October 2nd, 2018- Pastor’s Letter

It’s October, and it’s time for St. Mark’s Blessing of the Animals! Many friends and visitors from the community will join us this Sunday morning, as we assemble on the patio with our companions, preparing to process into the sanctuary at 9:30 a.m.

It’s a grand and moving moment to hear the ringing of the bells and then join with so many neighbors to walk together into the awe-inspiring sanctuary of St. Mark’s. After church and the blessing, there will be the chance to share pet stories and visit with representatives of the San Diego Humane Society, a local vet, and a professional dog trainer. I hope you’ll be here, and I hope you’ll invite your animal-loving family members, friends, coworkers and neighbors.

We have the annual Blessing of the Animals service on the first Sunday of October, to coincide with the traditional Feast of St. Francis. In the United Methodist Church, we usually don’t celebrate Festival Days devoted to individual saints. But St. Francis is unique in his pervasive and farreaching influence on the history and practice of Christianity.

Francis combined a deep respect and love for the created order with a fierce commitment to the lives of all those who were weak and powerless by human standards. He was so committed, in fact, that he lived most of his adult life in abject poverty, living with and helping those who were poor and sick. Those of us who live with pets know that they bring daily reminders about the real essence of this life. When we’re greeted at the end of a long day, we remember the value of kindness, respect, and unconditional love. I once heard a clergy colleague call his puppy a real example of God’s grace.

All animals and their humans are invited to St. Mark’s this Sunday! Remember that dogs need to be leashed, and cats and smaller animals need to be in carriers for their own safety.

I will see you here!


September 27th, 2018- Newsletter

September 25th Newsletter

September 27th, 2018 – Pastor’s Letter

Dear Friends,

This past weekend my family had the opportunity to celebrate my great-niece’s birthday. Riley turned three and her parents invited the family to join them at Chuck E. Cheese for lunch and cake. I don’t know how many of you have had the opportunity to spend an afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese with a room of children, a wall of music videos, and a floor packed with arcade games, but to say it is dynamic, lively, and loud begins to sum it up. But, before you think me a curmudgeon let me tell you I had a great time! Seeing a three-year-old dressed in a princess dress, looking wide-eyed at everything, smiling with delight at each person, dancing like no one was watching, and reveling in the joy of each moment reminded me of what life is supposed to be all about. There is so much to celebrate! It’s Autumn. Football. Pennant race baseball. Harvesting. Cooler nights. And so much more.

As we enter this new season I invite you to look forward with joy and enthusiasm at some of things coming up on our campus:

  • 15th Annual Digital Art and Photography Show – September 30 through October 28
  • St. Mark’s Nursery School Community Kid Resale Event – Friday, October 5 and Saturday, October 6
  • Blessing of the Animals Service – October 7
  • New children, youth, and adult ministries continuing
  • Free community hot pancake breakfast – October 14
  • Free Concert Series begins – October 21 with ‘All About Music Youth Orchestra.’ And these are just some of October’s events.

I invite you to invite your neighbors to all these events. They are dynamic, lively, and yes, sometimes loud. However, it’s a great way for the community to meet St. Mark’s and St. Mark’s to host the community. And that’s something worth celebrating!

See you in church,


September 13th, 2018- Newsletter

September 11th, 2018 Newsletter

September 13th 2018- Pastor’s Letter

Dear Friends,

Many exciting events and changes abound. As you may have heard, we just hired three new people for open positions at St. Mark’s. Michelle Herman will begin her position as the Church Office Admistrator on Monday, September 17th, replacing our beloved temporary assistant Laura McHugh. Phoebe Currigan was just hired as our Sunday nursery caregiver so that parents of young children can enjoy the service by themselves if they choose, and the preschool hired a new teacher, Airyyus Wallace.

Speaking of the preschool, we are looking forward to celebrating the 50th anniversary of St. Mark’s School this upcoming Sunday! It will be a grand time with many alumni coming back to celebrate this amazing school and how it has shaped them. Afterwards will be a magnificent lunch. You can sign up through the church office by calling (858) 273- 1480 or emailing .

As we commemorate this milestone year of the preschool, I will be preaching on education, learning and growth. I don’t know about you but I love that we humans are growth seeking beings. No matter how old I get or how knowledgeable I get on certain subjects, God seems to always be challenging me to change my mind, gain new tools and constantly evolve into a better version of myself. I used to hate this about life. Why can’t I just be perfect? The truth is though, stagnancy makes life boring. And nothing is more exciting than growing, changing and experiencing life anew. I hope to see you this Sunday.

In the meantime, keep growing!

September 5th, 2018- Pastor’s Letter

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” –Robert Brault

I’m writing this as I take a few days off to enjoy some special time with friends and to catch up on my reading. I’m afraid I’m not going to get very far with the reading, because I’ve put aside more of it than I can possibly do in a month, not to mention a few days!

There are bookmarked web postings, e-mail newsletters, magazine and newspaper articles, and several books I’m in the middle of. Everywhere I look at the moment, there is something to read, and there is so much to choose from!

Eric Schmidt, the former executive chairman of Google, observed that human beings now generate as much information in two days as we did from the dawn of civilization until 2003! It is easy to be overwhelmed, every day and even every hour.
I often find myself wondering where the sacred is in the middle of all this reading. And, when I come upon it, it is often in an unexpected place—that is, not a “religious” place, but a “secular” place.

