View all correspondence that has gone out by email or hard copy with most recent first. 

May 11, 2020


What day is it? This is a question that has been difficult to answer as one day often looks like next. I have wondered if I need to start writing on our white board, 
“Today is . . . ” Sometimes it feels like all we have to say is, “Today just is.” I am a planner, and so I can’t tell you how many times in this last month I have had to change plans. Many people I speak with are looking into the mysterious future saying “things will never go back to the way they were.” I tend to think, the more things change, the more they remain the same. I have a little of that Ecclesiastes feel for me that for everything there is a season under heaven. So, what season might this be? In our attempt at St. Mark’s to help you hear how the Holy Spirit is calling you and to help you live lives that matter, I believe we could be called to a season of listening both as individuals and as a community.


I have recently started reading a little book by Parker Palmer entitled Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. One of his suggestions Palmer makes is, “Before you tell your life what you want to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you.” So many of us are so busy in this culture of ours. If our current pandemic can offer us anything, it is an opportunity to listen. There are spiritual practices that give us an opportunity to listen to what God and our very life intends for us. I also have a suspicion that the more we listen, the more we will understand when change, real change, can happen in our lives. I have recently returned to something I used when I was in the midst of raising young children. I learned this practice when I was going through SEEL (Spiritual Exercises in Every Day Life) through Gonzaga. I would like to invite you to join me in this practice.


Over the next several days, practice listening. Listen to everything - traffic sounds, nature sounds, speaking sounds, and the sounds of peace and quiet. Try to listen with great attention for five or ten minutes every day. Do this during a coffee/tea break, if that helps. Then, gradually tune in to God’s voice. This voice will come through many of the sounds you have already been noticing. It will also emerge as you partake of the arts -books, music, paintings, dance, and so forth. You will hear God’s voice during our online worship or while your children are playing. Try to spend a few moments each day quietly listening for God. Don’t say anything or ask for anything. Or if you do ask for something, may it be, “God, help me tune in to your voice.”


A question I will be asking regularly in the next few week in those Zoom gatherings or on the phone when we talk is, “what are you hearing?” I will never forget when one of my Jesuit friends spent a few too many days retreating with Lutherans. He basically said, “You all never shut up. Do you not understand that part of scripture when Jesus says, ‘Those who have ears to hear, let them listen?’”


Won’t you join me in this practice? Together, this could be a starting point to help us better discern where God is leading. Besides, your friends might really appreciate a listening and discerning ear these days. I think I will change that white board. “Today is an opportunity to listen.”


May the Lord Bless and Keep You,


Pastor Eric














April 7, 2020 


#HopeWillNotBeCancelled


I asked my wife before she left for work what the topic of my newsletter article should be.  She simply said, “hope.”  Don’t tell her, but I was leaning in that direction anyway.  And then I ran into the above hashtag.  It was in an advertisement from Lutheran Community Service, Spokane.  As Holy Week is upon us, this caught my attention.  Just as LCS is answering the call to those in need in our community, I am hoping you will see St. Mark’s is continuing to do the same for the needs of our community and our ministries always in Jesus’ name.   


On the back page, you will notice how one of our ministries is responding to the Covid 19 situation.  Clearly, the ministry Cara Myers and her team has undertaken is bringing hope and sustenance to a community in Mozambique that truly doesn’t have the resources to adequately deal with a pandemic.  Reading the work that is happening was a strong reminder that we are now a global community and we are truly all in this together.  I am reminded that one of our members entered into this time of the coronavirus with the prayer that maybe now we would see in a more present way that we are all connected together.  In this time of need, we hope to increase the support we can give such ministries as this.  Feeding children is always a ministry we can get behind.   


