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.