Pastor’s Letter – September 27, 2017

A Letter from Kris Nieder, Director of Youth and Intergenerational Ministries

How can we help our neighbors and community thrive? It’s an exciting question that encourages us to consider new possibilities for St. Mark’s.  “For Our Neighbors: See What Love Can Do” is the Gospel-inspired theme of a family ministry conference being held in 20 cities around the United States. Debbie Abbott, Superintendent of Sunday School, and I recently attended their two day conference stop in Irvine. We came away inspired! The words below are taken from the conference introduction:

WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF THE NEIGHBORHOOD AROUND YOUR CHURCH SUDDENLY DECIDED…

Your church is somewhere they can build solid friendships

Your church is a safe place for their kids to talk about important stuff

Your church actually helps when something goes wrong in your community

Your church can help their family win at being a family

Your church answers the questions they are really asking

Your church gives them hope and a reason to believe

What would happen if those of us who are in the church simply decide…

WE ARE FOR OUR NEIGHBORS

Looking over the list, how can we better become that church for our community? Speakers shared ways congregations are successfully deepening their positive impact on their neighborhoods. We learned tools for reaching people who are marginalized, supporting parents with young children through parenting and marriage classes (and fun date nights and events!), giving respite to families with children with special needs, supporting local small businesses and more.  Perhaps there is one small step we can take on this list. You don’t have to be an expert to get a small group started.  Is there something that you feel a calling for?

One of the topics on many people’s minds is racism in America. Sean Watkins is a biblical scholar who powerfully presented how Christians are called by the Gospel to address social justice issues and the current polarization in America. He suggested we first work on increasing our awareness. To do that, he provided a resource list of books and a video that focus on issues facing people of color.  Interested? The books are available to borrow (just stop by my office) and the documentary he recommended, “13th,” is available on Netflix.

The first Christians had very limited financial resources. What they did have was trust in God, a willingness to engage in community building, and a desire to share the Gospel. I invite you to pray and consider what community building we might engage in to support those who have never set foot in St. Mark’s before.  One way is to invite someone new to church. And this Sunday’s Blessing of the Animals is the perfect opportunity to invite friends who have dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, guinea pigs, or other animal companions.

Looking forward to a wonderful Sunday, and to exploring ways we can see what love can do for our neighbors.

      Kris

Consider This About Blessing our Pets at St. Mark’s

The fourth annual St. Mark’s Blessing of the Animals is this Sunday, October 1. Canon Theologian Scott Cowdell of the Anglican Diocese of Canberra in Australia had these smart thoughts about our pets and why we make them the focus in church one time a year.

“What if our human vision were bigger? What if we are to view life as a whole teeming creation, that humanity is not the whole picture?” Cowdell asks. “The animals we bless share our homes, and our joys and sorrows. They sit expectantly by our dinner tables, take an eager interest in our activities, and some, undoubtedly, share our beds. And are we not always glad to see our beloved pets when we arrive home?”

For these reasons and a million others, we bring our pets of all kinds to St. Mark’s to be blessed on October 1. The service begins at 9:30 a.m., to be followed by the blessing of each animal at stations set up in our courtyard. Will you be with us? Meow!

Please note that there will be an 8 a.m. communion service the morning of October 1 before the animals arrive.

REMINDER THAT THERE IS NO CHILDREN’S SUNDAY SCHOOL THIS SUNDAY, OCTOBER 1, ALL KIDS WILL JOIN THE ANIMALS AT CHURCH