But what about your needs?  I am sensitive to the fact that all of our lives have changed.  Many of us are staying home for the protection of others and our own protection.  Others are still needing to engage the masses because they are deemed essential workers.  On the one hand, their paycheck is steady.  On the other hand, many know they are putting their own families at risk by going to work even while they are providing with the stability of a regular paycheck.  In a day when saying you are in our prayers may sound like little more than a platitude, I continue to wonder what more we can do?  (I do believe prayer is more than a platitude and, by the way, your pastors are holding you in prayer.)  We will continue to check in with you and would like you to check in with us if you have any needs.  We have a host of people that are willing to do grocery shopping, help you with meals, run errands and the list goes on.  But we can only help if we make ourselves vulnerable to one another and ask.  We are not good at reading minds. 


As Easter comes, there is more reason than ever to be hopeful.  Our hope begins with a trust in the one who entered this world to abide with us.  One of my favorite hymns puts it this way. 


“I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless; ills have no weight and tears no bitterness. Where is death’s sting?  Where, grave, thy victory?  I triumph still if thou abide with me.”  


This is our Easter promise. Jesus entered this world for this purpose, to abide with us.  While our world may look a bit different when we get through this; what remains the same is God’s abiding love.  And that will give us strength for today, and hope for tomorrow.  Hope will never be cancelled! 


All my love and prayers,


Pastor Eric

______________________________________


Dear St. Mark’s Members, 


We hope you are all taking care or yourselves and your loved ones as best as you can. Remember, we are the church, the building is just not being used right now. 

  • Holy Week and Easter Worship – Many of us felt a connection watching the beautiful Palm Sunday worship service together, just in separate spaces. We continue to gain new skills every week. Please join us for: 

  • Maundy Thursday, April 9, 7:00 pm – meditation 

  • Good Friday, April 10, 7:00 pm – worship 

  • Easter Vigil, April 11, 7:00 -?? 

  • Easter Sunday, April 12, 10:45 am - worship 

  • Mozambique School Lunch Initiative (MSLI) - As we focus on what’s happening in Spokane, Washington State, and our country, we also recognize unmet needs throughout the world. St. Mark’s has supported MSLI for several years. Cara Myers grew up at St. Mark’s and is currently in Mozambique. She provides the following update (edited for space): 


Dear St. Mark's,


I hope you are well and finding grace in these trying times. I would like to update all of you on the situation in Mozambique. The government has declared a state of emergency. The nation’s borders are closed.  Schools are closed. Yet, MSLI continues to serve the community in the following ways: 

  1. Caring for staff. MSLI guarantees full wages for all staff during this crisis. We have delivered two months’ worth of food baskets to each MSLI cook. 

  1. Re-allocating our school lunch budgetWe now provide food baskets (fortified maize flour and beans) to 400 orphans, vulnerable children and their siblings. Ten-percent of these children are living with HIV. Food is vital for their medication intake. 

  1. Supporting local farmers.Farmers are planting almost 20 acres of beans, sweet potatoes, and vegetables. As the economic impacts of the crisis worsen, farms are a lifeline for the local community. 

  1. Committing to sustainabilityProviding food for vulnerable children will be more important post-crisis than it was prior. For this reason, we are committed to reestablishing our traditional program as soon as possible. 

Attached are photos of our recent food distribution. Please keep us in your prayers during this time.  


Blessings,  

Cara Myers


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April 3, 2020


St. Mark's families with children and adults as well, get to see Godly Play right from your own home.


Being separated from beloved places and people is not a new thing! Come hear the story of God's people's exile in Babylon and remember that God is with you wherever you go.


Ann Benson, Director of Children's Arts, shares this story from the Godly Play curriculum.


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April 2, 2020


Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,


The changes in our lifestyle because of this pandemic often make me feel disoriented. I have to stop and figure out what day it is sometimes. Many of the things that add structure and meaning to my life are not happening now. There are not set times that I go to church and do my pastor thing. It's strange not to see family or friends. Two of our grandchildren have birthdays this week and we are not able to be with them to celebrate. 


