At St. Mark’s we have offered many different worship experiences over the years but central to our core worship are the two Sunday services. Pre-pandemic there was an 8:00 a.m. service which was a spoken Rite II liturgy while the 10:00 a.m. service (also Rite II) incorporated music with hymn singing, choir, pipe organ, piano, and varying musical instruments, and a Wednesday noon Eucharist. We had a well-established livestream capability at the 10:00 a.m. service that enabled us to quickly move to all online worship via Facebook and YouTube when we shut down in March 2020.
During the pandemic we even added worship opportunities with Compline, Celtic Compline, bedtime stories, morning, and noonday prayers. It was comforting to tune in for Compline to see as many as 40 others taking part. As the pandemic wore on, and especially since our communities are reopening, attendance at these additional services has dwindled.
In the past we have held Taizé services, Celtic Compline, and a Saturday evening Children’s service with Eucharist (many members say this is what attracted them to us, and it was so appreciated).
Our sanctuary seating was converted to connectable chairs at the time of the major addition in 2002. A sign of our diversity is found in these chairs. They have kneelers and at “the people stand or kneel” during the Eucharist, they do! The concept of moveable space revealed our willingness to try new things, worship in different ways, and sometimes very publicly show that the inside of a church is for everyone (when we’ve turned the sanctuary into a theater or craft fair). The anchoring point in the sanctuary is the immoveable large stone baptismal font. We are anchored together in our “one baptism” and this will not change. Just like our font cannot be moved!
We print the entire service in a paper bulletin (with large print versions available). While we recognize the environmental impact, we feel that having the service in the most easily followed format is more welcoming to visitors and newcomers. We do recycle the bulletins regularly.
Something about our worship that people seem to find unique is the way we pass the Peace. We move about the sanctuary shaking hands and giving hugs (once again a reality as we come out of COVID). This may last a few minutes! We are observant of other’s comfort level, but we find joy in knowing that visitors and long-term members alike comment about the impression and impact it has.
We are gradually reopening. We once again meet in person for one 10:00 a.m. service on Sundays. We have music and singing again! We have our chairs back (after several weeks of plastic folding chairs which were more easily cleaned). We look forward to when all will feel safe returning to enclosed spaces and we honor those who are hesitant, especially with young children.