September 21, 2017

September 21, 2017

September 21, 2017

A friend reported on Facebook the other day that her husband had purchased a large quantity of Halloween candy.  I guess it was on sale.  Another friend responded that the candy would go stale by the time Halloween came, so he’d have to eat it.  This is, of course, what happens to an awful lot of the Halloween candy we buy.  Even if it’s not stale.  Fall is underway and the Halloween displays are up in stores!

We’re going to do a lot of celebrating in October, and it begins on Sunday, October 1 as we lift up the very goodness of creation with the Blessing of the Animals in the 9:30 worship service. It is one of St. Mark’s most joy-filled Sundays, as we welcome singles and families from the community and their animal companions.  St. Francis (Adam DiProfio) and Jake invite all!  See below.

You may have heard that this year is the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation.  October 29 is Reformation Sunday, and we will celebrate with special music to remember Martin Luther’s courage in calling out how the church had strayed from its mission and become corrupted.  We will also dedicate our new organ console.

Remember that this Sunday, September 24, we’ll have an hour-long after-church discussion to continue to talk about the events in Charlottesville and the reaction since.  All are invited.  Some of the general topics

  • It is important that each of us be self-aware of our world view, and to accept that others—especially those from different circumstances than ours—see the world quite differently than we do.
  • The church is being called to moral and ethical leadership–not just the leaders of the church, but everyone in the church. It is time to step up and be heard.
  • What should we do, as individuals, and as a church? First, renounce violence, indifference, and hate–to call it out and reject it in personal conversations and wherever else it is encountered.  Second, “counter with the positive”–to speak up and take initiative for the very-goodness of the created order, and the biblical call to social justice.
  • Though we have various political views, we all share the same goal of a more-peaceful, more-just world. When we disagree, can we still be friends? Can we work together still?

See you in church!


Blessing of the Animals 2017

Francis of Assisi, Italy, was born October 3, 1182. The son of a prosperous silk merchant, young Francis reveled in the life of his wealthy family. He went off to war in 1204 but experienced a divine vision and later joined the poor in begging at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City. The experience moved him to live in poverty, and he began preaching the Gospel in the streets.

The young preacher was never ordained to the Catholic priest-hood, yet Francis remains one of the most venerated religious figures in history. He was proclaimed saint by Pope Gregory IX in 1228. St. Francis is known as the Patron Saint of Animals, and it is customary to hold annual ceremonies blessing animals near his feast day in early October.

St. Mark’s looks forward to having you among us on Sunday morning, October 1, for the fourth annual Blessing of the Animals. Come and meet volunteers who foster and rescue, and others who promote the bond between humans and animals. Enjoy a simple service and a chance to meet other eager pet ‘parents’.

“Every beast of the earth and every bird of the heavens, every-thing that has the breath of life, God has given.” (Genesis 1:30)
No wonder a dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.

July 31, 2017

In my sermon last Sunday, I challenged us to answer these questions together:

  • Are we willing to sacrifice for sharing the message of Jesus and the essence of Christ?
  • What is our operating priority (where we begin decision-making and where we return when decisions are made)?  Is it sharing this message, or having a balanced budget and no debt?

Thanks to the generous stewardship of those who have gone before, and of many of you, we are in a very strong financial position.  We have significant real-estate and financial assets and no debt.  Stewardship and giving to the Capital Campaign are high.

Yet, in spite of this strength, we have become so averse to additional, new, over-and-above expenses that it has become impossible to talk about doing anything new of any substance.  I am strongly urging that we take a new approach, understanding the overwhelmingly strong financial position we are in.