An article that both my good friend and my daughter sent to me explained that some of what we are feeling is grief. I have found it helpful to recognize the sense of loss that comes with missing events and people as grief and it is natural. I had a wedding coming up that was canceled. We have had to postpone a few memorial services that were scheduled. I imagine that you are missing some events and people, too. This time of isolation is so necessary but also hard.


This season of Lent in the church year fits the somberness of our situation. Psalm 31 is one of our readings for this time. “In you, O Lord, do I seek refuge . . .Yes, you are my rock and my fortress; for your name's sake lead me and guide me, take me out of the net which is hidden for me, for you are my refuge.”


With all the things that seem unsettled or out of alignment, prayer is one thing I can't forget. There are so many things to pray about these days. Foremost in my prayers has been Ryan Ragaza-Bourasa and his wife, Anna, and boys, Noah and Micah. Ryan has the dreaded Covid 19 virus and has been in ICU and on a ventilator for well over a week. He is improving very slowly. May the Lord's healing power continue to surround him and all those on our prayer list.


Waking in the night, I pray for each of our family members in detail, giving thanks for their uniqueness and, of course, asking that they be protected. I pray for my dear colleagues and for our dedicated staff and all their families. And I pray for you, beloved people of God.

In our Gospel readings, Jesus is moving closer to Jerusalem and we know what awaits him there. From the cross, he will speak the next verse in this psalm, “Into thy hand I commit my spirit.” He had such trust in his Heavenly Father's care and sought refuge with God as he died.

 

As we approach Holy Week, we know that we won't be able to worship in our usual ways but, still, we will walk with Jesus through those days. We will miss the rituals that help us remember the drama of Jesus' experience. But, in plain and simple ways, those of us who have internet access, will still worship the Lord through song and prayer, through the Word, read and preached. Those of you who aren't able to join us for worship online, I urge you to read through the passion narratives: Matthew 26:14 through Matthew 27:66 on Palm Sunday and John 18:1 through John 19:42 on Good Friday. Pray as the Spirit guides you and sing hymns that are deep in your memory.


Along with sadness over what we are missing these days, I have a sense of gratefulness for the blessings of technology: phones to converse with friends and family, computers to share “Zoom” meetings and streaming worship. There is much more for which to be thankful, as Pastor Edwin wrote last week. The Lord will sustain us through this time. God is our refuge.


The peace of Christ be with you always,

Pastor Kate

_____________________


Dear St. Mark’s Members –


We hope everyone is staying comfortable and healthy at home. In light of the federal extension of the social distancing request, St. Mark’s will continue to worship via streaming, and the building will remain closed at least through the end of April. We are a people deeply rooted in our faith and our faith is not contained by walls or buildings. It is grounded in our relationships with God and with one another, and together we will get through this trying time. Enclosed please find some prayers that might be helpful at this time.


1. On a positive note, as of this morning Ryan Ragaza-Bourassa continues to improve every day. His inflammation numbers are coming down, trending in the right direction. Ryan’s organs are functioning and remain strong. His wife and sons talk to him by a phone that is held up to his ear. We give blessings for this good report.


2. Communication

• Pastors are available by cell if necessary or call the church office at 747.6677 and leave a message. Messages will be checked regularly.

Eric - 509.570.8386   * Kate - 208.659.4630    * Edwin - 828.228.8826

• If you have a need to see one of the pastors, we now have Zoom capabilities. If you have access to Zoom or FaceTime, we would be happy to meet with you virtually if a phone call is not enough.

• If you have a need such as picking up groceries or a simple errand, we have many in the congregation who have the time and would love to help you. Please contact a pastor or the church and they will connect you with someone who can help.


3. Worship - Details for streaming can be found on our website, wwwl.stmarks-spokane.org. Did you know there have been 816 views of last Sunday’s worship! Assuming many of those views were with two people, we imagine that over 1000 watched St. Mark’s worship. Wow!

A reminder that you can watch after the initial broadcast.


