congregation tests positive for COVID-19. Please be considerate of others by wearing your mask at all times, and practice social distancing.
Toward the end of July, we will evaluate and make some decisions about how to proceed for the month of August. Please, please continue to keep St. Mark and all churches in your prayer as we move ahead in uncharted territory. Thanks so much for remaining faithful in your financial support of the mission and ministry, for continuing to reach out to one another, especially to those who may not have internet access.
Peace to you!
Pastor Beth Giller and the Responsible Reopening Team (Barb Brossia, Kim Fletcher, Mark Padley, Brad
Isbell, Carol Kinsel, Beth Rokicki, Tom Ritter)
Dear St. Mark Family:
I hope you are all hanging in there during this time of national unrest. It has been a difficult few months, and prayer and connection has never seemed so important!
On Sunday, June 21, we will try “in-person” worship for the first time since March. Services will be at 8:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Here is what you can expect:
Before you arrive, please use the restroom and wash your hands thoroughly. Restroom use will be limited to emergencies. Hand sanitizer stations will be available.
Please arrive early. When you arrive at church, you will be “checked in” at a table in the lobby. This is to be sure that we can inform everyone if someone at worship tests positive for COVID-19, per the Lucas County Health Department. Your temperature will be taken with a contact-less thermometer.
Bring your own mask. Everyone is required to wear a mask except for children 3 and under. We will have a few disposable masks available. If you are not able to wear a mask because of a medical reason, please share that as you enter the building.
Wait to be seated. As you enter the sanctuary, an usher will escort you to the next available seat. If you are with other people who live in your home, you may be seated together. The pews have been marked off to maintain appropriate physical distance. After the service, you will be dismissed pew by pew to minimize people walking too closely to each other.
During worship itself, you will be asked to practice “silent worship.” Even with masks, singing and group speaking is one of the most focused ways of spreading the virus. The service may look and feel quite different.
Please don’t gather to chat. If you’d like to catch up with friends, please do so outside and maintain the 6-foot distance.
The sanctuary will be warm. As we all know, St. Mark is hot in the summer anyway! Because fans simply blow aerosols around, we will not be able to use them. Please refrain from fanning yourself as well.
Whew! That is a lot of information, and after worship on June 21, we will NOT meet for in-person worship on June 28 so that the Responsible Reopening team can evaluate, seek your feedback, and make future plans, which may or may not involve gathering in person. Worship services will continue to be streamed every Sunday for the foreseeable future on the Facebook Live platform.
This has been a difficult season, and the decisions and actions we take are always with the health and safety of our most vulnerable members in mind. We ask for your continued prayers and encouragement as we navigate the challenging task of keeping everyone safe! God be with you in this time of physical distancing.
Peace in Him,
Pastor Beth Giller and the Responsible Reopening Team (Barb Brossia, Kim Fletcher, Carol Kinsel, Brad Isbell, Beth Rokicki, Tom Ritter)
Our St. Mark Responsible Reopening Task Force has put together a short survey in order to aid its decision making and best serve the St. Mark community as we look ahead to resuming in-person worship & ministry. Please complete the following survey by Friday, June 12th to have your answers relayed to our team.
A paper copy of this survey will be mailed out to each church member in the June Spire Newsletter. Please only complete one survey - the virtual survey and the paper survey are the same.
We ask that you keep this topic in your daily prayers! We are anxious to get back to in-person worship and, at the same time, want to be sure that we all are being safe, responsible and loving to each other and our community.
Dear Friends of St. Mark,
In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, our St. Mark EDGE Mission Team has made the difficult decision to cancel our 14th Annual St. Mark Golf Outing that was scheduled for Saturday, May 30, 2020. We feel that, while disappointing, the decision to cancel is in the best interest of the health and wellness of our participants and volunteers. We have also cancelled our 2020 summer trip to Rogers, OH, and have chosen instead to safely serve our neighbors throughout the Toledo area.
If you have already sent in your registration for this year's outing, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-691-3597 to receive a full refund. If you would like to give towards this summer's service projects, you can contact me directly or visit our St. Mark Online Donation page and give under the "Youth" category.
I want to personally thank you for your support year after year. Thank you for participating in our Golf Outing, for providing our youth with the opportunity to serve others, and for being an important part of a ministry that impacts hearts for Jesus. We are praying that you and your loved ones stay well, and we hope to see you on the golf course in May 2021! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out.
Stay safe & be blessed!
Youth & Family Life Director
Are you overwhelmed with all this COVID-19 stuff?
It was been such a strange, life changing time for everyone. We have all lost something over the
past few weeks. We have lost our independence, the ability to hang out with our family, friends,
go to our favorite restaurant, or attend church. It has been a time of painful loneliness,
emptiness, fear and anxiety.
We may have to endure social distance and quarantine but there is still a way to connect.
Stephen Ministry at St. Mark Lutheran church is a ministry that gives one-to-one Christian
care. The ministry is there to listen, care, encourage, pray with and for you, and support
you through this crazy pandemic. The care given can last as long as your need persists.
If you or someone you know is hurting, find out more about Stephen Ministry by talking
with one of our Stephen Leaders: Tracey Merrithew 419-460-3119, Nancy Murphy 419-
277-0414. Our Stephen Ministers are there to care!
Our new, socially-distanced season of life amidst the COVID-19 outbreak is proving that the Church is not a building – it is a body of believers trusting fully in God and supporting one another. We have created new ways to virtually keep our community connected and invite you to join us online!
1. Our St. Mark Website – stmarktoledo.com
This is your one-stop shop for all things happening in our church community. On the website, you will see the video of our latest Sunday worship service, as well as links to all of our current digital platforms (Facebook, YouTube, Podcasts, etc.) at the bottom right of the home page. Under the “News & Events” tab, you can find all of our church news & announcements, as well as pertinent updates on our council’s decisions regarding the coronavirus. You can also digitally send in your offering using the “Donate” button in the top menu, and you can find resources for at-home spiritual growth under the “Faith At Home” tab or on the homepage.
2. Facebook – “St. Mark Lutheran Church – ELCA”
Join us on our public Facebook page to receive news updates, encouraging posts, and daily guided prayer from Pastor Beth at 5:00pm. This is also where our Sunday worship services are live streamed at 10:00am on Sunday mornings. If you have a Facebook account, you can log in and “Like” our St. Mark page to have our content on your News Feed. But, you do not have to have a Facebook account to enjoy our livestream videos or see our content! Simply click on the “St. Mark’s Facebook Page” link on our website to view our page.
3. YouTube – “St. Mark Lutheran Church - Toledo, OH”
Our St. Mark YouTube channel features videos of our worship services and other uplifting content being uploaded weekly.
4. EDGE Youth Community – Instagram & Facebook
Invite the youth in your life to follow our St. Mark EDGE pages for information on daily video check-ins, Zoom youth group meetings, encouraging posts, and more. Search @stmark_edge on Instagram, follow “St. Mark Youth” on Facebook, or join the group “EDGE – St. Mark Youth” on Facebook.
5. Give Online
As our church community continues amid social distancing, so the work of the church continues. Your financial support is still needed to keep our church going during this time! You can give online through the “Donate” button on our website, or by downloading the “Give Plus” app on your smartphone and following the prompts. For more information, go to www.stmarktoledo.com/news/ways-to-give-online.
Have questions about how to get involved online? Email Emily at email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com. 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