An Update from Pastor Bob – June 18, 2020

Dear St. Mark family,
 
Back in mid-March, we faced a difficult decision as a church – to move our worship fully online.  At the time, I wondered if we would still be a church on the other side.  Since then:
  • Online worship numbers have rivaled in-person worship numbers.
  • You’ve donated more than $15,000 to local charities and support for local needs.
  • Thousands of phone calls have been made between members.
  • Many groups have met on Zoom, and three new groups have formed online.
We have found incredible new ways to be the church.  In a hard season, we’ve been richly blessed by God.  However, we know the power of gathering together.  That’s why it’s time for some big news!
 
Gathering For Worship – Phase 1
In the next few weeks, we plan to begin the process of gathering for worship.  What does that mean:
  • We are going outside!  Our first gathering will be for an Outdoor Service on Wednesday, June 24 at 6:00pm.  We will be in the St. Mark parking lot and on the green space.  This provides space to gather and spread out.  This is a “bring your own chair” event, so pack the camp chairs or a blanket to sit on the lawn.  It will be important to social distance, and masks are strongly encouraged.
  • Phase 1 begins July 8 and 12.  Starting July 8, we are planning an adjusted worship schedule:
    • Wednesday 6:00pm – Outdoor Worship continues July 8
    • Sunday 8:30am – Traditional Worship in the Sanctuary begins July 12 (with live-streaming online)
    • Sunday 10:30am – Contemporary Worship in the Sanctuary begins July 12 (with live-streaming online)
  • Planning for holding in-person services requires some important information you need to know:
    • These plans are based on the data that tells us that Polk County continues to decline in the number of COVID-19 cases being reported, but our plans (especially our indoor worship plans) must be held loosely.  A significant increase in local COVID-19 cases will require us to re-evaluate these plans.
    • If you are joining us for in-person worship, social distancing is essential.  In addition, masks will be worn by our staff and volunteers, and we strongly encourage everyone to wear masks.
    • In the sanctuary, every-other pew will be closed to make distancing possible.  If you are sharing a row with someone outside your family, please sit on either end of the row to maintain distancing.
    • We will be taking several other precautions in order to minimize contact between people, so note that the experience of worship may be different than you’re used to. If you’re not ready to come back to live worship, keep joining us online!  Online worship will continue to be an option on Sunday mornings!
I’m excited for the next phase for St. Mark, and I hope you are too.  Your church council has worked hard to craft this plan, and we will continue to evaluate it in the future.

In Christ,
Pastor Bob