4.Upcoming Youth Events - Calvin and Kai will be hosting Social Distancing & Games for Junior High and Senior Youth. Join your St. Mark's friends for a Zoom hangout on Sunday afternoons!

7th-8th Graders - Sundays @ 1:30

9th-12th Graders - Sundays @ 3:00

Zoom meeting ID: 305-134-6519

Mtg password: 031624

Contact Calvin 509.844.6460 or Kai 406.529.0112 with questions!


4. Finances – We are so grateful to all those that are able to contribute during these uncertain times. It is heartwarming to see how many in the congregation are taking the time to mail in a check (yes, we get mail every day) and continue their giving. 

 

6. Fig Tree – Do you usually pick up a copy? Here is the link so you can read it at home. www.thefigtree.org.


7. Holy Week – Looking ahead to Holy Week, we plan to have the following. 

     * Palm Sunday, April 5 - worship

     * Maundy Thursday, April 9, 7:00 pm - meditation

     * Good Friday, April 10, 7:00 pm - worship

    Easter Sunday, April 12, 10:45 am - worship


______________________

Godly Play is our St. Mark's Sunday School program. Youth and adults alike will enjoy the story and learn from this presentation.


Join Ann Benson, Director of Children's Arts, as she shares the Parable of the Good Shepherd.   





Looking for some family oriented devotionals? St. Mark's is confident that this faith based devotional tool is a good program. It comes from the creators of Faith Five (Faith Inkubators) that St. Mark’s introduced in our Family Forum. We feel that it is worth checking out. 


A Family Devotional for Life During Covid-19


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Older posts can be found below, most recent first.

March 23, 2020

From the Office


Live streaming Worship - We will continue to worship here at St. Mark’s, but rather than gathering at church we will gather together in our hearts. Details on live streaming can be found on our website.


Sunday Bulletin and Worship Folder – These are an important part of our weekly worship. You now have access to both in several ways.


Website – www.stmarks-spokane.org - You can access the Sunday Bulletin and Worship Folder before watching the live stream. They are under the “live stream” tab. After we have uploaded the service (audio and video) to the “worship” tab, you will find the Sunday Bulletin and Worship Folder listed under Resources.


You will also get links in our weekly email entitled “This Weekend at St. Mark’s.” This email goes out every Friday.


Communication


Needs of the congregation – If you have a need such as someone to get your groceries or a simple errand, we have many in the congregation who have the time and would love to help you. Please contact a pastor or the church and we will attempt to connect you with someone who can help.


Texting pastors - Please start you text by letting them know who you are. They only see a phone number if they don’t have you in their phone address book.


Emails– If you are not receiving regular Friday emails, that means we don’t have a current email for you! Please email our office,office@stmarks-spokane.org or phone 747.6677 and let us know your preference. More emails mean less paper, which saves trees, money, and time.


2nd Harvest Family Sort Night has been canceled. They are now offering first-come, first-serve shorter volunteer opportunities to repack food to distribute to people in need. To sign up go to https://inland.volunteerhub.com/?format=List&filter=All

Please contact 2nd Harvest directly with questions. For additional guidance, feel free to contact Susan Hagen at 509.220.7250.


Finances - Obviously, we are in uncertain times. As of March 15, giving is just over $31,000, with our monthly budgeted expenses running at $65,000. Thanks to several significant one time contributions early this year we are in good shape right now. We are grateful for all who have automatic giving and those who have sent in contributions to keep up with their pledge to St. Mark’s.


Looking for accurate information from the City of Spokane’s response to COVID-19? The website my.spokanecity.org has many resources offered and/or endorsed by the City of Spokane.


Safeway & Albertsons designated Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:00 – 9:00 am for seniors only.


Fred Meyer has designated Monday – Thursday from 7: 00 – 8:00 am as senior only shopping time. 


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March 20, 2020


We at St. Mark's have a creative idea to engage the congregation during this time of isolation (borrowed from the Catholic Church below, thank you!)


