Acknowledgement of Spiritual Generosity
Through the CAT survey we found that St. Mark’s is unique in our diocese in recognizing the need to grow in generosity. The community acknowledges as its #1 priority the need to address spiritual generosity. The community readily gives of time and talent to ministries, and while recognizing the need to foster the financial component of stewardship, we struggle with just how it can be encouraged and instilled within us. We seek to grow our ministries and outreach recognizing the need to develop an effective strategy and plan regarding our financial resources and capital needs.
A Welcoming Church for Growth
Growing the church, attracting families with children and the “unchurched”, are recognized as top priorities. We are truly a “welcoming” church – with a long-established tradition of actively preparing and training members to welcome guests. Members have found St Mark’s upon a single visit or interaction with a member. We have cultivated a culture of genuine care and concern. We do however recognize the need to challenge our thinking and consider alternative approaches regarding outreach.
“I stay because I sense we are the body of Christ; the small group activities we have are key to our success”
Actually ask young people in the community “Why don’t you go to a church?”
“Meet the unchurched where they are!”
Acceptance of Theological Diversity
We are a theologically diverse congregation. Our theological beliefs range from conservative to progressive – but fall mostly toward the progressive. As Christians, we agree to disagree and are tolerant of other’s views. We have a healthy tolerance of different views – the community does not perceive conflict in any significant way. We have posted The “Way of Love” on the outside of our church building. As in the past, our new Rector will need to be able to interact with people of different theological beliefs.
“We are relaxed. I grew up in a “high” Episcopal church where there was no sense of humor and a lot of damnation. Here our baggage is OK and our style is relaxed. As long as you’re here to pray and support fellow Christians, it’s OK”
Our liturgical style reflects our diversity and willingness to be open to different viewpoints and practices. We are anchored in Episcopal tradition but are open to and vary the forms of the liturgy and music used during worship, including Taizé, traditional hymns, LEVAS, and contemporary music.
Pre-COVID, St Mark’s offered a traditional spoken liturgy service at 8:00a.m. and a 10:00a.m. service with the choir. In addition, in May of 2019, awarded with a grant, we also began livestreaming services on Facebook and then on YouTube starting April 2020. The opportunity presented for our new Rector is to continue to shape our services, both in person and digital streaming!
“We are a bit traditional but also fun & relaxing and not so stiff. We can each feel our own level of comfort with different parts of the service”
“Structured but not too; open to new ways but not loosey goosey; using different prayers, you can tell people CARE and are thinking about how we worship, and people take part in planning our worship”.
St Mark’s has a “configurable” nave. Pews have been replaced by chairs which are frequently reconfigured to support a specific style of worship as well to support special events – concerts, craft fairs, theatre, and ecumenical community worship services.
More importantly, our worship space is emblematic of the flexibility of the community. We have welcomed changes in worship and musical style, and looked forward to the future with the implementation of digital livestreaming services. The community is willing to adapt to the needs of the people we want to reach.
We find those who cannot accept change and diversity choose not stay at St Mark’s. We are open to experimentation and our flexibility allows the church community to move forward toward renewal and innovation for the future.
“The chairs; we are flexible, especially moved by when the chairs were placed in a circle for Lent one year – really messed up the regular pattern!” CAT survey 2021