In his book, Love Is The Way, Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times, Bishop Michael Curry describes how his church assignments as an intern stretched his understanding of what serving the church looked like. When he began his internship, he was placed in a church that reminded him of the church he grew up in. He writes, “Pastors in the churches of my up-bringing had nearly unilateral authority. You might call them benevolent dictatorships.” Then he was assigned to St. Paul’s, a church that reflected a transforming community, White, Black, and Latino. Suddenly he encountered diverse thoughts of leading as he saw how the rector empowered the lay leadership to participate in the decision making process to build a stronger community.
As I read this part of his book, I thought about how St. Mark’s has relied upon the ideas and work of lay leaders to build a strong community. Without the lay leadership we would not have a preschool, Wednesday night Bible Study, CCSA, UMW, and many other God inspired and lay led ministries that helped build our community. The work of the lay leadership at St. Mark’s did not just pray in the pews and wait for the clergy to lead, but they heard the Spirit of God and gathered resources to build homes in Mexico, make prayer quilts for those who were ill, sheltered refugees, and brought choir music to the homebound. And this is just a glimpse of what St. Mark’s has done.
This past year has been extraordinary as the congregation of St. Mark’s has lessened many of their caring ministries. Lessened, but not abandoned. Some of these ministries have continued but in different ways. And despite the pandemic, some new ministries emerged. People are calling others in the church to check and see how things are going. Some are taking daily bike rides in their neighborhood to renew and make new relationships. Others are sending uplifting emails to those who request cheering up, and I’m sure there are other things going on that we are not aware of. That is the church being church; building a stronger community through God’s inspiration.
In our scripture readings this week we will hear how God calls us to love in good and troubling times. I hope you’ll join us for what could be an inspiring time.
Peace be with you.