Find a photograph of you, your family, you and your pet, or you and a church-going friend. This will be a great time to share stories or just thumb through photographs you may not have looked at in some time. We particularly hope this experience will engage our younger Lutherans.


Please send the photo, any size, but larger is better, to St. Mark's.


St. Mark's Lutheran Church

316 24th Av.

Spokane, WA 99203


We will put up the pictures in the pew where you usually sit (if we can remember). This will be a great opportunity to help the pastors visualize each of us during this unusual time of worship with empty pews. 

Let's stay connected to each other, our church, and our community.  


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March 16, 2020

 

We Are Built for This!


Can you see it? The rhythms of this life are reflected in our worship. Our worship life does have something to say about the coronavirus. Even as we juggle when and if to have church. Even if you have to follow church online for a while, still the word of God will speak in the midst of the unknown, the uncertain, and the uncommon As I write this, I don’t know if we will be able to have our usual Easter services. What I do know is Easter will come!


The coronavirus is a reminder to us all that life is fragile. The church reminds us of this. Each year we begin our Lenten journey with Ash Wednesday. Through ashes we are marked with the ancient symbol of repentance, reminding us of our mortality. Maybe you are thinking that you don’t need that reminder this year. In a culture that likes to deny death, the church is here to proclaim not only that death is real, but that death will not have the last word. Coronavirus, cancer, the flu, that autoimmune disease will not have the last word.


Out of Ash Wednesday we are encouraged to begin our Lenten journey. During our Lenten journey, we are to take on the Lenten practices of fasting, prayer, and works of love. It is prayer and the works of love that give us something to do these days.

 

The actions we put into practice this Lent are even more important this year. In our anxious time, there are always things we can do. Now is the time to check on a neighbor. Do you have an elderly neighbor who could use you to get their groceries? Is there a call you can make to see how someone is doing? Would you be willing to take a list of members that you promise to check on during this time of increased isolation? Might you take up the ancient practice of letter writing (yes by hand). Now is the time to reach out in ways that are safe. How can you be church in this time and in this place? Share your ideas with us.


And Easter will come. Romans 12:12 says, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.” Rejoice in hope. What our faith in Jesus does for us is give us a different perspective. Our faith proclaims that whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. This is the promise of Easter. While the current pandemic does call for concern, it should not be cause for panic.


We are built for this. We are built for those anxious times when the world is looking for somewhere to turn. And we have a word to proclaim. Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed. Let the risen Christ shine through you in good times and anxious times alike. We are built for this and you are built for this. Easter will always come.


In Christ,

Pastor Eric


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page 2 from the office

 

As we have a new normal, at least for today, here are some changes at St. Mark’s:

 

St. Mark’s building, including offices, will be closed for the time being. We are trying to keep everyone safe and healthy.


We plan to send a letter out weekly by email and hard copy. If you know of someone that needs a hard copy and didn’t get one,

please contact us. If you use email and/or web and do not wish to receive a hard copy of this letter, please contact us

at 747.6677 or office@stmarks-spokane.org.


Pastors are available by cell if necessary or call the church office at 747.6677 and leave a message. Messages will be checked regularly.

Eric Dull at 509.570.8386

Kate LePard at 208.659.4630

Edwin Weber at 828.228.8826


We will live stream our worship services twice a week.

Watch our Wednesday 7:00 pm Lenten service and our Sunday 10:45 am worship service live on our YouTube channel StMarksLutheranSpokane. There will be a link to that on our facebook page as well. We will do the same for our Sunday 10:45 am service.


These services will be available for viewing afterwards in three places.


Our website - here on this website - on the tab "worship services"


Our YouTube channel - StMarksLutheranSpokane


Our facebook page - www.facebook.com/StMarksSpokane


If you don’t use computers and wish for an audio CD of the worship service contact us, and we will put one in the mail for you.


Even if you aren’t in church, most expenses continue as normal. Please don’t hesitate to send your offering to us by mail or go to our website and click on the “donate” tab to make an offering digitally.