After consulting with members of the staff and leadership, I want to propose three initiatives as our highest priorities moving into 2018.  We consider each of these priorities over and above what we are doing now, so they will be additional, new expenses.  There may be other new ideas that will be proposed for the new year, but we consider these to be the three highest priorities:

  • To hire a General Contractor to manage all of our current maintenance and remodeling projects.  Thanks to the excellent work of Jack Carpenter and the Board of Trustees on the Capital Campaign, there is now so much going on it has become impossible to manage in a timely, efficient way.  Many of the Capital Campaign projects are complex and require careful attention and coordination.  Also, because our buildings are more than 55 years old, new, unexpected projects will continue to pop up.  Having repair and remodel of our plant overseen by a professional will very likely save us money in the long run, because they may notice things that need attention before the cost to fix them is not too high.  And we will look better and feel better about ourselves. Cost estimate: unknown.  Initial guess: $20,000.  I am gathering information to get a better estimate.
  • To hire someone to help us with marketing and all our online and printed communications.  It is more-important than ever to use every tool and method we can to reach out, invite, and involve more people, younger people, and more-diverse people in our programs.  We need advice, expertise, and on-going hands-on help with this.  Estimate: $25,000.
  • To significantly raise our financial commitment to the mission closest to our heart, the Community Christian Service Agency.  Yes, a significant part of our church budget is allocated each year to United Methodist mission projects worldwide.  And yes, a significant amount of money passes through the church each year, designated to CCSA.  I am talking about committing an additional amount from each year’s operating budget that is commensurate with our size and how we feel about CCSA.  The budget of the church expresses the church’s priorities, and I believe that support of CCSA needs to be one of those priorities.  Estimate for the first year: 3% of our operating budget, or approximately $20,000.  I hope in coming years we can maintain support at the level of 5% of budget, or more.

The Church Council is considering these proposals, and will meet on Tuesday, August 15 at 7 p.m.  In the meantime, let me now if you have thoughts or suggestions.

See you in church!



Vacation Bible School 2017

Marketplace 29 A.D.

A Bibletimes Experience

August 21 – 25, 2017
9:00 to NOON (Lunch is included.)

There is an air of excitement this morning as the women fill their jugs and exchange news by the well. Today is market day. Tradesmen shops cluster around the well. Farmers and merchants have set up booths. Everyone hopes to visit the storyteller who is sojourning with a caravan at the edge of town.

Rumors are circulating about a teacher and his followers who have been attracting large crowds around the countryside. It is said he may visit the Marketplace this very day!

Vacation Bible School will recreate life in Jesus’ time. Be a member of a traditional family — named for one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel — as it may have been in the year 29 A.D., near the height of Jesus’ ministry. Participants will consider the all-important water well, and take part in drama as it happens around them.

Live in a tent. Caravan to the storyteller. Pound Roman coin. Bake bread. Sing and dance. Spend five mornings in the open marketplace where you may dip candles, create footwear, weave baskets, design jewelry, enjoy woodworking, visit the spice shop and grain mill, spin a dreidel, and “compete’” in ancient games. Board a departing ship at the harbor. And much more!

Dress in Biblical costume once you arrive. Witness the drama of tax collectors, Roman soldiers, a fortuneteller, fishermen, and others whose lives Jesus touched.

For more information, please contact:
St. Mark’s United Methodist Church 3502 Clairemont Drive, San Diego, CA 92117
858 273-1480 •

Register for VBS

2017 Vacation Bible School Registration Form

Family Information


Children Participating


July 8, 2017

July 8, 2017

June 13, 2017

This past Sunday, during worship we thanked our Education leaders and Sunday School teachers for volunteering with our children. This attitude of gratitude felt especially fitting for my family. When my son, Justin, sadly learned about Merrie’s hospitalization, he repeatedly expressed his deep gratitude for her friendship. Confirmation brought Merrie and Justin together in 2016: She agreed to be his mentor. They did numerous activities together. What a precious gift she gave our family. As a parent, I am so grateful that Merrie said “yes” to being Justin’s mentor. On behalf of all of the children and youth of St. Mark’s, I am also deeply grateful to all of you for saying “yes” to supporting our youth. It cannot be said enough: Positive friendships with adults are the top reason youth stay connected to their church.

The photos below show some of the highlights of the past five months. All these moments were possible thanks to our supportive community. From parents who drive their kids to youth group every week, to adult volunteers and staff who share their time, to those who gave donations: Thank you all for being a blessing to our youth. I hope, in turn, that even as we mourn, their youthful energy and joy will refresh our souls. We really do have amazing children and youth at St. Mark’s.
God bless,
Kris Nieder

June 13, 2017

June 13, 2017

Newsletter May 31, 207

May 31, 2017

March 7, 2017

March 7, 2017