Writing about finding the sacred in everyday life, Molly Larkin says we notice the sacred only when we make space for it. As an illustration, she talks about decluttering her home: “I’m going through a massive purging right now, getting rid of things I no longer use. It feels as though I’m opening up my mind and soul for a fresh breeze to flow through and renew me.”

It’s spiritually healthy to make room in our lives, to “declutter” them. In my case that would mean to not let my reading stack get so big that it is overwhelming, and to read just one thing at a time.

Another way of doing this is to intentionally turn information sources off for a day or a few hours every week or two. The TV, the computer, the smartphone, the Echo, and the iPad.

Over the last week I’ve spent time every day with all my devices turned off. It’s been harder than I thought–I need to put all the devices out of reach, even out of sight. I find myself thinking that I really must check because I might be getting an important text, email, Facebook post, or news story. It’s very distracting.

I know I don’t need to check, but the compulsion is real, and can really get in the way of doing something important. Like reading my book, playing with the cat, enjoying a great cup of coffee, going for a walk, listening to some great music, having lunch with a friend, or writing something with no purpose beyond writing. I think it’s these sorts of “little” moments that become the opening through which a fresh (and holy) breeze can blow.

This Sunday is Welcome Back Sunday, with the Free Community Pancake breakfast before church, some special music during church, and some yummy treats after church. All are invited—bring your family and friends!

See you in church! Welcome back!

Dear St. Mark’s,

I returned from a lovely 9 day vacation last night and am hunkered down in my office all day today (Monday) to catch up on emails and other work responsibilities. How perfect is it that it is Labor Day as I catch up on all of this work. Others are celebrating with barbecues but it is fitting that I should resettle back at my own place of employment on this day, an employment that I feel ever so grateful for. I recognize the privilege and luxury of both having a job AND loving it and I only hope that everybody else in this world will be able to experience that immense fulfillment.

In other news, I want to share with you what’s coming up around the bend. The worship committee, staff and I have been in talks about changing up the worship order ever so slightly to have a more centralized theme each service beginning September 9th. One of the biggest differences is that the pastoral prayer will take place after the sermon instead of before. Just wanted to give you a heads-up that while it may feel awkward at first, it will become very comfortable very soon thereafter. Think of it like a new pair of shoes that will get some getting used to but they become your favorite pair after a month or two.

At the same time, feel free to give any of the pastoral staff or worship committee your feedback as these changes are implemented. It’s always good and productive to be in conversation as we evolve to constantly become a better version of ourselves.

In This Together,
Rev. Lydia


September 5th, 2018 Newsletter

09-05-2018 Newsletter

August 30th, 2018- Pastor’s Letter

I’m beginning this letter typing with only my right hand only instead of with two hands as I was taught almost 50 years ago at Hale Junior High School. Like many young girls in my class we were told, “Learn to type and you can get a job as a secretary. Then you’ll always be employable.” Now I don’t fault my mom for being a little narrow minded in my job prospects, after all it was the 60’s, the age of men in management positions and women wearing high heels and nylons to work. Eventually my mom broke a glass ceiling and became the first Personnel Director at a prestigious local clinic and research foundation, but it started because she was hired as a secretary and proved she was capable of much more.

But you may wonder why I’m typing with one hand. It’s because my other hand is cradling a baby. These days I am more often multitasking, sometimes while using my typing skills. These days I am pastoring in a church, volunteering in canine therapy with my dog, Jake (at previously said prestigious clinic and research foundation) and hosting an asylum-seeking mom and her infant son in my home, with my husband, Tom. No high heels and nylons for me, it’s more like track shoes and Docker pants have become my daily wear.

Next week American’s will celebrate Labor Day, a day to honor all those who have labored in their jobs, no matter what jobs they’ve held, domestic, corporate, day labor, or night watch. It is right that we honor these people because they make up the landscape of our country. You see, there are very few politicians, CEOs, or people of inheritance; there are many more who have toiled and sweat to build our county, so honoring them for their work is appropriate. I hope that you’ll set aside time to during the weekend to pause and give thanks for their diverse contributions to the building of our country’s economy.

And while I’m talking about September, we have other events to celebrate: September 9 is “Welcome Back Sunday” where we will recognize and bless our Christian education team. September 16 is our Preschool 50th Jubilee Celebration and UMCOR Rebuild Lunch. If you haven’t signed up for the luncheon yet, you’ll want to do it soon. Chef’s Roger Shogan and Tricia Elliott, along with their friends Chef’s Sufi and Michael will be cooking up and serving a Puerto Rican flavors as we take a goodwill offering for UMCOR’s continued rebuild work in Puerto Rico after last year’s hurricane Maria. And last, but certainly not least, September 21-23 is St. Mark’s Fall Campout. See Kris Nieder for more information.

There is so much going on at St. Mark’s in September. I hope you’ll be a part of some or all of it.
See you in church,


New Weekly Gathering: Coffee and Contemplation

Beginning Thursday, September 13th, we will be gathering at Caffe Vicino on Denver Street (2615 Denver Street, Bay Park, CA 92110) on Thursday evenings from 7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. for something called “Coffee and Contemplation.” It is a casual small group, where we will reflect on a Bible passage in a meditative type of way, discuss it with one another and share the joys and concerns in our lives. This kind of thing lights me up so I hope you will join me or spread the word.

Hope to see you at Coffee and Contemplation,
Rev. Lydia

August 30th, 2018- Newsletter


August 22nd, 2018 – Newsletter

August 21st, 2018 Newsletter