We are doing our best to keep everyone in the loop and hope you stay healthy and safe.


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March 15, 2020


Hi faithful members of St. Mark's - We want to share that, difficult as it may be, ALL activities at St. Mark's will not take place, including worship.


Wednesday Lenten services at 7:00 pm and

Sunday worship at 10:45 am both will be live streamed.


There will be more information to follow.

We will increase our use of technology to share what we can and keep everyone as safe as possible.


Feel free to call the church office at 747-6677 for special needs.


* Church Council members - expect personal communication about the meeting on Monday, March 16


March 14, 2020


Regular worship times at St. Mark's Saturday and Sunday, March 14 and 15:

Saturday at 5:30 pm

Sunday at 8:30 am and 10:45 am


We also plan to livestream on Sunday, March 15 at the 10:45 am worship service only. It will be broadcast from our facebook page "St. Mark's Lutheran Church," see link below. 


You can also find a link on our website, www.stmarks-spokane.org.


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March 12, 2020

 

Dear faithful member of St. Mark’s,

 

In consultation with our medical community, St. Mark’s will have worship this weekend but we will not celebrate communion. Our regular worship times are Saturday evening at 5:30 and Sunday morning at 8:30 and 10:45. ALL Sunday activities, including Sunday School and Adult Forum are cancelled or postponed for this Sunday.


This is a constantly changing situation that we will continue to monitor daily.


As prayer concerns arise, feel free to call your pastors.


In the meantime, here is a prayer for your use this week:

Eternal God, amid all the turmoil and changes of the world your love is steadfast and your strength never fails. In this time of concern over the coronavirus, be to us a sure guardian and rock of defense. Guide the leaders of our nation with your wisdom, comfort those in distress, and grant us courage and hope to face the future; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen (ELW 76, Prayer during national distress).

 

Always in Christ,

 

Your Pastors,

 

Eric 570.8386, Kate 208.659.4630, and Edwin 828.228.8826

 

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March 11, 2020


Dear faithful member of St. Mark’s,


A word on how your congregation is responding to the coronavirus. It is our current hope and intention to continue to have services here at St. Mark’s. We live in fluid times as each day brings more information concerning the virus. Included in this email are a few links that we have found informative. Feel free to access them at your leisure. Here are some steps we are taking to reduce risk of spreading the disease.


We do ask that if you are sick, you stay home. This is always a good policy. If you would like to wipe down your worship space when you arrive, we have disinfectant wipes by the doors leading into worship.


We are asking our altar guild to use disposable gloves as they set up communion. In addition, always remember that Christ is fully present in either the bread or the wine. Feel free to receive Christ in one kind. During our Sunday worship we will refrain from practicing communion by intinction for the next number of weeks.


During the various greeting times at church, we are asking folks cease from shaking hands. We have been playing with numerous other greetings including a respectful bow, bumping elbows, jazz hands and others. 


We will be meeting with council on Monday to consider a few further steps.


We are looking to livestream our services. We currently in the process of getting the equipment needed to do this. We hope to have this capability very soon. Are you interested in helping our shut-ins participate in the worship through technology?


We will be exploring possibilities in the time to come.


Links to help stay informed:


https://www.elca.org/News-and-Events/8025 - ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) Presiding Bishop’s address.


https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus - The Washington Department of Health website is updated every day at 11:00 am.


https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 - The World Health Org.

 

Feel free to call the pastors with any thoughts or concerns as we move forward. In the meantime, here is a prayer for your use this week:

 

Eternal God, amid all the turmoil and changes of the world your love is steadfast and your strength never fails. In this time of concern over the coronavirus, be to us a sure guardian and rock of defense. Guide the leaders of our nation with your wisdom, comfort those in distress, and grant us courage and hope to face the future; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen (ELW 76, Prayer during national distress).

 

Always in Christ,

 

Your Pastors,

 

Eric, Kate, and Edwin

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